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I swear by sceptre and by sword, • Thus in the garden's narrow bound,
As belted knight and Britain's lord, Flank'd by some castle's Gothic round, That if a boy shall claim my care, Fain would the artist's skill provide
That boy is born a kingdom's heir;
But if a maiden Fate allows, The limits of his realms to hide.
To choose that maid a fitting spouse, The walks in labyrinths he twines, Shade after shade with skill combines, A summer-day in lists shall strive With many a varied flowery knot,
My knights, the bravest knights alive,
And he, the best and bravest tried, And copse, and arbour, decks the spot, Tempting the hasty foot to stay,
ShallArthur's daughterclaim forbride." And linger on the lovely way;
He spoke, with voice resolved and
At dawn of morn, ere on the brake His matins did a warbler make,
Or stirr'd his wing to brush away ‘Three summer months had scantly A single dewdrop from the spray, flown
Ere yet a sunbeam, through the mist, When Arthur, in embarrass'd tone,
The castle-battlements had kiss'd, Spoke of his liegemen and his throne;
The gatesrevolve, the drawbridge falls, Said, all too long had been his stay,
And Arthur sallies from the walls. And duties, which a monarch sway,
Doff’d his soft garb of Persia's loom, Duties, unknown to humbler men,
And steel from spur to helmet-plume, Must tear her knight from Guendolen. His Lybian steed full proudly trode, She listen'd silently the while,
And joyful neigh'd beneath his load. Her mood express'd in bitter smile;
The Monarch gave a passing sigh Beneath her eye must Arthur quail,
To penitence and pleasures by, And oft resume the unfinish'd tale,
When, lo! to his astonish'd ken Confessing, by his downcast eye,
Appear'd the form of Guendolen. The wrong he sought to justify. He ceased. A moment mute she gazed, Beyond the outmost wall she stood, And then herlooks to heaven she rais'd; One palm her temples veiled, to hide Attired like huntress of the wood : The tear that sprung in spite of pride;
Sandall’d her feet, her ankles bare, The other for an instant press'd
And eagle-plumage deck'd her hair; The foldings of her silken vest !
Firm was her look, her bearing bold,
And in her hand a cup of gold.
“ Thou goest!” she said, “and nc'er At her reproachful sign and look,
again The hint the Monarch's conscience Must we two meet, in joy or pain. took.
Full fain would I this hour delay, Eager he spoke—“No, lady, no! Though weak the wish----yet, wilt thou Deem not of British Arthur so,
stay? Nor think he can deserter prove No! thou look'st forward. Still, attend! To the dear pledge of mutual love. Part we like lover and like friend.”
She raised the cup—“Notthis the juice Twelve bloody fields, with glory fought, The sluggish vines of earth produce; The Saxons to subjection brought : Pledge we, at parting, in the draught Rython, the mighty giant, slain Which Genii love !” She said, and By his good brand, relieved Bretagne: quaffd;
The Pictish Gillamore in fight, And strange unwonted lustres fly And Roman Lucius, own'd his might; From her flush'd cheek and sparkling And wide were through the world eye.
The glories of his Table Round. • The courteous Monarch bent him low, Each knight who sought adventurous And, stooping down from saddlebow,
fame, Lifted the cup, in act to drink.
To the bold court of Britain came, A drop escaped the goblet's brink-.
And all who suffer'd causeless wrong, Intense as liquid fire from hell,
From tyrant proud, or faitour strong, Upon the charger's neck it fell.
Sought Arthur's presence, to complain,
Nor there for aid implored in vain. Screaming with agony and fright, He bolted twenty feet upright ! The peasant still can show the dint · For this the King, with pomp and Where his hoofs lighted on the flint.
pride, From Arthur's hand the goblet flew, Held solemn court at Whitsuntide, Scattering a shower of fiery dew,
And summon’d Prince and Peer, That burn'd and blighted where it fell! | All who owed homage for their land, The frantic steed rush'd up the dell, Or who craved knighthood from his As whistles from the bow the reed;
hand, Nor bit nor rein could check his speed | Or who had succour to demand, Until he gain'd the hill;
To come from far and near. Then breath and sinew fail'd apace, At such high tide were glee and game And, reeling from the desperate race, Mingled with feats of martial fame,
He stood, exhausted, still. For many a stranger champion came The Monarch, breathless and amazed, In lists to break a spear ; Back on the fatal castle gazed : And not a knight of Arthur's host, Nor tower nor donjon could he spy, Save that he trode some foreign coast, Darkening against the morning sky; But at this feast of Pentecost But, on the spot where once they Before him must appear. frown'd,
Ah, Minstrels! when the Table Round The lonely streamlet brawlid around Arose, with all its warriors crown'd, A tufted knoll, where dimly shone There was a theme for bards to sound Fragments of rock and rifted stone. In triumph to their string! Musing on this strange hap the while, Five hundred years are past and gone, The King wends back to fair Carlisle; But Time shall draw his dying groan And cares, that cumber royal sway, Ere he behold the British throne Wore memory of the past away.
Begirt with such a ring!
Or Carlisle fair and free.
At Penrith, now, the feast was set,
• Faltering, yet gracefully, she said There Galaad sate with manly grace,
“Great Prince! behold an orphan Yet maiden meekness in his face;
maid, There Morolt of the iron mace,
In her departed mother's name,
A father's vow'd protection claim ! And Dinadam with lively glance,
The vow was sworn in desert lone, And Lanval with the fairy lance,
In the deep valley of Saint John.” And Mordred with his look askance,
At once the King the suppliant raised, Brunor and Bevidere.
And kiss'd her brow, her beauty Why should I tell of numbers more ?
praised; Sir Cay, Sir Banier, and Sir Bore,
His vow, he said, should well be kept, Sir Carodac the keen,
Ere in the sea the sun was dipp'd; The gentle Gawain's courteous lore,
Then, conscious, glanced upon his Hector de Mares and Pellinore,
queen; And Lancelot, that evermore
But she, unruffled at the scene
Of human frailty, construed mild,
Look'd upon Lancelot, and smiled. xiv.
XVI. "Whenwineandmirth didmost abound, And harpers play'd their blithest round, ““Up! up! each knightofgallant crest, A shrilly trumpet shook the ground, Take buckler, spear, and brand!
And marshals cleared the ring; He that to-day shall bear him best A maiden, on a palfrey white,
Shall win my Gyneth's hand. Heading a band of damsels bright, And Arthur's daughter, when a bride, Paced through the circle, to alight Shall bring a noble dower ;
And kneel before the King. Both fair Strath-Clyde and Reged Arthur, with strong emotion, saw
wide, Her graceful boldness check’d by And Carlisle town and tower.” awe,
Then might you hear each valiant Her dress, like huntress of the wold,
knight Her bow and baldric trapp'd with To page and squire that cried, gold,
“Bring my armour bright, and my Her sandall'd feet, her ankles bare,
courser wight! And the eagle-plume that deck'd her 'Tis not each day that a warrior's might hair.
May win a royal bride." Graceful her veil she backward flung; Then cloaks and caps of maintenance The King, as from his seat he sprung, In haste aside they fling;
Almost cried, “Guendolen!" The helmets glance, and gleams the But 'twas a face more frank and wild, lance, Betwixt the woman and the child, And the steel-weaved hauberks ring. Where less of magic beauty smiled Small care had they of their peaceful Than of the race of men ;
array,And in the forehead's haughty grace They might gather it that wolde ; The lines of Britain's royal race, For brake and bramble glitter'd gay
Pendragon's, you might ken. With pearls and cloth of gold.
What time, of all King Arthur's crew
Thereof came jeer and laugh) Within trumpet sound of the Table He, as the mate of lady truc, Round
Alone the cup could quaff. Werc fifty champions free,
Though envy's tongue would fain And they all arise to fight that prize,
surmise They all arise but three.
That, but for very shame, Nor love's fond troth, nor wedlock's Sir Carodac, to fight that prize, oath,
Had given both cup and dame; One gallant could withhold,
Yet, since but one of that fair court For priests will allow of a broken Vow
Was true to wedlock's shrine, For penance or for gold.
Brand him who will with base report, But sigh and glance from ladies bright
He shall be free from mine.
Now caracoled the steeds in air, And 'plain of honour flown.
Now plumes and pennons wanton'd The knights they busied them so fast,
fair, With buckling spur and belt,
As all around the lists so wide That sigh and look, by ladies cast, In panoply the champions ride. Were neither seen nor felt.
King Arthur saw, with startled eye, From pleading, or upbraiding glance, The flower of chivalry march by, Each gallant turns aside,
The bulwark of the Christian creed, And only thought, “If speeds my lance, The kingdom's shield in hour of need.
A queen becomes my bride! Too late he thought him of the woc She has fair Strath-Clyde, and Reged Might from their civil conflict flow; wide,
For well he knew they would not part And Carlisle tower and town;
Till cold was many a gallant heart. She is the loveliest maid, beside,
His hasty vow he 'gan to rue, That ever heir'd a crown.”
And Gyneth then apart he drew; Soin haste their coursers they bestride, To her his leading-staff resign'd, And strike their visors down.
But added caution grave and kind.
«« Thou see'st, my child, as proinise“The champions, arm'd in martial sort, bound, Have throng'd into the list,
I bid the trump for tourney sound. And butthree knights of Arthur's court ! Take thou my warder, as the queen
Are from the tourney miss'd. And umpire of the martial scene; And still these lovers' fame survives But mark thou this: as Beauty bright
For faith so constant shown, Is polar star to valiant knight, There were two who loved their | As at her word his sword he draws, neighbours' wives,
His fairest guerdon her applause, And one who loved his own. So gentle maid should never ask The first was Lancelot de Lac, Of knighthood vain and dangerous The second Tristrem bold,
task; The third was valiant Carodac, And Beauty's eyes should ever be Who won the cup of gold,
Like the twin stars that soothe the sca,
And Beauty's breath shall whisper Pendragon's daughter will not fear peace,
Forclashing sword or splinter'd spear, And bid the storm of battle cease.
Nor shrink though blood should I tell thee this, lest all too far
flow; These knights urge tourney into war. | And all too well sad Guendolen Blithe at the trumpet let them go, Hath taught the faithlessness of men, And fairly counter blow for blow; That child of hers should pity, when No striplings these, who succour need Their meed they undergo.” For a razed helm or falling steed. But, Gyneth, when the strife grows warm,
'He frown’d and sigh’d, the Monarch And threatens death or deadly harm, bold: Thy sire entreats, thy king commands, “I give what I may not withhold; Thou drop the warder from thy hands. For not for danger, dread, or death, Trust thou thy father with thy fate, Must British Arthur break his faith. Ioubt not he choose thee fitting mate; | Too late I mark thy mother's art Nor be it said, through Gyneth's pride Hath taught thee this relentless part. A rose of Arthur's chaplet died.” I blame her not, for she had wrong,
But not to these my faults belong. A proud and discontented glow Use, then, the warder as thou wilt; O'ershadow'd Gyneth's brow of snow; But trust me, that, if life be spilt, She put the warder by :
In Arthur's love, in Arthur's grace, * Reserve thy boon, my liege,” she Gyneth shall lose a daughter's place." said,
With that he turn'd his head aside, " Thus chaffer'd down and limited, Nor brook'd to gaze upon her pride, Debased and narrow'd, for a maid As, with the truncheon raised, she sate Of less degree than I.
The arbitress of mortal fate; No petty chief, but holds his heir Nor brook'd to mark,in ranks disposed, At a more honour'd price and rare How the bold champions stood Than Britain's King holds me!
opposed, Although the sun-burn'd maid, for For shrill the trumpet-flourish fell dower,
Upon his ear like passing bell! Has but her father's rugged tower, Then first from sight of martial fray His barren hill and lee.
Did Britain's hero turn away. King Arthur swore, By crown and
XXIII. sword, as belted knight and Britain's lord, ‘But Gyneth heard the clangour high That a whole summer's day should As hears the hawk the partridge cry. strive
Oh, blame her not; the blood was hers His knights, the bravest knights alive ! That at the trumpet's summons stirs ! Recall thine oath! and to her glen And c'en the gentlest female eye Poor Gyneth can return agen; Might the brave strife of chivalry Not on thy daughter will the stain, Awhile untroubled view; That soils thy sword and crown, So well accomplish'd was each knight, remain.
To strike and to defend in fight, But think not she will c'er be bride | Their meeting was a goodly sight, Save to the bravest, proved and tried; While plate and mail held true.