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My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.

The shattering trumpet shrilleth high,

The hard brands shiver on the steel,
The splinter'd spear-shafts crack and fly,
The horse and rider reel:
They reel, they roll in clanging lists,
And when the tide of combat stands,
Perfume and flowers fall in showers,

That lightly rain from ladies' hands.

How sweet are looks that ladies bend
On whom their favours fall!
For them I battle till the end,

To save from shame and thrall:
But all my heart is drawn above,

My knees are bow'd in crypt and shrine:

I never felt the kiss of love,

Nor maiden's hand in mine.
More bounteous aspects on me beam,

Me mightier transports move and thrill;
So keep I fair through faith and prayer
A virgin heart in work and will.

When down the stormy crescent goes,
A light before me swims,
Between dark stems the forest glows,
I hear a noise of hymns:
Then by some secret shrine I ride;

I hear a voice, but none are there;
The stalls are void, the doors are wide,
The tapers burning fair.
Fair gleams the snowy altar-cloth,

The silver vessels sparkle clean,
The shrill bell rings, the censer swings,
And solemn chants resound between.
Sometimes on lonely mountain-meres
I find a magic bark;

I leap on board: no helmsman steers:
I float till all is dark.

A gentle sound, an awful light!

Three angels bear the holy grail :
With folded feet, in stoles of white,
On sleeping wings they sail.
Ah, blessed vision! blood of God!

My spirit beats her mortal bars,
As down dark tides the glory slides,
And, star-like, mingles with the stars.

When on my goodly charger borne

Through dreaming towns I go,
The cock crows ere the Christmas morn,
The streets are dumb with snow.
The tempest crackles on the leads,

And, ringing, spins from brand and mail;
But o'er the dark a glory spreads,
And gilds the driving hail.

I leave the plain, I climb the height
No branchy thicket shelter yields;
But blessed forms in whistling storms

Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields.

A maiden knight-to me is given
Such hope, I know not fear;
I yearn to breathe the airs of heaven
That often meet me here.

I muse on joy that will not cease,
Pure spaces clothed in living beams,
Pure lilies of eternal peace,

Whose odours haunt my dreams;
And, stricken by an angel's hand,

This mortal armour that I wear, This weight and size, this heart and eyes, Are touch'd, are turn'd to finest air. The clouds are broken in the sky,

And through the mountain-walls A rolling organ-harmony

Swells up, and shakes and falls. Then move the trees, the copses nod, Wings flutter, voices hover clear: "O just and faithful knight of God! Ride on the prize is near." So pass I hostel, hall, and grange; By bridge and ford, by park and pale, All-arm'd I ride, whate'er betide, Until I find the holy grail.

THE BALLAD OF ORIANA. My heart is wasted with my wo, Oriana.

There is no rest for me below,


When the long dun wolds are ribb'd with snow, And loud the Norland whirlwinds blow,


Alone I wander to and fro,


Ere the light on dark was growing, Oriana,

At midnight the cock was crowing, Oriana:

Winds were blowing, waters flowing, We heard the steeds to battle going, Oriana;

Aloud the hollow bugle blowing,


In the yew-wood black as night, Oriana,

Ere I rode into the fight,


While blissful tears blinded my sight By star-shine and by moonlight,


I to thee my troth did plight,


She stood upon the castle wall,

She watch'd my crest among them all,

She saw me fight, she heard me call, When forth there stept a foeman tall,


Atween me and the castle wall,


The bitter arrow went aside,


The false, false arrow went aside,


The damned arrow glanced aside,


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ONCE more the gate behind me falls;
Once more before my face

I see the moulder'd Abbey-walls,
That stand within the chace.

Beyond the lodge the city lies,
Beneath its drift of smoke;
And, ah! with what delighted eyes
I turn to yonder oak.

For when my passion first began,
Ere that, which in me burn'd,
The love, that makes me thrice a man,
Could hope itself returned;

To yonder oak within the field
I spoke without restraint,
And with a larger faith appeal'd

Than papist unto saint.

For oft I talk'd with him apart

And told him of my choice, Until he plagiarized a heart,

And answer'd with a voice.

Though what he whisper'd under Heaven
None else could understand;

I found him garrulously given,
A babbler in the land.

But since I heard him make reply
Is many a weary hour;
"Twere well to question him, and try
If yet he keeps the power.

Hail, hidden to the knees in fern,

Broad oak of Sumner-chace,
Whose topmost branches can discern
The roofs of Sumner-place!

Say thou, whereon I carved her name,
If ever maid or spouse,

As fair as my Olivia, came

To rest beneath thy boughs.

"O Walter, I have shelter'd here
Whatever maiden grace

The good old summers, year by year,
Made ripe in Sumner-chace:

"Old summers, when the monk was fat,
And, issuing shorn and sleek,
Would twist his girdle tight, and pat
The girls upon the cheek;

"Ere yet, in scorn of Peter's-pence,

And number'd bead, and shrift, Bluff Harry broke into the spence, And turn'd the cowls adrift:

"And I have seen some score of those Fresh faces, that would thrive When his man-minded offset rose

To chase the deer at five;

"And all that from the town would stroll,
Till that wild wind made work
In which the gloomy brewer's soul
Went by me, like a stork:

"The slight she-slips of loyal blood,
And others, passing praise,
Strait-laced, but all-too-full in bud
For puritanic stays:

“And I have shadow'd many a group
Of beauties, that were born
In teacup-times of hood and hoop,
Or while the patch was worn;
"And leg and arm with love-knots gay,
About me leap'd and laugh'd
The modish Cupid of the day,

And shrill'd his tinsel shaft.

"I swear (and else may insects prick
Each leaf into a gall)

This girl, for whom your heart is sick,
Is three times worth them all;

"For those and their's, by Nature's law
Have faded long ago;

But in these latter springs I saw

Your own Olivia blow,

"From when she gamboll'd on the greens, A baby-germ, to when

The maiden blossoms of her teens

Could number five from ten.

"I swear by leaf, and wind, and rain
(And hear me with thine ears,)
That, though I circle in the grain

Five hundred rings of years-
"Yet, since I first could cast a shade,
Did never creature pass
So slightly, musically made,
So light upon the grass:
"For as to fairies, that will flit
To make the greensward fresh,
I hold them exquisitely knit,

But far too spare of flesh."

Oh, hide thy knotted knees in fern,
And overlook the chace;
And from thy topmost branch discern
The roofs of Sumner-place.
But thou, whereon I carved her name,
That oft hast heard my vows,
Declare when last Olivia came
To sport beneath thy boughs.
"Oh yesterday, you know, the fair
Was holden at the town;
Her father left his good arm-chair,
And rode his hunter down.
"And with him Albert came on his,

I look'd at him with joy:

As cowslip unto oxlip is,

So seems she to the boy.

"An hour had past-and, sitting straight,
Within the low-wheel'd chaise,
Her mother trundled to the gate
Behind the dappled grays.
"But, as for her, she stay'd at home,
And on the roof she went,
And down the way you use to come
She look'd with discontent.

"She left the novel half-uncut

Upon the rosewood shelf; She left the new piano shut:

She could not please herself.
"Then ran she, gamesome as the colt,
And livelier than a lark

She sent her voice through all the holt
Before her, and the park.

"A light wind chased her on the wing,
And in the chase grew wild,

As close as might be would he cling
About the darling child:

"But light as any wind that blows
So fleetly did she stir,

The flower, she touch'd on, dipt and rose, And turn'd to look at her.

"And here she came, and round me play'd, And sang to me the whole

Of those three stanzas that you made
About my giant bole;'

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"And in a fit of frolic mirth

She strove to span my waist; Alas, I was so broad of girth,

I could not be embraced.
"I wish'd myself the fair young beech
That here beside me stands,

That round me, clasping each in each,
She might have lock'd her hands.
"Yet seem'd the pressure thrice as sweet
As woodbine's fragile hold,

Or when I feel about my feet

The berried briony fold."

Oh muffle round thy knees with fern,
And shadow Sumner-chace!
Long may thy topmost branch discern
The roofs of Sumner-place!

But tell me, did she read the name
I carved with many vows
When last with throbbing heart I came
To rest beneath thy boughs?
"Oh yes, she wander'd round and round
These knotted knees of mine,
And found, and kiss'd the name she found,
And sweetly murmur'd thine.
"A tear-drop trembled from its source,
And down my surface crept.
My sense of touch is something coarse,
But I believe she wept.

"Then flush'd her cheek with rosy light,
She glanced across the plain;
But not a creature was in sight:

She kiss'd me once again.
"Her kisses were so close and kind

That, trust me on my word,
Hard wood I am, and wrinkled rind,
But yet my sap was stirr'd:
"And even into my inmost ring

A pleasure I discern'd,

Like those blind motions of the spring, That show the year is turn'd.

"Thrice-happy he that may caress

The ringlet's waving balmThe cushions of whose touch may press The maiden's tender palm.

"I, rooted here among the groves,

But languidly adjust

My vapid vegetable loves

With anthers and with dust:

"For ah! the dryad-days were brief Whereof the poets talk,

When that, which breathes within the leaf, Could slip its bark and walk.

"But could I, as in times foregone,

From spray, and branch, and stem,
Have suck'd and gather'd into one
The life that spreads in them,
"She had not found me so remiss;
But, lightly issuing through,

I would have paid her kiss for kiss
With usury thereto."

Oh flourish high, with leafy towers,
And overlook the lea,

Pursue thy loves among the bowers,
But leave thou mine to me.

Oh flourish, hidden deep in fern,
Old oak, I love thee well;

A thousand thanks for what I learn
And what remains to tell.

""Tis little more: the day was warm,
At last, tired out with play,
She sank her head upon her arm,
And at my feet she lay.

"Her eyelids dropp'd their silken eaves:
I breathed upon her eyes
Through all the summer of my leaves
A welcome mix'd with sighs.

"I took the swarming sound of life-
The music from the town-
The whispers of the drum and fife,

And lull'd them in my own.
"Sometimes I let a sunbeam slip
To light her shaded eye;
A second flutter'd round her lip
Like a golden butterfly;

"A third would glimmer on her neck
To make the necklace shine;

Another slid, a sunny fleck,

From head to ankle fine.

"Then close and dark my arms I spread,
And shadow'd all her rest-
Dropt dews upon her golden head,
An acorn in her breast.

"But in a pet she started up,
And pluck'd it out, and drew
My little oakling from the cup,
And flung him in the dew.

"And yet it was a graceful gift-
I felt a pang within

As when I see the woodman lift
His axe to slay my kin.

"I shook him down because he was The finest on the tree.

He lies beside thee on the grass

Oh kiss him once for me.

"Oh kiss him twice and thrice for me,

That have no lips to kiss, For never yet was oak on lea

Shall grow so fair as this."

Step deeper yet in herb and fern,

Look further through the chace, Spread upward till thy boughs discern The front of Sumner-place.

This fruit of thine by Love is blest
That but a moment lay
Where fairer fruit of love may rest
Some happy future day.

I kiss it twice, I kiss it thrice,
The warmth it thence shall win
To riper life may magnetise

The baby-oak within.

But thou, while kingdoms overset,
Or lapse from hand to hand,
Thy leaf shall never fail, nor yet
Thine acorn in the land.

May never saw dismember thee,
Nor wielded axe disjoint,
That art the fairest-spoken tree
From here to Lizard-point.
Oh rock upon thy towery top

All throats that gurgle sweet!
All starry culmination drop

Balm-dews to bathe thy feet! All grass of silky feather grow

And while he sinks or swells
The full south-breeze around thee blow
The sound of minster bells.

The fat earth feed thy branchy root,
That under deeply strikes!
The northern morning o'er thee shoot,
High up, in silver spikes!

Nor ever lightning char thy grain,
But, rolling as in sleep,
Low thunders bring the mellow rain,
That makes thee broad and deep!
And hear me swear a solemn oath,
That only by thy side

Will I to Olive plight my troth,

And gain her for my bride.

And when my marriage-morn may fall,
She, dryad-like, shall wear
Alternate leaf and acorn-ball
In wreath about her hair.

And I will work in prose and rhyme,
And praise thee more in both

Than bard has honour'd beech or lime,
Or that Thessalian growth,

In which the swarthy ring-dove sat
And mystic sentence spoke;
And more than England honours that,
Thy famous brother-oak.

Wherein the younger Charles abode
Till all the paths were dim,
And far below the Roundhead rode,
And humm'd a surly hymn.



Ox either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,

That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And through the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;.
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.

Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Through the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river

Flowing down to Camelot.

Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers

The Lady of Shalott.

By the margin, willow-veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd,

Skimming down to Camelot :

But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,

Down to tower'd Camelot :
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers ""Tis the fairy
Lady of Shalott."


THERE she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay

To look down to Camelot.

She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,

The Lady of Shalott.

And moving through a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near

Winding down to Camelot :

There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market-girls,
Pass onward from Shalott.
Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes through the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
The Lady of Shalott.

But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often through the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights,
And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed;
"I am half-sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott.


A BOW-SHOT from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley sheaves,
The sun came dazzling through the leaves
And flamed upon the brazen greaves

Of bold Sir Lancelot.

A redcross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,

That sparkled on the yellow field,
Beside remote Shalott.

The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden galaxy.
The bridle-bells rang merrily,

As he rode down to Camelot :
And from this blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,

Beside remote Shalott.

All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
As he rode down to Camelot.
As often through the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,

Moves over still Shalott.

His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,

As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash'd into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river

Sang Sir Lancelot.

She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces through the room,

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