Imágenes de página




• Such be for queens, and not for simple And mueh they ask'd of court and Table

Round, Then she, who beld her eyes upon the And ever well and readily answer'd he; ground,

| But Lancelot, when they glanced at GuineElaine, and heard her name so tost about,

vere, Flush'd slightly at the slight disparage- Suddenly speaking of the wordless man, 270 - ment

Heard from the baron that, ten years beBefore the stranger knight, who, looking at fore, her,

The heathen caught and reft him of his Full courtly, yet not falsely, thus return'd:

tongue. • If what is fair be but for what is fair, “He learnt and warn'd me of their fierce And only queens are to be counted so, I design Rash were my judgment then, who deem Against my house, and him they caught this maid

and maim'd; Might wear as fair a jewel as is on earth, But I, my sons, and little daughter fled Not violating the bond of like to like.' 240 From bonds or death, and dwelt among the

woods He spoke and ceased; the lily maid By the great river in a boatman's hut. Elaine,

Dull days were those, till our good Arthur Won by the mellow voice before she look'd,

broke Lifted her eyes and read his lineaments. The Pagan yet once more on Badon hill.' The great and guilty love he bare the Queen,

O, there, great lord, doubtless,' Lavaine In battle with the love be bare his lord,

said, rapt Had marr'd his face, and mark'd it ere his By all the sweet and sudden passion of time.

youth Another sinning on such heights with one, Toward greatness in its elder, ‘you have The flower of all the west and all the world,

fought. Had been the sleeker for it; but in him 249 10, tell us — for we live apart - you know His mood was often like a fiend, and rose Of Arthur's glorious wars.' And Lancelot And drove him into wastes and solitudes

spoke For agony, who was yet a living soul. And answer'd him at full, as having been Marr'd as he was, he seem'd the goodliest With Arthur in the fight which all day man

long That ever among ladies ate in hall,

Rang by the white mouth of the violent And noblest, when she lifted up her eyes. However marr'd, of more than twice her And in the four loud battles by the shore years,

Of Duglas; that on Bassa; then the war Seam'd with an ancient sword-cut on the | That thunder'd in and out the gloomy cheek,


290 And bruised and bronzed, she lifted up her Of Celidon the forest; and again eyes

By Castle Gurnion, where the glorious And loved him, with that love which was her doom.

Had on his cuirass worn our Lady's Head,

Carved of one emerald centred in a sun Then the great knight, the darling of the Of silver rays, that lighten'd as he breathed; court,

And at Caerleon had he help'd his lord, Loved of the loveliest, into that rude hall When the strong neighings of the wild Stept with all grace, and not with half dis

White Horse dain

Set every gilded parapet shuddering; Hid under grace, as in a smaller time, And up in Agned-Cathregonion too, But kindly man moving among his kind; And down the waste sand-shores of Trath Whom they with meats and vintage of their


Where many a heathen fell; «and on the And talk and minstrel melody entertain'd.

O Glem;






[ocr errors]




Of Badon I myself beheld the King

Down the long tower-stairs, hesitating. 341 Charge at the head of all his Table Round, Anon, she heard Sir Lancelot cry in the And all his legions crying Christ and him,

court, And break them; and I saw him, after, *This shield, my friend, where is it?' and stand

Lavaine High on a heap of slain, from spur to | Past inward, as she came from out the plume

tower. Red as the rising sun with heathen blood, There to his proud horse Lancelot turn'd, And seeing me, with a great voice he cried, and smooth'd They are broken, they are broken !” for The glossy shoulder, humming to himself. the King,

Half-envious of the flattering hand, she However mild he seems at home, nor cares For triumph in our mimic wars, the jousts - Nearer and stood. He look'd, and, more For if his own knight casts him down, he

amazed laughs,

Than if seven men had set upon him, saw Saying his knights are better men than The maiden standing in the dewy light. 350 he

He had not dream'd she was so beautiful. Yet in this heathen war the fire of God Then came on him a sort of sacred fear, Fills him. I never saw his like; there lives For silent, tho' he greeted her, she stood No greater leader.

Rapt on his face as if it were a god's.

Suddenly flash'd on her a wild desire While he utter'd this, That he should wear ber favor at the tilt. Low to her own heart said the lily maid, She braved a riotous heart in asking for it. "Save your great self, fair lord;' and when • Fair lord, whose name I know not — he fell

noble it is, From talk of war to traits of pleasantry - I well believe, the noblest - will you wear Being mirthful he, but in a stately kind - My favor at this tourney ?' Nay,' said She still took note that when the living he,

360 smile

Fair lady, since I never yet have worn Died from his lips, across him came a Favor of any lady in the lists. cloud

Such is my wont, as those who know me Of melancholy severe, from which again,

know.' Whenever in her hovering to and fro • Yea, so,' she answer'd; 'then in wearing The lily maid had striven to make him

mine cheer,

Needs must be lesser likelihood, noble lord, There brake a sudden-beaming tenderness That those who know should know you.' Of manners and of nature; and she thought

And he turn'd That all was nature, all, perchance, for Her counsel up and down within his mind,

And found it true, and answer'd: True, And all night long his face before her my child. lived,

Well, I will wear it; fetch it out to me. As when a painter, poring on a face, 330 What is it?' and she told him, 'A red Divinely thro' all hindrance finds the man


370 Behind it, and so paints him that his face, Broider'd with pearls,' and brought it. The shape and color of a mind and life,

Then he bound Lives for his children, ever at its best Her token on his helmet, with a smile And fullest; so the face before her lived, Saying, I never yet have done so much Dark-splendid, speaking in the silence, full | For any maiden living,' and the blood Of noble things, and held her from her Sprang to her face and fill'd her with sleep,

delight; Till rathe she rose, half-cheated in the But left her all the paler when Lavaine thought

Returning brought the yet - unblazon'd She needs must bid farewell to sweet shield, Lavaine.

His brother's, which he gave to Lancelot, First as in fear, step after step, she stole | Who parted with his own to fair Elaine:







• Do me this grace, my child, to have my They rose, heard mass, broke fast, and rode shield


away. In keeping till I come.' "A grace to me,' Then Lancelot saying, “Hear, but hold my She answer'd, 'twice to-day. I am your squire !

Hidden, you ride with Lancelot of the Whereat Lavaine said laughing: Lily

Lake, maid,

Abash'd Lavaine, whose instant reverence, For fear our people call you lily maid Dearer to true young hearts than their own In earnest, let me bring your color back;

praise, Once, twice, and thrice. Now get you hence But left him leave to stammer, “Is it into bed;'

deed ?' So kiss'd her, and Sir Lancelot his own And after muttering, 'The great Lancelot,'

At last he got his breath and answer'd: And thus they moved away. She staid a

One, minute,

One have I seen — that other, our liege Then made a sudden step to the gate, and

lord, there

The dread' Pendragon, Britain's King of Her bright hair blown about the serious face

390 Of whom the people talk mysteriously, Yet rosy-kindled with her brother's kiss — He will be there — then were I stricken Paused by the gateway, standing near the

blind shield

That minute, I might say that I had seen.' In silence, while she watch'd their arms far-off

So spake Lavaine, and when they reach'd Sparkle, until they dipt below the downs.

the lists Then to her tower she climb'd, and took | By Camelot in the meadow, let bis eyes the shield,

Run thro' the peopled gallery which half There kept it, and so lived in fantasy.


Lay like a rainbow fallen upon the grass, Meanwhile the new companions past Until they found the clear-faced King, who away

sat Far o'er the long backs of the bushless Robed in red samite, easily to be known, downs,

Since to his crown the golden dragon clung, To where Sir Lancelot knew there lived a And down his robe the dragon writhed in knight


gold, Not far from Camelot, now for forty years And from the carven - work behind him A bermit, who had pray'd, labor'd and

crept pray'd,

Two dragons gilded, sloping down to make And ever laboring had scoop'd himself Arms for his chair, while all the rest of In the white rock a chapel and a hall

them On massive columns, like a shore-cliff cave, Thro' knots and loops and folds innumeraAnd cells and chambers. All were fair

ble and dry;

Fled ever thro' the woodwork, till they The green light from the meadows under

found neath

The new design wherein they lost themStruck up and lived along the milky roofs;


439 And in the meadows tremulous aspen-trees Yet with all ease, so tender was the work; And poplars made a noise of falling showers. And, in the costly canopy o'er him set, And thither wending there that night they Blazed the last diamond of the nameless bode.


king. · But when the next day broke from under- Then Lancelot answer'd young Lavaine ground,

and said: And shot red fire and shadows thro' the Me you call great; mine is the firmer seat, cave,

| The truer lance; but there is many a youth

430 side,

Now crescent, who will come to all I am | Green - glimmering toward the summit, And overcome it; and in me there dwells

bears, with all No greatness, save it be some far-off touch Its stormy crests that smoke against the Of greatness to know well I am not great.

skies, There is the man.' And Lavaine gaped Down on a bark, and overbears the bark upon him


And him that belms it; so they overbore As on a thing miraculous, and anon

Sir Lancelot and his charger, and a spear The trumpets blew; and then did either | Down-glancing lamed the charger, and a

spear They that assail'd, and they that held the Prick'd sharply his own cuirass, and the lists,

head Set lance in rest, strike spur, suddenly Pierced tbro' his side, and there snapt and move,

remain'd. Meet in the midst, and there so furiously Shock that a man far-off might well per

Then Sir Lavaine did well and worshipceive,

fully. If any man that day were left afield, He bore a knight of old repute to the The hard earth shake, and a low thunder


490 of arms.

And brought his horse to Lancelot where And Lancelot bode a little, till he saw

he lay. Which were the weaker; then he hurld He up the side, sweating with agony, into it


got, Against the stronger. Little need to speak But thought to do while he might yet enOf Lancelot in his glory! King, duke, earl,

dure, Count, baron — whom he smote, he over And being lustily holpen by the rest, threw.

His party, - tho it seem'd half-miracle

To those he fought with, - drave his kith But in the field were Lancelot's kith and and kin, kin,

And all the Table Round that held the lists, Ranged with the Table Round that held Back to the barrier; then the trumpets the lists,

blew Strong men, and wrathful that a stranger Proclaiming his the prize who wore the knight

sleeve Should do and almost overdo the deeds Of scarlet and the pearls; and all the Of Lancelot; and one said to the other,

knights, Lo!

His party, cried, 'Advance and take thy What is he? I do not mean the force prize alone —

The diamond; ' but he answer'd: Diamond The grace and versatility of the man.! 470

me Is it not Lancelot?' 'When has Lancelot No diamonds ! for God's love, a little air! worn

Prize me no prizes, for my prize is death! Favor of any lady in the lists ?

Hence will I, and I charge you, follow me Not such his wont, as we that know him

not.' know.' • How then ? who then ?' a fury seized He spoke, and vanish'd suddenly from them all,

the field A fiery family passion for the name

With young Lavaine into the poplar grove. Of Lancelot, and a glory one with theirs. There from his charger down he slid, and They couch'd their spears and prick'd their steeds, and thus,

Gasping to Sir Lavaine, 'Draw the lanceTheir plumes driven backward by the wind I head.' they made

Ah, my sweet lord Sir Lancelot,' said LaIn moving, all together down upon him

vaine, Bare, as a wild wave in the wide North I dread me, if I draw it, you will die.'

480 | But he, “I die already with it; draw


I die, 510



Draw,' – and Lavaine drew, and Sir And bring us where he is, and how he fares, Lancelot gave

And cease not from your quest until ye A marvellous great shriek and ghastly find.'

groan, And half his blood burst forth, and down So saying, from the carven flower above, he sank

To which it made a restless heart, he took For the pure pain, and wholly swoon'd And gave the diamond. Then from where away.

he sat Then came the hermit ont and bare him At Arthur's right, with smiling face arose, in,

With smiling face and frowning heart, a There stanch'd his wound; and there, in

prince daily doubt

In the mid might and flourish of his May, Whether to live or die, for many a week Gawain, surnamed the Courteous, fair and Hid from the wild world's rumor by the

strong, grove


And after Lancelot, Tristram, and Geraint, Of poplars with their noise of falling show | And Gareth, a good knight, but thereers,

withal And ever-tremulous aspen-trees, he lay. Sir Modred's brother, and the child of Lot,

Nor often loyal to his word, and now But on that day when Lancelot fled the Wroth that the King's command to sally lists,

forth His party, knights of utmost North and In quest of whom he knew not, made him West,

leave Lords of waste marshes, kings of desolate The banquet and concourse of knights and isles,


560 Came round their great Pendragon, saying to him,

So all in wrath he got to horse and went; • Lo, Sire, our knight, thro' whom we won While Arthur to the banquet, dark in mood, the day,

Past, thinking, Is it Lancelot who hath Hath gone sore wounded, and hath left his

come prize

Despite the wound he spake of, all for gain Untaken, crying that his prize is death.' Of glory, and bath added wound to wound, • Heaven hinder,' said the King, that such And ridden away to die?' So fear'd the

an one, So great a knight as we have seen to-day — And, after two days' tarriance there, reHe seem'd to me another Lancelot

turn'd. Yea, twenty times I thought him Lance- | Then when he saw the Queen, embracing

ask'd, He must not pass uncared for. Wherefore Love, are you get so sick ?' 'Nay, lord,' rise,

she said. O Gawain, and ride forth and find the . And where is Lancelot ?' Then the Queen knight.

amazed, Wounded and wearied, needs must he be Was he not with you ? won he not your near.

prize ?' I charge you that you get at once to horse. “Nay, but one like him. Why, that like And, knights and kings, there breathes not

was he.' one of you

And when the King demanded how she Will deem this prize of ours is rashly given; His prowess was too wondrous. We will Said: “Lord, no sooner had ye parted from

do bim No customary honor; since the knight Than Lancelot told me of a common talk Came not to us, of us to claim the prize, That men went down before his spear at a Ourselves will send it after. Rise and

touch, take

But knowing he was Lancelot; bis great This diamond, and deliver it, and return,




lot =


[ocr errors]




« AnteriorContinuar »