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Then some one said, “We will return no Grows green and broad, and takes no more;”
care, And all at once they sang, "Our island Sun-steep'd at noon, and in the moon home
Nightly dew-fed; and turning yellow Is far beyond the wave; we will no longer Falls, and floats adown the air. roam.”
Lo! sweeten’d with the summer light,
The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow, CHORIC SONG
Drops in a silent autumn night.
All its allotted length of days
The flower ripens in its place, THERE is sweet music here that softer Ripens and fades, and falls, and hath no falls
toil, Than petals from blown roses on the grass,
Fast-rooted in the fruitful soil.
Vaulted o’er the dark-blue sea. Music that brings sweet sleep down from Death is the end of life; ah, why the blissful skies.
Should life all labour be? Here are cool mosses deep,
Let us alone. Time driveth onward fast, And thro’ the moss the ivies creep,
And in a little while our lips are dumb. And in the stream the long-leaved flowers Let us alone. What is it that will last ? weep,
All things are taken from us, and become And from the craggy ledge the poppy Portions and parcels of the dreadful past. hangs in sleep.
Let us alone. What pleasure can
have To war with evil? Is there any peace
In ever climbing up the climbing wave? Why are we weigh'd upon with heaviness,
All things have rest, and ripen toward And utterly consumed with sharp distress,
In silence ripen, fall, and cease: While all things else have rest from weari
Give us long rest or death, dark death, ness?
or dreamful ease. All things have rest: why should we toil
How sweet it were, hearing the down
ward stream, Nor ever fold our wings, And cease from wanderings,
With half-shut eyes ever to seem Nor steep our brows in slumber's holy Falling asleep in a half-dream! balm;
To dream and dream, like yonder amber Nor harken what the inner spirit sings,
Which will not leave the myrrh-bush on “There is no joy but calm !”. Why should we only toil, the roof and
To hear each other's whisper'd speech; crown of things?
Eating the Lotos day by day,
And tender curving lines of creamy spray; Lo! in the middle of the wood,
To lend our hearts and spirits wholly The folded leaf is woo'd from out the bud To the influence of mild-minded melanWith winds upon the branch, and there choly;
To muse and brood and live again in Only to hear and see the far-off sparkling memory,
brine, With those old faces of our infancy Only to hear were sweet, stretch'd out Heap'd over with a mound of grass,
beneath the pine. Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an
urn of brass !
The Lotos blooms below the barren
peak, Dear is the memory of our wedded lives,
The Lotos blows by every winding And dear the last embraces of our wives
creek; And their warm tears; but all hath suffer'd change;
All day the wind breathes low with mel
lower tone; For surely now our household hearths
Thro' every hollow cave and alley lone are cold, Our sons inherit us, our looks are strange,
Round and round the spicy downs the
yellow Lotos-dust is blown. And we should come like ghosts to trouble
We have had enough of action, and of joy.
motion we, Or else the island princes over-bold
Roll'd to starboard, roll'd to larboard, Have eat our substance, and the minstrel
when the surge was seething free, sings
Where the wallowing monster spouted Before them of the ten years' war in Troy,
his foam-fountains in the sea. And our great deeds, as half-forgotten things.
Let us swear an oath, and keep it with Is there confusion in the little isle?
an equal mind,
In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie Let what is broken so remain.
reclined The Gods are hard to reconcile; 'Tis hard to settle order once again.
On the hills like Gods together, careless
of mankind. There is confusion worse than death, Trouble on trouble, pain on pain,
For they lie beside their nectar, and the
bolts are hurl'd Long labour unto aged breath, Sore task to hearts worn out by many
Far below them in the valleys, and the
clouds are lightly curl'd
Round their golden houses, girdled with And eyes grown dim with gazing on the pilot-stars.
the gleaming world; Where they smile in secret, looking over
wasted lands, VII
Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, But, propped on beds of amaranth and roaring deeps and fiery sands, moly,
Clanging fights, and flaming towns, and How Sweet while warm airs lullus, sinking ships, and praying hands. blowing lowly
But they smile, they find a music centred With half-dropped eyelid still,
in a doleful song Beneath a heaven dark and holy.
Steaming up, a lamentation and an anTo watch the long bright river drawing
cient tale of wrong, slowly
Like a tale of little meaning tho' the words His waters from the purple hill
are strong; To hear the dewy echoes calling
Chanted from an ill-used race of men From cave to cave thro' the thick-twined
that cleave the soil, vine
Sow the seed, and reap the harvest with To watch the emerald-colour'd water falling enduring toil, Thro' many a
woven acanthus-wreath Storing yearly little dues of wheat, and divine !
wine, and oil ;
Till they perish and they suffer some,
In those old days, one summer noon, an 'tis whisper'd - down in hell
arm Suffer endless anguish, others in Elysian Rose up from out the bosom of the lake, valleys dwell,
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonResting weary limbs at last on beds of
Holding the sword — and how I row'd Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the shore
And took it, and have worn it, like a king; Than labour in the deep mid-ocean, wind And, wheresoever I am sung or told and wave and oar;
In aftertime, this also shall be known. O, rest ye, brother mariners, we will not But now delay not; take Excalibur, wander more.
And Aling him far into the middle mere;
To him replied the bold Sir Bedivere:
"It is not meet, Sir King, to leave thee So all day long the noise of battle rollid
thus, Among the mountains by the winter sea, Aidless, alone, and smitten thro' the helm. Until King Arthur's table, man by man, A little thing may harm a wounded man. Had fallen in Lyonnesse about their lord, Yet I thy hest will all perform at full, King Arthur; then, because his wound Watch what I see, and lightly bring thee was deep,
word.” The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,
So saying, from the ruin'd shrine he Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights,
stept And bore him to a chapel nigh the field, And in the moon athwart the place of A broken chancel with a broken cross, tombs, That stood on a dark strait of barren land. Where lay the mighty bones of ancient On one side lay the ocean, and on one
men, Lay a great water, and the moon was full. Old knights, and over them the sea-wind Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedi
Shrill, chill, with flakes of foam. He, “The sequel of to-day unsolders all
stepping down The goodliest fellowship of famous knights By zigzag paths and juts of pointed rock, Whereof this world holds record. Such Came on the shining levels of the lake. a sleep
There drew he forth the brand ExcaliThey sleep — the men I loved. I think
bur, that we
And o'er him, drawing it, the winter moon, Shall never more, at any future time, Brightening the skirts of a long cloud, Delight our souls with talk of knightly ran forth deeds,
And sparkled keen with frost against the Walking about the gardens and the halls hilt; Of Camelot, as in the days that were. For all the haft twinkled with diamond I perish by this people which I made, — sparks, Tho' Merlin sware that I should come Myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth work again
Of subtlest jewellery. He gazed so long To rule once more — but let what will be That both his eyes were dazzled, as he be.
stood, I am so deeply smitten thro' the helm This way and that dividing the swift That without help I cannot last till morn.
mind, Thou therefore take my brand Excalibur, In act to throw; but at the last it seem'd Which was my pride; for thou remem- Better to leave Excalibur conceal'd berest how
There in the many-knotted water-flags,
That whistled stiff and dry about the What record, or what relic of my lord marge.
Should be to aftertime, but empty breath So strode he back slow to the wounded And rumours of a doubt? but were this king.
kept, Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedi- Stored in some treasure-house of mighty vere:
kings, “Hast thou perform'd my mission which Some one might show it at a joust of arms, I gave?
Saying, 'King Arthur's sword, Excalibur, What is it thou hast seen, or what hast Wrought by the lonely maiden of the lake; heard?”
Nine years she wrought it, sitting in the And answer made the bold Sir Bedi
Upon the hidden bases of the hills.' "I heard the ripple washing in the reeds, So might some old man speak in the afterAnd the wild water lapping on the crag.
time To whom replied King Arthur, faint To all the people, winning reverence; and pale:
But now much honour and much fame “Thou hast betray'd thy nature and thy
were lost.” name,
So spake he, clouded with his own conNot rendering true answer, as beseem'd
ceit, Thy fealty, nor like a noble knight; And hid Excalibur the second time, For surer sign had follow'd, either hand, And so strode back slow to the wounded Or voice, or else a motion of the mere.
king. This is a shameful thing for men to lie. Then spoke King Arthur, breathing Yet now, I charge thee, quickly go again heavily : As thou art lief and dear, and do the thing “What is it thou hast seen, or what hast I bade thee, watch, and lightly bring me
And answer made the bold Sir BediThen went Sir Bedivere the second time
"I heard the water lapping on the crag, Across the ridge, and paced beside the And the long ripple washing in the reeds.” mere,
To whom replied King Arthur, much Counting the dewy pebbles, fix'd in
in wrath : thought;
“Ah, miserable and unkind, untrue, But when he saw the wonder of the hilt, Unknightly, traitor-hearted! Woe is me! How curiously and strangely chased, he Authority forgets a dying king, smote
Laid widow'd of the power in his eye His palms together, and he cried aloud: That bow'd the will. I see thee what “And if indeed I cast the brand away,
thou art, Surely a precious thing, one worthy note, For thou, the latest-left of all my knights, Should thus be lost forever from the earth, In whom should meet the offices of all, Which might have pleased the eyes of Thou wouldst betray me for the precious
many men. What good should follow this, if this were Either from lust of gold, or like a girl done?
Valuing the giddy pleasure of the eyes. What harm, undone? deep harm to dis- Yet, for a man may fail in duty twice, obey,
And the third time may prosper, get thee Seeing obedience is the bond of rule.
hence; Were it well to obey then if a king de- But, if thou spare to fling Excalibur, mand
I will arise and slay thee with my hands." An act unprofitable, against himself?
Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and ran, The king is sick, and knows not what he And, leaping down the ridges lightly, does
Among the bulrush-beds, and clutch'd My wound hath taken cold, and I shall the sword,
die.” And strongly wheel'd and threw it. The So saying, from the pavement he half
rose, Made lightnings in the splendour of the Slowly, with pain, reclining on his arm, moon,
And looking wistfully with wide blue And flashing round and round, and whirl'd
eyes in an arch,
As in a picture. Him Sir Bedivere Shot like a streamer of the northern morn, Remorsefully regarded thro' his tears, Seen where the moving isles of winter And would have spoken, but he found shock
not words, By night, with noises of the northern sea. Then took with care, and kneeling on So flash'd and fell the brand Excalibur ;
one knee, But ere he dipped the surface, rose an arm O'er both his shoulders drew the languid Cloth'd in white samite, mystic, wonder
And rising bore him thro' the place of And caught him by the hilt, and bran
tombs. dish'd him
But, as he walk'd King Arthur panted Three times, and drew him under in the
Like one that feels a nightmare on his And lightly went the other to the king.
bed Then spoke King Arthur, drawing When all the house is mute. So sigh'd thicker breath :
the king, “Now see I by thine eyes that this is done. Muttering and murmuring at his
ear, Speak out; what is it thou hast heard, “Quick, quick! or seen?”
I fear it is too late, and I shall die." And answer made the bold Sir Bedi- But the other swiftly strode from ridge
to ridge, “Sir King, I closed mine eyelids, lest the Clothed with his breath, and looking, as gems
he walk'd, Should blind my purpose, for I never Larger than human on the frozen hills.
He heard the deep behind him, and a Nor shall see, here or elsewhere, till I
Before. His own thought drove him Not tho's live three lives of mortal men, like a goad. So great a miracle as yonder hilt.
Dry clash'd his harness in the icy caves Then with both hands I flung him, wheel- And barren chasms, and all to left and ing him;
right But when I look'd again, behold an arm,
The bare black cliff clang'd round him, Clothed in white samite, mystic, won
as he based derful,
His feet on juts of slippery crag that rang That caught him by the hilt, and bran- Sharp-smitten with the dint of armed dish'd him
heels Three times, and drew him under in the And on a sudden, lo! the level lake, mere."
And the long glories of the winter moon. And answer made King Arthur breath- Then saw they how there hove a dusky ing hard :
barge, “My end draws nigh; 'tis time that I Dark as a funeral scarf from stem to stern, were gone.
Beneath them; and descending they were Make broad thy shoulders to receive my weight,
That all the decks were dense with stately And bear me to the margin; yet I fear