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ENGLAND AND AMERICA IN 1782 - THE GOOSE.

65

And feeding high, and living soft,

Grew plump and able-bodied; Until the grave church warden doff'd,

The parson smirk'd and nodded.

So sitting, served by man and maid,

She felt her heart grow prouder : But ah! the more the white goose laid

It clack'd and cackled louder.

ENGLAND AND AMERICA

IN 1782.
O THOU, that sendest out the man

To rule by land and sea,
Strong mother of a Lion-line,
Be proud of those strong sons of thine

Who wrench'd their rights from thee! What wonder, if in noble heat

Those men thine arms withstood, Retaught the lesson thou hadst taught, And in thy spirit with thee fought

Who sprang from English blood ! But Thou rejoice with liberal joy,

Lift up thy rocky face, And shatter, when the storms are black, In many a streaming torrent back, The seas that shock thy base !

It clutter'd here, it chuckled there;

It stirr'd the old wife's mettle: She shifted in her elbow-chair,

And hurl'd the pan and kettle.

'A quinsy choke thy cursed note!'

Then wax'd her anger stronger.
Go, take the goose, and wring her

throat,
I will not bear it longer.'

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66

THE EPIC.

ENGLISH IDYLS

AND OTHER POEMS.

THE EPIC.

man

AT Francis Allen's on the Christmas

eve, The game of forfeits done the girls all

kiss'd
Beneath the sacred bush and past away -
The parson Holmes, the poet Everard

Hall,
The host, and I sat round the wassail-

bowl,
Then half-way ebb’d: and there we held

a talk, How all the old honour had from Christ

mas gone, Or gone, or dwindled down to some odd

games In some odd nooks like this; till I, tired

out With cutting eights that day upon the

pond,
Where, three times slipping from the

outer edge,
I bump'd the ice into three several stars,
Fell in a doze; and half-awake I heard
The parson taking wide and wider

sweeps,
Now harping on the church-commis-

sioners,
Now hawking at Geology and schism;
Until I woke, and found him settled down
Upon the general decay of faith
Right thro' the world, at home was little

left,
And none abroad: there was no anchor,

none, To hold by.' Francis, laughing, clapt

his hand On Everard's shoulder, with • i hold by

him.' * And I,' quoth Everard, “ by the wassail

bowl.' • Why yes,' I said, "we knew your gift

What came of that?' 'You know,' said

Frank, ‘he burnt
His epic, his King Arthur, some twelve

books'-
And then to me demanding why? Ok,

sir, He thought that nothing new was said,

or else Something so said 'twas nothing – that a

truth Looks freshest in the fashion of the

day : God knows: he has a mint of reasons :

ask. It pleased me well enough. Nay, nay,

' said Hall, 'Why take the style of those heroic

times? For nature brings not back the Masto

don, Nor we those times; and why should any Remodel models? these twelve books of

mine Were faint Homeric echoes, nothing.

worth,
Mere chaff and draff, much better burnt.'
Said Francis, ' pick'd the eleventh from

this hearth
And have it: keep a thing, its use will
I hoard it as a sugar-plum for Holmes.'
He laugh'd, and I, 'tho' sleepy, like a

horse
That hears the corn-bin open, prick'd

my ears; For I remember'd Everard's college fame When we were Freshmen: then at my

request
He brought it; and the poet little

urged,
But with some prelude of disparagement,
Read, mouthing out his hollow oes and
Deep-chested music, and to this result.

• But I,'

come.

that way

At college : but another which you had,
I mean of verse (for so we held it then),

aes,

MORTE D'ARTHUR.

So all day long the noise of battle rollid Among the mountains by the winter sea; Until King Arthur's table, man by man, Had fallen in Lyonnesse about their Lord, King Arthur: then, because his wound

was deep, The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him, Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights, And bore him to a chapel nigh the field, A broken chancel with a broken cross, That stood on a dark strait of barren land. On one side lay the Ocean, and on one Lay a great water, and the moon was

full Then spake King Arthur to Sir

Bedivere : * The sequel of to-day unsolders all The goodliest fellowship of famous

knights Whereof this world holds record. Such

a sleep They sleep - the men I loved. I think

that we Shall never more, at any future time, Delight our souls with talk of knightly

deeds, Walking about the gardens and the halls , of Camelot, as in the days that were. I perish by this people which I made,Tho' Merlin sware that I should come

again To rule once more but let what will be,

be, I am so deeply smitten thro' the helm That without help I cannot last till morn. Thou therefore take my brand Excalibur, Which was my pride: for thou remem

berest how In those old days, one summer noon, an

And fling him far into the middle mere: Watch what thou seëst, and lightly bring

me word.' To him replied the bold Sir Bedivere : 'It is not meet, Sir King, to leave thee

thus, Aidless, alone, and smitten thro’the helm. A little thing may harm a wounded man. Yet I thy hest will all perform at full, Watch what I see, and lightly bring thee

word.' So saying, from the ruin'd shrine he

stept And in the moon athwart the place of

tombs, Where lay the mighty bones of ancient

men, Old knights, and over them the sea-wind

Sang Shrill, chill, with flakes of foam. He,

stepping down By zig-zag paths, and juts of pointed

rock, Came on the shining levels of the lake. There drew he forth the brand

Excalibur, And o'er him, drawing it, the winter

moon, Brightening the skirts of a long cloud,

ran forth And sparkled keen with frost against the

hilt: For all the haft twinkled with diamond

sparks, Myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth-work Of subtlest jewellery. He gazed so long That both his eyes were dazzled, as he

stood, This way and that dividing the swift

mind, In act to throw: but at the last it seem'd Better to leave Excalibur conceal'd There in the many-knotted waterflags, That whistled stiff and dry about the

marge. So strode he back slow to the wounded

King.
Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedi-

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vere:

And took it, and have worn it, like a

king:
And, wheresoever I am sung or told
In astertime, this also shall be known:
But now delay not: take Excalibur,

*Hast thou perform’d my mission which

I gave? What is it thou hast seen? or what hast

heard?'

And answer made the bold Sir Bedi

vere: *I heard the ripple washing in the reeds, And the wild water lapping on the crag.' To whom replied King Arthur, faint

and pale : •Thou hast betray'd thy nature and thy

name, Not tendering true answer, as beseem'd Thy fëalty, nor like a noble knight: For surer sign had follow'd, either hand, Or voice, or else a motion of the mere. This is a shameful thing for men to lie. Yet now, I charge thee, quickly go again As thou art lief and dear, and do the

thing I bade thee, watch, and lightly bring me

word.' Then went Sir Bedivere the second

time Across the ridge, and paced beside the

Nine years she wrought it, sitting in the

deeps Upon the hidden bases of the hills." So might some old man speak in the

aftertime To all the people, winning reverence. But now much honour and much fame

were lost.' So spake he, clouded with his own

conceit, And hid Excalibur the second time, And so strode back slow to the wounded

King. Then spoke King Arthur, breathing

heavily : • What is it thou hast seen? or what hast

heard?' And answer made the bold Sir Bedi

vere:

mere,

Counting the dewy pebbles, fix'd in

thought; But when he saw the wonder of the hilt, How curiously and strangely chased, he

smote His palms together, and he cried aloud,

. And if indeed I cast the brand away, Surely a precious thing, one worthy note, Should thus be lost for ever from the earth, Which might have pleased the eyes of

many men. What good should follow this, if this

were done? What harm, undone? deep harm to dis

obey, Seeing obedience is the bond of rule. Were it well to obey, then, if a king de

mand An act unprofitable, against himself? The King is sick, and knows not what he

does. What record, or what relic of my lord Should be to aftertime, but empty breath And rumours of a doubt? but were this

kept, Stored in some treasure-house of mighty

kings, Some one might show it at a joust of arms, Saying, “ King Arthur's sword, Excalibur, Wrought by the lonely maiden of the

Lake.

• I heard the water lapping on the crag, And the long ripple washing in the

reeds.' To whom replied King Arthur, much

in wrath: • Ah, miserable and unkind, untrue, Unknightly, traitor-hearted ! Woe is me! Authority forgets a dying king, Laid widow'd of the power in his eye That bow'd the will. I see thee what

thou art, For thou, the latest-left of all my knights, In whom should meet the offices of all, Thou wouldst betray me for the precious

hilt; Either from lust of gold, or like a girl Valuing the giddy pleasure of the eves. Yet, for a man may fail in duty twice, And the third time may prosper, get thee

hence: But, if thou spare to fling Excalibur, I will arise and slay thee with my hands.”

Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and And, leaping down the ridges lightly,

plunged Among the bulrush-beds, and clutch'd

the sword, And strongly wheeld and threw it. The

great brand Made lightnings in the splendour of the

moon, And flashing round and round, and whirl'd

in an arch,

ran,

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