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Chen on a sudden a cry, 'The King.'

She sat Stiff-stricken, listening; but when armed

feet Thro' the long gallery from the outer

doors Rang coming, prone from off her seat

she fell, And grovell’d with her face against the

floor: There with her milk white arms and

shadowy hair She made her face a darkness from the

King : And in the darkness heard his armed

feet Pause by her; then came silence, then a

voice, Monotonous and hollow like a Ghost's Denouncing judgment, but tho' changed,

the King's :

Liest thou here so low, the child of


I honour'd, happy, dead before thy

shame? Well is it that no child is born of thee. The children born of thee are sword and

fire, Red ruin, and the breaking up of laws, The craft of kindred and the Godless

hosts Of heathen swarming o'er the Northern

Sea; Whom I, while yet Sir Lancelot, my right

arm, The mightiest of my knights, abode with

me, Have everywhere about this land of

Christ In twelve great battles ruining over

thrown. And knowest thou now from whence I

come - from him, From waging bitter war with him: and

he, That did not shun to smite me in worse

way, Had yet that grace of courtesy in him left, He spared to litt his hand against the King Who made him knight: but many a

knight was slain; And many more, and all his kith and kin

Clave to him, and abode in his own land. And many more when Modred raised

revolt, Forgetful of their troth and fealty, clave To Modred, and a remnant stays with me. And of this remnant will I leave a part, True men who love me still, for whom I

live, To guard thee in the wild hour coming on, Lest but a hair of this low head be harm'd. Fear not: thou shalt be guarded till my

death. Howbeit I know, if ancient prophecies Have err'd not, that I march to meet my

doom. Thou hast not made my life so sweet to

me, That I the King should greatly care to

live; For thou hast spoilt the purpose of my life. Bear with me for the last time while I

show, Ev'n for thy sake, the sin which thou hast

sinn'd. For when the Roman left us, and their law Relax'd its hold upon us, and the ways Were fill'd with rapine, here and there a

deed Of prowess done redress'd a random

wrong. But I was first of all the kings who drew The Knighthood-errant of this realın and

all The realms together under me, their

Head, In that fair Order of my Table Round, A glorious company, the flower of men, To serve as model for the mighty world, And be the sair beginning of a time. I made them lay their hands in mine and

swear To reverence the King, as if he were Their conscience, and their conscience as

their King, To break the heathen and uphold the

Christ, To ride abroad redressing human wrongs, To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it, To honour his own word as if his God's, To lead sweet lives in purest chastity, To love one maiden only, cleave to her, And worship her by years of noble deeds Until they won her; for indeed I knew

Of no more subtle master under heaven Than is the maiden passion for a maid, Not only to keep down the base in man, But teach high thought, and amiable

words And courtliness, and the desire of fame, And love of truth, and all that makes a


Her station, taken everywhere for pure, She like a new disease, unknown to men, Creeps, no precaution used, among the

crowd, Makes wicked lightnings of her eyes, and

saps The fealty of our friends, and stirs the

pulse With devil's leaps, and poisons half the

young. Worst of the worst were that man he that

reigns! Better the King's waste hearth and aching

heart Than thou reseated in thy place of light, The mockery of my people, and their


He paused, and in the pause she crept

an inch Nearer, and laid her hands about his feet. Far off a solitary trumpet blew. Then waiting by the doors the warhorse

neigh'd As at a friend's voice, and he spake again :

And all this throve before I wedded thee, Believing, “lo mine helpmate, one to feel My purpose and rejoicing in my joy.” Then came thy shameful sin with Lance

lot; Then came the sin of Tristram and Isolt; Then others, following these my mightiest

knights, And drawing foul ensample from fair

names, Sinn'd also, till the loathsome opposite Of all my heart had destined did obtain, And all thro' thee! so that this life of mine I guard as God's high gift from scathe

and wrong, Not greatly care to lose; but rather think How sad it were for Arthur, should he live, To sit once more within his lonely hall, And miss the wonted number of my

knights, And miss to hear high talk of noble deeds As in the golden days before thy sin. For which of us, who might be left, could

speak Of the pure heart, nor seem to glance at

thee? And in thy bowers of Camelot or of Usk Thy shadow still would glide from room

to room, And I should evermore be vext with thee In hanging robe or vacant ornament, Or ghostly footfall echoing on the stair. For think not, tho' thou wouldst not love

thy lord, Thy lord has wholly lost his love for thee. I am not made of so slight elements. Yet must I leave thee, woman, to thy

shame. I hold that man the worst of public foes Who either for his own or children's sake, To save his blood from scandal, lets the

wife Whom he knows false, abide and rule the

house : For being thro' his cowardice allow'd

Yet think not that I come to urge thy

crimes, I did not come to curse thee, Guinevere, I, whose vast pity almost inakes me die To see thee, laying there thy golden head, My pride in happier summers, at my feet. The wrath which forced my thoughts on

that fierce law, The doom of treason and the flaming

death (When first I learnt thee hidden here), is

past. The pang - which while I weigh'd thy

heart with one Too wholly true to dream untruth in thee, Made my tears burn — is also past — in

part. And all is past, the sin is sinn'd and I, Lo! I forgive thee, as Eternal God Forgives : do thou for thine own soul the

rest. But how to take last leave of all I loved ? O golden hair, with which I used to play Not knowing! O imperial-moulded form, And beauty such as never woman wore, Until it came a kingdom's curse with



I cannot touch thy lips, they are not mine, But Lancelot's : nay, they never were the

King's. I cannot take thy hand; that too is flesh, And in the flesh thou hast sinn'd; and

mine own flesh, Here looking down on thine polluted, cries “I loathe thee:"yet not less, (Guinevere, For I was ever virgin save for thee, My love thro' flesh hath wrought into my

life So far, that my doom is, I love thee still. Let no man dream but that I love thee still. Perchance, and so thou purify thy soul, And so thou lean on our fair father Christ, Hereafter in that world where all are pure We two may meet before high God, and

thou Wilt spring to me, and claim me thine,

and know I am thine husband - - not a smaller soul, Nor Lancelot, nor another.

Leave me that, I charge thee, my last hope. Now must

I hence. Thro’ the thick night I hear the trumpet

blow: They summon me their King to lead mine

hosts Far down to that great battle in the west, Where I must strike against the man they

call My sister's son — no kin of mine, who

leagues With Lords of the White Horse, heathen,

and knights, Traitors — and strike him dead, and meet

myself Death, or I know not what mysterious

doom. And thou remaining here wilt learn the

event; But hither shall I never come again, Never lie by thy side; see thee no

more Farewell!'

Then, listening till those armed steps

were gone, Rose the pale Queen, and in her anguish

found The casement: “peradventure,' so she

thought, • If I might see his face, and not be seen.' And lo, he sat on horseback at the door! And near him the sad nuns with each a

light Stood, and he gave them charge about

the Queen, To guard and foster her for evermore. And while he spake to these his helm

was lower'd, To which for crest the golden dragon

clung Of Britain; so she did not see the face, Which then was as an angel's, but she

saw, Wet with the mists and smitten by the

lights, The Dragon of the great Pendragonship Blaze, making all the night a steam of

fire. And even then he turn'd; and more and

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And while she grovell’d at his feet, She felt the King's breath wander o'er

her neck, And in the darkness o'er her fallen head, Perceived the waving of his hands that


Gone — my lord: Gone thro' my sin to slay and to be slain! And he forgave me, and I could no

speak. Farewell? I should have answer'd his


Thou art the highest and most human

too, Not Lancelot nor another. Is there none Will tell the King I love him tho' so

late? Now

- ere he goes to the great Battle?

none: Myself must tell him in that purer life, But now it were too daring. Ah my God, What might I not have made of thy fair

world, Had I but loved thy highest creature

here? It was my duty to have loved the highest : It surely was my profit had I known: It would have been my pleasure had I


We needs must love the highest when

we see it, Not Lancelot, nor another.'

His mercy choked me. Gone, my lord

the King, My own true lord! how dare I call him

mine? The shadow of another cleaves to me, And makes me one pollution: he, the

King, Callid me polluted: shall I kill myself? What help in that? I cannot kill my

sin, If soul be soul; nor can I kill my shame; No, nor by living can I live it down. The days will grow to weeks, the weeks

to months, The months will add themselves and

make the years, The years will roll into the centuries, And mine will ever be a name of scorn. I must not dwell on that defeat of fame. Let the world be; that is but of the

world. What else? what hope? I think there

was a hope, Except he mock'd me when he spake

of hope; His hope he call'd it; but he never

mocks, For mockery is the fume of little hearts. And blessed be the King, who hath for

given My wickedness to him, and left me hope That in mine own heart I can live down

sin And be his mate hereafter in the heavens Before high God. Ah, great and gentle

lord, Who wast, as is the conscience of a saint Among his warring senses, to thy

knights To whom my false voluptuous pride, that

took Full easily all impressions from below, Would not look up, or half-respised the

height To which I would no' or I could not

climbI thought I could not breathe in that

fine air That pure severity of perfect light I yearn'd for warmth and colour which

I found In Lancelot - now I see thee what thou


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fron do


pure life,

But not rejoicing; mingle with your rites;

She said: they took her to themselves, Pray and be pray'd for; lie before your

and she shrines;

Still hoping, fearing, ‘is it yet too late?' Do each low office of your holy house;

Dwelt with them, till in time their AlWalk your dim cloister, and distribute

bess died.

Then she, for her good deeds and her
To poor sick people, richer in His eyes
Who ransom'd us, and haler too than I;

And for the power of ministration in her.
And treat their loathsome hurts and heal And likewise for the high rank she bau

borne, And so wear out in almsdeed and in Was chosen Abbess, there, an Abbesses prayer

lived The sombre close of that voluptuous For three brief years, and there, an Ab Wouwen day,

bess, past Which wrought the ruin of my lord the

To where beyond these voices there

End of The Round Table.'

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Era, am

That story which the bold Sir Bedivere,
First made and latest left of all the

Told, when the man was no more than a

voice In the white winter of his age, to those With whom he dwelt, new faces, other


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For on their march to westward, Bedi

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Who slowly paced among the slumbering

host, Heard in his tent the moanings of the


I hear the

Perchance, because we see not to the

For I, being simple, thought to work His

And have but stricken with the sword in

And all whereon I lean'd in wise and

Is traitor to my peace, and all my realm
Reels back into the beast, and is no more.
My God, thou hast forgotten

me in my Canair
death :
Nay – God my Christ - I pass but shall

not die.'
Then, ere that last weird battle in the

There came on Arthur sleeping, Gawain

In Lancelot's war, the ghost of Gawain

Along a wandering wind, and past his ear
Went shrilling, Hollow, hollow all de-

Hail, King! to-morrow thou shalt pass

Farewell! there is an isle of rest for thee.
And I am blown along a wandering wind,
And hollow, hollow, hollow all delight.'
And fainter onward, like wild birds that


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'I found Him in the shining of the

I mark'd Him in the Powering of His

But in His ways with men I find Him not.
I waged His wars, and now I pass and die.
O me! for why is all around us here
As if some lesser god had made the world,
But had not force to shape it as he would,
Till the High God behold it from beyond,
And enter it, and make it beautiful?
Or else as if the world were wholly fair,
But that these eyes of men are dense and

And have not power to see it as it is :

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