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O Love and Life, how weary am I,
And how I long for rest.
FLOWER IN THE CRANNIED WALL.
[The Holy Grail etc., 1869.]
FLOWER in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower-but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.
THE COMING OF ARTHUR (1869).
[Erzählung Bellicents, der Halbschwester Arthurs.]
BUT let me tell thee now another tale:
For Bleys, our Merlin's master, as they say,
Died but of late, and sent his cry to me,
To hear him speak before he left his life.
Shrunk like a fairy changeling lay the mage;
And when I enter'd told me that himself
And Merlin ever served about the King,
Uther, before he died; and on the night
When Uther in Tintagil past away
Moaning and wailing for an heir, the two
Left the still King, and passing forth to breathe,
Then from the castle gateway by the chasm
Descending thro' the dismal night—a night
In which the bounds of heaven and earth were lost-
Beheld, so high upon the dreary deeps
It seem'd in heaven, a ship, the shape thereof
A dragon wing'd and all from stem to stern
Bright with a shining people on the decks,
And gone as soon as seen. And then the two
Dropt to the cove, and watch'd the great sea fall,
Wave after wave, each mightier than the last,
Till last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep
And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged
Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame:
And down the wave and in the flame was borne
A naked babe, and rode to Merlin's feet,
Who stoopt and caught the babe, and cried "The King!
Here is an heir for Uther!" And the fringe
Of that great breaker, sweeping up the strand,
Lash'd at the wizard as he spake the word,
And all at once all round him rose in fire,
So that the child and he were clothed in fire.
And presently thereafter follow'd calm,
Free sky and stars: "And this same child," he said,
"Is he who reigns; nor could I part in peace
Till this were told." And saying this the seer
Went thro' the strait and dreadful pass of death,
Not ever to be question'd any more
Save on the further side; but when I met
Merlin, and ask'd him if these things were truth—
The shining dragon and the naked child
Descending in the glory of the seas-
He laugh'd as is his wont, and answer'd me
In riddling triplets of old time, and said:
“Rain, rain, and sun! a rainbow in the sky! A young man will be wiser by and by; An old man's wit may wander ere he die.
Rain, rain, and sun! a rainbow on the lea! And truth is this to me, and that to thee; And truth or clothed or naked let it be.
Rain, sun, and rain! and the free blossom blows: Sun, rain, and sun! and where is he who knows? From the great deep to the great deep he goes."
THE PASSING OF ARTHUR (1869).
[Von Zeile: "So all day long" bis "And on the mere the wailing died away" schon in den Poems 1842 gedruckt und bereits 1835 gedichtet (Mem. pg. 162).]
THAT story which the bold Sir Bedivere,
First made and latest left of all the knights,
Told, when the man was no more than a voice
In the white winter of his age, to those
With whom he dwelt, new faces, other minds.
For on their march to westward, Bedivere, Who slowly paced among the slumbering host, Heard in his tent the moanings of the King:
“I found Him in the shining of the stars,
I mark'd Him in the flowering of His fields,
But in His ways with men I find Him not.
I waged His wars, and now I pass and die.
O me! for why is all around us here
As if some lesser god had made the world,
But had not force to shape it as he would,
Till the High God behold it from beyond,
And enter it, and make it beautiful?
Or else as if the world were wholly fair,
But that these eyes of men are dense and dim,
And have not power to see it as it is:
Perchance, because we see not to the close;-
For I, being simple, thought to work His will,
And have but stricken with the sword in vain;
And all whereon I lean'd in wife and friend
Is traitor to my peace, and all my realm
Reels back into the beast, and is no more.
My God, thou hast forgotten me in my death:
Nay-God my Christ-I pass but shall not die."
Then, ere that last weird battle in the west,
There came on Arthur sleeping, Gawain kill'd
In Lancelot's war, the ghost of Gawain blown
Along a wandering wind, and past his ear
Went shrilling, "Hollow, hollow all delight!
Hail, King! to-morrow thou shalt pass away.
Farewell! there is an isle of rest for thee.
And I am blown along a wandering wind,
And hollow, hollow, hollow all delight."
And fainter onward, like wild birds that change
Their season in the night and wail their way
From cloud to cloud, down the long wind the dream
Shrill'd; but in going mingled with dim cries
Far in the moonlit haze among the hills,
As of some lonely city sack'd by night,
When all is lost, and wife and child with wail
Pass to new lords; and Arthur woke and call'd,
"Who spake? A dream. O light upon the wind,
Thine, Gawain, was the voice-are these dim cries
Thine? or doth all that haunts the waste and wild
Mourn, knowing it will go along with me?"
This heard the bold Sir Bedivere and spake:
"O me, my King, let pass whatever will,
Elves, and the harmless glamour of the field;
But in their stead thy name and glory cling
To all high places like a golden cloud
For ever: but as yet thou shalt not pass.
Light was Gawain in life, and light in death.
Is Gawain, for the ghost is as the man;
And care not thou for dreams from him, but rise-
I hear the steps of Modred in the west,
And with him many of thy people, and knights
Once thine, whom thou hast loved, but grosser grown
Than heathen, spitting at their vows and thee.
Jiriczek, Englische Dichter.
Right well in heart they know thee for the King.
Arise, go forth and conquer as of old."
Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere: "Far other is this battle in the west Whereto we move, than when we strove in youth, And brake the petty kings, and fought with Rome, Or thrust the heathen from the Roman wall,
And shook him thro' the north. Ill doom is mine
To war against my people and my knights.
The king who fights his people fights himself.
And they my knights, who loved me once, the stroke
That strikes them dead is as my death to me.
Yet let us hence, and find or feel a way
Thro' this blind haze, which ever since I saw
One lying in the dust at Almesbury,
Hath folded in the passes of the world."
Then rose the King and moved his host by night, And ever push'd Sir Modred, league by league, Back to the sunset bound of Lyonnesse A land of old upheaven from the abyss By fire, to sink into the abyss again; Where fragments of forgotten peoples dwelt, And the long mountains ended in a coast Of ever-shifting sand, and far away The phantom circle of a moaning sea. There the pursuer could pursue no more, And he that fled no further fly the King; And there, that day when the great light of heaven Burn'd at his lowest in the rolling year,
On the waste sand by the waste sea they closed.
Nor ever yet had Arthur fought a fight
Like this last, dim, weird battle of the west.
A deathwhite mist slept over sand and sea:
Whereof the chill, to him who breathed it, drew