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By striking at her better, miss'd, and | O to what end, except a jealous one, brought

| And one to make me jealous if I love, Her own claw back, and wounded her Was this fair charm invented by yourself? own heart.

| I well believe that all about this world Sweet were the days when I was all un- Ye cage a buxom captive here and there, known,

Closed in the four walls of a hollow tower But when my name was lifted up, the From which is no escape for evermore." Broke on the mountain and I cared not Then the great Master merrily an

swer'd her. Right well know I that Fame is half-“Full many a love in loving youth was disfame,

mine, Yet needs must work my work. That I needed then no charm to keep them other fame,

mine To one at least, who hath not children, But youth and love; and that full heart vague,

of yours The cackle of the unborn about the grave, | Whereof you prattle, may now assure you I cared not for it : a single inisty star,

mine; Which is the second in a line of stars | Soliveuncharm’d. For those who wrought That seem a sword beneath a belt of three, it first, I never gazed upon it but I dreamt The wrist is parted from the hand that Of some vast charm concluded in that star waved, To make fame nothing. Wherefore, if I The feet unmortised from their ankle

bones Giving you power upon me thro' this Who paced it, ages back : but will ye

hear That you might play me falsely, having The legend as in guerdon for your rhyme ?

power, However well you think you love me now | “There lived a king in the most East(As sons of kings loving in pupilage

ern East, Have turn'd to tyrants when they came Less old than I, yet older, for my blood to power)

Hath earnest in it of far springs to be. I rather dread the loss of use than fame ; | A tawny pirate anchor'd in his port, If you ---- and not so much from wicked Whose bark had plunder'd twenty nameness,

less isles ; As some wild turn of anger, or a mood And passing one, at the high peep of dawn, Of overstrain'd affection, it may be, He saw two cities in a thousand boats To keep me all to your own self, or else All fighting for a woman on the sea. A sudden spurt of woman's jealousy, — And pushing his black craft among them Should try this charın on whom you say

all, you love."

He lightly scatter'd theirs and brought

her off, And Vivien answer'd smiling as in With loss of half his people arrow-slain ; wrath.

A maid so smooth, so white, so wonderful, “Have I not sworn ? I am not trusted. They said a light came from her when Good !

she moved : Well, hide it, hide it ; I shall find it out; And since the pirate would not yield her And being found take heed of Vivien.

Up, A woman and not trusted, doubtless I The King impaled him for his piracy; Might feel some sudden turn of anger born Then made her Queen : but those isleOf your misfaith ; and your fine epithet nurtur'd eyes Is accurate too, for this full love of mine Waged such unwilling tho'successful war Without the full heart back may merit on all the youth, they sicken'd; counwell

cils thinn'd, Your term of overstrain'd. So used as I, And armies waned, for magnet-like she My daily wonder is, I love at all.

drew And as to woman's jealousy, 0 why not ? The rustiest iron of old fighters' hearts ;

her eyes


And beasts themselves would worship ; | Well, those were not our days : but did camels knelt

they find Unbidden, and the brutes of mountain A wizard ? Tell me, was he like to thee ?"

back That carry kings in castles, bow'd black She ceased, and made her lithe arm knees

round his neck Of homage, ringing with their serpent Tighten, and then drew back, and let

hands, To make her smile, her golden ankle- Speak for her, glowing on him, like a bells.

bride's What wonder, being jealous, that he sent On her new lord, her own, the first of men. His horns of proclamation out thro' all The hundred under-kingdoms that he He answer'd laughing, “Nay, not like sway'd

to ine. To find a wizard who might teach the At last they found — his foragers for King

charms -Some charm, which being wrought upon A little glassy-headed hairless man, the Queen

Who lived alone in a great wild on grass ; Might keep her all his own : to such a one Read but one book, and ever readiny grew He promised more than ever king has So grated down and filed away with given,

thought, A league of mountain full of golden mines, So lean his eyes were monstrous ; while A province with a hundred miles of coast,

the skin A palace and a princess, all for him : Clung but to crate and basket, ribs and But on all those who tried and fail'd, the


And since he kept his mind on one sole Pronounced a dismal sentence, meaning aim, by it

Nor ever touch'd fierce wine, nor tasted To keep the list low and pretenders back, flesh, Or like a king, not to be trifled with – Nor own'da sensual wish, to him the wall Their heads should moulder on the city That sunders ghosts and shadow-casting gates.

men And many tried and fail'd, because the Became a crystal, and he saw them thro'it, charm

And heard their voices talk behind the Of nature in her overbore their own :

wall, And many a wizard brow bleach'd on And learnt their elemental secrets, powers the walls :

| And forces; often o'er the sun's bright eye And many weeks a troop of carrion crows Drew the vast eyelid of an inky cloud, Hung like a cloud above the gateway And lash'd it at the base with slanting towers."

storm ;

Or in the noon of mist and driving rain, And Vivien breakingin upon him, said : When the lake whiten'd and the pine“I sit and gather honey ; yet, methinks,

wood roar'ı, Your tongue has tript a little : ask your | And the cairn'd inountain was a shadow, self.

sunn'd The lady never made unwilling war The world to peace again : here was the With those fine eyes : she had her pleas

man. ure in it,

And so by force they dragg’d him to the And made her good man jealous with King. good cause.

And then he taught the King to charm And lived there neither dame nor dam

the Queen sel then

In such-wise, that no man could see her Wroth at a lover's loss? were all as tame, more, I mean, as noble, as their Queen was fair? Nor saw she save the King, who wrought Not one to flirt a venom at her eyes,

the charm, Or pinch a murderous dust into her drink, | Coming and going, and she lay as dead, Or make her paler with a poison'd rose ? | And lost all use of life ; but when the King

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Made proffer of the league of golden mines, And smiling as a Master smiles at one The province with a hundred miles of That is not of his school, nor any school coast,

But that where blind and naked Ignorance The palace and the princess, that old man Delivers brawlingjudgments, unashamed, Went back to his old wild, and lived on On all things all day long; he answer'd grass,

her. And vanish'd, and his book came down to me."

You read the book, my pretty Vivien !

O ay, it is but twenty pages long, And Vivien answer'd smiling saucily ; | But every page having an ample marge, “You have the book : the charm is And every marge enclosing in the midst written in it:

A square of text that looks a little blot, Good : take my counsel : let me know The text no larger than the limbs of fleas; it at once :

And every square of text an awful charm, For keep it like a puzzle chest in chest, Writ in a language that has long gone by. With each chest lock'd and padlock'd So long, that mountains have arisen since thirty-fold,

With cities on their flanks -- you read And whelm all this beneath as vast a the book ! mound

And every margin scribbled, crost, and As after furious battle turfs the slain

cramm'd On some wild down above the windy deep, With comment, densest condensation, I yet should strike upon a sudden means hard Todig, pick,open, find and read the charm: | To mind and eye ; but the long sleepless Then, if I tried it, who should blame me nights then ?”

Tof my long life have made it easy to me.


And none can read the text, not even I ; / Sir Valence wedded with an outland And none can read the comment but

dame : myself ;

Some cause had kept him sunder'd from And in the comment did I find the charm. his wife : 0, the results are simple ; a mere child One child they had : it lived with her: Might use it to the harm of any one,

she died : And never could undo it : ask no more : His kinsman travelling on his own affair Fortho’you should not prove it upon me, Was charged by Valence to bring home But keep that oath you swore, you might, the child. perchance,

He brought, not found it therefore : take Assay it on some one of the Table Round, the truth." And all because you dream they babble of you."

“O ay," said Vivien, “overtrue a tale.

What say ye then to sweet Sir Sagramore, And Vivien, frowning in true anger, That ardent man? 'to pluck the flower

in season'; “ What dare the full-fed liars say of me? So says the song, "I trow it is no treason.' They ride abroad redressing human O Master, shall we call him overquick wrongs !

To crop his own sweet rose before tho They sit with knife in meat and wine in hour ?"

horn. They bound to holy vows of chastity! | And Merlin answer'd “Overquick are Were I not woman, I could tell a tale.

you But you are man, you well can understand To catch a lothly plume fall’n from the The shame that cannot be explain'd for shame.

Ofthat foul bird of rapine whose whole prey Not one of all the drove should touch me: Is man's good name : he never wrong'd swine!"

his bride.

I know the tale. An angry gust of wind Then answer'd Merlin careless of her Puff'd out his torch among the myriadwords.

room'd “Ye breathe but accusation vast and And many-corridor'd complexities vague,

Of Arthur's palace : then he found a door Spleen-born, I think, and proofless. If And darkling felt the sculptured ornaye know,

ment Set up the charge ye know, to stand or That wreathen round it made it seem his


And wearied out made for the couch and And Vivien answer'd frowning wrath

slept, fully.

A stainless man beside a stainless maid ; O ay, what say ye to Sir Valence, him And either slept, nor knew of other there; Whose kinsman left him watcher o'er his Till the high đawn piercing the royal rose wife

In Arthur's casement glimmer'd chastely And two fair babes, and went to distant down, lands;

| Blushing upon them blushing, andatonce Was one yeargone, and on returning found He rose without a word and parted from Not two but three : there lay the reck

her : ling, one

But when the thing was blazed about the But one hour old ! What said the happy court, sire ?

The brute world howling forced them inA seven months' babe had been a truer to bonds, gift.

And as it chanced they are happy, being Those twelve sweet moons confused his fatherhood.”

| “() ay,” said Vivien, “that were likely Then answer'd Merlin “Nay, I know the tale.

| What say ye then to fair Sir Percivale

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And of the horrid foulness that he | By which the good king ineans to blind wrought,

himself, The saintly youth, the spotless lamb of And blinds himself and all the Table Christ,

Round Or some black wether of St. Satan's fold. To all the foulness that they work. Myself What, in the precincts of the chapel-yard, Could call him (were it not for womanAmong the knightly brasses of the graves,

hood) And by the cold Hic Jacets of the dead !" | The pretty, popular name such manhood

earns, And Merlin answer'd careless of her Could call him the main cause of all their charge,

crime ; A sober man is Percivale and pure; Yea, were he not crown'd king, coward, But once in life was fluster'd with new and fool.”

wine, Then paced for coolness in the chapel- | Then Merlin to his own heart, loath

ing, said ; Where one of Satan's shepherdesses caught “O true and tender! O my liegeand king! And meant to stamp him with her mas- O selfless man and stainless gentleman, ter's mark ;

| Who wouldst against thine own eyeAnd that he sinn'd, is not believable ;

witness fain For, look upon his face !- but if he sinn'd, Haveallmen trueand leal, all women pure; Thesin that practice burns into the blood, How, in the mouths of base interpreters, And not the one dark hour which brings From over-fineness not intelligible remorse,

To things with every sense as false and foul Will brand us, after, of whose fold we be: As the poach'd filth that floods the middle Or else were he, the holy king, whose street, hymns

Is thy white blamelessness accounted Are chanted in the minster, worse than blame!”

all. But is your spleen froth'd out, or have But Vivien deeming Merlin overborne ye more ?

By instance, recommenced, and let her

tongue And Vivien answer'd frowning yet in | Rage like a fire among the noblest names, wrath;

Polluting, and imputing her whole self, “Qay; what say yeto Sir Lancelot, friend? Defaming and defacing, till she left Traitor or true? that commerce with the Not even Lancelot brave, nor Galahad

Queen, I ask you, is it clamor'd by the child, Or whisper'd in the corner ? do you know Her words had issue other than she


He dragg’d his eyebrow bushes down, To which he answer'd sadly, “Yea, 1 and made know it.

A snowy penthouse for his hollow eyes, Sir Lancelot went ambassador, at first, And mutter'd in himself, “tell her the To fetch her, and she took him for the

charm ! King ;

So, if she had it, would she rail on me So fixt her fancy on him : let him be. To share the next, and if she have it not, But have you no one word of loyal praise So will she rail. What did the wanton say? For Arthur, blameless King and stainless ‘Not mount as high '; we scarce can sink man ?

as low :

For men at most differ as Heaven and She answer'd with a low and chuckling earth, laugh ;

But women, worst and best, as Heaven “Him? is he man at all, who knows and.. and Hell. winks ?

I know the Table Round, my friends of old; Sees what his fair bride is and does, and All brave, and many generous, and some winks ?



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