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'I loathe thee'; yet not less, O Guinevere,
For I was ever virgin save for thee,
My love thro' Aesh hath wrought into my life
So far that my doom is, I love thee still.
Let no man dream but that I love thee still.
Perchance, and so thou purify thy soul,
And so thou lean on our fair father Christ,
Hereafter in that world where all are pure
We two may meet before high God, and thou
Wilt spring to me, and claim me thine, and know
I am thine husband—not a smaller 'soul,
Nor Lancelot, nor another. Leave me that,
I charge thee, my last hope. Now must I hence.
Thro the thick night I hear the trumpet blow.
They summon me their King to lead mine hosts
Far down to that great battle in the west,
Where I must strike against the man they call
My sister's son—no kin of mine, who leagues
With Lords of the White Horse, heathen, and knights,
Traitors—and strike him dead, and meet myself
Death, or I know not what mysterious doom.
And thou remaining here wilt learn the event;
But hither shall I never come again,
Never lie by thy side, see thee no more-
And while she groveled at his feet, She felt the King's breath wander o'er her neck, And in the darkness o'er her fallen head Perceived the waving of his hands that blessed.
Then, listening till those armed steps were gone, Rose the pale Queen, and in her anguish found The casement: “Peradventure,” so she thought,
“If I might see his face, and not be seen.”
And lo, he sat on horseback at the door!
And near him the sad nuns with each a light
Stood, and he gave them charge about the Queen,
To guard and foster her for evermore.
And while he spake to these his helm was lowered,
To which for crest the golden dragon clung
Of Britain; so she did not see the face,
Which then was as an angel's, but she saw,
Wet with the mists and smitten by the lights,
The Dragon of the great Pendragonship
Blaze, making all the night a steam of fire.
And even then he turned; and more and more
The moony vapor rolling round the King,
Who seemed the phantom of a giant in it,
Enwound him fold by fold, and made him gray
And grayer, till himself became as mist
Before her, moving ghostlike to his doom.
Then she stretched out her arms and cried aloud, “O Arthur!” there her voice brake suddenly, Then—as a stream that spouting from a cliff Fails in mid-air, but gathering at the base Remakes itself, and flashes down the valeWent on in passionate utterance:
"Gone--my lord! Gone thro' my sin to slay and to be slain! And he forgave me, and I could not speak. Farewell? I should have answered his farewell. His mercy choked me. Gone, my lord the King, My own true lord! how dare I call him mine? The shadow of another cleaves to me, And makes me one pollution. He, the King,
Called me polluted. Shall I kill myself?
What help in that? I cannot kill my sin,
If soul be soul, nor can I kill my shame;
No, nor by living can I live it down.
The days will grow to weeks, the weeks to months,
The months will add themselves and make the years,
will roll into the centuries,
And mine will ever be a name of scorn.
I must not dwell on that defeat of fame.
Let the world be; that is but of the world
What else? what hope? I think there was a hope,
Except he mocked me when he spake of hope;
His hope he cailed it; but he never mocks,
For mockery is the fume of little hearts.
And blessed be the King, who hath forgiven
My wickedness to him, and left me hope
That in mine own heart I can live down sin
And be his mate hereafter in the heavens
Before high God! Ah great and gentle lord,
Who wast, as is the conscience of a saint
Among his warring senses, to thy knights-
To whom my false voluptuous pride, that took
Full easily all impressions from below,
Would not look up, or half-despised the height
To which I would not or I could not climb-
I thought I could not breathe in that fine air,
That pure severity of perfect light-
I yearned for warmth and color which I found
In Lancelot-now I see thee what thou art,
Thou art the highest and most human too,
Not Lancelot, nor another. Is there none
Will tell the King I love him tho' so late?
Now—ere he goes to the great battle? none!
Myself must tell him in that purer life,
But now it were too daring. Ah my God,
What might I not have made of thy fair world,
Had I but loved thy highest creature here?
It was my duty to have loved the highest;
It surely was my profit had I known;
It would have been my pleasure had I seen.
We needs must love the highest when we see it,
Not Lancelot, nor another.”
Here her hand Grasped made her veil her eyes. She looked and saw The novice, weeping, suppliant, and said to her, "Yea, little maid, for am I not forgiven?” Then glancing up beheld the holy nuns All round her, weeping; and her heart was loosed Within her, and she wept with these and said:
“Ye know me then, that wicked one, who broke The vast design and purpose of the King. O shut me round with narrowing nunnery walls, Meek maidens, from the voices crying, 'Shame!' I must not scorn myself; he loves me still. Let no one dream but that he loves me still. So let me, if you do not shudder at me, Nor shun to call me sister, dwell with you; Wear black and white, and be a nun like you, Fast with your fasts, not feasting with your feasts; Grieve with your griefs, not grieving at your joys, But not rejoicing; mingle with your rites; Pray and be prayed for; lie before your shrines; Do each low office of your holy house; Walk your
dim cloister, and distribute dole To poor sick people, richer in His eyes Who ransomed us, and haler too than I;
And treat their loathsome hurts and heal mine own;
And so wear out in alms-deed and in prayer
The somber close of that voluptuous day
Which wrought the ruin of my lord the King."
She said. They took her to themselves; and she
Still hoping, fearing, “Is it yet too late?”
Dwelt with them, till in time their abbess died.
Then she, for her good deeds and her pure life,
And for the power of ministration in her,
And likewise for the high rank she had borne,
Was chosen abbess, there, an abbess, lived
For three brief years, and there, an abbess, passed
To where beyond these voices there is peace.
all day long the noise of battle rolled
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur's table, man by man,
Had fallen in Lyonnesse about their Lord,
King Arthur: then, because his wound was deep,
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,
Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights,
And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land.
On one side lay the Ocean, and on one
Lay a great water, and the moon was full.
Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
“The sequel of to-day unsolders all
The goodliest fellowship of famous knights