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“Sweet is true love tho' given in vain, Your limit, oft returning with the tide. in vain ;

| And yet I cried because ye would not pass And sweet is death who puts an end to pain: Beyond it, and far up the shining flood I know not which is sweeter, no, not I. Until we found the palace of the king.

And yet ye would not ; but this night “Love, art thou sweet ? then bitter I dream'd death must be :

That I was all alone upon the flood, Love, thou art bitter; sweet is death to me. And then I said “Now shall I have my O Love, if death be sweeter, let me die.

will ”:

And there I woke, but still the wish re“Sweet love, that seems not made to main'd. fade away,

So let me hence that I may pass at last Sweet death, that seems to make us love- Beyond the poplar and far up the flood, less clay,

Until I find the palace of the king. I know not which is sweeter, no, not I. There will I enter in among them all,

And no man there will dare to mock atine; “I fain would follow love, if that could But there the fine Gawain will wonder at be;

me, I needs must follow death, who calls for And there the great Sir Lancelot muse at me :

me; Call and I follow, I follow ! let me die.” | Gawain, who bade a thousand farewells

to me, High with the last line scaled her voice, Lancelot, who coldly went nor bade me and this,

one : All in a fiery dawning wild with wind And there the King will know me and That shook her tower, the brothers heard, my love, and thought

And there the Queen herself will pity me, With shuddering “Hark the Phantom And all the gentle court will welcome me, of the house

And after my long voyage I shall rest!" That ever shrieks before a death," and callid

“Peace," said her father, “O my child, The father, and all three in hurry and fear ye seem Ran to her, and lo! the blood-red light of Light-headed, for what force is yours to go,

So far, being sick ? and wherefore would Flared on her face, she shrilling “Let ye look me die!”

On this proud fellow again, who scorns us

all ?” As when we dwell upon a word we know

Then the rough Torre began to heave Repeating, till the word we know so well | and move, Becomes a wonder and we know not why, And bluster into stormy sobs and say Sodwelt the fatheron her face and thought “I never loved him : an I meet with him, • Is this Elaine ?” till back the maiden I care not howsoever great he be,

Then will I strike at him and strike him Then gavea languid hand to each, and lay, down, Speaking a still good-morrow with her Give me good fortune, I will strike him eyes.

dead, At last she said “Sweet brothers, yester- For this discomfort he hath done the night

house." I seem'd a curious little maid again, As happy as when we dwelt among the To which the gentle sister made reply, woods,

“Fret not yourself, dear brother, nor be And when ye used to take me with the wroth, flood

Seeing it is no more Sir Lancelot's fault Up the great river in the boatman's boat. Not to love me, than it is mine to love Only ye would not pass beyond the cape Him of all men who seems to me the That has the poplar on it: there ye fixt | highest.”

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“ Highest ?” the Father answer’d, For Lancelot's love, and deck it like the echoing “highest ?”

Queen's (He meant to break the passion in her) For richness, and me also like the Queen

| In all I have of richt, and lay me on it. Daughter, I know not what you call the And let there be prepared a chariot-bier highest;

To take me to the river, and a barge But this I know, for all the people know it, Be ready on the river, clothed in black. He loves the Queen, and in an open shame: I go in state to court, to meet the Queen. And she returns his love in open shame. There surely I shall speak for mine own If this be high, what is it to be low?”


And none of you can speak for me so well. Then spake the lily maid of Astolat; And therefore let our dumb old man alone “Sweet father, all too faint and sick am I Go with me, he can steer and row, and he For anger : these are slanders : never yet Will guide me to that palace, to the Was noble man but made ignoble talk.

doors.” He makes no friend who never made a foe.

She ceased : her father promised ; But now it is my glory to have loved

whereupon One peerless, without stain : so let me She grew so cheerful that they deem'd pass,

her death My father, howsoe'er I seem to you, was rather in the fantasy than the blood. Not all unhappy, having loved God's best But ten slow mornings past, and on the And greatest, tho' my love had no return : eleventh Yet, seeing ye desire your child to live, Her father laid the letter in her hand, Thanks, but ye work against your own And closed the hand upon it, and she died. desire;

So that day there was dole in Astolat. For if I could believe the things ye say I shonld but die the sooner; wherefore But when the next sun brake from cease,

underground, Sweet father, and bid call the ghostly man Then, those two brethren slowly with Hither, and let me shrive me clean, and bent brows die."

Accompanying, the sad chariot-bier

Past like a shadow thro' the field, that So when the ghostly man had come and gone,

Full-summer, to that stream whereon the She with a face, bright as for sin forgiven, barge, Besought Lavaine to write as she devised Pall'd all its length in blackest samite, A letter, word for word ; and when he

lay. ask'd

There sat the lifelong creature of the “Is it for Lancelot, is it for my dear lord ? house, Then will I bear it gladly"; she replied, Loyal, the dumb old servitor, on deck, For Lancelot and the Queen and all Winking his eyes, and twisted all his face. the world,

So those two brethren from the chariot But I myself must bear it." Then he took wrote

| And on the black decks laid her in her The letter she devised ; which being writ bed, And folded, “O sweet father, tender and Set in her hand a lily, o'er her hung true,

The silken case with braided blazonings, Deny me not,” she said -"ye never yet And kiss'd her quiet brows, and saying Denied my fancies - this, however to her strange,

“Sister, farewell for ever," and again My latest : lay the letter in my hand “Farewell, sweet sister,” parted all in A little ere I die, and close the hand

tears. Upon it ; I shall guard it even in death. Then rose the dumb old servitor, and the And when the heat is gone from out my dead heart,

Steer'd by the dumb went upward with Then take the little bed on which I died! the flood


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In her right hand the lily, in her left . All in an oriel on the summer side, The letter - all her bright hair stream- | Vine-clad, of Arthur's palace toward the ing down

stream, And all the coverlid was cloth of gold They met, and Lancelot kneeling utter'd, Drawn to her waist, and she herself in

"Queen, white

Lady, my liege, in whom I have my joy, All but her face, and that clear-featured

| Take, what I had not won except for you, face

These jewels, and make me happy, making Was lovely, for she did not seem as dead

them But fast asleep, and lay as tho' she smiled. An armlet for the roundest arm on earth,

Or necklace for a neck to which the swan's That day Sir Lancelot at the palace Is tawnier than her cygnet's : these are craved

words : Audience of Guinevere, to give at last Your beauty is your beauty, and I sin The price of half a realm, his costly gift, in speaking, yet O grant my worship of it Hard-won and hardly won with bruise Words, as we grant grief tears. Such sin and blow,

in words With deaths of others, and almost his Perchance, we both can pardon : but, my own,

Queen, The nine-years-fought-for diamonds : for I hear of rumors flying thro' your court. he saw

Our bond, as not the bond of man and wife, One of her house, and sent him to the Queen Should have in it an absoluter trust Bearing his wish, whereto the Queen To make up that defect : let rumors be :

When did not rumors fly? these, as I trust With such and so unmoved a majesty that you trust me in your own nobleness, She might have seem'd her statue, but I may not well believe that you believe.”

that he, Low-drooping till he wellnigh kiss'd her. While thus he spoke, half turn'd away, feet

the Queen For loyal awe, saw with a sidelong eye Brake from the vast oriel-embowering vine The shadow of a piece of pointed lace, Leaf after leaf, and tore, and cast them off, In the Queen's shadow, vibrate on the Till all the place whereon she stood was walls,

green; And parted, laughing in his courtly Then, when he ceased, in one cold pasheart.

sive hand


Received at once and laid aside the gemw, Where these had fallen, slowly past the There on a table near her, and replied.


Whereon the lily maid of Astolat “It may be, I am quicker of belief Lay smiling, like a star in blackest night. Than you believe me, Lancelot of the Lake Our bond is not the bond of man and wifi But the wild Queen, who saw not, burst This good is in it, whatsoe'er of ill,

away It can be broken casier. I for you To weep and wail in secret ; and the barge, This many a year have done despite and Onto the palace-doorway sliding, paused. wrong

There two stood arin'd, and kept the To one whom ever in my heart of hearts door ; to whom, I did acknowledge nobler. What are | All up the marble stair, tier over tier, these?

Were added mouths that gaped, and eyes Diamonds for me! they had been thrice that ask'd their worth

“What is it?" but that oarsman's hag. Being yourgist, had you not lost yourown. gard face, To loyal hearts the value of all gifts | As hard and still as is the face that men Must vary as the giver's. Not for me! Shape to their fancy's eye from broken For her ! for your new fancy. Only this

rocks Grant me, I pray you : have your joys On some clill-side, appallid them, and apart.

they said, I doubt not that however changed, you | “He is enchanted, cannot speak — and keep

she, So much of what is graceful: and myself Look how she sleeps — the Fairy Queen, Would shun to break those bounds of so fair! courtesy

Yea, but how pale ! what are they? In which as Arthur's queen I move and flesh and blood ? rule :

Or come to take the King to fairy land ! Socannot speak my mind. An end to this ! For some do hold our Arthur cannot die, A strange one! yet I take it with Amen. | But that he passes into fairy land." So pray you, add my diamonds to her pearls ;

While thus they babbled of the King, Deck her with these ; tell her she shines the King me down :

Came girt with knights : then turn'd Anarmlet for an arm to which the Queen's the tongueless man Is haggard, or a necklace for a neck | From the half-face to the fulleye, and rose O as much fairer -- as a faith once fair And pointed to the damsel, and the doors. Was richer than these diamonds — hers So Arthur bade the meek Sir Percivale not mine

| And pure Sir Galahad to uplift the maid; Nay, by the mother of our Lord himself, And reverently they bore her into hall. Or hers or mine, mine now to work my Then came the fine Gawain and wonder'd will

at her, She shall not have them."

And Lancelot later cameand mused at her, Saying which she seized, And last the Queen herself and pitied her: And, thro' the casement standing wide | But Arthur spied the letter in her hand, for heat,

Stoopt, took, brake seal, and read it; Flung them, and down they flash'd, and this was all.

smote the stream. Then from the smitten surface flash'd, as “Most noble lord, Sir Lancelot of the it were,

Lake, Diamonds to meet them, and they past 1, sometime call’d the maid of Astolat, away.

Come, for you left me taking no farewell, Then while Sir Lancelot leant, in half Hither, to take my last farewell of you. disgust

| I loved you, and my love had no return, At love, life, all things, on the window And therefore my true love has been my ledge,

death. Close underneath his eyes, and right across And therefore to our lady Guinevere,


And to all other ladies, I make moan. It could not be. I told her that her love
Pray for my soul, and yield me burial. Was but the flash of youth, would dark.
Pray for my soul thou too, Sir Lancelot, en down
As thou art a knight peerless."

| To rise hereafter in a stiller flame

Toward one more worthy of her -- then

Thus he real, would I, And ever in the reading, lorils and dames More specially were he, she wedded, poor, Wept, looking often from his face who real Estate them with large land and territory To hers which lay so silent, and at times, In mine own realm beyond the narrow So touch'd were they, half-thinking that her lips,

To keep them in all joyance : more than Who had devised the letter, moved again. | this

I could not ; this she would not, and she Then freely spoke Sir Lancelot to them died.”

all; "My lord liege Arthur, and all ye that He pausing, Arthur answer'd, “O my hear,

knight, Know that for this most gentle maiden's It will be to thy worship, as my knight, death

| And mine', as head of all our Table Round, Right heavy am I ; for good she was and to see that she be buried worshipfully.”

true, But loved me with a love beyond all love So toward that shrine which then in all In women, whomsoever I have known.

the realm Yet to be loved makes not to love again ; Was richest, Arthur leading, slowly went Not at my years, however it hold in the marshalldorderoftheir Table Round, youth.

| And Lancelot sad beyond his wont, to see I swear by truth and knighthood that I The maiden buried, not as one unknown, gave

Nor meanly, but with gorgeous obsequies, No cause, not willingly, for such a love: And mass, and rolling music, like a To this I call my friends in testimony,

Queen. Her brethren, and her father, who himself And when the knights had laid her Besought me to be plain and blunt, and comely head use,

Low in the dust of half-forgotten kings, To break her passion, some discourtesy Then Arthur spake among them, “Let Against my nature : what I could, I did. her tomb I left her and I bade her no farewell. Be costly, and her image thereupon. Tho', had I dreamt the damsel would And let the shield of Lancelot at her feet have died,

Be carven, and her lily in her hand. I might have put my wits to some rough And let the story of her dolorous voyage use,

Forall true hearts be blazon'd on her tomb And help'd her from herself.”

In letters gold and azure !” which was

wrought Then said the Queen Thereafter ; but when now the lords and (Sea was her wrath, yet working after

dames storm)

And people, from the high door stream“Ye might at least have done her so `ing, brake much grace,

Disorderly, as homeward each, the Queen, Fair lord, as would have help'd her from Who mark'd Sir Lancelot where he her death."

moved apart, He raised his head, their eyes met and Drew near, and sigh'd in passing “Lancehers fell,

lot, Ho adding,

Forgive me ; mine was jealousy in love." “Queen, she would not be content He answer'd with his eyes upon the Save that I wedded her, which could ground, not be.

“That is love's curse ; pass on, my Then might she follow me thro' the world, Queen, forgiven." - she ask'd ;

| But Arthur who beheld his cloudy brows

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