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Nor yet forgot her practice in her fright,
But wrought upon his mood and hugg'd him close.
The pale blood of the wizard at her touch
Took gayer colours, like an opal warm'd.
She blamed herself for telling hearsay tales:
She shook from fear, and for her fault she wept
Of petulancy; she call'd him lord and liege,
Her seer, her bard, her silver star of eve,
Her God, her Merlin, the one passionate love
Of her whole life; and ever overhead
Bellow'd the tempest, and the rotten branch
Snapt in the rushing of the river-rain

Above them; and in change of glare and gloom
Her eyes and neck glittering went and came;
Till now the storm, its burst of passion spent,
Moaning and calling out of other lands,

Had left the ravaged woodland yet once more To peace; and what should not have been had been,

For Merlin, overtalk'd and overworn,

Had yielded, told her all the charm, and slept.

Then, in one moment, she put forth the charm Of woven paces and of waving hands, And in the hollow oak he lay as dead,

And lost to life and use and name and fame.

Then crying 'I have made his glory mine,' And shrieking out ' O fool,' the harlot leapt Adown the forest and the thicket closed Behind her, and the forest echo'd 'fool.'


ELAINE the fair, Elaine the loveable,

Elaine the lily maid of Astolat,

High in her chamber up a tower to the east
Guarded the sacred shield of Lancelot;

Which first she placed where morning's earliest ray
Might strike it, and awake her with the gleam;
Then fearing rust or soilure fashion'd for it
A case of silk, and braided thereupon
All the devices blazon'd on the shield
In their own tinct, and added, of her wit,
A border fantasy of branch and flower,
And yellow-throated nestling in the nest.
Nor rested thus content, but day by day
Leaving her household and good father climb'd
That eastern tower, and entering barr'd her door,
Stript off the case, and read the naked shield,
Now guess'd a hidden meaning in his arms,
Now made a pretty history to herself
Of every dint a sword had beaten in it,
And every scratch a lance had made upon it,
Conjecturing when and where: this cut is fresh ;
That ten years back; this dealt him at Caerlyle ;
That at Caerleon; this at Camelot :

And ah God's mercy what a stroke was there!
And here a thrust that might have kill'd, but God
Broke the strong lance, and roll'd his enemy down,
And saved him so she lived in fantasy.

How came the lily maid by that good shield

Of Lancelot, she that knew not ev'n his name?
He left it with her, when he rode to tilt

For the great diamond in the diamond jousts,
Which Arthur had ordain'd, and by that name
Had named them, since a diamond was the prize.

For Arthur when none knew from whence he


Long ere the people chose him for their king,
Roving the trackless realms of Lyonnesse,
Had found a glen, gray boulder and black tarn.
A horror lived about the tarn, and clave
Like its own mists to all the mountain side:
For here two brothers, one a king, had met
And fought together; but their names were lost.
And each had slain his brother at a blow,

And down they fell and made the glen abhorr'd : And there they lay till all their bones were bleach'd,

And lichen'd into colour with the


crags : And one of these, the king, had on a crown Of diamonds, one in front, and four aside. And Arthur came, and labouring up the All in a misty moonshine, unawares Had trodden that crown'd skeleton, and the skull Brake from the nape, and from the skull the crown Roll'd into light, and turning on its rims

Fled like a glittering rivulet to the tarn:

And down the shingly scaur he plunged, and caught,

And set it on his head, and in his heart
Heard murmurs 'lo, thou likewise shalt be king.'

Thereafter, when a king, he had the gems Pluck'd from the crown, and show'd them to his knights,

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Saying these jewels, whereupon I chanced
Divinely, are the kingdom's not the king's -
For public use: henceforward let there be,

Once every year, a joust for one of these:
For so by nine years' proof we needs must learn
Which is our mightiest, and ourselves shall grow
In use of arms and manhood, till we drive

The Heathen, who, some say, shall rule the land
Hereafter, which God hinder.' Thus he spoke :
And eight years past, eight jousts had been, and

Had Lancelot won the diamond of the year,
With purpose to present them to the Queen,
When all were won; but meaning all at once.
To snare her royal fancy with a boon

Worth half her realm, had never spoken word.

Now for the central diamond and the last And largest, Arthur, holding then his court Hard on the river nigh the place which now Is this world's hugest, let proclaim a joust At Camelot, and when the time drew nigh Spake (for she had been sick) to Guinevere Are you so sick, my Queen, you cannot move To these fair jousts?' 'Yea, lord,' she said, 'you

know it.'

Then will you miss,' he answer'd,' the great deeds Of Lancelot, and his prowess in the lists, A sight you love to look on.' And the Queen Lifted her eyes, and they dwelt languidly On Lancelot, where he stood beside the King. He thinking that he read her meaning there, Stay with me, I am sick; my love is more Than many diamonds,' yielded, and a heart, Love-loyal to the least wish of the Queen (However much he yearn'd to make complete The tale of diamonds for his destined boon) Urged him to speak against the truth, and say, Sir King, mine ancient wound is hardly whole, And lets me from the saddle;' and the King Glanced first at him, then her, and went his way. No sooner gone than suddenly she began.

'To blame, my lord Sir Lancelot, much to blame. Why go you not to these fair jousts? the knights Are half of them our enemies, and the crowd Will murmur, lo the shameless ones, who take Their pastime now the trustful king is gone!' Then Lancelot vext at having lied in vain : 'Are you so wise? you were not once so wise, My Queen, that summer, when you loved me first. Then of the crowd you took no more account Than of the myriad cricket of the mead, When its own voice clings to each blade of grass, And every voice is nothing. As to knights, Them surely can I silence with all ease. But now my loyal worship is allow'd Of all men many a bard, without offence, Has link'd our names together in his lay, Lancelot, the flower of bravery, Guinevere, The pearl of beauty and our knights at feast Have pledged us in this union, while the king Would listen smiling. How then? is there more? Has Arthur spoken aught? or would yourself, Now weary of my service and devoir, Henceforth be truer to your faultless lord?'


She broke into a little scornful laugh.
'Arthur, my lord, Arthur, the faultless King,
That passionate perfection, my good lord
But who can gaze upon the Sun in heaven?
He never spake word of reproach to me,
He never had a glimpse of mine untruth,
He cares not for me: only here to-day
There gleam'd a vague suspicion in his eyes:
Some meddling rogue has tamper'd with him
Rapt in this fancy of his Table Round,
And swearing men to vows impossible,
To make them like himself: but, friend, to me
He is all fault who hath no fault at all:

For who loves me must have a touch of earth;
The low sun makes the colour: I am yours,


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