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For ever! thou their tool, set on to plague And play upon and harry me, petty spy And traitress!” When that storm of an

ger brake

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uncon

From Guinevere, aghast the maiden

rose, White as her veil; and stood before the

Queen As tremulously as foam upon the beach Stands in a wind, ready to break and fly; And when the Queen had added, “Get

thee hence!" Fled frighted. Then that other left alone

365 Sighed, and began to gather heart again, Saying in herself: "The simple, fearful

child Meant nothing, but my own too-fearful

guilt, Simpler than any child, betrays itself. But help me, Heaven, for surely I repent!

370 For what is true

repentance but in thought Not even in inmost thought to think again The sins that made the past so pleasant to

us? And I have sworn never to see him more, To see him more."

400

But when the Queen immersed in such

a trance, And moving through the past

sciously, Came to that point where first she saw

the King Ride toward her from the city, sighed to

find Her journey done, glanced at him, thought

him cold, High, self-contained, and passionless, not

like him, “Not like my

Lancelot” – while she brooded thus And grew half-guilty in her thoughts

again, There rode an armed warrior to the doors. A murmuring whisper through the nun

nery ran, Then on a sudden a cry, “The King!” She

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sat

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And even in saying this, 375 Her memory from old habit of the mind Went slipping back upon the golden days In which she saw him first, when Lancelot

came, Reputed the best knight and goodliest

man, Ambassador, to yield her to his lord Arthur, and led her forth. And far ahead Of his and her retinue moving, they, Rapt in sweet talk or lively, all on love And sport and tilts and pleasure, for

the time Was maytime, and as yet no sin was

dreamed, Rode under groves that looked a paradise Of blossom, over sheets of hyacinth That seemed the heavens upbreaking

through the earth;

Stiff-stricken, listening; but when armed

feet Through the long gallery from the outer

doors Rang coming, prone from off her seat she

fell, And grovelled with her face against the

floor. There with her milk-white arms and shad

owy hair

385

She made her face a darkness from the

King, And in the darkness heard his armèd feet

415 Pause by her; then came silence; then a

voice,

Monotonous and hollow like a ghost's Denouncing judgment, but, though changed,

the King's:

Have erred 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.

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450

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455

"Liest thou here so low, the child of one I honored, — 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

- 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 lift 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 re

volt, Forgetful of their troth and fealty, clave To Modred; and a remnant stays with

“Bear with me for the last time while I

show, Even for thy sake, the sin which thou hast

sinned. For when the Romans left us, and their

law Relaxed its hold upon us, and the ways Were filled with rapine, here and there a

deed Of prowess done redressed a random

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

all The realms together under me,

their Head, In that fair Order of

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

come

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my Table

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swear

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To reverence the King, as if he were 465 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 honor his own word as if his God's; 470 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 475 Than is the maiden passion for a maid, Not only to keep down the base in man, But teach high thought, and amiable

words

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man.

480

a

to

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485

520

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And courtliness, and the desire of fame, To save his blood from scandal, lets the And love of truth, and all that makes a wife

Whom he knows false abide and rule the And all this throve before I wedded thee, house: Believing, ‘Lo, mine helpmate, one to feel For being through his cowardice allowed My purpose and rejoicing in my joy!' Her station, taken everywhere for pure, Then came thy shameful sin with Lance She like new disease, unknown lot;

men, Then came the sin of Tristram and Creeps, no precaution used, among the Isolt;

crowd; Then others, following these my mightiest Makes wicked lightnings of her eyes, and knights,

saps And drawing foul ensample from fair The fealty of our friends, and stirs the names,

pulse Sinned also, till the loathsome opposite With devil's leaps, and poisons half the Of all my heart had destined did obtain; young. And all through thee!

Worst of the worst were that man he that

reigns! “So that this life of mine

Better the King's waste hearth and aching I guard as God's high gift from scathe and heart wrong,

Than thou reseated in thy place of light, Not greatly care to lose; but rather think The mockery of my people and their How sad it were for Arthur, should he bane!

live, To sit once more within his lonely hall, He paused, and in the pause she crept And miss the wonted number of my knights,

Nearer, and laid her hands about his And miss to hear high talk of noble deeds feet.

525 As in the golden days before thy sin. Far off a solitary trumpet blew; For which of us who might be left could Then, waiting by the doors, the war-horse speak

neighed Of the pure heart, nor seem to glance at As at a friend's voice; and he spake again:

thee? And in thy bowers of Camelot or of “Yet think not that I come to urge thy Usk

crimes; Thy shadow still would glide from room

I did not

come to curse thee, Guineto room,

vere, And I should evermore be vext with thee I, whose vast pity almost makes me die In hanging robe or vacant ornament, To see thee, laying there thy golden head, Or ghostly footfall echoing on the stair. My pride in happier summers, at my feet. For think not, though thou wouldst not The wrath which forced my thoughts on love thy lord,

that fierce law, Thy lord has wholly lost his love for thee. The doom of treason and the flaming I am not made of so slight elements.

death, Yet must I leave thee, woman, to thy When first I learnt thee hidden here, — is shame.

past. I hold that man the worst of public foes

which, while I weighed thy Who either for his own

or children's

heart with one sake,

510 Too wholly true to dream untruth in thee,

an inch

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530

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The pang,

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550

580

Made my tears burn,

is also past,

in Where I must strike against the man they part.

call And all is past, the sin is sinned; and I, 540 My sister's son — no kin of mine; who Lo, I forgive thee, as Eternal God

leagues Forgives: do thou for thine own soul the With Lords of the White Horse, heathen, rest.

and knights, But how to take last leave of all I loved ? Traitors and strike him dead; and meet O golden hair, with which I used to play myself Not knowing! o imperial-moulded Death, or I know not what mysterious form,

545

doom. And beauty such as never woman wore, And thou remaining here wilt learn the Until it came a kingdom's curse with

event; thee

But hither shall I never come again, 575 I cannot touch thy lips, they are not mine, Never lie by thy side, see thee no more — But Lancelot's; nay, they never were the Farewell!"

King's.
I cannot take thy hand; that too is

And while she grovelled at his feet,
Aesh,

She felt the King's breath wander o'er her And in the flesh thou hast sinned; and neck; mine own Aesh,

And in the darkness, o'er her fallen head, Here looking down on thine polluted, cries, Perceived the waving of his hands that "I loathe thee.” Yet not less, O Guine blest.

vere, For I was ever virgin save for thee,

Then, listening till those armed steps My love through flesh hath wrought into

were gone,

Rose the pale Queen, and in her anguish So far, that my doom is, I love thee still. found Let no man dream but that I love thee

The casement: "peradventure," so she still.

thought,

“If I might see his face, and not be seen." "Perchance, and so thou purify thy soul, And lo, he sat on horseback at the And so thou lean our fair father door! Christ,

And near him the sad nuns with each a Hereafter in that world where all are light pure

Stood, and he gave them charge about the We two may meet before high God; and

Queen, thou

To guard and foster her for evermore. Wilt spring to me, and claim me thine, and And while he spake to these his helm was know

lowered, I am thine husband not a smaller soul, To which for crest the golden dragon Nor Lancelot, nor another.

Leave me
clung

590 that,

Of Britain; so she did not see the face, I charge thee, my last hope. Now must Which then was as an angel's; but she I hence.

565

saw, Through the thick ight I hear the trumpet Wet with the mists and smitten by the

blow. They summon me their King to lead mine The Dragon of the great Pendragonship hosts

Blaze, making all the night a steam of Far down to that great battle in the west,

my life

555

on

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560

lights,

fire.

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more

625

given

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denly,

to

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635

my lord!

And even then he turned; and more and What else? what hope? I think there was

a hope, The moony vapor rolling round the King, Except he mocked me when he spake of Who seemed the phantom of a giant in it, hope; Enwound him fold by fold, and made him His hope he called it; but he never mocks, gray

For mockery is the fume of little hearts. And grayer, till himself became as mist 600 And blessed be the King, who hath forBefore her, moving ghostlike to his doom.

My wickedness to him, and left me

hope Then she stretched out her arms and

That in mine own heart I can live down cried aloud,

sin, "O Arthur!” — there her voice brake sud

And be his mate hereafter in the heavens

Before high God! Ah great and gentle Then, as a stream that spouting from a

lord, cliff

Who wast as is the conscience of a saint Fails in mid air, but gathering at the

Among his warring base

senses, thy

knights Remakes

the itself, and Aashes down

To whom my false voluptuous pride, that vale,

took Went on in passionate utterance:

Full easily all impressions from below,

Would not look up, or half-despised the “Gone

height Gone through my sin to slay and to be To which I would not or I could not slain!

climb And he forgave me, and I could not speak. I thought I could not breathe in that fine Farewell? I should have answered his air, farewell.

That pure severity of perfect light His mercy choked me. Gone, my lord the I yearned for warmth and color, which I King,

found My own true lord! How dare I call him In Lancelot - now I see thee what thou mine?

art, The shadow of another cleaves to me, Thou art the highest and most human too, And makes me

one pollution. He, the Not Lancelot, nor another. Is there King, Called me polluted.

Shall I kill my Will tell the King I love him though so self?

late? What help in that? I cannot kill my sin, Now - ere he goes to the great battle? If soul be soul, nor can I kill my shame; none ! No, nor by living can I live it down. Myself must tell him in that purer life, The days will grow to weeks, the weeks But now it were too daring. Ah my God, to months,

What might I not have made of thy fair The months will add themselves and make world,

Had I but loved thy highest creature The years will roll into the centuries,

here? And mine will ever be a name of scorn. It was my duty to have loved the highest; I must not dwell on that defeat of fame.

It surely was my profit had I known; Let the world be; that is but of the It would have been my pleasure had I

world.

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610

none

645

615

650

the years,

620

seen.

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