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Brake up their sports, then slowly to her

bower Parted, and in her bosom pain was lord.

I am but a fool to reason with a fool Come, thou art crabb’d and sour: but

lean me down, Sir Dagonet, one of thy long ass's ears, And harken if my music be not true.

And little Dagonet on the morrow


«« Free love - free field we love but

while we may : The woods are hush'd, their music is no

more: The leaf is dead, the yearning past away: New leaf, new life- the days of frost are

o'er: New life, new love, to suit the newer day: New loves are sweet as those that went

before : Free love - free field - we love but while

we may."

• Ye might have moved slow-measure

to my tune, Not stood stockstill. I made it in the

woods, And heard it ring as true as tested gold.'

High over all the yellowing Autumn-tide, Danced like a wither'd leaf before the

hall. Then Tristram saying, “Why skip ye so,

Sir Fool?' Wheel'd round on either heel, Dagonet

replied, • Belike for lack of wiser company; Or being fool, and seeing too much wit Makes the world rotten, why belike I skip To know myself the wisest knight of all.' * Ay, fool,' said Tristram, “but 'tis eating

dry To dance without a catch, a roundelay To dance to. Then he twangled on his

harp, And while he twangled little Dagonet

stood Quiet as any water-sodden log Stay'd in the wandering warble of a

brook; But when the twangling ended, skipt

again; And being ask'd, “Why skipt ye not, Sir

Fool?' Made answer, 'I had liefer twenty years Skip to the broken music of my brains Than any broken music thou canst make.' Then Tristram, waiting for the quip to

come, "Good now, what music have I broken,

fool?' And little Dagonet, skipping, 'Arthur, the

King's; For when thou playest that air with

Queen Isolt, Thou makest broken music with thy bride, Her daintier namesake down in Brit.

tany And so thou breakest Arthur's music too.' Save for that broken music in thy brains, Sir Fool,' said Tristram, I would break

thy head. Fool, I came late, the heathen wars were

But Dagonet with one foot poised in

his hand, •Friend, did ye mark that fountain yester

day Made to run wine? -- but this had run

itself All out like a long life to a sour end – And them that round it sat with golden

cups To hand the wine to whomsoever came The twelve small damosels white as In

nocence, In honour of poor Innocence the babe, Who left the gems which Innocence the

Queen Lent to the King, and Innocence the King Ga e for a prize — and one of those white

slips Handed her cup and piped, the pretty one, “ Drink, drink, Sir Fool," and thereupon

I drank, Spat – pish -- the cup was gold, the

draught was mud.'

And Tristram, "Was it muddier than

thy gibes? Is all the laughter gone dead out of Not marking how the knighthood mock

o'er, The life had flown, we sware but by the



thee, fool “Fear God: honour the King - his one

true knight — Sole follower of the vows" — for here be

they Who knew thee swine enow before I came, Smuttier than blasted grain : but when

the King Had made thee fool, thy vanity so shot up It frighted all free fool from out thy

heart; Which left thee less than fool, and less

than swine, A naked aught — yet swine I hold thee

still, For I have flung thee pearls and find thee


Down! and two more: a helpful harper

thou, That harpest downward ! Dost thou know

the star We call the harp of Arthur up in heaven?' And Tristram, “Ay, Sir Fool, for when

our King Was victor wellnigh day by day, the

knights, Glorying in each new glory, set his name High on all hills, and in the signs of


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In lieu of hers, I'll hold thou hast some

touch Of music, since I care not for thy pearls. Swine? I have wallow'd, I have wash'd

- the world Is flesh and shadow — I have had my day. The dirty nurse, Experience, in her kind Hath foul'd me — - an I wallow'd then I

wash'd I have had my day and my philosophies — And thank the Lord I am King Arthur's

fool. Swine, say ye? swine, goats, asses, rams

Nay, fool,' said Tristram, 'not in

open day.' And Dagonet, 'Nay, nor will: I see it

and hear. It makes a silent music up in heaven, And I, and Arthur and the angels hear, And then we skip.' 'Lo, fool,' he said,

and geese

Troop'd round a Paynim harper once,

who thrumm'd On such a wire as musically as thou Some such fine song - but never a king's


'ye talk

And Tristram, “Then were swine, goats,

asses, geese The wiser fools, seeing thy Paynim bard Had such a mastery of his mystery That he could harp his wife up out of hell.' Then Dagonet, turning on the ball of

his foot, 'And whither harp'st thou thine? down!

and thyself

Fool's treason : is the King thy brother

fool?' Then little Dagonet clapt his hands and

shrill'd, * Ay, ay, my brother fool, the king of

fools! Conceits himself as God that he can make Figs out of thistles, silk from bristles,

milk From burning spurge, honey from hornet

combs, And men from beasts -- Long live the

king of fools !!

And down the city Dagonet danced

away; But thro' the slowly-mellowing avenues And solitary passes of the wood Rode Tristram toward Lyonesse and the

west. Before him fled the face of Queen Isolt With ruby-circled neck, but evermore Past, as a rustle or twitter in the wood Made dull his inner, keen his outer eye For all that walk’d, or crept, or percb'd,

or flew. Anon the face, as, when a gust hath

blown, Unruffling waters re-collect the shape Of one that in them sees himself, return'd; But at the slot or fewmets of a deer, Or ev'n a fall'n feather, vanish'd again.

After she left him lonely here? a name?
Was it the name of one in Brittany,
Isolt, the daughter of the King? Isolt
Of the white hands' they call’d her: the

sweet name Allured him first, and then the maid her

sell, Who served him well with those white

hands of hers, And loved him well, until himself had

thought He loved her also, wedded easily, But left her all as easily, and return'd. The black-blue Irish hair and Irish eyes Had drawn him home -- what marvel?

then he laid His brows upon the drifted leaf and


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So on for all that day from lawn to lawn Thro' many a league-long bower he rode.

At length A lodge of intertwisted beechen-boughs Furze-cramm’d, and bracken-roost, the

which himself Built for a summer day with Queen Isolt Against a shower, dark in the golden

grove Appearing, sent his fancy back to where She lived a moon in that low lodge with

him : Till Mark her lord had past, the Cornish

King, With six or seven, when Tristram was

a way, And snatch'd her thence; yet dreading

worse than shame Her warrior Tristram, spake not any

word, But bode his hour, devising wretchedness.

He seem'd to pace the strand of Brit

tany Between Isolt of Britain and his bride, And show'd them both the ruby-chain,

and both Began to struggle for it, till his Queen Graspt it so hard, that all her hand was

red. Then cried the Breton, “Look, her hand

is red! These be no rubies, this is frozen blood, And melts within her hand - her hand is

hot With ill desires, but this I gave thee, look, Is all as cool and white as any flower.' Follow'd a rush of eagle's wings, and then A whimpering of the spirit of the child, Because the twain had spoil'd her car


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And now that desert lodge to Tristram

lookt So sweet, that halting, in he past, and

sank Down on a drist of foliage random-blown; But could not rest for musing how to

smoothe And sleek his marriage over to the Queen. Perchance in lone Tintagil far from all The tonguesters of the court she had not

heard. But then what folly had sent him overseas

Rode far, till o'er the illimitable reed, And many a glancing plash and sallowy

isle, The wide-wing'd sunset of the misty marsh Glared on a huge machicolated tower That stood with open doors, whereout

was roll'a A roar of rivt, as from men secure Amid their marshes, ruffians at their ease Among their harlot-brides, an evil song. • Lo there,' said one of Arthur's youth,

for there,

High on a grim dead tree before the

tower, A goodly brother of the Table Round Swung by the neck: and on the boughs

a shield Showing a shower of blood in a field noir, And therebeside a horn, inflamed the

knights At that dishonour done the gilded spur, Till each would clash the shield, and blow

the horn. But Arthur waved them back. Alone he

rode. Then at the dry harsh roar of the great

horn, That sent the face of all the marsh aloft An ever upward-rushing storm and cloud Of shriek and plume, the Red Knight

heard, and all, Even to tipmost lance and topmost helm, In blood-red armour sallying, howl'd to

the King,

Down from the causeway heavily to the

swamp Fall, as the crest of some slow-arching

wave, Heard in dead night along that table

shore, Drops flat, and after the great waters

break Whitening for half a league, and thin

themselves, Far over sands marbled with moon and

cloud, From less and less to nothing; thus he

fell Head-heavy; then the knights, who

watch'd him, roar'd And shouted and leapt down upon the

fallin; There trampled out his face from being

known, And sank his head in mire, and slimed

themselves : Nor heard the King for their own cries,

but sprang

*The teeth of Hell flay bare and gnash

thee flat ! Lo! art thou not that eunuch-hearted

King Who fain had clipt free manhood from

the world The woman-worshipper? Yea, God's

curse, and I! Slain was the brother of my paramour By a knight of thine, and I that heard

her whine And snivel, being eunuch-hearted too, Sware by the scorpion-worm that twists

in hell, And stings itself to everlasting death, To hang whatever knight of thine I fought And tumbled. Art thou King? Look

to thy life!'

Thro' open doors, and swording right and

left Men, women, on their sodden faces,

hurl'd The tables over and the wines, and slex Till all the rafters rang with woman-yells, And all the pavement stream'd with

massacre: Then, echoing yell with yell, they fired

the tower, Which half that Autumn night, like the

live North, Red-pulsing up thro' Alioth and Alcor, Made all above it, and a hundred meres About it, as the water Moab saw Come round by the East, and out beyond

them Aush'd The long low dune, and lazy-plunging


He ended : Arthur knew the voice; the

face Wellnigh was helmet-hidden, and the


So all the ways were safe from shore

to shore, But in the heart of Arthur pain was


Went wandering somewhere darkling in

his mind. And Arthur deign'd not use of word or

sword, But let the drunkard, as he stretch'd from

horse To strike him, overbalancing his bulk,

Then, out of Tristram waking, the red

dream Fled with a shout, and that low lodge


My soul, I felt my hatred for my Mark Quicken within me, and knew that thou

wert nigh. To whom Sir Tristram smiling, 'I am

here. Let be thy Mark, seeing he is not thine.'

Mid-forest, and the wind among

the boughs. He whistled his good warhorse left to

graze Among the forest greens, vaulted upon

him, And rode beneath an ever-showering leaf, Till one lone woman, weeping near a

cross, Stay'd him. Why weep ye?' 'Lord,'

she said, 'my man Hath left me or is dead;' whereon he

thought • What, if she hate me now? I would

not this. What, if she love me still? I would not

that. I know not what I would' - but said to

her, • Yet weep not thou, lest, if thy mate

return, He find thy favour changed and love thee

not' Then pressing day by day thro' Lyo

And drawing somewhat backward she

replied, *Can he be wrong'd who is not ev'n his

own, But save for dread of thee had beaten

me, Scratch'd, bitten, blinded, marr'd me

somehow -- Mark? What rights are his that dare not strike

for them? Not lift a hand — not, tho' he found me

thus ! But harken! have ye met him? hence he

went To-day for three days' hunting — as he

said -And so returns belike within an hour. Mark's way, my soul ! — but eat not

thou with Mark, Because he hates thee even more than

fears; Nor drink: and when thou passest any

wood Close vizor, lest an arrow from the bush Should leave me all alone with Mark and

hell. My God, the measure of my hate for

Is as the measure of my love for thee.'


Last in a roky hollow, helling, heard The hounds of Mark, and felt the goodly

hounds Yelp at his heart, but turning, past and

gain'd Tintagil, half in sea, and high on land, A crown of towers.

Down in a casement sat, A low sea-sunset glorying round her hair And glossy-throated grace, Isolt the

Queen. And when she heard the feet of Tristram

grind The spiring stone that scaled about her

tower, Flush'd, started, met him at the doors,

and there Belted his body with her white embrace, Crying aloud, ‘Not Mark --- not Mark,

So, pluck'd one way by hate and one

by love, Drain’d of her force, again she sat, and

spake To Tristram, as he knelt before her,

saying, "O hunter, and O blower of the horn, Harper, and thou hast been a rover too, For, ere I mated with my shambling king, Ye twain had fallen out about the bride Of one -- his name is out of me

- the prize, If prize she were (what marvel — she

my soul !

The footstep flutter'd me at first : not he: Catlike thro' his own castle steals my

Mark, But warrior-wise thou stridest thro' his

could see) Thine, friend; and ever since my craven


halls Who bates thee, as I him-ev'n to the


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