THE EARLY POEMS OF WILLIAM MORRIS

Early Poems Including Those Not Previously Published

[Numbers refer to checklist entries. All poems and fragments not published by Morris during his lifetime, except early or alternate drafts of published work (entries *34 and *48, the latter in places nearly illegible), are indicated by a *.]

1. Ballad: Where have you been so long to-day?

Pub. AWS, I

[517]

Where have you been so long to-day?

Tell me true, sweet Step-daughter.
To my brother's house I went to play:
Something hurts me, Step-mother.

What did you eat for dinner there?
Roasted eels and black pepper.

What did you do with the broken meat?

I gave them to my dogs to eat.

What then did to your dogs betide?
The flesh fell from them that they died.

What do you leave to your father dear?
My barn of wheat to make good cheer.

And what will you leave to your brother dear?
My great ship that sails everywhere.

And what will you leave to your sister dear?
My gold that shineth red and clear.

And what will you leave to your Step-mother?
The flames of Hell I leave to her.

And what then will you leave your nurse?
Mother, what can I wish her worse?

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2. Ballad: Malmston had a dream in the night

Pub. AWS, I, 517-18

Malmston had a dream in the night
That harm had come to his heart’s delight.

He called his pages fair and free:
“Get up and saddle the grey for me.

Get up in haste and saddle the grey;
I must see my love before the day.”

[518] As he rode through the greves [green?]
He saw two ladies well beseen.

The one of them was dressed in blue.
“My Lord Malmston, what aileth you?”

The other of them was dressed in blue.
“My Lord Malmston, what aileth you?”

The other of them was dressed in red.
“O, who is sick, and who is dead?”

“No one is sick; no one is dead,
But the Lord of Malmston’s love,” she said.

But as he drew anight the town
He saw the bier a-coming down.

He let his horse loose hastily,
And by the dead corpse quick stood he.

He pulled off five rings of gold
And gave them to the clerks to hold.

“Dig a tomb right large and deep:
There must we walk while men do sleep.”

Malmston waxed both pale and red,
With a deep wound he fell down dead.

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3. Fame: Why weepeth he? why weepeth he?

Pub. AWS, I 518-23.

Why weepeth he? Why weepeth he?
Above whose head the beech boughs be,
Past whom doth whizz the humble-bee.

Why weeps he so? Why weeps he so
Past whom the pleasant stream doth go
And, as it goeth, singeth low.

He lieth on a little mound,
His head is lying on the ground,
He clutcheth at the grass around.

Alack! He weepeth ever more
For faces he may see no more,
He weepeth for his lonely door,

Whereto their feet with never come,
Through which will never sound the hum
Of loving friends; O! they are dumb.

The years have passed by his love,
He prayeth yet to God above;
Unloving prayer will never move

The loving One who lives on high
Who, on the cross against the sky,
Showed such love when he did die.

And yet his dread prayers answered were
That from his great heart he might tear
The love, that beat through everywhere;

Though all his life, his pulses strong
Through which the fierce blood leapt along,
His lovely voice, where long and long,

The sweet notes after he did speak
Did roll about the heart, and break
In joyous showers brining ache;

They were so sweet they brought a pain
About the heart, about the brain
Then came the sweetness back again.

O! love was round him like a sea;
The love of all fair things that be.
The love of every beauteous tree;

The love of birds that skim along,
The love of ringing olden song,
The love of churches, where the long,

Long sunbeam striketh down the nave,
Upon the place where banners wave,
Upon the ancient warrior’s grave;

The love of men that never die;
In many lands their bodies lie,
Their music, and their truth are nigh.

The love of those that come and go
About him, O! they loved him so,
And he loved them—but long ago.

The love of one whose eyes were deep
And ghrough her eyes the thoughts did sweep,
Her smile would almost make you weep;

So much her eyes held sympathy
With all the sad, sad things that be
In loving, loved humanity.

Solemn the mountains are, and vast,
A crown of clouds about them cast;
Yea, here the clouds cling, they have pst

From off the clear sky overhead
Which waiteth, trembling, for the red,
Which waiteth till the sun be dead:

For now the sun is very low,
No clouds across the zenith go,
The sun is dying, wind is low.

O me! The solemn East behind,
The moon is coming up the wind,
The light, calm, westward-blowing wind.

The moon she goeth westernly
The woods look up entrancedly
In morning light the moon will die.

Ah! All things die, and come again,
Ah! All things, but the feet of men
They die, and never come again.

Why weepeth he? Why weepeth he?
The bat goes rough the beechen tree,
There is no sound of any bee.

Alack! He weepeth evermore
For love, that never cometh more,
He weepeth for his lonely door.

He weepeth for his lonely heart
That nevermore at love will start:
He weepeth for his fallen dart

He hoped to strike the sun withal;
Alas! The dart did earthward fall,
Alas! The shooter needeth pall.

“O! broken love, O! buried love
The while the stars shine out above
The while the sun shines, broken love!

“I know thou’lt never come again;
And yet I pray thee come gain
O! holy Love, come back again.

“My breast is tightened with my woe,
The bitter thoughts so quickly flow
And upward, upward, ever go,

“Yet never leave me, flying up;
My brain is like a fiery cup
Where whoso drinketh death will sup.

“And yet I know my name is sung
Among the banners; it is rung
Among the nations; hearts have clung

“Around it, and it giveth birth
By its upspringing to the worth
That else were hidden in the earth.

“The moon was shining long ago
As it shines on the beech-tree now,
The moonlight fell upon my brow.

“My brow was wrinkled in a frown,
While solemnly the moon looked down
Upon the many-spired town.

“My lips were closed about my teeth,
I scarcely dared to draw my breath,
I stood like one who waits for death.

“His voice was ringing in my ears
Upon my hand I felt her tears,
O! loving long-forgotten tears!

“I muttered low, ‘God needs me then,
I will go help you brother men,
No single man I love again;

“`I will live loving God alone
Loving no one man, for the moan
That rises up in monotone,

“`And shrieks rise with it evermore,
And fiendish laughter; on the floor
Lie God’s own chosen, and His poor.

“`O! heart my love I will out-tear
It maketh me a coward—there
It lyeth in the moonlight fair.

“`Twill be a glorious destiny,
Ah! Truly they shall hear of me,
The narrow world shall ring with me.’

“I know her mound with cross above
Where flowers creep, and where, for love,
Among lime-blossoms moans the dove.

“I know his tomb adown the nave,
Where lyeth he with sheathed glaive,
Praying he lies above the grave.

“I know as weeping here I lie
How shadows pass the hillock by,
How on his tomb the colours lie.

“O! Jesu Christ! By whom there stood
The many soldiers round the rood
O! Jesu! By the olive wood,

“I pray thee let love come again
The love I spurned; O! I am fain
To weep, that love may come again.”

So weepeth he, so weepeth he
Beneath the boughs o’ the beechen tree
So weepeth he—so dieth he.

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4. The Abbey and the Palace: Standing away from the cornfields

Pub. AWS, I, 523-24.

Standing away from the corn-fields
On a grey, grey day,
With the east wind blowing
Past the pillars, and showing
The backs of the ivy-leaves;
Standing away from the corn-fields
Where the children play,
Where the wind is blowing
Up the hill and going
Past the shining golden sheaves.

Standing away from all men
In October weather
A grey tower lifting
Where the grey clouds are shifting,
Four great arches stood:
Beneath them lay the tall men
Who have fought together,
There the old monks lay
And the wind moaned well-a-day
For their chaunt through the wood.

Lying there in the choir
By the ruined wall
With his hands clasped together,
Praying there for ever,
Look at the stone-carved Knight.
And about lies the shivered spire
Once so tall, so tall,
And the crow flies over
The head of he lover
Of him was brave in fight.

And if the crow keeps flying
Through the grey, grey air
He will see as he flyeth
A palace that lieth
With shivered marble around;
He will hear the east wind dying
Past the marble there;
He will see it all roofless,
All ruined and roofless
With the marble on the ground.

Now the wind beats heavily
Round the tower that steadily
Stands upon the arches four,
And the winds blows wearily
Round the palace, drearily
Standing, walls without a floor.

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5. The Night-Walk: Night lay upon the city

Pub. AWS, I, 525-29.

Night lay upon the city
Dull clouds upon the night
O! London without pity!
O! ghastly flaring light!

It fell on many faces
In groups about the door,
It fell on some, with traces
Of the dreary churchyard floors.

It fell on faces, bloated
With man hideous crimes,
On some, whose thoughts had floated
Away to long past times.

It fell on hungry faces
Thin lips, despairing frown,
Truly a dismal place is
That grim, gold-paved town.

From light to light went flitting
One very dreary face,
Through the people all unwitting
It passed on apace.

It was a woman walking
Adown the London street,
She paced on never talking
To any she did meet.

She walked on fast and faster
Amid the drizzling rain
And few there were that passed her
Or they fell behind again.

She walked on nothing heeding
Sights, sounds about her cast,
Like a ghost, breath for red blood bleeding
When his spirit life is past.

Her eyes they looked so fearful,
Her wild far-looking eyes
They had long ago left being tearful
No tear within them lies.

Her teeth were clenched together,
Her lips a little apart;
As she went in the doleful weather
Her breath did tear her heart.

Her dress was torn and ragged,
`Twas silken ne’ertheless;
Her hair all wild and jagged
Did a broidered kerchief press.

On one of her closed fingers
As her arms swing by her side,
A golden ring yet lingers
She strives the ring to  hide.

Between closed teeth she mutters,
“When will the trees be here?”
Strange little sounds she utters
Which die off in the air.

She says, and walks on faster
With terror in her eye:
“Ah! Yesterday I passed here
They would not let me by:

“The fearful, dusky houses
They hemmed me in always,
The angry, terrible houses
They met me yesterday.

“They would not hear my singing
They turned me away,
Curses upon me flinging;
O! horrible yesterday!

“They told me that the flowers
Were bright, so bright beyond,
That in the west wind cowers
The broad sedge by the pond,

“The sedge-flowers there are yellow,
The long weeds purple and green,
The swallow, seeking his fellow,
About the pond is seen.

“And yet, the terrible houses,
They would not let me by
The dusky, terrible houses!
Above, the smoke does fly.”

She walked, till the streets grew thinner
While night went on and on,
Till fields began to win her,
She scarce could hold her song.

When the houses ceased, their weeping
The clouds left off also,
Grey light was about her creeping,
She had forgot her woe.

She walks on, dreaming, dreaming,
She sometimes turns, to feel
The soft air round her streaming,
O! softly it does steal

About her hair that was golden
That is roughed and jagged now
About her eyes, blue in the olden
Days so long ago.

She thinks not of the hours
The weary ours of woe
But looking at the flowers
She thinks it long ago.

There is an old, old garden,
She cometh to it soon;
An old, old house is its warden
In the sun and in the moon.

And many, many lilies
Do in the garden grow,
Red poppies, and white lilies
And lime-trees in a row.

And the house stands very quaintly
With roses up its walls,
And the smell of the limes come faintly
And falls, when the light wind falls.

And a lawn form the garden lyeth,
Soft moss its grass doth hide,
In a clam blue river it dyeth,
With woods on the other side.

There all alone she sitteth
The while the sky grows red,
The while the great moth flitteth,
The lark sings over-head.

She singeth and her singing
Is a mournful thing to hear,
The rising sun is bringing
Lost love, and death anear.

The light shows through the windows
The roses hang across
O! the long deserted windows!
Red roses hang across.

Between the lilies and the limes
The woman lay a-dying
Her head laid back as in old times
Among the flowers lying.

I think the leaves will bury her,
The snowy lilies look on her,
They look as if they love her,
The bee will look as he goes by,
The sun will look when he is high;
No sound will ever move her.

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6. The Banners: Stands a house among the trees

Pub. AWS, I, 531.

Stands a house among the trees,
Many gabled, in the breeze
Over it the long cloud sweeps,
Over it the sun-shower weeps;
There is no one there within,
London ago the roof fell in,
All adown the ruined hall
Archless stand the broken pillars tall.

Up the wall the ivy climbs
The tapestry in old times;
Half-uprooted ‘cross the wall
Lieth now a pine tree tall;
Where the banners used to wave,
Telling tales about the grave;
Now the wind is in the tree
Telling quiet tales about the sea.

Many tales the banners told
Of the gallant deeds of old;
But that wind within the tree
Wondrous stories telleth he:
O! the banners told of love,
Now the wind is light above,
And he cometh from the Sea
Singing well of what shall be.
But the banners rot below
And the story of the banners no man shall ever know.

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7. Drowned: What is the bottom of the river like?

Pub. AWS, I, 531.

What is the bottom of the river like?
O! green it is with swinging weeds,
O! yellow with bright gravel,
O! blue with the water overhead,
Through which the pike does travel,
Tenderly poised is the yellow-eyed pike.
I said “the water overhead!”
For I lie here a-dying.
The pike looks down on my weedy bed,
How sweet it is to be dying!

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8. The Three Flowers (Now the crocus is beside me / In the sweet spring-tide of year;)


Now the Crocus is beside me
In the sweet spring-tide of year;
And the hazelboughs they hide me,
Daffodillies grow anear.

Long ago sweet daffodillies
With their yellow crowned my brow,
That was where the sunny hill is,
In the sun I see them now.

We were children then together
When we sat upon that hill,
In the sunny April weather,
On the flower-covered hill.

There, here flowers grow for ever
On the flower-covered hill;
But two flowers grow together
One, growth lovely still.

Tiger lilies, tall white lilies,
In the summer grow together;
Gorgeous golden daffodillies
In the spring grow lonely ever.

Yet the daffodils clung round me
Yet she hung them round my brow;
Yet a child she said she love me,
Yet I know she loves me now.

He was very noble surely
Very much did I love him,
And they loved each other purely,
Never will their love grow dim.

Yet, when there she had been reading,
When with pity she looked on me,
As I stood before her pleading
Dreary looked the flowers to me.

Then she rose up in her pity,
While the wind about her played,
In her hand a tiger-lily,
Very lovingly she said;                

“Sweet friend do you not remember,
In the summer long ago,
How we children played together
On as sweet a day as now?

“How you played at swearing fealty
To a Queen of beauty bright,
Of your vows of love and lealty
In that sunset’s golden light?

“How you crowned me with white lilies
White as ever snow doth fall,
And three spotted tiger-lilies
Did my royal sceptre call?

“Hw there were no daffodillies
For your head to be a crown
Of his crown of tiger-lilies
Fading as the sun went down?

“Past my flowers blew the soft air
To the west your face was turned,
Tenderly wind raised your dark hair
In your face the sunset burned.

“”We three stood with love between us,
While the swallow overhead
Flew around as he had seen us,
While the clouds the west wind led.

“Do you keep your child-love, brother,
As you vowed to keep it then?
Will you love me, if another
Be my lover among men?

“Earth will not hold us for ever
On the earth we live not long;
When we live in heaven together
God will make our weak love strong.”

O! my tears fell downward quickly,
Fell, as dropped my head to the ground,
On the daisies there, that thickly,
Yellow-centered stood around.

Yet the tears grew very tender;
Through my tears I saw her stand,
Tremblingly I saw the slender
Tiger lily in her hand.

Last year did I see her lying
Crown of lilies on her head;
Held his hand as he lay dying
Kissed him, as he lay dead:

There they lay, lay dead together
With their hands clasped each in each,
As they sat in summer weather
While above them was the beach.

Round her head a crown of lilies
And a lily in her hand;
Fair white lilies; tiger lilies
Round his head and in his hand.

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*9. The Ruined Castle.

[f. 32] The dream of a castle, standing alone
In the midst of a leafless wood;
A ruined castle under the moon;
Three walls and a turret stood.

The ancients surely were fools thought I
When they talked of the huntress moon,
I think she screams, for she dwells in the sky
Both day and night alone:

The clouds are below her, far below,
And the stars are far above,
Neither stars above, nor clouds below
The lonely moon do love.

And the withered leaves in the castle walls
Do mock her, spinning around,
The brittle bough from the poplar falls,
Carved figures lie on the ground.

But the brazen vane on the turretted stair
That faced the steady west wind,
It seemed to love the moon so drear
In the moonlight it looked kind --

Wild, wild, with love she had left her home
She had wandered into the night;
Through the three drear walls long time she did roam
In the midst of the ghostly light.

[f. 32v] For bright by times, and dull by times
Did the yearning moon look on her;
And the long steady wind through the leafless limes
Blew the withered leaves upon her.

She cast her eyes on the turreted stair,
The stair that led to nothing;
Chipped was the rugged stone, and there
Lay a broken mail coat rusting.

There were great brown stains on the granite stair;
They looked so much like blood,
In darksome corner, very drear,
An armed statue stood.

It had lain in the chapel many a night
While the monks say miserere,
There it lay as if resting after the fight,
Of the fight with the dragon weary

But now it standeth bolt upright
It is shadowed as with a curtain
In the top of its battered helm, the light
Falls from the moon uncertain.

A dismal tale rang in the lady's head
Of a lord of that castle old;
'Twas [a] dismal tale of men long dead [MS, as]
By a bright fireside once told:

How an ancient lord of gloomy cheer
Slew his lovely lady bright
[f. 33] And buried her under the turret stair
In the winter-moon's ghastly light;

And, how throughout that castle old,
Since the day when the deed was done,
On wall and floor grew fearful red mould,
There ever since it has grown.

It grew in spots on floor and wall
In the midst of the banquet's light,
From it blood ran on floor and wall,
On the murdered lady's night.

Now the vane went creaking round in the wind,
To the east the wind swept suddenly,
And the late gaunt poplar 'gan to find
Its branches dipping plungingly.

While the west wind blew the yellow eyed owl
Stared from the ivy quietly,
When the wind swept round, with a scream, the owl
Flew from the ivy heavily.

Then the dismal tale, and the lady's thought
In her brain a strange whirl wound,
Owl vane and wind strange dreaming wrought,
On the leaves she lay in a swound.

When she woke the moon was low in the west,
It was changing from gold to white,
The lark was singing, leaving his nest,
As the day rose out from the night.

[f. 33v] Through the fall of her golden, shining hair
She could see a face above her;
Two eyes shone moist in the morning air,
Truly they seemed to love her --

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*10. The Mosque Rising in the Place of the Temple of Solomon" (formerly known as "The Dedication of the Temple").

[f. 6] Oman threshed wheat upon the threshing floor
When all about a strange light shone that made
His face look wild; he hid himself, with him
His four sons hid themselves: and then alone
The glory shone, making all common things
Look fearful in its light: behind the straw
They crouched, but soon they looked out timidly.
The fearful thing looked from the rocky ledge
Towards the City: in its hand a sword
10
Waved as its fiery wings waved fearfully.
Often those men that hid behind the straw
Had heard of Angels singing before God
For ever and for ever: often heard
Of how the Captain of the Lord's own host
Stood before Joshua long ago: of how
Aaron rushed in between the quick & dead
His censer clanging in the tainted air.
They knew the Angel, and about them crept
A horror like to his who stands alone
20
Upon a moor, when black clouds creep along
Against the east wind blowing sullenly,
Bringing the thunder towards the sultry wind
Which has prayed for it blowing many days
Towards the house of thunder: So felt they
For ne'er before upon that threshing floor
Had such a wind blown the small straws about
As that, which blowing from the fiery wings,
Raised the curls up upon his snow-white brow
And let them fall again, as the lull came
30
Which the great wings swept back, or for awhile
Rested, an arch of light above his head
Of light that scorched not; so for long time stood
The awful angel on that threshing floor,
And Oman trembled, till he heard a step,
As if of one burdened with many woes,
Come slowly towards the straw he hid him in.
He heard a sigh drawn from the inmost heart
Of one so pressed upon by misery.
He could not tremble at the angel there
40
But only wept and wept; while evermore
His long robe dragged the stones along the ground.
He knew the King, King David whom he loved
And straightway fell before his feet, for love
Had all o'er mastered fear, and he forgot
The Angel, who still stood upon the floor;
His great wings sweeping grandly to and fro
[f. 7] And while he stood there calmly looking forth,
Without a doubt upon his loving soul,
An altar rose, and from it went the smoke,
50
About, about, in many curls and wreaths
Up to God's throne, who answered David there
As he lay praying, thinking of the flowers
That grow about the hills of Bethlehem.

Who knoweth how the dreadful angel went?
Or how he came upon the threshing floor?
But he was gone and from the city rose
Grand hymns in very solemn rolls of sound
That dwelt for long about the o'erhanging hills
Entangled in the Olives. Years passed by
60
The temple rose up from the rocky ledge.
No tool of iron smote upon the stone
The white chips flying from it: silently
The gold was clasped upon the cedar wood:
And silently the cherubim stretched out
Their heavy wings, on which the gold lay thick.
The brazen lilies round the sea of brass
Threw wondrous shadows when the moon was up
On the clear water under them, through up:
The brass showed yellow darker than the moon[.]
70
The narrow windows let the sun come in
And strike the gold, and redden where it struck
As though it drew out blood -- A solemn place
Even before the glory of the Lord
Had entered it: and when the moon alone
Shone there by night, the sun alone by day:
A solemn place -- but soon a day came on,
When all the people stood about the rock[.]
How many thousands! hushed in deep despair
With solemn heads bowed down unto the dust
80
While the king blessed them then he turned him round
And prayed many things upon his knees,
And they prayed with him till the Altar blazed
With fierce white flame that licked the victim up[.]
The Lord had come down to his sanctuary.
An aweful place the temple was that night.
The moon was on it, there was something else
Shone in it and about it, not the moon
For when the sun rose from above the hills
And struck it from the east, he changèd not
90
The wondrous light that shone for ever there.
For ever? Ah! how many shameful sins
Were wrought upon the bosom of the Land:
[f. 8] For ever! Ah how many were the hills
On which the west wind blew the palms about
With all their branches blackened by the smoke
That foully rose from altars which the Lord
Held cursed always: So the temple fell,
How terribly the gorgeous temple fell
The brass all vanished from the polished rose[,]
100
The gold all vanished from Araunah's floor
The wild winds threshed the charrèd cedar beams
As erst the tread of oxen threshed the grain.
Where once the incense stirred the purple veil
With its low breathing, now the wind bent down
The green grass waving o'er the Holy place.
How strangely shines the moon in Bethlehem,
How strangely fall the shadows on the hills;
While sit the warriors keeping watch by night,
Not like the quiet watch the shepherds kept,
110
When shone the moon upon the word made Man
When shone the moon upon the manger wall,
Making a shadow larger than the life
Upon the white wall, of a babe and maid,
A babe and Mother; aye the moon shone bright
Upon a hill where three black crosses stood,
Black, and black shadowed; where the white sky lay,
Broken and ghastly on the withered grass.
Then in a garden fair the moon shone once,
The light fell full upon a sepulchre,
120
Hewn in the rock, with armèd men around;
There where the light was grey about the tree,
And the moon sunk, the sun not risen yet,
Then women came to view the sepulchre
With eyes that weeping had made red, with hands
That twitched at their garments evermore,
Twisting them unto knots; with faint slow steps
Bringing to Him Who lay no longer there
Sweet spices: many a summer flower sprung up;
Famished and withered in that garden sweet;
130
Beneath the sun and wind, beneath the cold.
But now the garden and the trees are gone;
From far off lands both men and women come,
Strong men and weak, and women very weak
[f. 9] That they may lie upon that blessèd stone
Where lay the piercèd body of the Lord,
That they may die upon it, kissing it;
That they may kiss their sins away on it,
Such reverence pay they e'en to dead cold stone,
That could not feel God's body as It lay
140
Wrapt in the linen, hidden in the rock.
And Oman's threshing floor! Years years ago,
A marble temple stood, where stood of old
That other temple with the gilded beams
Of cedar and of olive -- years ago
The marble burnèd slowly into dust
While shouts and shrieks rang round it: filthy things
Are filled now upon the level rock,
Instead of marble pilèd into walls
With splendour on them from the morning dew
150
With splendour on them from the summer winds,
That sweetly slid along the marble smooth.
And now the warriors are upon the hill.
Some sleep and dream, not of the clashing swords
Dreaming of faces very far away
Some sit and twist the grass about their hands
Dreaming awake: some talk about the fight,
And some there are, who pacing up and down
Are weary, weary, with the watch they keep.
About them stand all glittering in the moon
160
Tall things bright-headed, blades, but not of grass[,]
Bright-headed, but they will be dulled soon
When blood dries brown on them, these are the men
Who have swept over many lands with these
Tall spears bright-headed that I tell about.
What people stood before them? on they come.
How may the dwellers in Jerusalem
Keep close their gates against them? very soon
The gates are opened, and the lances gleam
From street to street in dots of trembling light
170
From which the women shrink back shuddering[.]
The warriors who lay dreaming on the hills
Lie dreaming now within their quiet graves
Or seem to dream, for there the white bones lie
With nothing moving them: Oman is dead
And in its sheath his great sword perishes
As the rust eats it: On Araunah[']s floor
Another temple lifts its splendour up,
So gorgeous, that perchance some simple ones
Think it the same that Solomon did build
180
Without the sound of hammers: it is sweet
To see the many marble pillars stand,
To see within, the many arches cross:
[f. 10] To see the arches other arches make
In dark and light upon the marble floor.
In sooth it is a very beauteous place.
And I perchance could rest within its walls
Could rest within its smooth and barred walls
But round me ever a confused noise,
Swells up and falls and clearer swells again.
190
Well know I what it means that aweful sound.
O North! O north! about thy quiet hills
How fair thy flowers are in summer time.
O north! O north how oft the west-wind brings
The purple haze to lie upon the elms,
And make them purple too, in autumn eves
When twilight shades the streets and underneath
The thick trees, darkness makes. O north! O north! [MS, O! north O! north]
Under thy hills now fairly dance the waves
Showing the slate stones lying in the lake,
200
And throwing shadows on them from the sun.
O! south sky without a cooling cloud,
O! sickening yellow sand without a break,
O! palm with dust a-lying on thy leaves,
O! scarlet flowers burning with the sun.
I cannot love thee South for all thy sun,
For all thy scarlet flowers or thy palms[,]
But in the North for ever dwells my heart.
The North with all its human sympathies,
The glorious North, where all amidst the sleet
210
Warm hearts do dwell, warm hearts sing out with joy.
The North that ever loves the poet well,
The north where in the spring the primrose lies
So thick amongst the moss and hazel roots,
The North, where all the purple clouds do course
From out the north-west making green the trees[,]
Shout for the North, O! brothers shout with me
Pray for the North. O brothers pray with me.

A piteous tale that holy hermit told
In all the listening ears of Christendom,
220
A piteous tale to all the swelling hearts:
He told of pilgrims dying at the gate,
The wardens mocking at their agony[.]
He told of bishops with their hoary beards
A-lying in the grasp of Saracens[,]
Of Christ's name cursèd in the very place
Where he had blessed so many solemnly[.]
[f. 11] To those new warriors that are on the hills,
The hills that hang about Jerusalem,
Come from the North that they might free the tomb
230
Of Him who bought them they have come from far[,]
From towns where all over the houses rise
White spires in the light: from pleasant hills
Which look down on the river where the trees
Are dark above the stream and dark below:
Where all the bank and all the pollard trees
Lie in the water clearer than above
They come from woods where underneath the beech
The ground is hard, the air is almost green
From the green leaves above, while in the den
240
The notchèd fern is laughing merrily[.]
Ah me they come from many a lovely place[,]
And there their voices are weeping in the night
And there their children breathing heavily
Dreaming of horrors as the night goes on
With changes of the clouds -- they dream perhaps
Of all the horrors that lie round about
The line of march the Christian soldiers took.
Perchance they dream that there for many a mile
Great bones be whitening in the southern sun,
250
And over armour crawls the loathly asp[,]
His flat head clubbing at the close steel rings
Of broken swords, whose hilts are wrought about
With what the Saints have suffered for the Lord,
That they may die while on the army goes.
Of friends that stay behind, to die with them
And hold the cross against their parched lips.
It may be that their sire is such a one,
A-dying on the sand, but there all night
The soldiers watch about Jerusalem.
260
Shout! for the ladder catching on the wall,
Shout! for the mailcoat falling back again
From the knees slackening underneath its fold:
Shout! As the Christians press against the foe[.]
Shout! as the turbans wave despairingly:
Shout as the swords clash on the parapet
And fall in shivers underneath the wall,
Shout for the brave knight raising well his knee
Amid the glimmer of the scimitars:
Shout as the sword rises above his head
270
And falls again amidst the turbaned ones.
[f. 12] Hurrah! for sloping down the narrow streets
Hurrah! for rushing unto Omar's mosque
Where all the marble pillars stand aghast
As if they feared the shadows of the men
Shall cross the shadows of the arches there.
Ah me! they slew the woman [and] the babe[,]
They slew the old man with his hoary hair[,]
The youth who asked not mercy, and the child
Who prayed sore that he might see the sun
280
Some few days more -- those soldiers of the Cross[.]
Pray Christians for the sins of Christian men[.]
Then for long years the mosque of Omar felt
The long hymns which beat against the domed roof[,]
The hymns which Solomon had sung of old[,]
His full heart swelling, in the golden wall,
His gift, from which the Cherubim looked down[,]
It saw the image of the Crucified
Over the Altar, and it saw the priest
Stand with his chasuble in heavy folds[,]
290
The jewels on it hiding from the sun.
About the arches rolled the incense-cloud
As once it rolled about the cedar roof --
Now all is changed -- When will the cross once more
Be lifted high above its central Home?
Never perhaps. Yet many wondrous things
That silent dome has looked on quietly.
And truly very many wondrous things
The rock on which the temple stood has seen.
I wonder what Araunah's floor was like
300
Before the flood came down upon the Earth --

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*11. From all other moving shadows

[f. 13] From all other moving shadows
Today before the sun went down
Behind the purple hills
The maple tree with its buds was blown
O'er the hollow the primrose fills.

That hollow under the maple tree
The primrose fills alway:
In the autumn and summer the broad leaves be,
In the spring the blossoms gay.

In the winter the ground is hard and the snow
Is white above the ground:
But the primrose roots they lie below
With the maple leaves around.

So today before the sun was set
The wind blew on one cloud:
Towards the east hand the rock was wet
With the water splashing up loud.

And a young knight stood by the maple tree:
With his right hand resting on it:
And in his left hand you might see
A letter, his blue eyes upon it.

Now the west was all a blaze with the sun,
There were purple clouds in the blaze:
The colours kept changing; the sun going down
And the east was soft with haze.

And the knight he gazed at the letter still
With his hand on the maple tree,
Till the sun was hidden by the hill
And he scarce could the letter see.

The wind sank down, when the sun went down,
And still the rock was wet:
And the daisies bent their heads adown
For they knew the sun was set.

Then the knight from the letter lifted his eyes
And he looked down on the night [?]

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*12. [f. 14] And then as the ship moves over the deep

[f. 14] And then as the ship moves over the deep,
She moves with her mariners all asleep;
They dream very sweetly.
And so our ship moved on through the night
Swiftly sailed, under the light,
Swiftly and gently.
And all our mariners lay asleep
I did not dream, I did not sleep.
The Mermaid sang gently.
Under the moon I saw the surf,
I heard the mermaid gently laugh,
As we sailed to it.
I knew the coral reef was there
I could not speak I could not stir
Though we sailed to it.
Scarce can I my wild tale tell
While the wave sounds like a knell.
Now my hair is very grey;
On the morning of that day
Black it curled about my brow[,]
That was very long ago.
That night beneath the moon
To the surf we sailed on;
As I gazed, it seemed to me
That it was the rock, not we,
That moved over the sea.
O! how horrible was the crash,
And a fiery straining flash
Dazzled my doomed eyes
Instead of the light of the skies
Which were so blue above
Where the moon and the clouds did mrove.
Jesu! how the shrieks rang out!
How the shriek rang, and the shout!
As the ship staggered;
As the masts wavered
As the ship sank through the blue water
* * * * * * * * * * *
Over are waved the boughs of the palm
When I woke up all things were calm
In the dreary desert isle.
How many years have I wandered here,
By the purple sea, through the purple air,
In the dreary desert isle?
Notches I cut for each day in the year
In the bark of the palm, that rises in air
In the dreary desert isle.

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13. The Fen-River (Down, down, down, ever down the river)

Pub. AWS, I, 529-30.

Down, down, down, ever down the river
There beneath our muffled oars the broken light did shiver,
Creeping through the shadows,
Sweeping through the light,
On went the black bows
In the quiet night.

Came we to the tower
Close up to the wall,
In the midnight hour
Grim it looked, and tall.

Into the sullen moat,
By the water-gate
Quietly swept the boat
There my love did wait.

Mighty sleep was there,
Watcher was there none
But the white marsh-air
Watched the silent moon.

O! her lips were white,
And her hand was cold,
As she stepped light
I grew very bold.

Standing in the boat
Shouted I full loud
Back from tower to moat
Rang the echoes loud:
“What ho! Sir Godfrey!

“Knight thy niece so fair
Leaves thee in thy fen,
Goes to the mountains fair
Cometh to thee again
Never, Sir Godfrey.”

Then the bells pealed out,
Then lights flashed about,
Shout mingled with my shout
“Sir Godfrey, Sir Godfrey!”

Then we saw the squires
With torches, amid their fires
Dashed out the black bows
Swept out the long oars,
Rose up our song,
As past the shadows
As `twixt the low shores
Bore we along.

On, still on, down the brimming river
Where level with the green banks doth the water quiver,
Sweeping past the willows
Sweeping `twixt the shores
On went the black bows,
Swept out the oars.

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*14. The Blackbird

[f. 34] Listen [to] the blackbird singing
To the red flush in the west!
Of all that sing the spring in
The blackbird singeth best

O! how the music swelleth!
As he flutters there hard by,
For joy of the tales he telleth,
For the song that shall never die.

The young lime where he singeth
Will remember all his song,
When on his trunk time bringeth
The mosses clinging long.

To the bees by the blossoms humming
The leaves will tell the tale
In the summer that is coming
As they flutter in the gale

His singing riseth higher
To the small clouds overhead,
It goeth on to the fire
By the small clouds that is fed.

Sunsets will keep his singing,
When the lime is on the ground.
In the ivy about it clinging
Will thoughts of the song be found.

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15. The Willow and the Red Cliff (About the river goes the wind)

Pub. CW, XXI, xxx-xxxv.

ABOUT the river goes the wind
      And moans through the sad grey willow,
And calls up sadly to my mind
      The heave and the swell of the billow.

For the sea heaves up beneath the moon,
      And the river runs down to it:
It will meet the sea by the red cliff soon,
       Salt water running through it.

[xxxj] That cliff it rises steep from the sea
      On its top a thorn-tree stands,
With its branches blown away from the sea,
      As if praying with outstretched hands,

To be saved from the wind, from the merciless west
      That moaneth through it always
And very seldom giveth it rest
      When the dark is falling pallwise.

One day when the wind moaned through that tree
      As it moans now through the willow
On the cliff sat a woman clasping her knee
      O'er the rise and fall of the billow.

And as she sits there without a moan
      With her hand clasped round her knee,
The shadows go over her sitting alone,
      And the shadows go over the sea,

And the clouds go over the face of the moon
      That looketh down on the sea:
They will close around her very soon,
      That you cannot tell where she be.

And the woman sits with her head bent down,
      And thinketh of happy days;
Of the days when in the bright summer sun
      She lifted her fair, fair face.

And the woman thought, sitting over the sea,
      Of a glorious summer eve,
How—under the boughs of the willow tree—
      Ah! no tears fall for her grief.

The dark clouds now have closed over the moon,
      That you cannot tell where she be:
And, from the face of the bright moon thrown,
      Not a shadow goes over the sea.

[xxxij] And the woman sat while the night went on,
      And she never unclasped her hands:
And the woman sat till the clouds were gone,
      And the sun rose over the lands.
Then she sang in the light of the rising sun,
      While the waves looked green and white:
She sang in the sunlight this mournful song,
      While the red cliff turned from the light.

            "Sun that lookest straight at me
            As I turn me from the sea,
            Dost thou know my misery?
            Dost thou know the willow tree
            Underneath whose branches he
            Plighted well his troth to me?
            O! the happy willow tree
            With the river by it sighing,
            And the swallow by it flying,
And the thrush singing to it from the thorn-bush.
            O! the happy willow tree,
            For the river sigheth for it,
            And the swallow flyeth to it,
And the thrush sings of love from the thorn-bush.
            In the spring the thrush singeth,
            From the bough the leaf springeth,
To hear him sing of love from the thorn-bush.
            In the summer he is still;
            From the river to the hill
No song of bird cometh to the thorn-bush.
            But the happy willow tree
            He is full as full can be
Of the song of love that rang out from the thorn-bush.
            When the autumn cometh round,
            All the air is filled with sound
That cometh from the sick yellow thorn-bush.
            And the willow branches wave
            [xxxiij] O'er the fallen leaves that pave
The dull earth all about the thorn-bush.
            And the autumn passeth by,
            And the dead leaves round it lie:
Red berries look out fairly from the thorn-bush.
            And the willow swingeth heavily,
            Thinking of the days gone by:
             And he thinketh of the spring
            And the song that shall outring
From the loving thrush a-sitting in the thorn-bush."

Then the woman turned round to the sea,
      Which swung its waves up heavily:
And she let her hair from its bands go free,
      And the west wind blew it out wearily.
Then she turned round again to the sun,
      And her hair was blown back on her:
And to close the sun in the clouds had begun:
      Then the bitter song sprang from her.

      "O! willow tree, O! willow tree,
      Keepst thou the ring he gave to me
      And which I on thy branches hung,
      When all about the song-thrush sung?

      O! willow-tree, O! willow-tree,
      Wilt thou keep all my misery?
      Wilt hide it in the hollow dark,
      Where the wave has sapped thy bark?
            Shall the song-thrush know it?
            The forget-me-not show it
                To the river running by?

      O fair earth, fair sky above it:
      O fair autumn elms that love it;
      Fair trees that fill the hollow there;
      Yellow leaves that float in air;
xxi.c
     [xxxiv] See! his picture I have kept;
      I have never o'er it wept.
      How my hair floats round him now
      How it blows against his brow.
            I will give him to the sea,
            The sea will keep him well for me
                In his deep green waters."

Then over the face of the cliff she leant,
      With the picture in her hand,
And as she lay with her head down bent,
      Her long hair was blown on the land.
She stretched her hand adown the side
      As far as her arm would reach:
And from her hand did the picture glide,
      Waves caught it on the beach.
And still she lay with her head down bent,
      And her hand stretched down to the sea,
And she said, as the sea wind over her went:
       O! love dost call for me?
       "O! love I will come to thee:
      O! love we will dwell in the sea,
            And in the pearl-strewn cave
      Will gently move the billow
            As once above us did wave
      The green boughs of the willow."

The clouds are over the face of the sun,
      There is no wind below them:
But above the west-wind presses them on,
      Nor ever rest will give them.

No living thing on the cliff does stand:
      No face from the red cliff looks:
But the thorn-bush stretches out his hand
      To the leaves in the little nooks.

And from the thorn-bush faraway
      Doth the thrush to the willow sing:
[xxxv] And on the willow branch alway
      Glitters a golden ring.

16. Winter Weather (For many, many days together)

OCM, [63-64]

We rode together
In the winter weather
          To the broad mead under the hill;
Though the skies did shiver
With the cold, the river
          Ran, and was never still.

No  cloud did darken
The night; we did hearken
          The hound’s bark far away.
It was solemn midnight
In that dread, dread night,
          In the years that have pass’d for aye.

Two rode beside me,
My banner did hide me,
          As it droop’d adown from my lance;
With its deep blue trapping,
The mail over-lapping,
          My gallant horse did prance.

So ever together
In the sparkling weather
          Move my banner and lance;
An its laurel trapping,
The steel over-lapping,
          The starts saw quiver and dance.

We met together
In the sparkling weather
          By the town-walls under the hill;
His mail-rings came clinking,
They broke on my thinking,
          For the night was  hush’d and still.

Two rode beside him,
His banner did hide him,
           As it droop’d down straight from his lance;
With its blood-red trapping
The mail over-lapping,
          His mighty horse did prance.

As ever together
In the solemn weather
          Moved his banner and lance;
And the holly trapping,
The steel overlapping,
          Did shimmer and shiver, and dance.

[p. 64] Back reined the squires
Till they saw the spires
           Over the city wall;
Ten fathoms between us,
No dames could have seen us,
          Tilt from the city wall.

There we sat upright
Till the full midnight
          Should be told from the city chimes;
Sharp from the towers
Leapt forth the showers
          Of the many clanging rhymes.

`Twas the midnight hour,
Deep from the tower
          Boom’d the following bell;
Down go our lances,
Shout for the lances!
          The last toll was his knell.

There he lay, dying;
He had, for his lying,
          A spear in his traitorous mouth;
A false tale made he
Of my true, true lady;
          But the spear went through his mouth.

In the  winter weather
We rode back together
          From the broad mead under the hill;
And the cock sung his warning
As it grew toward morning,
          But the far-off hound was still.

Black grew his tower
As we rode down lower,
          Black from the barren hill;
And our horses strode
Up the winding road
          To the gateway dim and still.

At the gate of his tower,
In the quiet hour,
          We laid his body there;
But his helmet broken,
We took as a token;
          Shout for my lady fair!

We rode back together
In the winter weather
          From the broad mead under the hill;
No cloud did darken
The night; we did hearken
          How the hound bay’d from the hill.

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17. 'Twas in Church on Palm Sunday

Pub. CW, XXIV, 76-77.

[76]

TWAS in Church on Palm Sunday
Listening what the priest did say
Of the kiss that did betray,

That the thought did come to me
How the olives used to be
Growing in Gethsemane:

That the thoughts upon me came
Of the lantern's steady flame,
Of the softly whispered name,

Of how kiss and words did sound
When the olives stood around,
While the robe lay on the ground.

Then the words the Lord did speak,
And that kiss in Holy Week
Dreams of many a kiss did make:

Lover's kiss beneath the moon—
With it sorrow cometh soon,
Juliet's within the tomb,

Angelico's in quiet light,
Mid the aureoles very bright
God is looking from the height.

There the monk his love doth meet:
Once he fell before her feet
Ere within the Abbey sweet

He, while music rose alway
From the Church, to God did pray
That his life might pass away.

[77]

There between the angel rows
With the light flame on his brows,
With his friend, the deacon goes:

Hand in hand they go together,
Loving hearts they go together
Where the Presence shineth ever.

Kiss upon the death-bed given,
Kiss on dying forehead given
When the soul goes up to Heaven.

Many thoughts beneath the sun
Thought together: Life is done,
Yet for ever love doth run.

Willow standing 'gainst the blue
Where the light clouds come and go,
Mindeth me of kiss untrue.

Christ thine awful cross is thrown
Round the whole world, and thy Sun
Woful kisses looks upon.

Eastward slope the shadows now,
Very light the wind does blow,
Scarce it lifts the laurels low;

I cannot say the things I would,
I cannot think the things I would,
How the Cross at evening stood.

Very blue the sky above,
Very sweet the faint clouds move,
Yet I cannot think of love.

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18. Blanche (Broad leaves that I do not know / Grow upon the ground full low)

Pub. CW, XXIV, 78-80.

[78]

BLANCHE
BROAD leaves that I do not know
Grow upon the leaves* full low
Over them the wind does blow.

Hemlock leaves I know full well,
And about me is the smell
That doth in the spring woods dwell.

And the finch sings cheerily,
And the wren sings merrily,
But the lark sings trancedly.

Silv'ry birch-trunks rise in air
And beneath the birch-tree there
Grows a yellow flower fair.

Many flowers grow around
And about me is the sound
Of the dead leaves on the ground.

Yea, I fell asleep last night
"When the moon at her full height
Was a lovely, lovely sight.

I have had a troubled dream,
As I lay there in the beam
Of the moon a sudden gleam

Of a white dress shot by me,
Yea, the white dress frighted me
Flitting by the aspen tree.

Suddenly it turned round,
With a weary moaning sound
Lay the white dress on the ground.

[79]

There she knelt upon her knees
There, between the aspen trees,
O! the dream right dreary is.

With her sweet face turned to me
Low she moaned unto me
That she might forgiven be.

O! my lost love moaned there,
And her low moans in the air
Sleepy startled birds did hear.

O! my dream it makes me weep,
That drear dream I had in sleep
At the thought my pulses leap;

For she lay there moaning low
While the solemn wind did sough
While the clouds did over go.

Then I lifted up her head
And I softly to her said,
Blanche, we twain will soon be dead.

Let us pray that we may die,
Let us pray that we may lie
Where the softening wind does sigh,

That in heaven amid the bliss
Of the blessed where God is
Mid the angels we may kiss;

We may stand with joined hands
Face to face with angel bands:
They too stand with joined hands.

Yea, she said, but kiss me now
Ere my sinning spirit go
To the place no man doth know.

[80]

There I kissed her as she lay,
O! her spirit passed away;
Mid the flowers her body lay.

What a dream is this of mine:
I am almost like to pine
For this dreary dream of mine.

O! dead love, thy hand is here,
O! dead Blanche, thy golden hair
Lies along the flowers fair.

I am all aweary love
Of the bright blue sky above,
Iwill lie beside thee love.

So over them, over them ever
The long, long wind swept on,
And lovingly, lovingly ever
The birds sang on their song.

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19. Fragment: The Maying of Queen Guenevere

Pub. CW, I, xix.

The end of spring was now drawn near
And all the leaves were grown full long;
The apple twigs were stiff and strong,
And one by one fell off from song
This thrush and that thrush by daylight,
Though lustily they sing near night.
This time a-maying went the Queen,
But Mellyagraunce across the green
Fresh meadows where the blue dykes were
Stared out and thought of Guenevere.
"If I could get her once," he said,
"Whatever men say, by God's head
But I would hold her." Here he glanced
Across his strong courts, for he chanced
To be on a tower-roof that tide,
And his banner-staff up beside
His bended knee." St. Mary, though,
When I think well, I do not know
Why I should give myself this pain
About the Queen, and be so fain
To have her by me; God to aid,
I have seen many a comely maid—
Ah! and well-born too—if I said:
'Fair lady, may I bear your glove?'
Would turn round quick and look all love:
While she laughs at me—laughs aloud" ...

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20. The Long Land (Scene: A place that no one knows.)

Pub. CW, XXIV, 58-62.

THE LONG LAND

Scene: A place that no one knows.
Enter (in the dust) the Devil. He says:

AHA! my dreamer comes through the dust,
His long cloak weighing him down I trust,
I know the heart of this fellow so well,
Soft; he shall think he is in Hell.

THE DREAMER
O misery! utter misery!
I walk and walk, and still to see
The clouds of dust roll over and flee
Before the wind that sweeps by me,
    The hot east wind of summer-time;
With such good thoughts as the Devil sends;
For he is a master good, and blends
In a dim grim way, the faces of friends,
Of Mother, Old Land and Love; and lends
Me a long hot land that never ends
    And dust clouds that are sun-dried slime.

THE DEVIL
Aha! what think you of shady places?
Lime-shadowed founts, and blended feces,
That start at the splash of the spray of them?
What think you too of the sweeping hem
Of the delicate raiment, soft blue-grey?
Is not the Long Land better than they?

THE DREAMER
*A dim voice comes from the heart of the dust
A muttering growl I scarcely trust,
Growling of fire and murder and lust.
    Why should I weep who am fast in Hell?
And the folds of my cloak are blown over me

[59]Purple and long; I was wont you see
To admire it much in the days that be
Faint and far-off, and she, ay she
Often pressed it with dainty knee,
As she bent to the wicked head of me
    Her good pure lips I loved so well.

THE DEVIL
O my sweet friend, who were wont to say,
That all men went the self-same way,
Whether they went to it straight like you,
Or by round-about, struggling, puffed and blue;
Till they came to the gate, the spiked gate,
Spiked with the death-darts long and straight:
Tell me I pray if any you see
Who fought in the world like men with me.

THE DREAMER
A dim voice comes from the heart of the dust,
A snarling sneer I dare not trust—
Worse things in the world than murder and lust?
    Ah! once I used to pray.
There was a place too down in the west,
Of all the land she loved it best,
Twixt sea-gulls' hall and thrushes' nest
How sweet it were, O Love, to rest!—
    Alas! all gone away.

THE DEVIL
Yes you were always talking of that—
God's work was it to lie and get fat,
While the others were sweating their brown hides,
Wearily toiling each day that glides,
Wearily earning rank fat and crust,
Dismally drinking, set down in the dust,
Nothing to think of but daily bread:
What does it matter when all are dead?

[60]THE DREAMER
A strange voice out of the heart of the dust
Hissing out lies; I have a faint trust
In the power of Love, O Devil, not lust:
    I could almost pray at last.
    —Yea she said, for a while to rest
With languid hands, looking into the west,
Sitting down as a bidden guest
At the feast of the sun; for a while 'twere best
    And how long has that passed.

     MARGARET (in the likeness of an angel)
       Let me hold his head, O Lord,
        Let me smooth his cheek,
       For he bears a notched sword
        Though his will was weak.

       You shall see how he will lie
        (O! poor forehead, wrinkled now)
       On my breast, how quietly
        I will breathe upon his brow.

       With the whisper of my wings
        I will tell him tales of old,
       I will show him quiet things
        Meet for eyen to behold.

       Nay dear Lord, but see him hold
         Both his wasted arms to me;
       The earth raiment fold on fold
        Clogs him, driven round his knee.

       Therefore, dear Lord, let him lie,
        Wearied head, upon my breast,
       Its faint yellow drapery
        Sweetly scented give him rest,

       [61]While I sing and ever sing
        Gentle songs he knew of old
       And make pictures in my wing
        Sweet for eyen to behold.

       Till his face grow soft and mild
        And the deep lines fade away,
       And he look like any child
        Sleeping after noisy play.

       Dear Lord, what a child he is!
        He seems never meant to meet
       The world's scorn and cruel hiss,
        All the struggle down the street.

       Lord, the eyes within my wings,
        I can feel their colours play
       With their struggle for these things,
        They so long to be away.

THE DREAMER
Some one surely draweth near—
O! my angel cometh dear,
Is God ready, will he hear?

        MARGARET
        Nay, speak out and do not fear.

THE DREAMER
Lord thou knowest, none so well
All that 1 have got to tell,
Little enough too, this in short
That I fought and ever fought,
Many things I overthrew,
So I smiled although I knew
What would come to me at last.
I used to pray it might be past

[62]All that doubtful victory
With the sick smile of the eye
And the sense of failing nigh.
It will be good, 1 thought, to know
All the worst that must be so.*
        ·             ·               ·             ·             ·             ·
Like a low moon on a cloudy night?
And tell me, am I saved or not;
Sins grow dim and are forgot,
And tell me plainly where is this
This strange long land—Ah Christ! a kiss—
—So now at last I am in bliss.

         In Paradise.
MARGARET (in her proper person)
You loved green, dear, down below
On the earth; so let us go
To a deep green place 1 know.

Is this green place enough for thee?
We will sit beneath a tree
And think how happy we shall be.

THE DREAMER
Whisper to me, Margaret
For my ears are dull, forget
Noisy things, aye closer yet.
Tell me all you came to know,
All you found out long ago,
Yes, with hands together so.
* A page of the manuscript missing.

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21. Rejected fragment from Sir Peter Harpdon's End

Pub. CW, I, xxvi-xxx.

SIR PETER HARPDON'S END
In the Castle on the walls.

JOHNCURZON
   And yet their hammering is grown fainter now;
An hour might be something, Sir.

SIR PETER
                                                                  No fear
But they'll be ready by the daylight, John.
Far better let this matter have its way;
Don't think of it, your heart grows heavy so.

[xxvij]JOHN CURZON
        Sir, truly? Well, I know not, just as if
I were a builder and knew what would strain
And yet not break, or perhaps might not break.
Just so, you see, Sir, do I hold this; as for death
It makes my heart jump when I say the word,
But otherwise my thoughts keep off from it
Without much driving.

SIR PETER
                        John, where were you born?
You never told me yet, whose son were you.

JOHN CURZON
        At Goring by the Thames, a pleasant place:
So many sluices on from lock to lock,
All manner of slim trees—'tis now ten years
Since I was there, and I was young that time,
For I look older than I am, fair Sir.
My father holds a little manor there,
He's alive still: I mind once—pardon me,
I trouble you.

SIR PETER
                No, Curzon, on my word.

JOHN CURZON
        I mind once when my sister Anne was wed—
And she has children now: Why, what's to-day?
Tenth of November—we shall mind it long
Hereafter when we sit at home in peace—
The tenth to-day then, or to-morrow—which is it?
I never could keep these things in my mind—
Is poor Anne's birthday—hope it is to-day,
I shouldn't like them to be holding feast
While—God, Sir Peter, those men are in shot.
I'll fetch some archers, hold you still the while
[xxviij] The Green Tower men will be the least tired out
And John of Waltham draws the stronger bow.
No noise, Sir, I'll be back soon.         He goes.

SIR PETER
                                        That man now,
His thoughts go back in such a simple way,
Without much pain, I think, while mine—I feel
As if I were shut up in [a] close room
Steaming and stifling with no hope to reach
The free air outside—O if I had lived
To think of all the many happy days
I should have had, the pleasant quiet things,
Counted as little then, but each one now
Like lost salvation—Say I see her head
Turned round to smile at cheery word of mine;
I see her in the dance her gown held up
To free her feet, going to take my hand,
I see her in some crowded place bend down,
She is so tall, lay her hand flat upon
My breast beneath my chin as who should say,
Come here and talk apart: I see her pale,
Her mouth half open, looking on in fear
As the great tilt-yard fills; I see her, say,
Beside me on the dais; by my hearth
And in my bed who should have been my wife;
Day after day I see the French draw on;
Hold after hold falls as this one will fall,
Knight after knight hangs gibbeted like me,
Pennon on pennon do they drain us out
And I not there to let them. Lambert too,
I know what things he'll say—ah well, God grant
That he gets slain by these same arrows here
That come up now.         Enter John Curzon.
                                So, Curzon; little noise,
Wind the big perriere that they call Torte Bouche.
I think we shall just reach them there: see now,
[xxix] You mark their beffroi by the loose ox-skins
If you strain hard your eyes; now aim well up
To the windward and you'll hit the midmost.
Set the staff—So, another inch this way of it,
Hands to the winch all ready. Now, Long Wat,
Stand with your six well on the right side
And aim about the little red bombard,
I mark them gathering there; you'll see them too
Within a little, when your eyelashes
Are well freed, so no hurry. By the Lordl
Here John of Waltham on [the] left, see here!
About the chestnut perriere I saw
The fellow with the red Montauban hat
Who did so well the first day—bend this way,
Lend me your arrow, there by the eightbarb
He's stooping.

LONG WAT
        Yea, fair Sir, I see right well.

SIR PETER
Curzon, all's over; they're quite ready now—
Are going to assault, I think, at once,
Here in the dark. (Aloud.) Yea, draw the catch when I
Cry out aloud whatever cry comes first.
Lads, draw to the barb points for the King's sake.
—St. Edward for Lord Richard of Bordeaux!
Broad arrows for the King!—Shout, boys, hurrah!
The beffroy's down.

JOHN CURZON
                The Red Montauban hat
Hath got a token not a lady's, Sir.

SIR PETER
By God they're moving though, their cries, Curzon—
"Our Lady for the Constable of France,"
[xxx]"Sanxere, Sanxere," "the Marshal for KingCharles,"
"St. Ives for Clisson—" Curzon, did you hear?

JOHN CURZON
Yea, Sir, and felt; a good round ton, I doubt,
Has fallen from the wall. I'm ready.

SIR PETER
                        Again
Among the men then, by Lord Clisson's tent.

        St. George Guienne! Long Wat and all you
Shoot all you may.

JOHN CURZON
                St. George! Why again there,
It comes away like dried mud; at this rate
They will not need the beffroi. By daybreak
May God have mercy on our souls, fair Sir!
They have made a breach—hark there,they know it too. 

 
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22. Once my Fell Foe (Once my fell foe worsted me; /All my honour and degree

Pub. CW, XXIV, 52-57.

ONCE my fell foe worsted me;
All my honour and degree
Were as nothing on that tide.
From the field with woundes wide
Thwart a horse was I conveyed
And in his strong prison laid.
There I lay in prison strong
Many weary months and long,
And no one said good word to me.
There was a window small to see
That let in dear light to me,
With two bars was it made full fast
All unglazed: and the throstles passed
Thereby; singing in the spring
I saw many a fair brown wing
Go thereby: and the weather
How it changed: in what manner
The winds wrought within the tree!
There went the west wind fair and free,
The north wind and the south wind
And the fell east all unkind:
All these things I could espie
If I listed, and notes high
Of fifes heard I many a time,
And of harps the merry rime,
Also I saw the great gate,
And who went by early and late
If I list could I espie.
So somehow the time went by,
Till it chanced on a morn of May
In strong prison as I lay,
I heard many brass horns bray,
And wide the gates were opened.
Then to that I thrust my head
That I might see what thing there came:

[53] Sooth to say I had no shame
If folk might see me staring there,
There was not room for all my hair,
My mouth and nose and eyes scantly
If one came close he might chance to see.
I say the gates were opened,
With horns and shouts there entered
A Lady with a great meinie
Apparelled all most royally.
So when I saw them going there
I waxed ashamed and for my state
I mourned, for there was cloth of gold
And many a guisarme; stiff and bold
In good white armour many a knight
With fair tabard duly dight,
All such things as 'longed once to me—
Yea also and so merrily
Their horns blew, I was constrained
To weep so hard as if it rained
Upon the sill.
        But then with these
Between the bright sun and the trees
Came there riding that sweet thing:
At her rein did the bells ring,
Over her saddle of ivory
Fell her fair green gown so free.
Then when I saw her how she rode
A heat struck through my poor cold blood
And I forgot my poor estate,
And well thought I early and late
Will I be her knight perfay.
Thus said I, nor where I lay
Did I remember. What my foe
Would do with me I did not know
As at that time, or if I should win,
God being heavy on my sin.
But for joy of her sweet face
[54]This despair I clean forgot,
Fell Foe Nought thought I of this or that
Till she had gone upon her way,
Then half awake longtime I lay—
And if I might again see her.

Within a while I heard a stir,
Round in the lock went the key,
Then came the jailor in to me;
Then spake he loud and merrily:
"Up up, Sir Knight, and leave this place.
My lord hath given you all free grace
That be knights and of good blood
Of those that lie 'twixt stone and wood
In his strong prisons."
         Nought did I say
And to and fro did my heart play
Betwixt my doubt and joy that day.
"But what, my lord," said he then,
"Shall I shut this door again?
Love you this place so heartily
You list not leave it?" " Sir," said I,
"I shall sing by and by
And dance for joy, I have no doubt,
That from my prison I am out:
But now my heart misgiveth me
This is a dream." "Drink wine and see,"
Then quoth the carle with high glee;
"I trow strong wine shall make ye see,
For on this day it rains of wine:
Come eat and drink, old prisoner mine!"

Up to the great hall went I then
And there saw I right many men
Wretched and lean with garments rent,
By this great lord they had been shent:
Knights were they once as I had been
[55]But now was their good day gone clean;
Yet that they saw the sun again
And were free now after such pain,
Their lean cheeks waxed red
And with joy their eyes sparkled.
At the dais sat that lord,
Well with cloths was dight the board,
And there was goodly wine and meat,
Thereby had many a lady seat.
And then a herald 'gan to call
With high voice throughout the hall
The style and manner and high degree
Those knights once had that stood with me,
One by one in order fair.
At last heard I as I stood there,
"Ho now for the good knight
That beareth barry black and white,
Sir Robert du Leon well he hight."

Up to the dais went I then
Dizzily walking among men
Who gazed at me curiously.
In some gold dish I did espy
What a wretch I was to see,
My hair unkempt and all dirty,
My visage yellow as honey;
Bare at shoulder and at knee,
An old rent tabard at my back
Where all grey was gone white and black.
Slowly I walked as if with age,
Gaunt and grive of my visage,
I boiled to see how as I went
Over tables the ladies leant
For fear of fouling of their dress.
Such was my grief and my distress
When I knelt before that lord
Mine eyes always I cast down:

[56]"Sir," quoth he," once my fair town
You burned with fire, and did to me
Many a foul wrong and injury:
All which I now forgive to thee
In joy that God upon this day
Has given me the fairest may
In all this world to be my wife.
God give you joy now of your life!
Go you and bathe and put on you
Weed of scarlet and of blue,
Then come and eat in this my hall,
The next day go. Take what shall fall
From God, and I shall give to you
Beside this gown of red and blue
Twenty pounds of silver bright
And all that 'longeth to a knight,
Both horse and arms." While thus he said
The blood rose up into my head
And made me dizzy. I thought this:
I am twice beaten; he may kiss
My may upon the lips and take
Her first sweet look when she doth wake
In the merry morning, while I lie
Alone in all my poverty.
Then my heart swelled that nigh I wept,
But yet again my full heart leapt
Up to my mouth with this new thought:
Behold this morning I am brought
An idle show before my may;
It may hap on another day
That I may show her somewhat too.
So thought I and with courage new
Lift up mine eyen and beheld
That may who sat beneath the shield
Of red and blue. So steadily
I thanked him for his clemency
And went away.
[57]         When morning came
Out went I with my heart aflame
To do high deeds. The first was I
To ride of all that company;
Out rode I through the flowering trees,
And when I felt between my knees
The plated saddle once again
And heard my horse tread, I was fain
To sing old songs about my may.

You know, Sir Rafe, how day by day
The rumour of me goes: perfay
I shall be rich and great soon—well,
Tomorrow comes and many a selle
Shall empty be of Sienese,
Yet put I not much faith in these
French knights with their glittering—
John Hawkwood hath a bettering.

 

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23. The Romance of the Three Wooers (Years agone it did befall)

CW 24, 63-67.

[63]

THE ROMANCE OF THE THREE WOOERS
YEARS agone it did befall
By a mouldering brick wall
Three knights strong and lithe and tall
Met as they had sworn to do.
The first knight had a lady's shoe
The second had a silken fold
Shredden from a lady's dress;
But the third knight bore a tress
Just the colour of the corn,
From a lady's head 'twas shorn.
The first knight had about his head
A covering of russet red
That wrapped about his helm and crest,
And a red cloth on his breast,
So what his cognisance might be
The others could not lightly see.
The second knight had got no crest
Nor any bearing on his breast,
Plain linen, plain steel only, quite
Without device and only white.
The third knight wore upon his head
Two lilies, one was white, one red,
Likewise on his green surcoat he
Carried a purple-leaved lily.
That wall choked up with weeds and mould
Was the rampart of a castle old
Quite ruined now, but verily
Eld had not caused it so to be,
Indeed petraria-stones you saw
Had crashed through every window and door,
Besides through all the weedy court
In his hand, a shoe of gold;
Were scattered bones of men that fought
In that grim battle long ago—
Yea man had caused it to be so.
The slope of grass the knights sat on
Covered the bones of those that won
In that grim fight; moreover you
Could see hard by cat-towers two
The victors left behind them there;
They rotted in the autumn air.
An aspen-wood did grow close by
In which the trees hung all awry
Half fallen, yet they could not die,
Though summers since this way they fell,
The other trees propped them so well.

I think you wish to know from me
Something of this strange company,
Then listen: three years ago these three,
Wandering from whose court know I not
Nor from what land, nor know I what
Their friends said to them when they went.
Now these three were at first content
To have adventures such as might
Befall to any errant knight,
Until one morning at the dawn
Each one awaking found a torn
And bloody parchment on his mouth
And all their faces turned round South.
These scrolls were writ in black and red
And the same legend each one said,
" By that which touches either cheek
Go Southward and the Gold Land seek."
—Truly red blood was on each cheek.

Then rose they up with heavy cheer
And bathed them in a fountain near;
[65] They could not wash that stain away,
It drove them onward day by day
Through many unknown lands till they
Heard rumours of a golden land,
And great men bowed at their command.
Joy grew within them when they found
That they would be so well renowned,
Arm linked in arm they would walk now
With straight drawn lips and unmoved brow,
They pitied those they chanced to see
Not being as they a mystery,
And going Southward nearer drew
To the Golden Land, as they well knew.

At last one morn of autumntide,
As thinking high things they did ride,
They came unto an aspen-wood
Where strange things nowise understood
Lay carved in stone their way beside.
A little further did they ride
That morning of late autumntide
And came out in a wide clear space
And there saw midways of that place
The Castle of the Golden Land.

         Christ, it was hard to understand:
Each looked the other in the eyes,
Each saw no trace of wild surprise—
No sign of rage nor of distress,
Nothing but mere blank hopelessness.
They sat down on that slope of green
Where lay the dead men's bones between
The soft grass and the inner fire,
They seemed to have no one desire
Not e'en for death, till the eldest knight
Who was yet young—Sir John he hight—
He said, "The bones lie in the court,

But did all die there where they fought,
Did none escape and freely rove?
—Knights, have ye ever been in love?"
They said not nay, they said not yea,
Then said he," Knights, I have a way
To try if God be wholly bad
To us and we to him—yea sad
It may be in the aftertime—
To us it must be sad—now climb
With me this battered rampart-wall,
Link hands and swear together all."

They stood together, said no word
For many minutes, then a bird
Whose head and legs were yellow, sat
Upon a tower; he looked fat
Because he puffed his feathers so
To screen him, for the wind did blow
Cold and full east—but he was thin:
They thought he looked like a great sin.
Sir John held up his hilt to kiss
Then said, "Now by Christ's cross swear this
That we three different ways will rove,
Search heartily for a true love,
But when three years have passed by
Come here again to live or die;
For whoso loveth happily
Those three years through, the same shall die,
Him and his love, yea verily
If so it happen to us all
Likeways we and our loves shall fall."
They swore with curled lips and straight brow,
The loathly bird that stood just now
Upon the tower-top did shrink
To his right size, croaked, gave one blink

And then let fall his yellow head
On his yellow neck and he was dead.
Natheless his body hung up there
Till all the bones were white and bare.
         So when three years had passed away
The knights came as they swore that day
Back to the dismal castle-wall,
And each one to tell his love and all
His victory or defeat and fall.

B. L. Add. MS. 74255, ff. 1-6.

[f. 1]

The Romance of the three Wooers

Years agone it did befall
By a mouldering brick wall
Three knights strong & lithe & tall
Met as they had sworn to do.
The first knight had a lady's shoe
The second had a silken fold
Shredden from a lady's dress;
But the third knight bore a tress
Just the colour of the corn,
From a lady's head 'twas shorn.
The first knight had about his head
A covering of russet red
That wrapped about his helm and crest,
And, a red cloth on his breast,
So what his cognisance might be
The others could not lightly see.
The second knight had got no crest
Nor any bearing on his breast,
Plain linen[,] plain steel only, quite
Without device and only white[.]
The third knight wore upon his head
Two lilies[,] one was white, one red[,]
Likewise on his green surcoat he
Carried a purple-leaved lily--
[f. 2] That wall choked up with weeds & mould
Was the rampart of a castle old
Quite ruined now, but verily
Eld had not caused it so to be[,]
Indeed petraria stones you saw
Had crashed through every window & door[,]
Besides through all the weedy court
In his hand, a shoe of gold;
Were scattered bones of men that fought
In that grim battle long ago—
Yea man had caused it to be so[.]
The slope of grass the knights sat on
Covered the bones of those that won
In that grim fight; moreover you
Could see hard by cat-towers two
The victors left behind them there[;]
They rotted in the autumn air[.]
An aspen-wood did grow close by
In which the trees hung all awry
Half fallen, yet they could not die,
Though summers since this way they fell,
The other trees propped them so well[.]
Then all you wish to know from me
Something of this strange company[,]
Then listen[:] three years ago these three[,] [ms. these these]
[f. 3] Wandering from whose court know I not
Nor from what land, nor know I what
Their friends said to them when they went[.]
Now these three were at first content
To have adventures such as might
Befall to any errant knight[,]
Until one morning at the dawn
Each one awaking found a torn
And bloody parchment on his mouth
And all their faces turned round south[.]
These scrolls were writ in black & red
And the same legend each one said[,]
["]By that which touches either cheek
Go southward & the gold land seek[."]
[—]Truly red blood was on each cheek[.]
Then rose they up with heavy cheer
And bathed them in a fountain near[;]
They could not wash that stain away[,]
It drove them onward day by day
Through many unknown lands till they
Heard rumours of a golden land[,]
And great men bowed at their command[.]
Joy grew within them when they found
That they would be so well renowned[,]
Arm linked in arm they would walk now
[f. 4] With straight drawn lips and unmoved brow[,]
They pitied those they chanced to see
Not being as they a mystery[,]
And going southward nearer drew
To the Golden land[,] as they well knew[.]
At last one morn of autumntide[,]
As thinking high things they did ride[,]
They came unto an aspen wood
Where strange things nowise understood
Lay carved in stone their way beside[.]
A little further did they ride
That morning of late autumntide
And came out in a wide clear space
And there saw midways of that place
The castle of the golden land[.]
Christ[,] it was hard to understand[:]
Each looked the other in the eyes[,]
Each saw no trace of wild surprise[—]
No sign of rage nor of distress[,]
Nothing but mere blank hopelessness[.]
They sat down on that slope of green
Where lay the dead men[']s bones between
The soft grass and the inner fire[,]
They seemed to have no one desire
Not e'en for death, till the eldest knight
[f.5] Who was yet young[—]Sir John he hight[—-
He said[, "]The bones lie in the court[,]
But did all die there where they fought[,]
Did none escape & freely rove?
[—]Knights, have ye ever been in love[?"]
They said not nay[,] they said not yea[,]
Then said he[,"]Knights[,] I have a way [ms. knights]
To try if God be wholely bad
To us & we to him—yea sad
It may be in the aftertime/ to tell
To us it must be sad, now climb
With me this battered rampart wall[,]
Link hands and swear together all[."]
They stood together[,] said no word
For many minutes[,] then a bird
Whose head & legs were yellow[,] sat
Upon a tower[;] he looked fat
Because he puffed his feathers so
To screen him[,] for the wind did blow
Cold and full east—but he was thin[:]
They thought he looked like a great sin[.]
Sir John held up his hilt to kiss
Then said[, "]Now by Christ's cross swear this
That we three different ways will rove[,]
[f. 6] Search heartily for a true love[,]
But when three years have passed by
Come here again to live or die[;]
For whoso loveth happily
Those three years through[,] the same shall die,
Him and his love[,] yea verily
If so it happen to us all
Likeways we and our loves shall fall[."]
They swore with curled lips and straight brow[,]
The loathly bird that stood just now
Upon the tower top did shrink
To his right size[,] croaked, gave one blink
And then let fall his yellow head
On his yellow neck & he was dead[.]
Natheless his body hung up there
Till all the bones were white and bare.
So when three years had passed away
The knights came as they swore that day
Back to the dismal castle wall[,]
And each one to tell his love and all
His victory or defeat and fall--

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24. St. Agnes' Convent (St Agnes’ convent by the merry sea)

Pub. CW, XXIV, 68-69.

ST AGNES' convent by the merry sea
That dashes on the shore of Brittany,
The tower that held our great bell, slim and red,
The deep-sunk fearful moat that the sea fed
Twice in a day; the fair churchyard and good
And therein over all the blessed rood,
Mary and John and soldiers with gilt spears
Stone-grey and moveless through these many years;
The hanging yellow flowers in the Church;
The watching from the walls the perilous lurch
Of the o'erladen dromond as it turned
To enter the glad harbour where there burned
Those three coal fires every windy day;
The strong west wind that drove the summer hay,
Driving my hair too all about my face;
That writing-room, each slim nun at her place
Specking the vellum with the red and black;
Our fireside converse wherein was no lack
Of talk about the world, of such a knight
And how he sped, who was held most bright
Of the court ladies, Arthur's wars and deeds—
Yea I remember setting sunflower seeds
When willow trees were red, I watched them too
When these were grey and waning; justa few
Great bees about me humming all their best
And in that good time every thing had rest—
        Gone, gone, Iseult! the happy days of old
Are vanished as a little tale is told:
The gay uprising, the glad lying down
Are gone for ever. To a painful frown
My brows draw when I sleep, for though I fall
Yards, fathoms down in dull dreams, not at all
Do I the less know what I am and what
I want and shall not get; my hands are hot
And moist this wretched day, though the cold wind—
[69]Cold rain—cold air loves well enough to wind
And curl my body like a withered leaf—
This is enough. Moreover, like a thief
Comes creeping through a dark house in the night,
My woe comes on me when I think I might
Be merely wretched with the wind and rain,
But not for any moment will my pain
Grow softer even. Ay turn the mirror, let
Me see Nantes City with its streets afret

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25. Palomydes Quest (About the middle of the month of June /Sir Palomydes rode upon his quest,)

Pub. CW, XXIV, 70-71.

ABOUT the middle of the month of June
      Sir Palomydes rode upon his quest,
Twixt sunrise and the setting of the moon:
      Beast Glatysaunt did give him little rest

At midday, and at midnight must he sleep,
      And still the beast trailed on unceasingly
Waking strange echoes in the forest deep,
      Leaving strange scales on many a bush or tree.

So the days went and no lovesickness came
      O'er the knight's heart to weaken it or bow
His head; he rode on with the same
      Set purpose still in his unwrinkled brow.

Until one day when that he rode thinking
      Whether the beast as they met face to face
Would turn to fight him with a sudden spring,
      Or creep away and whine in some dark place

Until he bound his jaws and led him out—
      And then he thought until his heart grew hot
Of how the folk would laugh and sing and shout
      As he should lead the beast through Camelot,

The heralds crying, "Ho good people, see!
      For this is Palomydes the good knight
Who hath achieved his quest most gloriously
      And won the Questing Beast in open fight!"

Thereat in sooth he almost seemed to be
      There in the streets with all the bells ringing
And all the folk at window him to see,
      Damsels and minstrels ready for to sing.

Almost he heard the praises of the King
      And Launcelot saying " Now beyond all doubt
Is Palomydes the best knight living
      Though Lamorak and Tristram are most stout."

[71]Abroad from thence the bruit shall go of me,
      And many a lord shall say," Hold we high feast;
Tomorrow an uncouth sight shall we see:
      Here cometh Palomydes and his beast."

And so to Cornwall shall I come at last—
      But saying this he sighed, for well he thought:
When all this noble fame has been compassed
      Shall Iseult's love be nearer to me brought?

Now at that time the forest thinner grew
      On the left hand, and all between the trees
The light of the green fields began to show,
      And ever fresher blew the western breeze,

On either side of him the thrushes sang
      And as he drew his rein it seemed to him
That from some far-offtower the bells rang.
      So he passed on to that great forest's rim

And then beneath him by the meadows fair
      With their broad acres of the good green wheat
Starred with the blood-red poppies burning clear,
      There sat he, and the smell of hay came sweet

Upon the wind and therewithal the chimes
      Uncertain as the kisses of a maid
Sang out their tale in sweet outlandish rymes
      Hard to remember. Therefore down he laid

His bridle, and he cried, How fair, how fair,
      You walk within the summer gardens [ ]
O bright Iseult!—having but little care
      For Palomydes, as 1 full well know.

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26. We have done all that men could do (We have done all that men could do / But lie here in the dust at last, )

Pub. CW, XXIV, 74.

WE HAVE DONE ALL THAT MEN COULD DO
What can our curses now avail,
We lying here unarmed and bound,
If prayers were nought to turn the scale
When swords were whole and mail was sound?
Ye shall grow great: your old defeat
Shall be but part of your renown—
O brave, so many a loss to meet
And still to rise when smitten down!

Our battles and our lives are past.
E have done all that men could do
But lie here in the dust at last,
For ye were many, we were few,
Fear nothing then but strike the blow;
Be merry now from day to day—
Your enemies are lying low,
Fear not the Gods so far away.

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27. Ballad: There were two knights rode together

Pub. CW, XXIV, 72-73.

THERE were two knights rode together,
      At their backs a great meine
They were in the fair English land,
      Muckle joy had they.

Fair Sir, I am old and my eyen are weak,
      Your eyen are clear and keen,
I pray you name me well yon bird
      Fled over the meadows green.

Whether was it a good storm-thrush
      Or a jay with a blue wing,
Was it one of the birds that sing fair lauds
      When the greves are green in spring?

Yon bird it was no missel-thrush
      Or jay with a blue wing;
O let narrow and well away
      To the song that it doth sing.

Yon was an evil maggot-pie,
      He bodeth us treie and tene,
I would I had seen some other bird
      Betwixt the greves green.

Though we have come safe home again
      And our hap has been but good,
Cry not Ho, the old saw saith,
      Till you are out of the wood.

They rode so long till the mirk night
      Came over the country side;
They said one to another,
      I would some house might betide.

[73]
O whatten a light is yon great light
      That maketh the heaven red?
It is na the light of torches
      For all men are fast abed.

O whatten alight is yon great light?
      The sun was down six hours ago.
No doubt in some carle's homestead
      The red cock doth crow.

O whatten a light is yon great light ?
      The moon was down an hour ago.
O yon is the bonny house of Skreehope
      That burncth all in a red low.

O whatten staves are yon great staves?
      They seem right great agen the low.
0 yon are the spears of thefause Scots:
      Cry, Mary my help for Skreehope ho!

Gin we had no fear of the French glaives
      Little fear have we of the Scotch spears.
I should never see such a deadly fray
      Gin I should live an hundred years.

Many a Scot was overthrown
      And laid dead on the earth cold,
But our Englishmen were put aback
     Though of their hearts they were full bold.

There was the lord of Skreehope slain,
     And Sir John of Fulton was led away.
Skreehope House has been full cold,
      None dwells there syne that day.

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28. Saint George ( Such careless thoughts as maids will have, she had )

Pub. CW, XXIV, 75.

SUCH careless thoughts as maids will have, she had
     In other days, when passing on that way
Toward the small chapel: there with heart right glad,
     Becausejoy filled her, would she often pray.

Indeed I know in those days there was nought
     That Sabra needed: so for utter love
She prayed: nor broke thereby one happy thought
     That pleased her heart, pure as a grey-winged dove.

But now she thought it hard to think of God;
     Although her lips kept muttering as she went,
"God help! Christ help!" Her footsteps as she went
     Seemed heavy to her, and her head was bent

Down to the road. That morning she would walk,
     Although they brought a litter hung with gold
And soft with cushions; when she heard them talk
     Low-voiced why these were black—" nay on the mo uld

I walk a ghost," she said, "on this last day."
     Although of old for very daintiness
She loved soft cushions and fine food, this may
     Went golden-shod afoot in her distress.

Her head down to the ground a little drooped,
     Her loose hair combed out thin on either side,
Beneath a scarlet mantle furred she stooped,
     A thin white kirtle clad her like a bride.

There were no women with her; but tall men
     This side and that plodded with heavy tread:
Armed close and clean with steel they were, as when
     In bitter fight the guisarme skins the head

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*29. Why do they make these lists in the great square?

Fragment pub. CW, XXI, xix

Why do they make these lists in the great square
This July night and spend much velvet fair
Upon the canopies and good cloth of Rheims?
How is it the pealing of the chimes
Are little heard amid the din and sway
Of many people eager as in day ...

*30. A time there was in days long past away

Draft in Fitz. MS 1.

A time there was in days long past away
Whereof the romance telleth when all laws
Were kept far better than they are today
That time no man escaped without due cause

That time as Gods knowing both good and ill
With unsealed eyes upon the judgement seat
Sat dukes and kings and wrought out all their will
And those were glad who sat beneath their feet

Yet verily as all the wise men say
Man may know much the high God knoweth all
Yea such a man a man [sic] was righteous yesterday
Today he sinneth let[?] the sword fall

So say they not being merciful like God
Who lets him live the next day and do well
So comes it many bones beneath the sod
Lie buried quietly whom the hangman fell

Had dealt with but that God the pitiful
At some bad times when they were full of fear
And all seemed failing made their judges dull [?]
Lo such a tale as this is written here

A knight there was and he was young enow
But battered in the wars of many lands
And likewise in estate was fallen so low
Nothing he had but what his sword and hands

Might win from year to year nevertheless
The maid at court of noble house and state
Gave him her love and in all recklessness
A desperate man he quite forgot his fate

And cherished it and warmed himself thereat
To mind today tomorrow God may mind
Look you it was high treat for one who sat
Not so high up above the salt to find

The silkwound vellum fall before his feet
While red as fire yet with what Count Guy
Had just now said or while his heart y beat
With smothered rage at Earl John's stations [?] high.

I say no wonder if he scarce could see
For giddy pleasure what fair words were writ
Upon the vellum flower and bird and tree
Danced in the merry sun because of it

I say no wonder if he found it sweet
After some foil in field or tournament
Kissing together to sit feet to feet
And ever round him her two long arms went
And ever surely twas a great content

Shortly no wonder and not too much blame
If he forgot how hard the times were then
If he forgot the wretchedness and shame
His love would surely win among all men

Yea he forgot that law so pitiless
Whereby as saith the romance what Lady
Of that court fell in sinful love no less
Than burnt she was without more remedy

And though no doubt a many times he thought
All this and more yet nonetheless because
While love and honour so hard in him fought
By no process of thinking might he pause

To leave the brawl and jungle of the hall
For quiet hours in the distant place
She and her ladies dwelt in and hear fall
The conduit in its basin: face to face

Meanwhile they sat and sang and stories old
Made them but mindful of their own delight
Forgetful of their troubles and so bold
And tender did his face seem in her sight

That all seemed won already and such love
From her compassionate eyes shone down on him
Twixt falling of the blossoms from above
That thought and memory both began to swim

In giddy dream and if he could have thought
Better is love than honour he had said
For unto another world love had them brought
And there they made their own laws by my head

Upon a day there came a time at last
When both to him and her was no return
Hands off with honour love had got him fast
For weal and woe in this flame him doth [?] burn

Alas she with him
Take notice though that being as they
Fair of good estate, right many men
Loved her in one way or another way
And often was she hard put to it when

They sought her love upon the bended knee
By due answer to hold her secret fast
In spite of all out would it certainly
Swathe a Snake up in wool, at last

Out comes the head with the black forked tongue
Quivering before it all was but in vain
And openly the bitter secret thing
In spite of all the watchfulness and pain

There was Sir Aloyse in that court [a] Knight
Of name and wealth a man of cruel heart
Cold you had said[,] who nonetheless took light
And burnt with love towards her for his part

But no wise might he win her cold and proud
She was to most, although for bitter care
She trembled at such praises loud
The more through heavy thoughts her beauty [?] where

Stood Sir Aloyse with roses in his hand
And fierce love at his heart: Kiss them he said
And give them back to me. Spring was on the land
And the may blossoms rained upon her head

The warm wind blew the medlar leaves apart
And shook the starred white flowers she looked round
At him first then about for help her heart
Almost stopped beating at the grating sound

And dainty seemed right dangerous and hard
And he who held him wise loved not with her
And evilly her would beloveds fared

Of those few words because indeed they meant
More than they said, his eager eye
His flushed face smiling proud and confident
Nought in the way now meant they certainly.

She stood a moment quivering with great fear
Then turned to run he caught her by the hand
With a great spring then said nay stop and hear
A story that I know sit while I stand

She sat upon the grass and over her
Feeling his cutlace edge stood Sir Aloyse
The sound of his slow speaking reached her ear
Dreadful and dreamlike as the constant noise

Of falling waters. So, he said time goes.
I knew you as a merry child one tide
And that is past great love for you arose
Within my heart since then set that aside

I thought I had a chance once let that go
But think Margaret how in the many fights
We men of war have been in that we know
Things women do not think of and see sights

Whereof they do not dream I saw one day
Upon a battle field [a] young knight dead
There with clenched hands throat cut wide he lay
And it was I who killed him by my head

Who was it but my brother times change much
Who would have thought that he of all other men
Should thwart and thwart me till I changed too such
Close friends we were once yet I killed him then

I was not sorry I had killed him though
But sorry we had quarrelled all alas
But as go other things so goes sorrow
I grieve. Alas you will not love me now time was

I would have served you well; but for Richard
I hold it pity that you should give up
Your life for him. [T]o die so young is hard
But who so casts aside a golden cup

Let him go drink grey waters from the brook
And foul his hosen with the mud thereof
I must away I fear much I must look
To hear strange tidings while my broken love

Makes me sit brooding in my hall alone
I judge that it might happen any day
Those dreadful laws may be fulfilled to the bone
And marrow I am sorry I must say

You seem to hate me why do you look so pale
I fear it is not that you pity me
Your own grief doubtless roused up by this tale
This string of words that minglingly [?]

I have been pouring out is it farewell
Will you live Margaret years and years and years
To help you help
With love and honor--now [?] you have a bell
With Richards arms upon it yes Cicel

I think her name is your own pretty maid
Gave it to me--ah not discreet enow Tis pretty
Cicely picked it up she said
In your own bower is it farewell now

Do you reach your hand to say good bye
No let me keep the bell and give me leave
To say be careful of the sweet Cicely
For keeping secrets she is like a sief

For holding water--well I must away
Alls ended [?] the end is just begun
Margaret farewell. She was as pale as clay
While he was speaking as when he was done.

And gone away she sat and held her knees
And for awhile in rocking to and fro
Now vaguely thought she of departed peace
And now half pondered what thing she might do

To save her body and her love from death
Whether he lied or not Sir Richard's bell
That went for nothing Cicely though her breath
Went when she thought of what she knew full well [?]

Hard was it to die young and hard to face
The bitter world with lies and lies and lies
And then she thought how well she knew the place
Where she was to be burnt with what surprise

Her kindred over sea would hear of it
And would they arm for vengeance or just take
Some pounds of gold and after that would sit
In some gilt chantrey silent for her sake

Wishing the mass well over giddily
She rose at last and in her bower she lay
Wishing that that spring day were all gone by
And night were come nought recked she of the day

That in the merry wind beat up and down
Nought recked she of the ousels how they sung
The short sweet laughter of the thrushes brown
There she lay quiet--but her hands she wrung

And softly lest that anyone should hear
And yet above her breath, she called on God
And sometimes half risen up she shook for fear
If any footstep in the passage trod

About sunset the minstrels in the hall
Blew up sweet tunes while lords and knights drank wine
And heavily then on sleep she gan to fall
And sleeping wept upon her fingers fine

But in the night she woke full of[t] and wept
For very pity that she found the tears
Still wet upon her cheeks and when she slept
She dreamt of all things happening bitter fear.

But hope with it and outlet due at last
The next day and the next she lay abed
Sick as her maids told those who asked for her
For Sir Aloyse went not as he had said
And till he had gone Margaret for pure fear

Durst not to send for Richard the third day
She heard the trumpets blow up merrily
Outside her heart beat quick as there she lay
She rose and crossed the room that she might see

The base court from the other window thence
Into a corner huddled stealthily

And God shall try it in the fenced lists
Twixt him and me and trust me to the word
Shall never leave my lips that have been kist
By yours Margaret she said one day I heard

Two knights who spoke of this thing and they said
They never yet of anyone who herein
Lived and came safe therefrom--by my head
God is a mighty Lord and he will win

Ah sweet I say whatever happeneth
The little word never shall be said by me
No doubt this is the worst--for you my death
Nought to fear afterwards Margaret for see:

The Commons love us let your squires sing
Your name aloud proved innocent by then
Think well the rough-joyed puisance [?] and goose wing*
May help you well among these cruel men.

That is the worst; but why should the worst come
Think of the best Sir Aloyse gibbeted
And we at peace among our folks at home
To love together till we both are dead

But in himself he thought yet she may die
Before her trial comes she is changed much
These last days Aloys[e] wrought us this misery
I wonder in God's name why he made such

As Aloyse and I are she started up and cried
Help me Richard so faint I feel and sick
Therewith she put her hand unto her side
And sank down swooning as a dog might lick

The face of his dead master, on his knees
Over and over kissed he her sweet face
Fixed and dead pale and art nowise at peace
For the brows frowned the half opened mouth showed trace

Of pain and struggling when she woke again
And now once more could speak she touched his wrist
And languidly beheld him as if fain
To say a thing but noting as he kissed

Her lips and eyes what look his own eyes had
She held her peace and silent there sat there
Lamenting in their thoughts these changes sad
Bitterly thinking of the times that where [sic]

Brooding they sat there in such kind of dream
As I have heard that dying men have oft
When pain is gone and life and sorrow seem
A tale well told. Sweet and soft

They heard the sobbing whistle of the thrush
They heard the kestrels cry from tower to tower
They heard outside the pink flowers may bough brush
Against the painted window of the bower

Over the yellow crowns of kings who sit
White robed betwixt the sun and yellow moon
Betwixt the flowers did the finches flit
And gently through the locks did the wind croon

And in their thoughts they wandered to and fro
Sometimes it seemed an easy thing to bear
Sometimes their hearts nigh broke for bitter woe
Unbearable, but there came hope and fear

At last and woke them up to their real pain
Then with slow sigh rose Sir Richard up
And said behold you Margaret we are fain
To put aside from us this bitter cup

That love holds out to us ah yet I knew
That sweet and bitter mingled bitterer is
Than any other surely unto you
My love has been a bitter Judas kiss.

And now I cannot die but you must die
I cannot give my life for you my sweet
How shall I pray your pardon and mercy
I can scarce speak it -- then said Margaret

My head whirls neither can I think at all
How much we may have sinned but if God gives
That we come safe out of our bitter fall
For his sake we will live such holy lives

As never men lived

* goose wing - arrow

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*31. [The Lady of Havering]

Draft in Fitz. MS 2.

God save the Kings highness
And right well mote he be
It was when King Edward ruled this land
There lived a fair lady

She had no father or mother
She was the kings own ward
There sought her many a good knight
And many a rich lord

On a day the king sent for her
And said damsel I will ye wed
There she but hanged her face down
And right little she said

Like the red side of a ripe apple
The face grew of this maid;
Then said the king Say out your mind
And be ye not afraid

Then spake Sir Thomas Knolles
Under his breath right to her
My lord loveth all bright ladies
I rede you have no fear

Then she spake right sweetly
My good lord for to please you
I would wed three times over
Howsoever I might rue

But I have a vow to our lord God
Also to S. Lucy
That I would wed no man on earth
But if he brought me things three

And first from King Phillip of France
He must take the right hand glove
When I wear this on my right hand
So far he shall have my love

And next from King David of Scotland
He shall take the signet ring
He shall be nearer to my love
When he hath done this thing

The third he shall take the gold crown
From off the great souldan
When he hath done these three things
I shall hold him as my man

To that man who doeth this
Whomsoever he may be
Be he of high estate or low
I shall yield my body cheerfully

But no man shall lie with me
Be he Kaiser or King
Or any Lord that is on earth
Who feareth to do this thing

Thereat the king studied awhile
And he looked right grimly
Dame I count your wit but small
That ye speak thus to me

I rede you choose right speedily
One of these knights twaine
Either my own good knight Sir James
Or Sir John of Behnaine [?]

That Dame she waxed as deadly pale
As privet on a green bush
From her head to her yellow hair
She shook like any rush

Do ye doubt me nothing said the king
That ye say never a word
Ye are a hardy Damozel
By St. George our good lord

She brast out sore a weeping
By his foot she set her knee
Alas my fair lord and king
What will ye do with me

Of your might I have great doubt
But I doubt the Lord God more
I must needs say the same words again
I lightly said before

Then said Sir Walter of Mayar [?a variant of Manny?]
My lord this dame will not forswear
She had liefer to die in the pain dure
I rede you the better love her

Sir I hold her of right great faith
As was my lady St. Catherine
She is right tall and her colour is fair
As if it were snow and Guienne wine

I pray you give me license Sir King
The King of France dwells not in the moon
Nor is the Soldan in the Sun
By the help of God I shall come back soon

Me[d]dle no more Sir Walter Manny [?]
Ye be a good man with your glaive
But methinks your wit is grown but dull
Ho may the saints me save

If ye have made a fool oath
Ye shall keep it by Christ
Ye shall lie still in your shroud
Or ever your lips be kissed

Ho dame proud and insolent
Ye speak like the goddess Diane
Are ye not made like other women
That ye will not wed no man

Heed ye well Sir Scheneschal
Take good care of this lady
In the little red house by Havering
Let her abide both night and day

It standeth right pleasantly
At the skirt of Waltham Chase
Let her bide in that house and garden
She shall see no man's face

But she may have Damozels
To wait on her body
And all things fitting to her estate
Such as it should be

Right little time they lost I trow
In a barget they set her
With hale and how they set sail
Upon the Thames river

Right evil cheer had the Lady Anne
The wan water was but cold
But she said as she fell a weeping
I shall have no joy till I am old

But they went up the river of Thames on
Till to Barking town came they
And they mounted on goodly steeds
And gat them quick away

To the little red house by Havering
They rode through the green wood
When the door shut after that lady
Right cold became her blood

She would not put on gay gowns
But ever she went in black
She ate nought but bitter bread and water
Though of good meats there was no lack

She would not drink the red wine
Either of Almayne or Guienne
If I drink wine I shall live twelve months
I would live but ten

She took no joy in the yellow sun
Or in the sweet white moon
She had little joy but in sleeping
She said I shall die soon

And she said to her damozels
I pray you sweet sisters
Let me sleep what time I will
And cry not in my ears

For when I sleep I dream well
Of many a fair thing
I dream of being in a fair garden
Clipping and kissing

For wete you well my good maidens
My love is a poor knight
Yet I love him right sorely
For he is strong and whyht

It was but a short while agone
Since first he kissed me
And I loved him sorely for that same
None kissed me before but he

But I said fair knight have ye got broad lands
And many a rich fee
Have ye got kists with oer gilt lock [kists, chests]
To hold the red money

He said my lands are narrow lands
I have but o poor fee
I am no jew or Lombard carle
I have but scant money

I said have ye ridden among the Scots
Have ye borne your glaive in French land
Or have ye tilted in Paynimrie
Have ye smitten Mahomed with your hand

I have not ridden among the Scots
I have stayed at home in mine own land
I have not justed in Paynimrie
Or met a frenchman hand to hand

But I doubt not for your love
I shall do many a worthy deed
I shall seek for adventures
Whereas the Lord God may lead

It may chance to you fair love
To have an adventure ere you wot
He said fair love I must away
Although my love for you is so hot

I shall come back and do some deed
All men may well speak of
He kissed me often on the mouth
And said farewell mine Owen love

He held me out at his arms length
And looked hard into my face
He said I am a little afeard
This court is a great place

There be men over strong of might
A maid is but a weak thing
I said proudly by my fay
Another song I will make them sing

Since my will is good I shall keep it
Whatso sayeth carle or Lord
For no man will I forget you
Have here this last word

He took his hands about my head
And kissed me on the eyen twain
Many a time he kissed my mouth
I trow shall never be kissed again

He rade away with a little menee
He rode into the north country
He will be wood when he cometh back
That never again he may see me.

End of fytte one-

CW, XXI, xxi-xxiv

Like the red side of a ripe apple
     The face grew of this maid,
Then said the King, "Say out your mind
     And be ye not afraid

But I have a vow to our Lord God
     Also to S. Lucy
That I would wed no man on earth
     But if he brought me thinges three;

And first from King Philip of France
     He must take the right-hand glove,
     When I wear this on my right hand
So far shall he have my love

Heed me well Sir Scheneschal,
     Take good care of this lady,
In the little red house of Havering
     Let her abide both night and day.

It standeth right pleasantly
     At the skirt of Waltham Chase;
Let her bide in the house and garden—
     She shall see no man's face.

But she mah ve damozels
     To wait on her body
And all things fitting to her estate
     Such as it should be.

Right little time they lost, I trow
     In a barget they se her
With hale and how they set sail
     Upon the Thames river.

Right evil cheer had the Lady Anne,
     The wan water was but cold,
She said as she fell a-weeping,
     "I shall have no pity till I am old."

But they went up the river of Thames
     Till to Barking town came they
And they mounted on goodly steeds
     And gat them quick away.

To the little red house of Havering
     They road through the green wood:
When the door shut after that lady
     Right cold became her blood.

For wete you well my good maidens
     My love is a poor knight,
Yet I love him right sorely
     For he is strong and wyght.

He will be wood when he cometh back
That never again he may see me.

BACK TO CONTENTS

32. I went through many lands and found no rest.

Pub. CW, XXI, xxv-xxx

I WENT through many lands and found no rest
     When I had left you and this castle here,
Nor found I any counsel what was best
     But went about all dizzied for a year.
At last it chanced on a September day
When all the sleeping sky was one blue grey,
I rode unhappily through a green way,
     Neither did any come for me to fight or fear;

My pennon no wind shook, my mail-hood lay aback,
     I looked down on my breast and saw my bearing there—
Gold dragons on green ground—my bridle-reins were slack,
     I held within my mouth locks of my long lank hair,
But as I rode faint singing came to me
From the right hand, I thought that it might be
The voice of damozels at a tourney.
     So toward that voice I went sideways till I came where

Many pavilions on an open lawn
     With gold and blue and scarlet scared the birds.
My heart shrunk back all sickened at the dawn
     Of arms, embroidery, and clear sung words,
Nevertheless I set my lips together
Till the blood came, not felt—as in hot weather
The archer does not feel the strain of leather
     When as he marches towards the foe his coat he girds.

Mad as I was I stopped and thought, There now,
     I knew that I had seen that place before,

[xxvj]And those pavilions—why 'twas even so
     Last year: then some fear pierced to my heart's core;
I entered through that same close rose-fence
And went towards the great pavilion whence
Some fear or horror struck upon my sense—
     O pity me, I pray you, this is what I saw.

A silken carpet lay upon the grass
     And on a silken bed lay Eleanore:
I was in time to see the last breath pass
     From her half-opened lips; besides I saw
Sitting along the bed on the further side
Ten maidens fairly robed and thus they cried,
"Here comes Sir John to claim his doomed bride."
     Thereat they turned away, dropped their eyes toward the floor,

Whereat I was abashed and thought what I could do;
     I closed her wide [eyes] first, lifted from off the ground
Her heavy golden hair; her arms were stretched straight so,
     Crosswise I laid them downwards, yet there came no sound,
So when I saw she moved not her head
Nor oped her eyes nor moved her hands, I said
Quite softly to myself, Then she is dead.
     And yet I neither screamed nor fell down in a swound

But only stood still; for a while I ween
     I knew not where I was but felt a globe
Of whirling black with spots of red and green
     Shrink and expand before me till the robe
Of one of those poor downcast maidens there
I saw fall on her head about her hair,
Who fainted had with grief lay on the bier.
     When she was lifted up I saw no deep green robe—

No robe of Eleanore but only deep green meads,
     Between the hazel hedge the gleaming of gold sheaves,
And, dream within a dream, a maiden crowned with weeds
     Standing between two trees beneath the shivering leaves—
[xxvij] Yea day by day I used to go and gaze
In the old passed time, the sweet old days,
I used to draw a maiden from the haze
     For my delight, to stand beneath the aspen leaves;

I could see all her throat because her chin was raised,
     And I could see the lashes of her eyes
Laid downward on her cheek, and as I gazed
     With beating heart could see her bosom rise
Heaving and falling like a quiet sea—
Whose robes of green and white and purple be
Just as hers were, each side of her a tree
     Trembled with strange delight to feel her hands, the flies

Along the bridges of her outstretched arms
     Marched humming to the city of her face,
By the Cathedral of her eyes sang psalms,
     Held her white forehead as a hallowed place
For burying the dead things of the mind.
With undropped lids I gazed till I was blind
Then dropped my head and wept because the wind,
     As I knew all too well, was making clear that space.

That was at sunset time: all the night long
     Thereafter very sullen would I lie
Till the next noon unless the wind was strong—
     The wind was ever a kind friend to me.
But the next day at noon I used to lean
Against an aspen, get a sense of green
To my heart through my eyes and soon I ween
     Came forth my dream of dreams each hand laid on a tree.
                ·                 ·                 ·                 ·                 ·                 ·

I used to think it was a sort of right
     That I should get each day some happiness...

0 God it was not fair, no part at all
     Was left of any day, and day by day
The hours lengthen and it doth befall
 [xxviij]     I sleep not, half forgetful in a way—
I sleep one hour only of the night.
At dawn the moon fades and my strained sight
Drops from the empty helm so strange in the grey light
     I try to shout, Lord help! but nought at all can say.

Ah, while I stood in that pavilion
     And saw the pale vexed maidens arm in arm,
And saw the roof above with stars thereon,
     I reeled and fell down straight from memory and strange ca!
Because I saw myself as I did say
Sitting upon my bed waiting for day
My blue enamelled helm touched by the grey
     Not showing that blue now, while from the neighbouring el

The cocks send out that strange unearthly sound
     Cock crow at dawn, dawn slow in coming round,
So slow and very cold in coming round—
     Perhaps Doomsday is past and it will not come now—
In those cold dawns I pray thee, Eleanore,
Between the roses drained of colour, come no more
With fall of moist white feet upon the marble floor—
     Eleanore I pray thee sit not there so calm

Likewise I saw myself in the hot noon
     Sitting alone upon a bank of sand,
And few men come there now, yet in the moon
     The witches gather there from many a land,
Yet I sat there alone and let the sun
Beat on my helmed head feeling the great drops run
Over my cheeks like tears and dropping one by one
     On the steel plates of my knees or else upon my hand.

And this I did because I feared the shade,
     I feared to see a ghost clad in deep green
In the likeness of a very beauteous maid

[xxviij] But yet so pale, so pale, with no joy to be seen,
I fear to see her cover her thin face
With her thin hands, then weeping in that place
To kneel in last year's leaves to hide her face.

     For if I were to see only her stately mien
There would no longer be a chance to me
     Of dying but for ever I should live
Walk slowly in the sun ...

O Eleanore who liest there alone,
     Ah so alone, the blue blue roof above,
I pray thee let me be, and make low moan
     My lips on your lips, for I am in love—
For what thing love I better than thine eyes?
What thing, O Love, except perhaps those wise
Kind lips, the little hand that tries
     By witching trembling grip to say it is in love.
     

Dead is she then—behold I pass my lips
     Over her cold face moaning, like a bee
Who when the choristers are chaunting, slips
     Along the stained glass in the clerestory
Brushing the face of Christ at Bethlehem;
I kissed her o'er and o'er right from the boddice hem
Up to the golden locks yea sunk my lips in them—
     I never knew till now how sweet a kiss could be.

Alas God would not let me stay there long;
     One of those maidens rising from her place
Came to me and on my shoulder laid a strong
     Indignant grasp, and when I saw her face
I knew that I must go, so piteously
I moved to the bier-foot: she to me
Turned full her face like a fierce dog, then she
     Passed by the feet in going to her place—

[xxx] Her long red raiment brushed, as she went past,
     The silk from off the feet of Eleanore,
I doubted, shivered much, but then at last
     Turned weeping back to my own love once more,
I bent down till my wet cheek touched her foot,
Took off the gold shoe. I felt a sharp pain shoot
Through all my frame, go down to the heart's root.
                ·                 ·                 ·                 ·                 ·                 ·

BACK TO CONTENTS

33. Rejected fragment from The Defence of Guenevere

Pub. CW, I, xx.

That summer morning out in the green fields
Along the Itchen, sat King Arthur's knights
Long robed and solemn, their brave battle shields

Hung in the canopies, to see such sights
As might be seen that morning, and to hear
Such strange grim words fiercer than many fights,

That on that morn 'twixt anger and great fear
Brave lips and beautiful might writhe to say.
High up in wooden galleries anear

That solemn court of judgment dames sat—gay
With many coloured kirtles, yea, but some
Were sick and white with much fear on that day;

For now take notice, Launcelot was not come;
The lordly minstrel Tristram, nigh to death
From King Mark's glaive, sat brooding at his home;

Gareth was riding fearful of men's breath
Since he was Gawaine's brother; through the trees
And over many a mountain and bare heath

The questing beast, wings spread out to the breeze,
Trailed Palomydes, wearied feet and sore,
And ever Lawaine was at Launcelot's knees,

So he was missed too; ever more and more
Grew Gawaine's nets round Guenevere the Queen.
Look round about what knights were there that wore

Sir Launcelot's colours, the great snake of green
That twisted on the quartered white and red—

34. Scenes from the Fall of Troy

Portal for edition of "Scenes from the Fall of Troy"

35. On the Edge of the Wilderness

Pub. CW, IX, Poems By the Way, 146-48.

ON THE EDGE OF THE WILDERNESS
PUELLÆ
WHENCE comest thou, and whither goest thou?
Abide! abide! longer the shadows grow;
What hopest thou the dark to thee will show?
Abide! abide! for we are happy here.

AMANS
Why should I name the land across the sea
Wherein I first took hold on misery?
Why should I name the land that flees from me?
Let me depart, since ye are happy here.

PUELLÆ
What wilt thou do within the desert place
Whereto thou turnest now thy careful face?
Stay but a while to tell us of thy case.
Abide! abide! for we are happy here.

AMANS
What, nigh the journey's end shall I abide,
When in the waste mine own love wanders wide,
When from all men for me she still doth hide?
Let me depart, since ye are happy here.

PUELUÆ
Nay, nay; but rather she forgetteth thee,
To sit upon the shore of some warm sea,
Or in green gardens where sweet fountains be.
Abide! abide! for we are happy here.

AMANS
Will ye then keep me from the wilderness,
Where I at least, alone with my distress,
The quiet land of changing dreams may bless?
Let me depart, since ye are happy here.

[147]
PUELLÆ
Forget the false forgetter and be wise,
And 'mid these clinging hands and loving eyes,
Dream, not in vain, thou knowest paradise.
Abide! abide! for we are happy here.

AMANS
Ah! with your sweet eyes shorten not the day,
Nor let your gentle hands my journey stay!
Perchance love is not wholly cast away.
Let me depart, since ye are happy here.

PUELLÆ
Pluck love away as thou wouldst pluck a thorn
From out thy flesh; for why shouldst thou be born
To bear a life so wasted and forlorn?
Abide! abide! for we are happy here.

AMANS
Yea, why then was I born, since hope is pain,
And life a lingering death, and faith but vain,
And love the loss of all I seemed to gain?
Let me depart, since ye are happy here.

PUELLÆ
Dost thou believe that this shall ever be,
That in our land no face thou e'er shalt see,
No voice thou e'er shalt hear to gladden thee?
Abide! abide! for we are happy here.

AMANS
No longer do I know of good or bad,
I have forgotten that I once was glad;
I do but chase a dream that I have had.
Let me depart, since ye are happy here.

PUELLÆ
Stay! take one image for thy dreamful night;
Come, look at her, who in the world's despite
Weeps for delaying love and lost delight.
Abide! abide! for we are happy here.

[148]
AMANS
Mock me not till to-morrow. Mock the dead,
They will not heed it, or turn round the head,
To note who faithless are, and who are wed.
Let me depart, since ye are happy here.

PUELLÆ
We mock thee not. Hast thou not heard of those
Whose faithful love the loved heart holds so close,
That death must wait till one word lets it loose?
Abide! abide! for we are happy here.

AMANS
I hear you not: the wind from off the waste
Sighs like a song that bids me make good haste
The wave of sweet forgetfulness to taste.
Let me depart, since ye are happy here.

PUELLÆ
Come back! like such a singer is the wind,
As to a sad tune sings fair words and kind,
That he with happy tears all eyes may blind!
Abide! abide! for we are happy here.

AMANS
Did I not hear her sweet voice cry from far,
That o'er the lonely waste fair fields there are,
Fair days that know not any change or care?
Let me depart, since ye are happy here.

PUELLÆ
Oh, no! not far thou heardest her, but nigh;
Nigh, 'twixt the waste's edge and the darkling sky.
Turn back again, too soon it is to die.
Abide! a little while be happy here.

AMANS
How with the lapse of lone years could I strive,
And can I die now that thou biddest live?
What joy this space 'twixt birth and death can give.
Can we depart, who are so happy here?

BACK TO CONTENTS

*36. The Sleeve of Gold

The first twenty-two and final six stanzas are from the B. L. Murray draft, the rest from the Fitzwilliam Morris autograph version.

It was when the thrushes sing their best
In the pleasant month of May
Fair Catherine looked from her window
With a weary thing to say.

Ye sing so sweet oh thrushes she said
But little to my liking
Are the blossoms sweet to smell
She said a bitter thing

She said; but if God loved me still
I should pray here to Him
That some cold winter wind might blow
And pierce me limb by limb

Unless God had forgotten me
I should kneel down and pray
That I might go quite cold and stiff
Ere the dawning of the day.

I pray that God may strike me dead
Ere July comes, said she
That my small bones may all be white
Ere apples are red on the tree

For two sorrows in one day
Made a grief great and sore
This child that will be born one time
And my love I see no more

At Christmas when the frost was here
But and the cold wan snow
In my bower he lay anight
This makes me bitter woe

When the moon set he rode away
Small noise his horse-hoofs made
I sat and wept on my fair-wrought bed
By myself I was afraid

But or ever he went he said to me:
My sweet child and fair may,
Pray you be as glad when I come back
As you weep now I go away.

Before three months are wholly gone
Fair may I shall come back
And instead of the green coat of Fierne [?]
I shall wear the grey steel jack

And instead of grey heron's feather
The salade on my head [salade, var. of sallet, helmet]
And instead of the serving-man's brass badge
My shield of white and red

I shall carry my shield of white and red
And the three hawks thereon
And whoever else shall have that same
It shall not be lightly won

And at my back shall men well see
Whether it be bright or mirk
The spears of my good men and true
As thick as these woods of birk

Now yonder lyeth on your fair bed
Your goodly gown of green
Thereto the sleeves of fine red gold
Are right richly beseen.

I pray you give me one of them
That I may bear it in every place
Between the hawks on my great helm
For simple joy of your sweet face

So that no man among the press
Whosoever he may be
But by great pain and much labour
May lightly win of me

So that no man be so hardy
But if he be right great of might
To meet me body to body
In clean armour for the fight.

It was mirk in the winter morning,
Small noise his lone hoofs made;
I sat and shivered till the light.
I was right bitterly afraid.

Among the ladies in the hall
I went that day in mortal dread
And whiles for fear my lips were white
And whiles for shame my cheeks were red.

They said; there goeth the sleeveless
She hath given away her sleeve,
To some leman we make no doubt,
Thereof shall she grieve

When he comes not back again,
Nor her fine sleeve of gold
Before a year is well passed over
She'll wish to be under the mould.

Yea so, my arm was bare and cold
All the wan winter long
And in the sweet May gardens
When the minstrels are at their song

The hot sun burns it bitterly
And my shame draws on apace
My feet feel weak on the daisies
The south wind chills my face

Fair Catherine bided at her window
Till the yellow moon shone fair
And she looked like Gods dear mother
For her fingers and her hair

But as it grew to the midnight
She heard one who went below
She deemed it was but the carle archer
At his watch walking slow.

Sleep you or wake you may Catherine
Have here your golden sleeve
Mount up behind may Catherine
And ask no mans leave

O Knight Richard my love Richard
How can I come to thee
There are thick walls and many things
Betwixt you and mee

Withouten a ladder shall I climb
Adown my fathers wall
Shall I swim the moat in my kirtle
Though I am proper and tall

Will the silk across my white breast
Serve for a jack of steel
To keep the steel bolt from my heart
That no leech then can heal

For every hour of the night
Six archers strong and tall
With winded arblasts and steel bolts [arbalest or arblast, field bow, used to fire stone]
Go round the castle wall

O May Catherine O may Catherine
When shall I come back
And bring with me my true men
With spear and sword and jack

Knight Richard in o week from this,
Hay harvest will begin
Come to the wet croft with your true men
For I shall be therein

There all day long we maidens fair
Weave wreaths both fresh and sweet
Of Lady smock and the white daisies
That men clepe Marguerite

And all our men both carle and Lord
To the upland meads shall be gone
With the long scythe and the tedding fork
We dames shall be alone

Go hooly my knight I hear the watch
Cry out along the wall
Knight Richard swam the outer dyke
He was both strong and tall

Knight Richard loup the outer pale [loup, Morris' construction; M.E. "loupen," to leap]
Where the grass grew long
And he loup up to his bonny grey steed
That was both fair and strong

He weareth no arms but an old salade
Thereby I could not see his face

It was merry times [tunes?] in the good house
In that sweet month from day to day
Always was there fair sport
Deeds of arms or minstrels play

Knights and ladies deem'd that tide
The time went merry and fast enow
Fair Catherine thought by my fay
That the time never went so slow

Fair dames looked this way and that
At minstrel singing or clean armed knight
May Catherine on her part
Turned neither to the left or right

Those fair dames for play and joy
Held their faces red as rose
Fair Catherines face was grown as white
As any lily that blows

But when it came to hay harvest
To the wet croft they went to play
And all the men folk both Lord and carle
To the upland fields were away

And there they wove them fresh garlands
Of the Ladysmock so sweet
And of the little white daisies
That men clepe Margueruite [sic]

Fair Catherine drank the wan water
Many a time that day
For doubt her heart could scarce beat
While she seemed well to play

Catherine drank the wan water
She sickened from hour to hour
As she stooped over her golden shoes
To pull the bonny flower

The sun was down behind the birks
When Knight Richard came
My fair child and bonny May
I am here to bring you hame.

The sone was down behind the hils
Ere Knight Richard rode away
With the tall spears of his good men
About the bonny may.

My fair friends and good ladies
My sleeve is back ye see
And the stout arm of a good knight
Is a leal staff for me.

Say farewell to my father dear
And my mother the good dame
I shall soon be clean forgotten
For she has many more at home [hame?]

In the gloaming with horns blowing
So blithely they rode away
But or ever the yellow moon was up
They were met among the hay

Are our hands so light that we should flee
Said then the Knight Richard
Fair knight our hands are heavy enow
To give strokes full hard

Give back what you have stolen Sir Knight
And I will let you free
She shall go freely said Sir Richard
She shall choose twixt thee and me

I hold two things in my hand father
The one was given to me
The other I chose by mine own self
And mine shall it ever be

I rede you father go home again
And take Alice on your knee
Let my mother comb her yellow hair
But say farewell to me

Let all my sisters pray for me
Arow in the chapel fair
Go back without me father
With one lock of my gold hair

By God quoth he alive or dead
Spears for Lord Lawrence spare no soul
Verily then you might have seen
Many a man in the swathies [?] roll.

[swath - a measure of grass land, originally determined by the sweep of a scyth; swathy - a rare usage for swaths]

By Saint Mary the spear points
Rent her kirtle here and there
By God I swear that some mans sword
Cleft the coif above her hair

Strange husbandry they held by moonlight
In the uplands by my fay
And instead of the crutched tedding forks [crutched, crossed]

With strong spears they turned the hay

To have seen Sir Richard fight
A man would have had great joy
For he was more wood than Launcelot
Or Sir Hector of Troy.

This and that he ranged the field
He smote down many a man
And great wrath had the Lord Sir Lawrence
When that he saw nothing wan

But those that fight against maidens
May well feel faint of heart
They gat away right hastely [sic]
Who were of his part

Lo here is a hole in my coat of fenice
Some hammer hath made I wis
Thrust thy sword through Sir Richard I pray
And make a good end of this

So that my daughter Catherine
May dance with her fair feet
Over my bones at her wedding
Than to live this will be more sweet

My Lord to pray for her pardon
My May in sooth durst not come here
Though she thinks right nought but good
That you are crazed she hath great fear

Wherefore I kneel and pray for grace
This must be the good Lords will
That we should come together at last
Good Sir I pray our joy fulfill

My Lord I say by the Soldan
I was bound with an iron chain
Not for that I broke prison
I came to my may again.

And great rocks by Illyrica
I was wrecked in the salt sea
With many dangers of robbers
I came through Pruce and Bohemie

I think God took me out of the sea
I think also God broke my chain
It was Gods will no doubt
I should come to my may again.

You were an hundred to fourscore
And yet lo Sir your men are fled
If it had not been but by Gods help
I think we should have been but dead

Yea this is ever the way with maids
Under foot may she be trod
I trow they do right what they list
Then say this thing is of God

Lo Sir and is it the Lords will
I should curse her and thee
By God whosever will it is
I do it now right heartily.

Nathless they wed the morrow morn
Though she was but a cursed child
Sir Richard had a sorrowful weeping bride
Twas little that they smiled

But or ever the priest did on his cape
Lord Laurence came in there
Like a wood man he ran apace
Up to the altar fair

He spread out his arms wide
And took Catherine up therein
He put back her yellow hair
And kissed her cheek and chin

He yode to the Knight Richard
And kissed him on the mouth
Thereat came the priest forth
From the sacristy on the south

Shut up your book awhile Sir Priest
I have a thing to tell
That will be a right good sermon
In church it will go right well

As I lay abed last night
For pure rage I fell asleep
My lady wife lay there by me
And she did little but weep

Then as I slept I dreamed a dream
I was in church right fair
But by St. Mary good orange trees
And fair roses grew up there

And the altar was of red gold
And likewise the great pix thereon
That held Gods body seemed right well
To be cut out of a goodly stone

And there was music sung therein
More goodly than I ever heard
By the saints it was so over sweet
That I grew faint and sore afeard

And yet none sung this most sweet song
But red birds in the orange trees
I thought if the very thrushes of heaven
Sing such wonderful songs as these

How do the angels sing right so
They sung no more and I saw then
A man and a maid stand aright
As folks are married among men

A priest also I saw well
Who gave a ring in that mans hand
That he that marry that fair may
[By] The Saints I had no will to stand

Fair Catherine made as if she rowed
Upon the grass so green
Why do you sit as if you rowed and row Catherine
When no ship can be seen.

I sit and row me to my love
Though no boat can be seen
For summer is a-coming on
And all the grass is green.

We heard to-day and yesterday
Your father lyeth on bier
May God have mercy on his soul
Still have I got my dear
My true love draweth near.

We heard today and yesterday
That your true love is dead
Now will I lie down on the earth
And throw dust on my head

Rise up rise up fair Catherine
Here comes your father dear
Why should I stand upon my feet
Then may the good God keep him
While my love lies on his bier

Rise up rise up May Catherine
Your true [love] cometh near
Now shall I sit upon the grass
And get [?] kisses from my dear.

BACK TO CONTENTS

 

*37. [The Lady of the Wasted Land]

Draft in Fitz. MSS 1

Listen good folk to my ryme.
There was a house upon a time
Good and fair by a woodside
And this time it was Christmastide
Therein lived a fair lady
Fatherless I trow was she
And motherless: thereto perfay
She saw no man from day to day
Only dames might be with her
Old or young or foul or fair
So on a time as my song saith
This lady lay sick nigh to death
So she said in a fine voice
Clear though with so little noise
To her handmaidens and said
Sisters you deem I am but dead
But I trow the God of heaven
Such a grace to me has given
I shall not die all utterly
Before that my true love I see
Therefore I pray the[e]
Blanche my maid
Who art of few things afraid
Some token unto him to bear
Ho give me what lieth there
This same was a girdle fair
Wrought with gold in strange manner
And chiefly in the midst of it
Where the twyfold clasp did fit
Was a red heart and a sun
She handled it and one by one
Over the scales her fingers drew
Till she came to the clasps two
Then eft she essayed to speak
But wept as if her heart would break
And crossed her feet within the bed
And on the billow [pillow?] rolled her head
Then each to each her maids said
Right sorrowfully--Such fantasies
Hold her now as these and these
Alas before the more doubtless
She will die of this distress
And what can we. but then again
She spoke sobbing and with pain. .

Since this draft ends at the end of a page, the poem seems to have continued on. Draft in Fitz. MSS 2

Lo Sirs a desolate damozel
In all highways I made my moan
With words on parchment written well
To help men to get back mine own

And at the crossways that lead down
To either sea and the waste land
The forest and the golden town
I set a pursuivant to stand

Beside a cross of white and red
And each day many knights passed by
Some bravely were apparelled
And had most things that gold can buy

And some came poorly from the wars
With broken arms and visages
Scarred by the Saracen scimitars—
And unto each and all of these

My pursuivant cried loud and well
The words upon the parchment writ
By me the desolate Damozel—
Fair knights—I do you all to wit

My lady a most noble dame
A recent traitor hath appealed
And surely Sirs it were great blame
Such a fair noble dame to yield

Unto the fire Sirs I say
Before God she sweareth well
She hath the right by my fay
It were a hard thing to tell

How fair she is and Sirs therefore
My dame this goodly appellant
Being grieved by a strong traitor
Of some good knight hath great want

In the name of God some knight would say
How call you then the defendant
Sir John le blanc then by my fay
She is hardly an appellant—

How say you fellows which of you
Would arm for a fight such as this
For many a day he should rue
Who met Sir John le blanc I wiss

Some spake thus and some spake
With great ruth and courteously
But there was no Knight for my sake
Would meet such a man as he

Thus some spake and so some spake-
At last there came a goodly knight
A lion in a green brake
Would not be a fairer sight

When my herald had said his say
Quod He, they say among men of wit
Take that you long for while you may
Or you may chance to lose it

I may well say Sir pursuivant
That every day of this my life
This is the thing I most want
A most fair dame to be my wife

Therefore if she will wed with me
I will right joyfully do her will
And if will not then perdie
For Gods sake I will fight still

BACK TO CONTENTS

*38. Lo Sirs a Desolate Damozel

The first six stanzas only published in CW, I, xxx-xxxi.

        Lo, Sirs, a desolate Damozel
                In all highways I made my moan
        With words on parchment written well
                To help me to get back mine own;

        And at the crossways that lead down
                To either sea and the waste land,
        The forest and the golden town,
                I got a pursuivant to stand

        Beside a cross of white and red,
                And each day many knights passed by
        Some bravely were apparellèd
                And had most things that gold can buy,

[xxxj] And some came poorly from the wars,
                With broken arms and visages
        Scarred by the Saracen scimitars—
                And unto each and all of these

        My pursuivant cried loud and well
                The words upon the parchment writ
        By me the desolate Damozel:
                "Fair Knights, I do you all to wit

        "My lady a most noble dame
                A recreant traitor hath appealed,
        And surely, Sirs, it were great blame
                Such a fair noble dame to yield

        "Unto the fire..."

*39. Introduction to the "Story of the Flower"

CW, XXI, xvi, xvii, 323-40

[323]And divers minds hereof were told
Of which were bravest to behold
And which were noblest of renown.
Then said a chapman of the town
That to his mind the boar, the bear,
The pard, the lion and such deer,
The erne and slaughter-fowl—such-like
Of living things that rend and strike
Were meetest arms for barony,
"And therewithal meseems," quoth he,
"That helm and sword and bow and spear
Are charges good for lords to bear,
But nought methinks of flowers and trees,
Apples and grapes: things such as these
For lads and damsels are but meet
Amidst their toying dainty-sweet."
Some laughed, some scowled, for lo! upon
The stone hall's chimney was there done
The armour of the Lords of Leas,
And there amidst of carven trees
Upon the shield of silver white
Blossom and stem was done aright
A rose new-slipped; and one cried out
"What, carle! and wilt thou sit and flout
The noblest shield in all the land
When with my lord's meat thy fool's hand
Is e'en yet greasy? Hold thy peace!"
And much the blame of men encrease
[324] About the carle. Till there stood up
An ancient squire, and filled his cup,
And cried," My masters, fill ye now
And drink unto the goodly bough,
The Leasome Rose, that I have seen
Besprent with red about the green
In many a death-begirded hour.
Hail O thou shield, hail O Flower!"
Therewith he drank and all stood up
And joyfully they drained the cup;
All cried "All hail the Flower!" and then
Loud for awhile was talk of men
About this goodly ancient shield
And all its deeds on fold and field,
And many an idle tale was told
Of how it first was borne of old
And who begat it. Till once more
Arose the squire the old and hoar
And stilled the noise and spake: "Ye tell
Of many a thing ye know not well,
But would ye hush and hearken me
I know a goodly history
Of this same battle-token old
That seldom yet hath all been told,
Therein forsooth is all the tale
That unto any may avail,
The story of the Flower of yore."

An augment for his honour's sake,
A sword in chief above the rose;
But ever he naysaid all those
And still in the old wonted way
The ancient flower he bears today,
And e'en so oft and o'er again
[325]His fathers did and thought no gain
Of any gift on field or bower
That changed one whit the ancient flower.

Oft in choir long would he sit
And sing the hours; the cross bare he
Full oft at the Epiphany
Or other feast. He would light down
From offhis horse if midst the town
He met God's body, and would kneel
In mire and clay to pray for hele.
Shortly to say, suchwise he did
His holiness might not be hid
Till some men blamed him that he fared
Unlike a knight with war-sword bared
But rather as a clerk—forsooth
A many mocked him for his youth
Amidst the church as cast away,
But rich men, mighty men, were they;
The mouths of poor men had no word
Save blessings for the holy lord.
Withal this while he yet was young
He had not 'scaped the slanderous tongue
As in my tale now shall ye hear.

Yet was she lovelier than their love.

Wherefore he sat all gloomy-great
And ill-content his own heart ate
And by that meat was evil fed
[326]So that strange fancies filled his head
Concerning his ill hap, until
This last fear all his heart must fill,
That by his wife he was beguiled.
                               Yoland
Now led him holding his bare hand
Unto the dais, and after them,
His foot nigh touching her gold hem,
Went Geoffrey till at last they came
Unto the pillared seat of fame
Wherein she set him by her side.
And as of some new-wedded bride
So were her hands and lips and eyes,
And all her garments' braveries,
Girdle and gown and wreathing flower,
Seemed made for nothing but that hour
Ere yet the bridal bed is seen.
[327]The hall-folk said she ne'er had been
So proud and joyous—not e'en when
The pest was heavy upon men
And 'twixt the living and the dead
With naked feet and uncrowned head.
Betwixt the March snow and the sun
She stood until her will was done
And all the saints who loved her well
Had slaked the death and shut back hell.
Of few words were those twain; low voiced
While loud the folk in hall rejoiced,
And chiefly great was Geoffrey's glee
And loud he laughed and joyously,
And whatsoe'er in hall betid
So fast the merry minutes slid
Into deep night, and came the cup;
And Yoland with Sir Hugh stood up
And took his hand and blessed them there
As one who says, Tomorrow's fair
And I no long way off from thee.
So was she gone, and dark with pain
But sweet with love was night again.
So was Lord Hugh to chamber led
With honour great, and by his bed
Two squires of good renown there lay
As a most mighty man he were;
Yet was not wily Geoffrey there.
         So with the early morning-tide
Hugh bade his men be dight to ride;
And forth he went, and since the day
Was fair amidmost of the May,
Into the pleasance for a while
He went, the waiting to beguile
And nurse the longing of his heart
Amidst the flowers from folk apart.
So down the garden-path he went
[328]And gazed adown the sunny bent
And saw the morning sunbeams smite
St. Michael's walls to gleaming white,
Then turned about unto the house
That dusked the garden plenteous
With shade of its great towers and tall.
And 'twixt the sunshine and the wall
He saw one coming from the gloom,
Bright with the blossoms of the loom,
Fair as a picture in a book.
His glad eyes caught her joyous look
As she beheld him tarrying there,
For it was Yoland slim and fair
Ruddy with freshness of the morn
And lovely with her love new-born.
·           ·           ·           ·           ·           ·          ·
She turned not to him straight but brake
A slip from off the bush where green
The barbs about the rose unseen
Were growing, and she said," See now,
The rose-buds into flowers shall grow
Unless the world shall end ere June;
But who knows through what watery moon,
What rending south-west wind, what storm,
What plague-struck noon to bring the worm,
What bitter nippings from the north
The flower [shall] pass ere it come forth
Ruddy and wide and summer-sweet?"
The spray fell down unto her feet
E'en as she spake. But he knelt down
And kissed the gold hem of her gown
And kissed her feet the while his hand
Took up the spray; still did she stand
Nor bent to him. He rose and she
Looking afar stood quietly,
And he drew closer and more close
Holding that promise of the rose.

[329]Hugh rode on silent for a space
Until they reached a wooded place
Nigh to the ford, and there he stayed
Those men of his and shyly said,
"Ride on unto the House of Leas.
For me I go to pray for peace
And speak unto my friend and lord
Down in the Chapel of the Sword
That lieth by the river side
Beyond the wood; there may I bide
A day or twain, I know not well.
God keep you." No more was to tell:
Upon their way to Leas they rode,
And Hugh so left a while abode
Then through the wood he went a space
And coming out he set his face
Unto the fells.
·           ·           ·           ·           ·           ·          ·
So on by byway and lone lane
He rode and with the night did gain
The bare hillside below the fell,
Where now he knew the land full well.

[330]There in a little dale he lay
And rose up with the earliest day
And through the downland rode for long
Nor met he aught to do him wrong,
Nay no man but some shepherd folk
With whom his night-long fast he broke,
Nor did they know him nor his name
So rode he till at last he came
E'en at the very nones of day
High up the fell. The limestone grey
Rose in a ridge of cliff above
A little plain where nought did move
That was alive. Great rocks lay strewed
Over the sward, amidst them showed
A little chapel much as grey
And weather-beaten as were they.
Then beat his heart because he knew
That now at last the die he threw
For good or ill. Swift he rode on
Up to the chapel-door but none
Stirred nigh it; from his horse he leapt
And clashed the ring-bolt as he stepped
Over the threshold: and a mist
Came o'er his eyes. Had she kept tryst
And would she be the true at need?
Yea there her very self indeed
She stood before him.

[331]                  So the days wore
And nought there is to tell of more
Till unpeace fell upon the land
And other tiding came to hand.
For so it fell upon a day
That men-at-arms must come our way,
A score belike. How it befell
I know not: strange it is to tell
But true: our dame bade not hide
But sitting by the hearth abide
And heed not aught nor speak at all
Whatever matter might befall.
So sat I trembling. There and then
Into the cottage came three men
Clattering in arms, the while outside
A-horseback did the rest abide.
And now the gayest of the three
Looking about and close to me
Yet saw me not: but as for him
Though steel-clad now in breast and limb
I knew him for the selfsame lord,
Who now again took up the word:
"Well dame, now are we come to take
The damsel, even for her sake
And thine; and here I bring the gold."
And straightway on the board he told
Twenty gold pieces. The dame smiled
And said "Well, ye should have the child
If she were here, as she is not.
A merchant hath thy treasure got;
I sold her yesterday at eve."
I saw the fair lord's breast upheave
[332]And his cheeks redden: "Whereaway
Went then thy chapman yesterday?"
She said "Why hide the man's abode?
Unto Much Allerton he rode."
Then hastily the knight turned round
And out was he and off the ground
And spurring hard or ere there came
The very last word from the dame;
And after him his meiny went,
Clattering and clashing. "Nought is spent
The peril yet," then muttered she;
"They will be wiser presently
And come aback." Withal she spake:
"My child, thy rock and spindle take
And sit without the door and spin,
Nor heed thou what man cometh in."
So did I wondering; sore afeard,
Until again the noise I heard
Of horse-hoofs drawing near the close,
And lo the knight and two of those
Who followed him; straight he gat
From offhis horse nor heeded what
Was by the door. I heard him say,
"Dame, thou art wise enough today,
Yet we grow wiser than we were.
Methinks ye have the damsel here."
"Yea?" said she; "not so over-great
Is this poor house but thou mayst wait
Whiles your men seek it up and down."
He knit his brows into a frown
Yet reddened too, and said, "We deem,
I and my men, that as a dream
Were things before us even now,
And that ye showed us but a show
Of what things were. We deem that there
Amidmost of the hearthside chair
Knee close to knee the damsel sat,
[333] And seemed thy white-haired blue-eyed cat."
The dame laughed out: "Well well, Sir Knight,
Still may ye see the self-same sight
And for thy money mayst thou take
The beast and keep her for my sake."
He looked and scowled and then once more
He strode out through the open door
And gat to horse and rode away.
Then the dame called me in to say:
"Child, haste thee, strip thee to the skin
And stand beside the door within
And stir not, whatso thou mayst hear,
Nay loiter not for shame or fear."
What might I do but as she bade
But scarce stood I a naked maid
Beside the door-post ere once more
The armour clashed about the door
And in the knight strode. "Dame," he said,
"Ye play a close game by my head—
Where is the damsel?" " Nay by now
E'en at Much Allerton, I trow,"
The dame said," thou mayst win her yet
If swiftly unto horse ye get."
Then wild with wrath the fair knight spake
"Beware dame lest the fire we take
And burn the house and thee and all."
"Yea, that the nighest way I call
For finding a lost love," she said,
"Now ye grow wiser than well sped."
"Dame," said he, "yet I know thy guile.
When I departed hence erewhile
There sat she by the doorway side
And seemed to be thy yellow cat
Purring; nor stayed I aught thereat
But lo the hem of a grey gown
E'en as I turned seemed slipping down
About the beast—Where is she now?"
[334]"Well, thou art wise enough to know,"
She said," there doth she yet abide,
Go take her for thy lovely bride."
Wood-wrath he grew and cried, "Well then,
Now shall ye burn, witch. Ho my men,
Take ye the brands from off the hearth
And burn up all to utter dearth,
And let your spears thrust through what e'er
Shall come abroad to greet you there."
His men 'gan stir, but therewithal
They heard a sudden trumpet-call
A blast of war, shrill loud and nigh;
And therewith 'gan one man to cry
"The King!—the King!" and down he cast
The kindled brand and gat him fast
From out the house; and all the rout
Delayed no whit but hurried out
From house and orchard. Yea the lord
Drew from its sheath his gleaming sword
And hewed hard at the Dame, and I
Scarce kept aback a frightened cry.
Nought happed of scathe save to our chair
That lost its old life then and there
Beneath the edges: while once more
The horn blew louder than before.
The knight turned cursing and strode out,
And past the garth we heard his shout
Unto his fleeing men. But for me
I stood there quaking timorously
Till from the Dame 1 heard a voice
Shrill yet but weak: "Child, rejoice
That thou art free: a phantom sound
Shall chase them o'er the grassy ground
And the bare rocks, o'er wet and dry,
Nor shall they come back hastily.
But draw nigh, sweetheart: for no more
May my craft hide thee as before.
[335] Come hither then and hear me, maid."
So did I even as she bade
And found her lying down alow
Hard by the hearth now scarce aglow.
I knelt down by her and she said:
"No more again till I am dead
Shall such-like power from me go forth
Although my will may yet be worth
Thy blessing when the daisies grow
Above me: hearken—for I go
The longest and the roughest way
That any stout Eve's daughter may."

I wept because I loved her well,
And lonely fear upon me fell:
But she went on, " Short now is the space
For weeping. I have seen thy face
A litde while and now no more;
But long years lie thy life before,
Happy belike. Lo here the key
Of the great chest that unto thee
I opened on the day I showed
The treasure which therein abode,
The raiment of the great on earth
That many an orchard-croft is worth.
Go do it on without delay,
Time will be furthermore to say
What thou shalt do." E'en so I did
And my poor peasant's body hid
In that rich raiment of a queen
Where scarce for glistening gold were seen
The silken blossoms of the loom.
I came back lighting up the gloom
And knelt again. Again she said:
"What wilt thou do when I am dead?
Is that thy thought? Thou shalt do well
And oft of thee the folk shall tell
[336]For days to come. Day wears apace,
I with it; get thee from this place
And through the wood go speedily
Nor bide thou the last breath of me—
I know my way.
                   Stay not for night
When in the wood thou art—aright
Shalt thou be led; but still press on
Till miles of woodland way be won
And miles of thicket lie between
This house where erst thou hast been seen
And so my heart is telling me
That ere dawn one shall meet with thee,
A mighty man, who shall behold
Thy beauty and more worth than gold
Shall deem thee, and shall bid thee come
Yet in all honour to his home.
If thou nay say him then is gone
Thy luck of life and all is done.
Speak gently to him, yet I bid
That nought of all thy life be hid,
Yea tell him all the very truth—
Yet nothing shall he trow forsooth
Thy simple tale, but deem of thee
That thou of some great house shall be.
What more? My sight is waxing dim
Yet seems to see thee wed with him—
And this moreover shall I tell
That art thou faring less than well
Then may it help thee somewhat yet
My name not wholly to forget.

Sad is this sundering now may be
But e'en what was awrought for me
By days thy fellowship made sweet.
Depart now, let me see thy feet
Pass o'er the threshold ere I die."
[337]Dull sorrow on my heart did lie
As I rose up from her, yet so
Her bidding I was wont to do
Nor knew I how to naysay this.
My lips yet felt her clammy kiss
As I went forth most sick at heart
From all that peacefulness to part
Yet nought afeard, because the wood
To me had been a friend full good
For many a year by day and night.

I stood and pondered how't would pass
That life that fated for us was,
And little joy I saw therein
But nought I saw whereby to win
To happier days to be mine own,
So was I helplessly alone.
So still I waited till the day
Grew hotter o'er the woodland way
And all the morning breeze was dead.

And so at last he raised his head
And dim-eyed looked about the place
Until he happed upon my face,
Then up he sprang and facing me
As if a marvel he did see
Stretched out his hands but spake no word.
·           ·           ·           ·           ·           ·          ·
                              Hearken again:
That lord strove with his speech in vain
[338]A little while, then spake and said
"Who art thou—thou the unafraid
As by the eyes of thee I deem?
Or art thou e'en as thou dost seem
Or hast thou taken for a while
A woman's semblance to beguile
Good knights unto the fairies' land,
That thou before me there dost stand
So lovely and unmoved and strange?
·           ·           ·           ·           ·           ·          ·
I looked on him. Fain had I been
To flee adown the woodland green
So cold I felt to his desire,
For sooth to say I knew the fire
Was in his barm at sight of me.
Yet what the carline bade me be
That must 1 strive for; so I stayed
Abiding what should be, and said,
"By me thou shalt not be beguiled:
Nought am I but a cot-carle's child
And if I seem aught else today
Because of this fair-wrought array
Then am I nowise what I seem."
Doubtful he looked, yet did I deem
Wistful the more. "And canst thou then
Lead me to some abode of men,
Gold shalt thou have to thy content
If so thou wilt." Therewith there went
Some new thing through my heart, some scorn
Of all his hope so soon outworn
Of Queens and fays. Were my will free
I should have mocked him openly
In bitter words, but bound I was
And so belike no change did pass
Across the face he deemed so fair.
[339]—O love, my babble mayst thou bear?
If thou couldst know how sweet it is
That these my lips that feel thy kiss
Still sweet upon them thus should tell
The things that in my life befell!

"Well," said he, " each new word belies
Thy story of churl's miseries,
So sweet thou speakest, wise withal
As one who knows the earlfolk's hall
And hath not learned to fear and quake
Though terror on the world awake."
Quoth I," My tale is told to thee,
If thou believ'st not, let it be;
It is too wearisome to say
The selfsame thing in one same way."
Then eagerly he took my hand
And held it. " Where in all the land
Are cot-carle's children made like this?"
So spake he and I felt his kiss
Upon my hand. And then he said,
"Lady, I see that now is dead
Thy tale of beggar-maid and cot,
But as to whence thou art and what,
Thy pleasure is to keep it hid;
So will I do as thou dost bid
But will not cover up my name
Nor hide from thee my house of fame:
No King nor Duke, no Earl of might,
But am I the Lord Lyon hight."
[340]With swelling pride he spake the word,
But I who knew of king or lord
Nor name nor fame, changed face no whit
For all his boast, but smiled on it
For thinking had he known how true
My tale was, what then would he do.
"Yea," said he: "'tis but as I thought,
Thou changest thy demeanour nought
Though thou hast heard a name whereat
Great ones have quaked, and they that sat
On the spear-guarded thrones of earth.
Surely I see that thou art worth
All thou hast won which is to be
The earthly friend and mate of me,
My bedfellow, my very wife,
The lady of a glorious life."
·           ·           ·           ·           ·           ·          ·

B. L. Add MS 45,298A, f. 75

There were not ten men in all the house
Because of the deep peace in the land
Such honor this King Louis hath
None dares contrary his command
Upon the walls we lay one noon
Sweet Alice and I. St. James' tower
Kept off the hot September sun
We read the Story of the Flower

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40. Songs from “The Hollow Land”

Appeared in OCM, September and October, 1856, 567-68, 640

[567] "Queen Mary's crown was gold,
          King Joseph's crown was red,
But Jesus' crown was diamond
          That lit up all the bed
                    Mariae Virginis"

[568] "Ships sail through the Heaven
          With red banners dress'd,
Carrying the planets seven
          To see the white breast
                    Mariae Virginis"

[ 640] Christ keep the Hollow Land
Through the sweet spring-tide,
When the apple-blossoms bless
The lowly bent hill side."

Only dimly seeing them
Coldly slipping through
Many green-lipp'd cavern mouths,
Where the hills are blue."

Pub. CW, I, 259, 289

[259] "Queen Mary's crown was gold,
          King Joseph's crown was red,
But Jesus' crown was diamond
          That lit up all the bed
                    Mariae Virginis"

"Ships sail through the Heaven
          With red banners dress'd,
Carrying the planets seven
          To see the white breast
                    Mariae Virginis"

[289] "Christ keep the Hollow Land
        All the summer-tide,
Still we cannot understand
        Where the waters glide:

"Only dimly seeing them
        Coldly slipping through
Many green-lipped cavern mouths
        Where the hills are blue.

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41. Song from “Gertha's Lovers”

   "The King rode out in the morning early,
    Went riding to hunting over the grass;
Ere the dew fell again that was then bright and pearly,
    O me!—what a sorrow had come to pass.”

42. Pray but one prayer for me ("Summer Dawn")

Pray but one prayer for me 'twixt thy closed lips,
          Think but one thought of me up in the stars.
The summer night waneth, the morning light slips,
           Faint and grey `twixt the leaves of the aspen,
                    betwixt the cloud-bars,
That are patiently waiting there for the dawn
          Patient and colourless, though Heaven’s gold
Waits to float through them along with the sun.
Far out in the meadows, above the young corn,
          The heavy elms wait, and restless and cold
The uneasy wind rises; the roses are dim;
Through the long twilight they pray for the dawn,
Round the lone house in the midst of the corn.
          Speak but one word to me over the corn,
          Over the tender, bow’d locks of the corn.

Defence of Guenevere, 1858 ed.

Pray but one prayer for me 'twixt thy closed lips,
          Think but one thought of me up in the stars.
The summer night waneth, the morning light slips,
          Faint and grey 'twixt the leaves of the aspen,
                    betwixt the cloud-bars,
That are patiently waiting there for the dawn:
          Patient and colourless, though Heaven’s gold
Waits to float through them along with the sun.
Far out in the meadows, above the young corn,
          The heavy elms wait, and restless and cold
The uneasy wind rises; the roses are dun;
Through the long twilight they pray for the dawn.
Round the lone house in the midst of the corn.
          Speak but one word to me over the corn,
          Over the tender, bow’d locks of the corn.

Notes

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 43. Song from “Golden Wings”

Pub. CW, I, 291, 301-2.

  `He was fair and free,
At every tourney
He wan the degree,
        Sir Guy the good knight.

  `He wan Alys the fair,
The King’s own daughtere,
With all her gold hair,
      That shone well bright.

‘He saved a good Knight,
Who also was wight,
And had wingès bright
      On a blue shield.

`And he slew the Knight
Of the High Gard in fight,
In red weed that was dight
      In the open field.’

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*44. Prose Fragment: The Lady of the Waste Land

*45. Prose Fragment: The Green Summer

*46. [Sir Richard]

The good Sir Richard slept right fast
But his damsel waked by his side
And O but she was sore adrad
And twas little but she cried

But whiles she thought it was the wind
Beat on the dormer pane
And while she thought it was the wind
Twisting the golden vane

And whiles when she strained hard to hear
The dogs below howled out
And still this fair dame quok for dread
Till she could never hear that shout

Rise up my Lord Sir Richard she said
They cry from street to street
Town won town won arm quick she said
Go down your foes to meet

Out out Good Squire Giles he said
There are many glories to win
Nay nay my Lord these traitor gascons
Have let the frenchmen in

There is no boot but to stay here
Within our fair great wall. . . .
[line crossed out]
Of the hard haps that us befall

Here is a fair child my lord
Shall do our message well
And these French thieves shall all be caught
Like toads in a dry well"

O hold me up my Squire he said
I doubt that I am slain
I shall never see merry England more
I shall die here in Maine

This steele quarrel grieves me so sore
Many an one shall die in fear
Of these false french if you die
Natheless but I hope better cheer

If you die here in Maine he said
I shall have small joy to live
I shall go among the press
Doughtly strokes for to give

I trow if my head today
Were but a silly eggshell
I should go out among these french
Many a man for to kill

They sound on a trumpet now fair lord
We will [?] crafty wiles
I shall be Sir Richard the good
And you shall be my squire Giles

I will do on your red tabard
And your basnet of gold clean to see
I will show myself little he said
There is none shall know me

We will not let these Frenchmen wit
That you here wounded lie
I shall speak from the wall with a great voice
And Sir Richard I shall well seem to be

I am the Vicount of Rohane
If you are Sir Richard of Corton
Yield up your tower now in haste
For we have the town well won

This is King Charles heritage
If you will not give it to me
I shall mightily brenn it up with fire
And hang you all on ae tree

Thou sayst false Sir Viscount of Rohane
I will not yield it up to you
All Maine longeth to Sir Edward
And so doth all Poictou

See here Sir Viscount of Rohane
If our stone walls were weaten [sic] bread
I would not give up my lords house
Till on the door step I lay dead

You may wish well then weaten [sic] bread
If we build sastides round about you
There will be no rat but you shall eat him
And your sword belts shall schew

My lord of Rohane thou art a false traitor villian
Two times thou hast turned thy coat
Thou deservest well to die
I would we were alone you and I.

I counsel you go back again
You shall be taken I you tell
Sir John Chandos shall catch you all
Like foul toads in a dry well

Then said Sir Reginald du Roy
Thou art a bold knave
But a false squire
So may God me save

Thou art not Sir Richard Corton
Said Sir Reginald du Roy
Lo Sirs Sir Richard now is dead their captain [sic]
Thereof have we great joy

That is false Sir Knight he said
In thy throat I give thee the lie
Thou art a false knave Sir Squire
I hope well to see thee die

I wonder muckle thou art so bold
But thou shalt not endure right long
When we pull this tower down
On a high tree thou shall hang.

Let us no more words said than [sic?] this good squire
Lo archers pulleth your bows
Whoso is a good man today
Nothing shall he lose.

Who putteth himself in jeopardy
He shall tyne naething I trow [tyne, from Scandinavian, to become lost, perish]

My lord Sir Edward shall make him rich
Who is right good at his bow.

They shot so well together then
These good yeoman [sic] bold
There was no ladder nor eke an axe
That a frenchman might hold

How does my lord Sir Richard Corton
I shall be hole of my hurt
In ae month the good leech saith
But the frenchmen tread us like dirt

But the frenchmen hung us on a tree
I shall be of right merry cheer
I would Sir Hugh Calverly
Or Sir John Chandos were come here

In there came uncle Peter
He was a yeoman bold
My lord these french all go aback
They may nothing hold

In there came uncle Peter
My Lord I fair pennon see
What [are] these bearings
Peter Tell that quick to me

In there came John blackbeard
He was a yeoman strong
My lord these french may do nothing
They will not habyde long

In there came Oliver Gurton
Of his speech he was sweet
My Lord I see a great rout
Fillen up all the street.

In came Gregory Evanton
My lord good news I bring
Our English ranks cometh hither
And right sweetly they sing

That is Hugh Calverly
A good knight of his hands
There is no knight is better
In King Edwards lands

What song sing they Gregory
Said my lord in a voice fine
My Lord they cry ever
Out out the Kentish kine

In there came uncle Peter
My Lord I fair pennon see
What [are] these bearing Peter
Tell that quick to me

My lord to say soothly
It was silver a red stake
That is Sir John Chandos
He is come quick for my sake

We shall hold high feast I trow tonight
In our great hall that is so fair
All the great French captains
Shall eat with us there

Though I may not drink wine
For the heating of my blood
Yet shall I drink sweet posset
And that taste as good

I am so full of joy
that this tower I have holden
That posset shall be better to me now
That wine if I had been yolden

Good sport had the Seneschal
And Sir Hugh Calvery I you tell
All these french were slain or taken
Like toads in a dry well

And those French lords that were taken
Ere they gat them away
Many florins for certain
They did pledge them to pay.

Then I trow Squire Giles
Won well in plain fight
The captain Sir Reginald du Roy
Though he was a good knight

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*47. Dear friends, I lay awake in the night

Dear friends, I lay awake in the night
When I sung of the willow-tree
And I thought, as I lay awake in the light,
Of what you had said to me.

For you remember how you had said,
That I should be a poet
Ah me: it almost made me sad,
As I lay in the light, to know it.

For I knew, as every poet does,
What a poet ought to be:
Straightway before me there uprose,
My hideous sins to me.

Sweet friends[,] I pray you pray for me
To Him Whose hands are pierced
That, as, on the breast of His Mother, He,
So I on His breast may be nursed.
William.

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*48. Early Draft: The Man Born To Be King

Pub. CW, XXI, xviii.

It is well said among wise men
If ye cannot have twelve take ten,
Also I say for my part
That the grey smock may cover a heart
Good enough for the gown of a king:
May this tale be to your liking.

Now this same lusty king
Had a dame, a right sweet thing,
And he loved her passing well
In such wise it were hard to tell,
Over long at Candlemas
The snow lay upon the grass,
Thereupon did the Queen pass
With the King from the minster.

Portions Pub. CW, III, xvi-xvii

That same damozel bent low
Her knee in the white snow,
Lightly at the Queen's command
To that gold shoe she set her hand;
Right so some steel pin
In the Queen's gown, smote therein;
The red blood fell from her hand,
There as the Queen did stand.
The Queen regarded pensively
The red blood on the snow lie
And her gold shoe that was nigh.
She sighed and said: "Yellow as gold,
White as the snow upon the mold,
I would my child might be so;
Red as blood and white as snow,
And yellow as gold mote she be,
Great joy this would be to me."

In that same night that she was born
There was a small house poor and forlorn
Beside a river lay alone;

He sold his skins and feathers of heme,
And unto him they gave in turn
Nets and wood-axes and such gear,
Coats of frieze for him to wear,
Flanders cloth for his mother,
Shoes and hats of Caudebec ...

I trow a right fat man was he,
He had a brown face and eyen white;
His red hair in the sun shone bright;
He was as fierce as any knight.
I trow that in the town council
Always for hanging spoke he well,
If men debated on some thief.

 

*49. Fragment: Yoland

*50. Mad as I was I stopped

Mad as I was I stopped & thought there now
I knew that I had seen that place before
And those pavilions why twas even so
Last year; then some fear pierced my hearts core
I entered through that same close rose fence
And went toward the great pavilion whence
Some fear or horror [illegible] struck upon my sense
O pity me I pray you this is what I saw
A silken carpet lay upon the grass
And on a silken bed (on that whereon) lay Eleanore
I was in time to see the last breath pass
From her half opened lips, besides I saw
Sitting along the bed on the further side
Ten maidens fairly robbed and thus they cried
Here comes Sir Johnne to claim his doomed bride . . . .
I knew not where I was, but felt a globe
of whirling black with spots of red & green
Shrink and expand before me . . .
When she was lifted up I saw no deep green robe
No robe of Eleanore but only deep green meads
Between the hazel hedge the gleaming of gold sheaves. . . .
I used to think it was a sort of right
That I should get each day some happiness
In which time clean forgotten was the night . . . .

All its dull pain, and truly more or less
The happiness came to me which I sought
After when more years more cares to me brought
Some part of each day that I schemed or fought
I claimed for dreams enjoyment now not Happ[iness]
For if I were to see only her stately mien
There would no longer be a chance to me
Of dying but for ever I should live
Walk slowly in the sun . . . :
But . . . I flee
Through purple shadows that the beech trees give
O love my royal snow white Eleanore
I pray thee come & stand by me no more
And weep through thy thin hands & shadow oer
My hot hot steel gear wishing me alas to live
And now I shall not see her body any more.

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*51. Sir Jaques prayed . . . [order of fragments uncertain]

[f. 1, possibly second in sequence]

Sir Jaques prayed, then rose with a pale face,
And we went on quite silent till at last
I said fair knight that cross we have past
What happed thereby: he said it grieveth me
Each time I tell this tale so piteously
They ended. he stopped there for courtesy's sake
I said no word until he pleased to break
The silence and begin ah trust me though
But I was Eager as we rode on so.
Sir Peter, said he prey you did you note
Hard by the Cross that Castle God has smote
With utter ruin yea I said: well Sir
I who am old now was a squire there
When I was young. Sir Miles du grand Martel
Was Lord of it and me, he held it well
Through many troubles, but a certain Lord
That hight Sir John Bourdville he having scored
High vengeance gainst him took it suddenly.
Bur pray Sir Peter now and answer me
What think you Sir has man or woman yet
Died of pure love, or do all men forger
Live and be happy afterwards: nay nay
Sir Jaques answered I what shall I say
But that I never knew it so perdie
It seemeth not a little thing to die
Look you Sir Knight your sword has gone right through
Full many a man who has died by you
In spite of all the blood, and if the Lord
Has made it hard with a bright heavy sword

[f. 2, fragment, possibly first in sequence]
I who am curious about many things
Considering how that Rumour, though with wings
She flyeth fast, yet halteth in her speech
And wishing well that true record should reach
Those that come after: have with care & pain
And diligent sifting oer & oer again
Written this book wherein is nothing set
I do not hold for pure truth, though I let
Some words stay as I heard them; telling men
Myself who said them how and where & when.
And for that Lords and Knights should have no lack
Of this my book in good fair red & black.
Full many clerks have written it & chief
This mighty volume whereof lefe by leaf
I turn just now by Alexandre le blau
Clerk of S. Omers that my lord might know
The wonderful deeds of arms done in these lands
Was well-illuminate for my Lords hands.
I say I turn it over leaf by leaf:
I am grown old, shall die soon little grief
Or fear this gives me, I could die just now
Most peacefully the wrinkles on my brow
Seem all unfolding and all deeds of mine
Both good and bad grow faint to me or Shine
As deeds of other men; and this book here
Which line by line was poured into mine ear
And moulded in my brain and heart is grown
Strange stories of an unknown land as shewn
By some old man long dead. ah leaf by leaf
Hold these; three crows upon a chief . . . .

[f. 3, fragment, possibly third in sequence]
She slipped from out the castle and the sight
Of Lord John Bourdville: therefore I praise God
For I went with her, down upon the sod
He bent his old eyes saying this - Miles came
And met her amid the trumpets and the flames
Of the great torches welcome Lady fair
He said and stood bareheaded bowed to her
And would have kissed her cheek but suddenly
Meeting her eyes their lips met yea and she
With a long wild sigh threw her arms around him
But never moved her lips all these things swim
Like pictures through my brain I mind too how
He had her off his face flushed to the brow
Red in the torchlight, and he held her arm
Below the shoulder as he feared some harm
Might take her from him; the days […]
I was made Miles Squire, often I
Have seen him wander for mere happiness
Restless and ill at ease, less and less.
He counted Bourdville's threats his jewel
Shut so safe up in his strong castle fair
Alas though on a day she rode alone
A little way and her not wither gone
A three days journey off perforce, night came

52. The Romance of the Three Wooers

Pub. CW, XXIV, 63-67.

THE ROMANCE OF THE THREE WOOERS
YEARS agone it did befall
By a mouldering brick wall
Three knights strong and lithe and tall
Met as they had sworn to do.
The first knight had a lady's shoe
In his hand, a shoe of gold;
The second had a silken fold
Shredden from a lady's dress;
But the third knight bore a tress
Just the colour of the corn,
From a lady's head 'twas shorn.
The first knight had about his head
A covering of russet red
That wrapped about his helm and crest,
And a red cloth on his breast,
So what his cognisance might be
The others could not lightly see.
The second knight had got no crest
Nor any bearing on his breast,
Plain linen, plain steel only, quite
Without device and only white.
The third knight wore upon his head
Two lilies, one was white, one red,
Likewise on his green surcoat he
Carried a purple-leaved lily.

That wall choked up with weeds and mould
Was the rampart of a castle old
Quite ruined now, but verily
Eld had not caused it so to be,
Indeed petraria-stones you saw
Had crashed through every window and door,
Besides through all the weedy court
[64] Were scattered bones of men that fought
In that grim battle long ago—
Yea man had caused it to be so.
The slope of grass the knights sat on
Covered the bones of those that won
In that grim fight; moreover you
Could see hard by cat-towers two
The victors left behind them there;
They rotted in the autumn air.
An aspen-wood did grow close by
In which the trees hung all awry
Half fallen, yet they could not die,
Though summers since this way they fell,
The other trees propped them so well.
I think you wish to know from me
Something of this strange company,
Then listen: three years ago these three,
Wandering from whose court know I not
Nor from what land, nor know I what
Their friends said to them when they went.
Now these three were at first content
To have adventures such as might
Befall to any errant knight,
Until one morning at the dawn
Each one awaking found a torn
And bloody parchment on his mouth
And all their faces turned round South.
These scrolls were writ in black and red
And the same legend each one said,
" By that which touches either cheek
Go Southward and the Gold Land seek."
—Truly red blood was on each cheek.

Then rose they up with heavy cheer
And bathed them in a fountain near;
[p.65] They could not wash that stain away,
It drove them onward day by day
Through many unknown lands till they
Heard rumours of a golden land,
And great men bowed at their command.
Joy grew within them when they found
That they would be so well renowned,
Arm linked in arm they would walk now
With straight drawn lips and unmoved brow,
They pitied those they chanced to see
Not being as they a mystery,
And going Southward nearer drew
To the Golden Land, as they well knew.

At last one morn of autumntide,
As thinking high things they did ride,
They came unto an aspen-wood
Where strange things nowise understood
Lay carved in stone their way beside.
A little further did they ride
That morning of late autumntide
And came out in a wide clear space
And there saw midways of that place
The Castle of the Golden Land.
Christ, it was hard to understand:
Each looked the other in the eyes,
Each saw no trace of wild surprise—
No sign of rage nor of distress,
Nothing but mere blank hopelessness.
They sat down on that slope of green
Where lay the dead men's bones between
The soft grass and the inner fire,
They seemed to have no one desire
Not e'en for death, till the eldest knight
Who was yet young—Sir John he hight—
He said, "The bones lie in the court,
XXIV.F

[66] But did all die there where they fought,
Did none escape and freely rove?
—Knights, have ye ever been in love?"
They said not nay, they said not yea,
Then said he," Knights, I have a way
To try if God be wholly bad
To us and we to him—yea sad
It may be in the aftertime—
To us it must be sad—now climb
With me this battered rampart-wall,
Link hands and swear together all."

They stood together, said no word
For many minutes, then a bird
Whose head and legs were yellow, sat
Upon a tower; he looked fat
Because he puffed his feathers so
To screen him, for the wind did blow
Cold and full east—but he was thin:
They thought he looked like a great sin.
Sir John held up his hilt to kiss
Then said," Now by Christ's cross swear this
That we three different ways will rove,
Search heartily for a true love,
But when three years have passed by
Come here again to live or die;
For whoso loveth happily
Those three years through, the same shall die,
Him and his love, yea verily
If so it happen to us all
Likeways we and our loves shall fall."

They swore with curled lips and straight brow,
The loathly bird that stood just now
Upon the tower-top did shrink
To his right size, croaked, gave one blink
[67] And then let fall his yellow head
On his yellow neck and he was dead.
Natheless his body hung up there
Till all the bones were white and bare.
So when three years had passed away
The knights came as they swore that day
Back to the dismal castle-wall,
And each one to tell his love and all
His victory or defeat and fall.
F2

53. Sir Giles War Song

Ho! is there any will ride with me,
Sir Giles, le bon des barrières.

The clink of arms is good to hear,
The flap of pennons fair to see;

5

Ho! is there any will ride with me,
Sir Giles, le bon des barrières.

The leopards and lilies are fair to see,
“St. George Guienne” right good to hear;
Ho! is there any will ride with me,

10

Sir Giles, le bon des barrières.

I stood by the barrier,
My coat being blazon’d fair to see;
Ho! is there any will ride with me,
Sir Giles, le bon des barrières.

15

Clisson put out his head to see,
And lifted his basnet up to hear;
I pull’d him through the bars to ME,
Sir Giles, le bon des barrières.

Notes to Defence of Guenevere version

54. Song from "Frank's Sealed Letter" ("Wearily, drearily")

Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, March 1856, 230.

Wearily, drearily,
Half the day long,
Flap the great banners
High over the stone;
Strangely and eerily
Sounds the wind’s song,
Bending the banner-poles.

“While, all alone,
Watching the loophole’s spark,
Lie I, with life all dark,
Feet tether’d, hands fetter’d
Fast to the stone,
The grim walls, square letter’d,
With prison’d men’s groan.

“Still strain the banner-poles
Through the wind’s song,
Westward the banner rolls
Over my wrong.

The Defence of Guenevere [247-48]

IN PRISON.

Wearily, dreaily,
Half the day long,
Flap the great banners
High over the stone;

5
Strangely and eerily
Sounds the wind’s song,
Bending the banner-poles.

While, all alone,
Watching the loophole’s spark,
Lie I, with life all dark,
Feet tether’d, hands fetter’d
Fast to the stone,
The grim walls, square letter’d
With prison’d men’s groan.

15
[148] Still strain the banner-poles
Through the wind’s song,
Westward the banner rolls
Over my wrong.

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55. Hands ("Twixt the Sunshine and the Shade")

Twixt the sunlight and the shade
Float up memories of my maid.
        God, remember Guendolen!

Gold or gems she did not wear,
But her rippled yellow hair,
        Like a veil, hid Guendolen.

My rough hands, so strangely made
‘Twixt the sunlight and the shade,
        Folded Golden Guendolen.

Hands used to grip the sword-hilt hard,
Framed her face, while on the sward
        Tears fell down from Guendolen.

Guendolen now speaks no word,
Hands fold round about the sword,
        Now no more of Guendolen.

Only `twixt the light and shade,
Floating memories of my maid
        Make me pray for Guendolen.

The Defence of Guenevere, 1858 [130-131]

'Twixt the sunlight and the shade
Float up memories of my maid,
        God, remember Guendolen!

290

[131] Gold or gems shy did not wear,
But her yellow rippled hair,
         Like a veil, hid Guendolen!

'Twixt the sunlight and the shade,
My rough hands so strangely made,
Folded Golden Guendolen;

Hands used to grip the sword-hilt hard,
Framed her face, while on the sward
        Tears fell down from Guendolen.

Guendolen now speaks no word,
Hands fold round about the sword.
Now no more of Guendolen.

Only 'twixt the light and shade
Floating memories of my maid
        Make me pray for Guendolen.

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