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“Yea also at my full heart's strong command, See through my long throat how the words go up In ripples to my mouth; how in my hand

“The shadow lies like wine within a cup Of marvelously colored gold; yea now This little wind is rising, look you up,

“And wonder how the light is falling so Within my moving tresses; will you dare When you have looked a little on my brow,

“To say this thing is vile? or will you care For any plausible lies of cunning woof, When you can see my face with no lie there

“For ever? am I not a gracious proof? —
‘But in your chamber Launcelot was found'-
Is there a good knight then would stand aloof,

“When a queen says with gentle queenly sound:
O true as steel, come now and talk with me,
I love to see your step upon the ground

“ 'Unwavering, also well I love to see
That gracious smile light up your face, and hear
Your wonderful words, that all mean verily

“ 'The thing they seem to mean: gocd friend, so dear. To me in everything, come here to-night, Or else the hours will pass most dull and drear;

“ If you come not, I fear this time I might Get thinking over-much of times gone by, When I was young, and green hope was in sight:

“For no man cares now to know why I sigh;
And no man comes to sing me pleasant songs,
Nor any brings me the sweet flowers that lie

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'So thick in the gardens; therefore one so longs To see you, Launcelot; that we may be Like children once again, free from all wrongs

“Just for one night.' Did he not come to me?
What thing could keep true Launcelot away
If I said, “Come?' There was one less than three

"In my quiet room that night, and we were gay; Till sudden I rose up, weak, pale, and sick, Because a bawling broke our dream up, yea

“I looked Launcelot's face and could not speak, For he looked helpless too, for a little while; Then I remember how I tried to shriek,

“And could not, but fell down; from tile to tile The stones they threw up rattled o’er my head And made me dizzier; till within a while

“My maids were all about me, and

my

head On Launcelot's breast was being soothed away From its white chattering, until Launcelot said ... “By God! I will not tell you more to-day, Judge any way you will: what matters it? You know quite well the story of that fray,

“How Launcelot stilled their bawling, the mad fit
That caught up Gauwaine, all, all, verily,
But just that which would save me; these things flit.

"Nevertheless you, O Sir Gauwaine, lie, Whatever may have happened these long years, God knows I speak truth, saying that you lie!

“All I have said is truth, by Christ's dear tears.”
She would not speak another word, but stood
Turned sideways; listening, like a man who hears

His brother's trumpet sounding through the wood
Of his foes' lances. She leaned eagerly,
And gave a slight spring sometimes, as she could

At last hear something really; joyfully
Her cheek grew crimson, as the headlong speed
Of the roan charger drew all men to see,
The knight who came was Launcelot at good need

William Morris

19

GUINEVERE

Q

UEEN GUINEVERE had fled the court, and sat

There in the holy house at Almesbury
Weeping, none with her save a little maid,
A novice. One low light betwixt them burned
Blurred by the creeping mist, for all abroad,

Beneath a moon

unseen albeit at full, The white mist, like a face-cloth to the face, Clung to the dead earth, and the land was still.

For hither had she fled, her cause of flight
Sir Modred; he that like a subtle beast
Lay couchant with his eyes upon the throne,
Ready to spring, waiting a chance. For this
He chilled the popular praises of the King
With silent smiles of slow disparagement;
And tampered with the Lords of the White Horse,
Heathen, the brood by Hengist left; and sought
To make disruption in the Table Round
Of Arthur, and to splinter it into feuds
Serving his traitorous end; and all his aims
Were sharpened by strong hate for Lancelot.

For thus it chanced one morn when all the court, Green-suited, but with plumes that mocked the May, Had been—their wont—a-maying and returned, That Modred still in green, all ear and eye, Climbed to the high top of the garden wall To spy some secret scandal if he might, And saw the Queen who sat betwixt her best Enid and lissome Vivien, of her court The wiliest and the worst; and more than this He saw not, for Sir Lancelot passing by Spied where he couched, and as the gardener's hand Picks from the colewort a green caterpillar, So from the high wall and the flowering grove Of grasses Lancelot plucked him by the heel, And cast him as a worm upon the way; But when he knew the prince tho' marred with dust, He, reverencing king's blood in a bad man,

Made such excuses as he might, and these
Full knightly without scorn. For in those days
No knight of Arthur's noblest dealt in scorn;
But, if a man were halt, or hunched, in him
By those whom God had made full-limbed and tall,
Scorn was allowed as part of his defect,
And he was answered softly by the King
And all his Table. So Sir Lancelot holp
To raise the prince, who rising twice or thrice
Full sharply smote his knees, and smiled, and went;
But, ever after, the small violence done
Rankled in him and ruffled all his heart,
As the sharp wind that ruffles all day long
A little bitter pool about a stone
On the bare coast.

But when Sir Lancelot told This matter to the Queen, at first she laughed Lightly, to think of Modred's dusty fall, Then shuddered, as the village wife who cries, “I shudder, some one steps across my grave”; Then laughed again, but faintlier, for indeed She half-foresaw that he, the subtle beast, Would track her guilt until he found, and hers Would be for evermore a name of scorn. Henceforward rarely could she front in hall, Or elsewhere, Modred's narrow foxy face, Heart-hiding smile, and gray persistent eye. Henceforward too, the Powers that tend the soul, To help it from the death that cannot die, And save it even in extremes, began To vex and plague her. Many a time for hours, Beside the placid breathings of the King, In the dead night, grim faces came and went

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