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thou art,

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"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 rumors 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. Nine years she wrought it, sitting in the

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

time

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 295 Valuing the giddy pleasure of the eyes. Yet, for a man may fail in duty twice, And the third time may prosper, get thee

hence; But, if thou spare to Aing Excalibur, I will arise and slay thee with my

hands."

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Make broad thy shoulders to receive my

weight, And bear me to the margin; yet I fear My wound hath taken cold, and I shall

die.”

Made lightnings in the splendor of the

moon, And flashing round and round, and whirled

in an arch, Shot like a streamer of the northern morn, Seen where the moving isles of winter

shock By night, with noises of the Northern

Sea. So Aashed and fell the brand Excali

bur; But ere he dipt the surface, rose an arm Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonder

ful, And caught him by the hilt, and bran

dished him Three times, and drew him under in the

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And answer made the bold Sir Bedi

vere:

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"Sir King, I closed mine eyelids, lest the

gems Should blind my purpose, for I never saw, Nor shall see, here or elsewhere, till I die, Not though I live three lives of mortal

men, So great a miracle as yonder hilt. Then with both hands I Aung him, wheel

ing him; But when I looked again, behold an arm, Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonder

ful, That caught him by the hilt, and bran

dished him Three times, and drew him under in the

mere.”

But, as he walked, King Arthur panted

hard, Like one that feels a nightmare on his

bed When all the house is mute. So sighed the

King, Muttering and murmuring at his ear,

"Quick quick! I fear it is too late, and I shall die.” But the other swiftly strode from ridge to

ridge, Clothed with his breath, and looking, as he walked,

350 Larger than human on the frozen hills. He heard the deep behind him, and a cry Before. His own thought drove him like

a goad. Dry clashed his harness in the icy caves And barren chasms, and all to left and

right The bare black cliff clanged round him, as

he based His feet on juts of slippery crag that rang Sharp-smitten with the dint of armed

heels And on a sudden, lo, the level lake, And the long glories of the

winter moon!

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go?

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Then saw they how there hove a dusky Not like that Arthur who, with lance in barge,

rest, Dark as

a funeral scarf from stem to From spur to plume a star of tournament, stern,

Shot through the lists at Camelot, and Beneath them; and descending they were charged ware

Before the eyes of ladies and of kings. That all the decks were dense with stately forms,

Then loudly cried the bold Sir Bedivere: Black-stoled, black-hooded, like a dream “Ah! my Lord Arthur, whither shall I by these,

395 Three queens with crowns of gold and Where shall I hide my forehead and my from them rose

eyes? A cry that shivered to the tingling stars, For now I see the true old times are dead, And, as it were one voice, an agony

When every morning brought a noble Of lamentation, like a wind that shrills

chance, All night in a waste land, where no one And every chance brought out a noble comes,

knight. Or hath come, since the making of the Such times have been not since the light world.

that led

The holy Elders with the gift of myrrh. Then murmured Arthur, “Place me in But now the whole Round Table is disthe barge."

solved So to the barge they came. There those Which was an image of the mighty world; three queens

And I, the last, go forth companionless, Put forth their hands, and took the King, And the days darken round me, and the and wept.

years,

405 But she that rose the tallest of them all, 375 Among new

men, strange faces, other And fairest, laid his head upon her lap,

minds." And loosed the shattered casque, and chafed his hands,

And slowly answered Arthur from the And called him by his name, complaining barge: loud,

"The old order changeth, yielding place to And dropping bitter tears against a brow

new, Striped with dark blood; for all his face And God fulfils himself in many ways, was white

Lest one good custom should corrupt the And colorless, and like the withered moon world. Smote by the fresh beam of the springing Comfort thyself; what comfort is in me? east;

I have lived my life, and that which I have And all his greaves and cuisses dashed done with drops

May He within himself make pure! But Of onset; and the light and lustrous thou, curls, –

If thou shouldst never see my face again, That made his forehead like a rising sun 385 Pray for my soul. More things are High from the dais-throne, — were parched wrought by prayer with dust,

Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, Or, clotted into points and hanging loose, let thy voice Mixt with the knightly growth that fringed Rise like a fountain for me night and day. his lips.

But what are men better than sheep or So like a shattered column lay the King;

goats

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no

more —

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That nourish a blind life within the brain, Thence marked the black hull moving yet, If, knowing God, they lift not hands of and cried : prayer

"He passes to be king among the dead, Both for themselves and those who call And after healing of his grievous wound 450 them friend?

He comes again; but — if he come For so the whole round earth is every way Bound by gold chains about the feet of O me, be yon dark queens in yon black God.

boat, But now farewell. I am going a long Who shrieked and wailed, the three way

whereat we gazed With these thou seëst if indeed I go

On that high day, when, clothed with living For all my mind is clouded with a doubt

light, To the island-valley of Avilion;

They stood before his throne in silence, Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow, friends Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies Of Arthur, who should help him at his Deep-meadowed, happy, fair with orchard need?”

lawns, And bowery hollows crowned with summer Then from the dawn it seemed there sea;

came, but faint Where I will heal me of my grievous As from beyond the limit of the world, wound.”

Like the last echo born of a great cry,

Sounds, as if some fair city were one So said he, and the barge with oar and

voice sail

Around a king returning from his wars. Moved from the brink, like some fullbreasted swan

Thereat once more he moved about, and That, fluting a wild carol ere her death, 435

clomb Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the

Even to the highest he could climb, and flood

saw, With swarthy webs. Long stood Sir Bedi

Straining his eyes beneath an arch of

hand, Revolving many memories, till the hull

Or thought he saw, Looked one black dot against the verge of

the speck that bare

the King, dawn,

Down that long water opening on the deep And on the mere the wailing died away. 440

Somewhere far off, pass on and on, and go But when that moan had past for ever

From less to less, and vanish into light. more,

And the new sun rose, bringing the new The stillness of the dead world's winter year.

dawn Amazed him, and he groaned, “The King is gone.”

NORTHERN FARMER And therewithal came on him the weird rhyme,

OLD STYLE "From the great deep to the great deep he

(1864) goes.”

Wheer 'asta beän saw long and meä liggin Whereat he slowly turned, and slowly 'ere aloän? clomb

Noorse? thoort nowt o' a noorse: whoy, The last hard footstep of that iron crag;

Doctor's abeän an'agoän

vere

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