Pear-tree.

By woodman’s edge I faint and fail;
By craftsman’s edge I tell the tale.

Chestnut-tree.

High in the wood, high o’er the hall,
Aloft I rise when low I fall.

Oak-tree.

Unmoved I stand what wind may blow.
Swift, swift before the wind I go.

Sad-Eyed And Soft And Grey

Sad-Eyed and soft and grey thou art, o morn!
Across the long grass of the marshy plain
Thy west wind whispers of the coming rain,
Thy lark forgets that May is grown forlorn
Above the lush blades of the springing corn,
Thy thrush within the high elms strives in vain
To store up tales of spring for summer's pain -
Vain day, why wert thou from the dark night born?

O many-voiced strange morn, why must thou break
With vain desire the softness of my dream
Where she and I alone on earth did seem?
How hadst thou heart from me that land to take
Wherein she wandered softly for my sake
And I and she no harm of love might deem?

Pray But One Prayer For Us

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.

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.

A Garden By The Sea

I KNOW a little garden-close,
Set thick with lily and red rose,
Where I would wander if I might
From dewy morn to dewy night,
And have one with me wandering.

And though within it no birds sing,
And though no pillared house is there,
And though the apple-boughs are bare
Of fruit and blossom, would to God
Her feet upon the green grass trod,
And I beheld them as before.

There comes a murmur from the shore,
And in the close two fair streams are,
Drawn from the purple hills afar,
Drawn down unto the restless sea:
Dark hills whose heath-bloom feeds no bee,
Dark shore no ship has ever seen,
Tormented by the billows green

Whose murmur comes unceasingly
Unto the place for which I cry.
For which I cry both day and night,
For which I let slip all delight,
Whereby I grow both deaf and blind,
Careless to win, unskilled to find,
And quick to lose what all men seek.

Yet tottering as I am and weak,
Still have I left a little breath
To seek within the jaws of death
An entrance to that happy place,
To seek the unforgotten face,
Once seen, once kissed, once reft from me
Anigh the murmuring of the sea.

The Nymph's Song To Hylas

I KNOW a little garden-close
Set thick with lily and red rose,
Where I would wander if I might
From dewy dawn to dewy night,
And have one with me wandering.

And though within it no birds sing,
And though no pillar'd house is there,
And though the apple boughs are bare
Of fruit and blossom, would to God,
Her feet upon the green grass trod,
And I beheld them as before!

There comes a murmur from the shore,
And in the place two fair streams are,
Drawn from the purple hills afar,
Drawn down unto the restless sea;
The hills whose flowers ne'er fed the bee,
The shore no ship has ever seen,
Still beaten by the billows green,
Whose murmur comes unceasingly
Unto the place for which I cry.

For which I cry both day and night,
For which I let slip all delight,
That maketh me both deaf and blind,
Careless to win, unskill'd to find,
And quick to lose what all men seek.

Yet tottering as I am, and weak,
Still have I left a little breath
To seek within the jaws of death
An entrance to that happy place;
To seek the unforgotten face
Once seen, once kiss'd, once reft from me
Anigh the murmuring of the sea.

Oak.

I am the Roof-tree and the Keel;
I bridge the seas for woe and weal.

Fir.

High o’er the lordly oak I stand,
And drive him on from land to land.

Ash.

I heft my brother’s iron bane;
I shaft the spear, and build the wain.

Yew.

Dark down the windy dale I grow,
The father of the fateful Bow.

Poplar.

The war-shaft and the milking-bowl
I make, and keep the hay-wain whole.

Olive.

The King I bless; the lamps I trim;
In my warm wave do fishes swim.

Apple-tree.

I bowed my head to Adam’s will;
The cups of toiling men I fill.

Vine.

I draw the blood from out the earth;
I store the sun for winter mirth.

Orange-tree.

Amidst the greenness of my night,
My odorous lamps hang round and bright.

Fig-tree.

I who am little among trees
In honey-making mate the bees.

Mulberry —tree.

Love’s lack hath dyed my berries red:
For Love’s attire my leaves are shed.

Pear-tree.

High o’er the mead-flowers’ hidden feet
I bear aloft my burden sweet.

Bay.

Look on my leafy boughs, the Crown
Of living song and dead renown!

Gunnar's Howe Above The House At Lithend

Ye who have come o’er the sea
to behold this grey minster of lands,
Whose floor is the tomb of time past,
and whose walls by the toil of dead hands
Show pictures amidst of the ruin
of deeds that have overpast death,
Stay by this tomb in a tomb
to ask of who lieth beneath.
Ah! the world changeth too soon,
that ye stand there with unbated breath,
As I name him that Gunnar of old,
who erst in the haymaking tide
Felt all the land fragrant and fresh,
as amidst of the edges he died.
Too swiftly fame fadeth away,
if ye tremble not lest once again
The grey mound should open and show him
glad-eyed without grudging or pain.
Little labour methinks to behold him
but the tale-teller laboured in vain.

Little labour for ears that may hearken
to hear his death-conquering song,
Till the heart swells to think of the gladness
undying that overcame wrong.
O young is the world yet meseemeth
and the hope of it flourishing green,
When the words of a man unremembered
so bridge all the days that have been,
As we look round about on the land
that these nine hundred years he hath seen.

Dusk is abroad on the grass
of this valley amidst of the hill:
Dusk that shall never be dark
till the dawn hard on midnight shall fill
The trench under Eyiafell’s snow,
and the grey plain the sea meeteth grey.
White, high aloft hangs the moon
that no dark night shall brighten ere day,
For here day and night toileth the summer
lest deedless his time pass away.

Upon an eve I sat me down and wept,
Because the world to me seemed nowise good;
Still autumn was it, & the meadows slept,
The misty hills dreamed, and the silent wood
Seemed listening to the sorrow of my mood:
I knew not if the earth with me did grieve,
Or if it mocked my grief that bitter eve.

Then ’twixt my tears a maiden did I see,
Who drew anigh me on the leaf-strewn grass,
Then stood and gazed upon me pitifully
With grief-worn eyes, until my woe did pass
From me to her, and tearless now I was,
And she mid tears was asking me of one
She long had sought unaided and alone.

I knew not of him, and she turned away
Into the dark wood, and my own great pain
Still held me there, till dark had slain the day,
And perished at the grey dawn’s hand again;
Then from the wood a voice cried: “Ah, in vain,
In vain I seek thee, O thou bitter-sweet!
In what lone land are set thy longed-for feet?”

Then I looked up, and lo, a man there came
From midst the trees, and stood regarding me
Until my tears were dried for very shame;
Then he cried out: “O mourner, where is she
Whom I have sought o’er every land and sea?
I love her and she loveth me, and still
We meet no more than green hill meeteth hill.”

With that he passed on sadly, and I knew
That these had met and missed in the dark night,
Blinded by blindness of the world untrue,
That hideth love and maketh wrong of right.
Then midst my pity for their lost delight,
Yet more with barren longing I grew weak,
Yet more I mourned that I had none to seek.

Song Vii: Dawn Talks To Day

Dawn talks to Day
Over dew-gleaming flowers,
Night flies away
Till the resting of hours:
Fresh are thy feet
And with dreams thine eyes glistening,
Thy still lips are sweet
Though the world is a-listening.
O Love, set a word in my mouth for our meeting,
Cast thine arms round about me to stay my heart's beating!
O fresh day, O fair day, O long day made ours!

Morn shall meet noon
While the flower-stems yet move,
Though the wind dieth soon
And the clouds fade above.
Loved lips are thine
As I tremble and hearken;
Bright thine eyes shine,
Though the leaves thy brow darken.
O Love, kiss me into silence, lest no word avail me,
Stay my head with thy bosom lest breath and life fail me!
O sweet day, O rich day, made long for our love!

Late day shall greet eve,
And the full blossoms shake,
For the wind will not leave
The tall trees while they wake.
Eyes soft with bliss,
Come nigher and nigher!
Sweet mouth I kiss,
Tell me all thy desire!
Let us speak, love, together some words of our story,
That our lips as they part may remember the glory!
O soft day, O calm day, made clear for our sake!

Eve shall kiss night,
And the leaves stir like rain
As the wind stealeth light
O'er the grass of the plain.
Unseen are thine eyes
Mid the dreamy night's sleeping,
And on my mouth there lies
The dear rain of thy weeping.
Hold silence, love, speak not of the sweet day departed,
Cling close to me, love, lest I waken sad-hearted!
O kind day, O dear day, short day, come again!

Song V: Through The Trouble And Tangle

Love is enough: through the trouble and tangle
From yesterday's dawning to yesterday's night
I sought through the vales where the prisoned winds wrangle,
Till, wearied and bleeding, at end of the light
I met him, and we wrestled, and great was my might.

O great was my joy, though no rest was around me,
Though mid wastes of the world were we twain all alone,
For methought that I conquered and he knelt and he crowned me,
And the driving rain ceased, and the wind ceased to moan,
And through clefts of the clouds her planet outshone.

O through clefts of the clouds 'gan the world to awaken,
And the bitter wind piped, and down drifted the rain,
And I was alone--and yet not forsaken,
For the grass was untrodden except by my pain:
With a Shadow of the Night had I wrestled in vain.

And the Shadow of the Night and not Love was departed;
I was sore, I was weary, yet Love lived to seek;
So I scaled the dark mountains, and wandered sad-hearted
Over wearier wastes, where e'en sunlight was bleak,
With no rest of the night for my soul waxen weak.

With no rest of the night; for I waked mid a story
Of a land wherein Love is the light and the lord,
Where my tale shall be heard, and my wounds gain a glory,
And my tears be a treasure to add to the hoard
Of pleasure laid up for his people's reward.

Ah, pleasure laid up! Haste then onward and listen,
For the wind of the waste has no music like this,
And not thus do the rocks of the wilderness glisten:
With the host of his faithful through sorrow and bliss
My Lord goeth forth now, and knows me for his.

Song Ii: Have No Thought For Tomorrow

Love is enough: have no thought for to-morrow
If ye lie down this even in rest from your pain,
Ye who have paid for your bliss with great sorrow:
For as it was once so it shall be again.
Ye shall cry out for death as ye stretch forth in vain

Feeble hands to the hands that would help but they may not,
Cry out to deaf ears that would hear if they could;
Till again shall the change come, and words your lips say not
Your hearts make all plain in the best wise they would
And the world ye thought waning is glorious and good:

And no morning now mocks you and no nightfall is weary,
The plains are not empty of song and of deed:
The sea strayeth not, nor the mountains are dreary;
The wind is not helpless for any man's need,
Nor falleth the rain but for thistle and weed.

O surely this morning all sorrow is hidden,
All battle is hushed for this even at least;
And no one this noontide may hunger, unbidden
To the flowers and the singing and the joy of your feast
Where silent ye sit midst the world's tale increased.

Lo, the lovers unloved that draw nigh for your blessing!
For your tale makes the dreaming whereby yet they live
The dreams of the day with their hopes of redressing,
The dreams of the night with the kisses they give,
The dreams of the dawn wherein death and hope strive.

Ah, what shall we say then, but that earth threatened often
Shall live on for ever that such things may be,
That the dry seed shall quicken, the hard earth shall soften,
And the spring-bearing birds flutter north o'er the sea,
That earth's garden may bloom round my love's feet and me?

From The Upland To The Sea

Shall we wake one morn of spring,
Glad at heart of everything,
Yet pensive with the thought of eve?
Then the white house shall we leave,
Pass the wind-flowers and the bays,
Through the garth, and go our ways,
Wandering down among the meads
Till our very joyance needs
Rest at last; till we shall come
To that Sun-god’s lonely home,
Lonely on the hill-side grey,
Whence the sheep have gone away;
Lonely till the feast-time is,
When with prayer and praise of bliss,
Thither comes the country side.
There awhile shall we abide,
Sitting low down in the porch
By that image with the torch:
Thy one white hand laid upon
The black pillar that was won
From the far-off Indian mine;
And my hand nigh touching thine,
But not touching; and thy gown
Fair with spring-flowers cast adown
From thy bosom and thy brow.
There the south-west wind shall blow
Through thine hair to reach my cheek,
As thou sittest, nor mayst speak,
Nor mayst move the hand I kiss
For the very depth of bliss;
Nay, nor turn thine eyes to me.
Then desire of the great sea
Nigh enow, but all unheard,
In the hearts of us is stirred,
And we rise, we twain at last,
And the daffodils downcast,
Feel thy feet and we are gone
From the lonely Sun-Crowned one.
Then the meads fade at our back,
And the spring day ’gins to lack
That fresh hope that once it had;
But we twain grow yet more glad,
And apart no more may go
When the grassy slope and low
Dieth in the shingly sand:
Then we wander hand in hand
By the edges of the sea,
And I weary more for thee
Than if far apart we were,
With a space of desert drear
’Twixt thy lips and mine, O love!
Ah, my joy, my joy thereof!

Meeting In Winter

Winter in the world it is,
Round about the unhoped kiss
Whose dream I long have sorrowed o’er;
Round about the longing sore,
That the touch of thee shall turn
Into joy too deep to burn.

Round thine eyes and round thy mouth
Passeth no murmur of the south,
When my lips a little while
Leave thy quivering tender smile,
As we twain, hand holding hand,
Once again together stand.

Sweet is that, as all is sweet;
For the white drift shalt thou meet,
Kind and cold-cheeked and mine own,
Wrapped about with deep-furred gown
In the broad-wheeled chariot:
Then the north shall spare us not;
The wide-reaching waste of snow
Wilder, lonelier yet shall grow
As the reddened sun falls down.

But the warders of the town,
When they flash the torches out
O’er the snow amid their doubt,
And their eyes at last behold
Thy red-litten hair of gold;
Shall they open, or in fear
Cry, “Alas! What cometh here?
Whence hath come this Heavenly
To tell of all the world undone?”

They shall open, and we shall see
The long street litten scantily
By the long stream of light before
The guest-hall’s half-open door;
And our horses’ bells shall cease
As we reach the place of peace;
Thou shalt tremble, as at last
The worn threshold is o’er-past,
And the fire-light blindeth thee:
Trembling shalt thou cling to me
As the sleepy merchants stare
At thy cold hands slim and fair,
Thy soft eyes and happy lips
Worth all lading of their ships.

O my love, how sweet and sweet
That first kissing of thy feet,
When the fire is sunk alow,
And the hall made empty now
Groweth solemn, dim and vast!
O my love, the night shall last
Longer than men tell thereof
Laden with our lonely love!

Masters in This Hall

Masters in this hall, hear ye news today.
Brought from over the sea and ever I you pray.

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we clear!
Holpen are all folk on Earth, born is God's Son so dear!
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we loud!
God today hath poor folk raised and cast a-down the proud.

Going o'er the hills, through the milk-white snow,
Heard I ewes bleat, while the wind did blow.

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we clear!
Holpen are all folk on Earth, born is God's Son so dear!
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we loud!
God today hath poor folk raised and cast a-down the proud.

Then to Bethlem town, we went two and two,
And in a sorry place, heard the oxen low.

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we clear!
Holpen are all folk on Earth, born is God's Son so dear!
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we loud!
God today hath poor folk raised and cast a-down the proud.

Therein did we see, a sweet and goodly may
And a fair old man, upon the straw she lay.

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we clear!
Holpen are all folk on Earth, born is God's Son so dear!
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we loud!
God today hath poor folk raised and cast a-down the proud.

And a little child, on her arm had she,
'Wot ye who this is?' said the hinds to me.

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we clear!
Holpen are all folk on Earth, born is God's Son so dear!
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we loud!
God today hath poor folk raised and cast a-down the proud.

This is Christ the Lord, masters be ye glad!
Christmas is come in, and no folk should be sad.

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we clear!
Holpen are all folk on Earth, born is God's Son so dear!
Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell sing we loud!
God today hath poor folk raised and cast a-down the proud.

Thunder In The Garden

When the boughs of the garden hang heavy with rain
And the blackbird reneweth his song,
And the thunder departing yet rolleth again,
I remember the ending of wrong.

When the day that was dusk while his death was aloof
Is ending wide-gleaming and strange
For the clearness of all things beneath the world’s roof,
I call back the wild chance and the change.

For once we twain sat through the hot afternoon
While the rain held aloof for a while,
Till she, the soft-clad, for the glory of June
Changed all with the change of her smile.

For her smile was of longing, no longer of glee,
And her fingers, entwined with mine own,
With caresses unquiet sought kindness of me
For the gift that I never had known.

Then down rushed the rain, and the voice of the thunder
Smote dumb all the sound of the street,
And I to myself was grown nought but a wonder,
As she leaned down my kisses to meet.

That she craved for my lips that had craved her so often,
And the hand that had trembled to touch,
That the tears filled her eyes I had hoped not to soften
In this world was a marvel too much.

It was dusk ’mid the thunder, dusk e’en as the night,
When first brake out our love like the storm,
But no night-hour was it, and back came the light
While our hands with each other were warm.

And her smile killed with kisses, came back as at first
As she rose up and led me along,
And out to the garden, where nought was athirst,
And the blackbird renewing his song.

Earth’s fragrance went with her, as in the wet grass,
Her feet little hidden were set;
She bent down her head, ’neath the roses to pass,
And her arm with the lily was wet.

In the garden we wandered while day waned apace
And the thunder was dying aloof;
Till the moon o’er the minster-wall lifted his face,
And grey gleamed out the lead of the roof.

Then we turned from the blossoms, and cold were they grown:
In the trees the wind westering moved;
Till over the threshold back fluttered her gown,
And in the dark house was I loved.

Riding Together

For many, many days together
The wind blew steady from the East;
For many days hot grew the weather,
About the time of our Lady's Feast.

For many days we rode together,
Yet met we neither friend nor foe;
Hotter and clearer grew the weather,
Steadily did the East wind blow.

We saw the trees in the hot, bright weather,
Clear-cut, with shadows very black,
As freely we rode on together
With helms unlaced and bridles slack.

And often, as we rode together,
We, looking down the green-bank'd stream,
Saw flowers in the sunny weather,
And saw the bubble-making bream.

And in the night lay down together,
And hung above our heads the rood,
Or watch'd night-long in the dewy weather,
The while the moon did watch the wood.

Our spears stood bright and thick together,
Straight out the banners stream'd behind,
As we gallop'd on in the sunny weather,
With faces turn'd towards the wind.

Down sank our threescore spears together,
As thick we saw the pagans ride;
His eager face in the clear fresh weather,
Shone out that last time by my side.

Up the sweep of the bridge we dash'd together,
It rock'd to the crash of the meeting spears,
Down rain'd the buds of the dear spring weather,
The elm-tree flowers fell like tears.

There, as we roll'd and writhed together,
I threw my arms above my head,
For close by my side, in the lovely weather,
I saw him reel and fall back dead.

I and the slayer met together,
He waited the death-stroke there in his place,
With thoughts of death, in the lovely weather,
Gapingly mazed at my madden'd face.

Madly I fought as we fought together;
In vain: the little Christian band
The pagans drown'd, as in stormy weather
The river drowns low-lying land.

They bound my blood-stain'd hands together,
They bound his corpse to nod by my side:
Then on we rode, in the bright March weather,
With clash of cymbals did we ride.

We ride no more, no more together;
My prison-bars are thick and strong,
I take no heed of any weather,
The sweet Saints grant I live not long.

Earth The Healer, Earth The Keeper

So swift the hours are moving
Unto the time unproved:
Farewell my love unloving,
Farewell my love beloved!

What! are we not glad-hearted?
Is there no deed to do?
Is not all fear departed
And Spring-tide blossomed new?

The sails swell out above us,
The sea-ridge lifts the keel;
For They have called who love us,
Who bear the gifts that heal:

A crown for him that winneth,
A bed for him that fails,
A glory that beginneth
In never-dying tales.

Yet now the pain is ended
And the glad hand grips the sword,
Look on thy life amended
And deal out due award.

Think of the thankless morning,
The gifts of noon unused;
Think of the eve of scorning,
The night of prayer refused.

And yet. The life before it,
Dost thou remember aught,
What terrors shivered o'er it
Born from the hell of thought?

And this that cometh after:
How dost thou live, and dare
To meet its empty laughter,
To face its friendless care?

In fear didst thou desire,
At peace dost thou regret,
The wasting of the fire,
The tangling of the net.

Love came and gat fair greeting;
Love went; and left no shame.
Shall both the twilights meeting
The summer sunlight blame?

What! cometh love and goeth
Like the dark night's empty wind,
Because thy folly soweth
The harvest of the blind?

Hast thou slain love with sorrow?
Have thy tears quenched the sun?
Nay even yet tomorrow
Shall many a deed be done.

This twilight sea thou sailest,
Has it grown dim and black
For that wherein thou failest,
And the story of thy lack?

Peace then! for thine old grieving
Was born of Earth the kind,
And the sad tale thou art leaving
Earth shall not leave behind.

Peace! for that joy abiding
Whereon thou layest hold
Earth keepeth for a tiding
For the day when this is old.

Thy soul and life shall perish,
And thy name as last night's wind;
But Earth the deed shall cherish
That thou today shalt find.

And all thy joy and sorrow
So great but yesterday,
So light a thing tomorrow,
Shall never pass away.

Lo! lo! the dawn-blink yonder,
The sunrise draweth nigh,
And men forget to wonder
That they were born to die.

Then praise the deed that wendeth
Through the daylight and the mirth!
The tale that never endeth
Whoso may dwell on earth.

All For The Cause

Hear a word, a word in season,
for the day is drawing nigh,
When the Cause shall call upon us,
some to live, and some to die!

He that dies shall not die lonely,
many an one hath gone before;
He that lives shall bear no burden
heavier than the life they bore.

Nothing ancient is their story,
e’en but yesterday they bled,
Youngest they of earth’s beloved,
last of all the valiant dead.

E’en the tidings we are telling,
was the tale they had to tell,
E’en the hope that our hearts cherish,
was the hope for which they fell.

In the grave where tyrants thrust them,
lies their labour and their pain,
But undying from their sorrow
springeth up the hope again.

Mourn not therefore, nor lament it,
that the world outlives their life;
Voice and vision yet they give us,
making strong our hands for strife.

Some had name, and fame, and honour,
learn’d they were, and wise and strong;
Some were nameless, poor, unlettered,
weak in all but grief and wrong.

Named and nameless all live in us;
one and all they lead us yet
Every pain to count for nothing,
every sorrow to forget.

Hearken how they cry, “O happy,
happy ye that ye were born
In the sad slow night’s departing,
in the rising of the morn.

“Fair the crown the Cause hath for you,
well to die or well to live
Through the battle, through the tangle,
peace to gain or peace to give.”

Ah, it may be! Oft meseemeth,
in the days that yet shall be,
When no slave of gold abideth
’twixt the breadth of sea to sea,

Oft, when men and maids are merry,
ere the sunlight leaves the earth,
And they bless the day beloved,
all too short for all their mirth,

Some shall pause awhile and ponder
on the bitter days of old,
Ere the toil of strife and battle
overthrew the curse of gold;

Then ’twixt lips of loved and lover
solemn thoughts of us shall rise;
We who once were fools defeated,
then shall be the brave and wise.

There amidst the world new-builded
shall our earthly deeds abide,
Though our names be all forgotten,
and the tale of how we died.

Life or death then, who shall heed it,
what we gain or what we lose?
Fair flies life amid the struggle,
and the Cause for each shall choose.

Hear a word, a word in season,
for the day is drawing nigh,
When the Cause shall call upon us,
some to live, and some to die!

Iceland First Seen

Lo from our loitering ship a new land at last to be seen;
Toothed rocks down the side of the firth on the east guard a weary wide lea,
And black slope the hillsides above, striped adown with their desolate green:
And a peak rises up on the west from the meeting of cloud and of sea,
Foursquare from base unto point like the building of Gods that have been,
The last of that waste of the mountains all cloud-wreathed and snow-flecked and grey,
And bright with the dawn that began just now at the ending of day.

Ah! what came we forth for to see that our hearts are so hot with desire?
Is it enough for our rest, the sight of this desolate strand,
And the mountain-waste voiceless as death but for winds that may sleep not nor tire?
Why do we long to wend forth through the length and breadth of a land,
Dreadful with grinding of ice, and record of scarce hidden fire,
But that there 'mid the grey grassy dales sore scarred by the ruining streams
Lives the tale of the Northland of old and the undying glory of dreams?

O land, as some cave by the sea where the treasures of old have been laid,
The sword it may be of a king whose name was the turning of fight;
Or the staff of some wise of the world that many things made and unmade,
Or the ring of a woman maybe whose woe is grown wealth and delight.
No wheat and no wine grows above it, no orchard for blossom and shade;
The few ships that sail by its blackness but deem it the mouth of a grave;
Yet sure when the world shall awaken, this too shall be mighty to save.

Or rather, O land, if a marvel it seemeth that men ever sought
Thy wastes for a field and a garden fulfilled of all wonder and doubt,
And feasted amidst of the winter when the fight of the year had been fought,
Whose plunder all gathered together was little to babble about;
Cry aloud from thy wastes, O thou land, "Not for this nor for that was I wrought.
Amid waning of realms and of riches and death of things worshipped and sure,
I abide here the spouse of a God, and I made and I make and endure."

O Queen of the grief without knowledge, of the courage that may not avail,
Of the longing that may not attain, of the love that shall never forget,
More joy than the gladness of laughter thy voice hath amidst of its wail:
More hope than of pleasure fulfilled amidst of thy blindness is set;
More glorious than gaining of all thine unfaltering hand that shall fail:
For what is the mark on thy brow but the brand that thy Brynhild doth bear?
Love once, and loved and undone by a love that no ages outwear.

Ah! when thy Balder comes back, and bears from the heart of the Sun
Peace and the healing of pain, and the wisdom that waiteth no more;
And the lilies are laid on thy brow 'mid the crown of the deeds thou hast done;
And the roses spring up by thy feet that the rocks of the wilderness wore:
Ah! when thy Balder comes back and we gather the gains he hath won,
Shall we not linger a little to talk of thy sweetness of old,
Yea, turn back awhile to thy travail whence the Gods stood aloof to behold?

The Chapel In Lyonesse

SIR OZANA.

All day long and every day,
From Christmas-Eve to Whit-Sunday,
Within that Chapel-aisle I lay,
And no man came a-near.

Naked to the waist was I,
And deep within my breast did lie,
Though no man any blood could spy,
The truncheon of a spear.

No meat did ever pass my lips
Those days. Alas! the sunlight slips
From off the gilded parclose, dips,
And night comes on apace.

My arms lay back behind my head;
Over my raised-up knees was spread
A samite cloth of white and red;
A rose lay on my face.

Many a time I tried to shout;
But as in dream of battle-rout,
My frozen speech would not well out;
I could not even weep.

With inward sigh I see the sun
Fade off the pillars one by one,
My heart faints when the day is done,
Because I cannot sleep.

Sometimes strange thoughts pass through my head;
Not like a tomb is this my bed,
Yet oft I think that I am dead;
That round my tomb is writ,

"Ozana of the hardy heart,
Knight of the Table Round,
Pray for his soul, lords, of your part;
A true knight he was found."

Ah! me, I cannot fathom it.

[He sleeps.]


SIR GALAHAD.

All day long and every day,
Till his madness pass'd away,
I watch'd Ozana as he lay
Within the gilded screen.

All my singing moved him not;
As I sung my heart grew hot,
With the thought of Launcelot
Far away, I ween.

So I went a little space
From out the chapel, bathed my face
In the stream that runs apace
By the churchyard wall.

There I pluck'd a faint wild rose,
Hard by where the linden grows,
Sighing over silver rows
Of the lilies tall.

I laid the flower across his mouth;
The sparkling drops seem'd good for drouth;
He smiled, turn'd round towards the south,
Held up a golden tress.

The light smote on it from the west;
He drew the covering from his breast,
Against his heart that hair he prest;
Death him soon will bless.


SIR BORS.

I enter'd by the western door;
I saw a knight's helm lying there:
I raised my eyes from off the floor,
And caught the gleaming of his hair.

I stept full softly up to him;
I laid my chin upon his head;
I felt him smile; my eyes did swim,
I was so glad he was not dead.

I heard Ozana murmur low,
"There comes no sleep nor any love."
But Galahad stoop'd and kiss'd his brow:
He shiver'd; I saw his pale lips move.


SIR OZANA.

There comes no sleep nor any love;
Ah me! I shiver with delight.
I am so weak I cannot move;
God move me to thee, dear, to-night!
Christ help! I have but little wit:
My life went wrong; I see it writ,

"Ozana of the hardy heart,
Knight of the Table Round,
Pray for his soul, lords, on your part;
A good knight he was found."

Now I begin to fathom it.

[He dies.]


SIR BORS.

Galahad sits dreamily;
What strange things may his eyes see,
Great blue eyes fix'd full on me?
On his soul, Lord, have mercy.


SIR GALAHAD.

Ozana, shall I pray for thee?
Her cheek is laid to thine;
No long time hence, also I see
Thy wasted fingers twine

Within the tresses of her hair
That shineth gloriously,
Thinly outspread in the clear air
Against the jasper sea.

The Message Of The March Wind

Fair now is the springtide, now earth lies beholding
With the eyes of a lover, the face of the sun;
Long lasteth the daylight, and hope is enfolding
The green-growing acres with increase begun.

Now sweet, sweet it is through the land to be straying
’Mid the birds and the blossoms and the beasts of the field;
Love mingles with love, and no evil is weighing
On thy heart or mine, where all sorrow is healed.

From township to township, o’er down and by tillage
Fair, far have we wandered and long was the day;
But now cometh eve at the end of the village,
Where over the grey wall the church riseth grey.

There is wind in the twilight; in the white road before us
The straw from the ox-yard is blowing about;
The moon’s rim is rising, a star glitters o’er us,
And the vane on the spire-top is swinging in doubt.

Down there dips the highway, toward the bridge crossing over
The brook that runs on to the Thames and the sea.
Draw closer, my sweet, we are lover and lover;
This eve art thou given to gladness and me.

Shall we be glad always? Come closer and hearken:
Three fields further on, as they told me down there,
When the young moon has set, if the March sky should darken
We might see from the hill-top the great city’s glare.

Hark, the wind in the elm-boughs! from London it bloweth,
And telleth of gold, and of hope and unrest;
Of power that helps not; of wisdom that knoweth,
But teacheth not aught of the worst and the best.

Of the rich men it telleth, and strange is the story
How they have, and they hanker, and grip far and wide;
And they live and they die, and the earth and its glory
Has been but a burden they scarce might abide.

Hark! the March wind again of a people is telling;
Of the life that they live there, so haggard and grim,
That if we and our love amidst them had been dwelling
My fondness had faltered, thy beauty grown dim.

This land we have loved in our love and our leisure
For them hangs in heaven, high out of their reach;
The wide hills o’er the sea-plain for them have no pleasure,
The grey homes of their fathers no story to teach.

The singers have sung and the builders have builded,
The painters have fashioned their tales of delight;
For what and for whom hath the world’s book been gilded,
When all is for these but the blackness of night?

How long, and for what is their patience abiding?
How oft and how oft shall their story be told,
While the hope that none seeketh in darkness is hiding,
And in grief and in sorrow the world groweth old?

Come back to the inn, love, and the lights and the fire,
And the fiddler’s old tune and the shuffling of feet;
For there in a while shall be rest and desire,
And there shall the morrow’s uprising be sweet.

Yet, love, as we wend, the wind bloweth behind us,
And beareth the last tale it telleth to-night,
How here in the spring-tide the message shall find us;
For the hope that none seeketh is coming to light.

Like the seed of midwinter, unheeded, unperished,
Like the autumn-sown wheat ’neath the snow lying green,
Like the love that o’ertook us, unawares and uncherished,
Like the babe ’neath thy girdle that groweth unseen;

So the hope of the people now buddeth and groweth,
Rest fadeth before it, and blindness and fear;
It biddeth us learn all the wisdom it knoweth;
It hath found us and held us, and biddeth us hear:

For it beareth the message: “Rise up on the morrow
And go on your ways toward the doubt and the strife;
Join hope to our hope and blend sorrow with sorrow,
And seek for men’s love in the short days of life.”

But lo, the old inn, and the lights, and the fire,
And the fiddler’s old tune and the shuffling of feet;
Soon for us shall be quiet and rest and desire,
And to-morrow’s uprising to deeds shall be sweet.

The Two Sides Of The River

The Youths.

O Winter, O white winter, wert thou gone
No more within the wilds were I alone
Leaping with bent bow over stock and stone!

No more alone my love the lamp should burn,
Watching the weary spindle twist and turn,
Or o’er the web hold back her tears and yearn:
O winter, O white winter, wert thou gone!

The Maidens.

Sweet thoughts fly swiftlier than the drifting snow,
And with the twisting threads sweet longings grow,
And o’er the web sweet pictures come and go,
For no white winter are we long alone.

The Youths.

O stream so changed, what hast thou done to me,
That I thy glittering ford no more can see
Wreathing with white her fair feet lovingly?

See, in the rain she stands, and, looking down
With frightened eyes upon thy whirlpools brown,
Drops to her feet again her girded gown.
O hurrying turbid stream, what hast thou done?

The Maidens.

The clouds lift, telling of a happier day
When through the thin stream I shall take my way,
Girt round with gold, and garlanded with may,
What rushing stream can keep us long alone?

The Youths.

O burning Sun, O master of unrest,
Why must we, toiling, cast away the best,
Now, when the bird sleeps by her empty nest?

See, with my garland lying at her feet,
In lonely labour stands mine own, my sweet,
Above the quern half-filled with half-ground wheat.
O red taskmaster, that thy flames were done!

The Maidens.

O love, to-night across the half-shorn plain
Shall I not go to meet the yellow wain,
A look of love at end of toil to gain?
What flaming sun can keep us long alone?

The Youths.

To-morrow, said I, is grape gathering o’er;
To-morrow, and our loves are twinned no more
To-morrow came, to bring us woe and war.

What have I done, that I should stand with these
Hearkening the dread shouts borne upon the breeze,
While she, far off, sits weeping ’neath her trees?
Alas, O kings, what is it ye have done?

The Maidens.

Come, love, delay not; come, and slay my dread!
Already is the banquet table spread;
In the cool chamber flower-strewn is my bed:
Come, love, what king shall keep us long alone?

The Youths.

O city, city, open thou thy gate!
See, with life snatched from out the hand of fate!
How on thy glittering triumph I must wait!

Are not her hands stretched out to me? Her eyes,
Grow they not weary as each new hope dies,
And lone before her still the long road lies?
O golden city, fain would I be gone!

The Maidens.

And thou art happy, amid shouts and songs,
And all that unto conquering men belongs.
Night hath no fear for me, and day no wrongs.
What brazen city gates can keep us, lone?

The Youths.

O long, long road, how bare thou art, and grey!
Hill after hill thou climbest, and the day
Is ended now, O moonlit endless way!

And she is standing where the rushes grow,
And still with white hand shades her anxious brow,
Though ’neath the world the sun is fallen now,
O dreary road, when will thy leagues be done?

The Maidens.

O tremblest thou, grey road, or do my feet
Tremble with joy, thy flinty face to meet?
Because my love’s eyes soon mine eyes shall greet?
No heart thou hast to keep us long alone.

The Youths.

O wilt thou ne’er depart, thou heavy night?
When will thy slaying bring on the morning bright,
That leads my weary feet to my delight?

Why lingerest thou, filling with wandering fears
My lone love’s tired heart; her eyes with tears
For thoughts like sorrow for the vanished years?
Weaver of ill thoughts, when wilt thou be gone?

The Maidens.

Love, to the east are thine eyes turned as mine,
In patient watching for the night’s decline?
And hast thou noted this grey widening line?
Can any darkness keep us long alone?

The Youth.

O day, O day, is it a little thing
That thou so long unto thy life must cling,
Because I gave thee such a welcoming?

I called thee king of all felicity,
I praised thee that thou broughtest joy so nigh;
Thine hours are turned to years, thou wilt not die;
O day so longed for, would that thou wert gone!

The Maidens.

The light fails, love; the long day soon shall be
Nought but a pensive happy memory
Blessed for the tales it told to thee and me.
How hard it was, O love, to be alone.

The Raven And The King's Daughter

King’s daughter sitting in tower so high,
Fair summer is on many a shield.
Why weepest thou as the clouds go by?
Fair sing the swans ’twixt firth and field.
Why weepest thou in the window-seat
Till the tears run through thy fingers sweet?

The King’s Daughter.

I weep because I sit alone
Betwixt these walls of lime and stone.
Fair folk are in my father’s hall,
But for me he built this guarded wall.
And here the gold on the green I sew
Nor tidings of my true-love know.

The Raven.

King’s daughter, sitting above the sea,
I shall tell thee a tale shall gladden thee.
Yestreen I saw a ship go forth
When the wind blew merry from the north.
And by the tiller Steingrim sat,
And O, but my heart was glad thereat!
For ’twixt ashen plank and dark blue sea
His sword sang sweet of deeds to be.

The King’s Daughter.

O barren sea, thou bitter bird,
And a barren tale my ears have heard.

The Raven.

Thy father’s men were hard thereby
In byrny bright and helmet high.

The King’s Daughter.

O worser waxeth thy story far,
For these drew upon me bolt and bar.
Fly south, O fowl, to the field of death
For nothing sweet thy grey neb saith.

The Raven.

O, there was Olaf the lily-rose,
As fair as any oak that grows.

The King’s Daughter.

O sweet bird, what did he then
Among the spears of my father’s men?

The Raven.

’Twixt ashen plank and dark blue sea,
He sang: My true love waiteth me.

The King’s Daughter.

As well as this dull floor knows my feet,
I am not weary yet, my sweet.

The Raven.

He sang: As once her hand I had,
Her lips at last shall make me glad.

The King’s Daughter.

As once our fingers met, O love,
So shall our lips be fain thereof.

The Raven.

He sang: Come wrack and iron and flame,
For what shall breach the wall but fame?

The King’s Daughter.

Be swift to rise and set, O Sun,
Lest life ’twixt hope and death be done.

The Raven.

King’s daughter sitting in tower so high,
A gift for my tale ere forth I fly,
The gold from thy finger fair and fine,
Thou hadst it from no love of thine.

The King’s Daughter.

By my father’s ring another there is,
I had it with my mother’s kiss.
Fly forth, O fowl, across the sea
To win another gift of me.
Fly south to bring me tidings true,
Fair summer is on many a shield.
Of the eve grown red with the battle-dew,
Fair sing the swans ’twixt firth and field.

The Raven.

King’s daughter sitting in tower so high,
Fair summer is on many a shield.
Tidings to hearken ere thou die,
Fair sing the swans ’twixt firth and field.
In the Frankish land the spear points met,
And wide about the field was wet.
And high ere the cold moon quenched the sun,
Blew Steingrim’s horn for battle won.

The King’s Daughter.

Fair fall thee fowl! Tell tidings true
Of deeds that men that day did do.

The Raven.

Steingrim before his banner went,
And helms were broke and byrnies rent.

The King’s Daughter.

A doughty man and good at need;
Tell men of any other’s deed?

The Raven.

Where Steingrim through the battle bore
Still Olaf went a foot before.

The King’s Daughter.

O fair with deeds the world doth grow!
Where is my true-love gotten now?

The Raven.

Upon the deck beside the mast
He lieth now, and sleepeth fast.

The King’s Daughter.

Heard’st thou before his sleep began
That he spake word of any man?

The Raven.

Methought of thee he sang a song,
But nothing now he saith for long.

The King’s Daughter.

And wottest thou where he will wend
With the world before him from end to end?

The Raven.

Before the battle joined that day
Steingrim a word to him did say:
“If we bring the banner back in peace,
In the King’s house much shall my fame increase;
Till there no guarded door shall be
But it shall open straight to me.
Then to the bower we twain shall go
Where thy love the golden seam doth sew.
I shall bring thee in and lay thine hand
About the neck of that lily-wand.
And let the King be lief or loth
One bed that night shall hold you both.”
Now north belike runs Steingrim’s prow,
And the rain and the wind from the south do blow.

The King’s Daughter.

Lo, fowl of death, my mother’s ring,
But the bridal song I must learn to sing.
And fain were I for a space alone,
For O the wind, and the wind doth moan.
And I must array the bridal bed,
Fair summer is on many a shield.
For O the rain, and the rain drifts red!
Fair sing the swans ’twixt firth and field.

Before the day from the night was born,
Fair summer is on many a shield.
She heard the blast of Steingrim’s horn,
Fair sing the swans ’twixt firth and field.
Before the day was waxen fair
Were Steingrim’s feet upon the stair.
“O bolt and bar they fall away,
But heavy are Steingrim’s feet to-day.”
“O heavy the feet of one who bears
The longing of days and the grief of years!
Lie down, lie down, thou lily-wand
That on thy neck I may lay his hand.
Whether the King be lief or loth
To-day one bed shall hold you both.
O thou art still as he is still,
So sore as ye longed to talk your fill.
And good it were that I depart,
Now heart is laid so close to heart.
For sure ye shall talk so left alone
Fair summer is on many a shield.
Of days to be below the stone.”
Fair sing the swans ’twixt firth and field.

It was a knight of the southern land
Rode forth upon the way
When the birds sang sweet on either hand
About the middle of the May.

But when he came to the lily-close,
Thereby so fair a maiden stood,
That neither the lily nor the rose
Seemed any longer fair nor good.

“All hail, thou rose and lily-bough!
What dost thou weeping here,
For the days of May are sweet enow,
And the nights of May are dear?”

“Well may I weep and make my moan,
Who am bond and captive here;
Well may I weep who lie alone,
Though May be waxen dear.”

“And is there none shall ransom thee;
Mayst thou no borrow find?”
“Nay, what man may my borrow be,
When all my wealth is left behind?

“Perchance some ring is left with thee,
Some belt that did thy body bind?”
“Nay, no man may my borrow be,
My rings and belt are left behind.”

“The shoes that the May-blooms kissed on thee
Might yet be things to some men’s mind.”
“Nay, no man may my borrow be,
My golden shoes are left behind.”

“The milk-white sark that covered thee
A dear-bought token some should find.”
“Nay, no man may my borrow be,
My silken sark is left behind.”

“The kiss of thy mouth and the love of thee
Better than world’s wealth should I find.”
“Nay, thou mayst not my borrow be,
For all my love is left behind.

“A year agone come Midsummer-night
I woke by the Northern sea;
I lay and dreamed of my delight
Till love no more would let me be.

“Seaward I went by night and cloud
To hear the white swans sing;
But though they sang both clear and loud,
I hearkened a sweeter thing.

“O sweet and sweet as none may tell
Was the speech so close ’twixt lip and lip:
But fast, unseen, the black oars fell
That drave to shore the rover’s ship.

“My love lay bloody on the strand
Ere stars were waxen wan:
Naught lacketh graves the Northern land
If to-day it lack a lovelier man.

“I sat and wept beside the mast
When the stars were gone away.
Naught lacketh the Northland joy gone past
If it lack the night and day.”

“Is there no place in any land
Where thou wouldst rather be than here?”
“Yea, a lone grave on a cold sea-strand
My heart for a little holdeth dear.”

“Of all the deeds that women do
Is there none shall bring thee some delight?”
“To lie down and die where lay we two
Upon Midsummer night.”

“I will bring thee there where thou wouldst be,
A borrow shalt thou find.”
“Wherewith shall I reward it thee
For wealth and good-hap left behind?”

“A kiss from lips that love not me,
A good-night somewhat kind;
A narrow house to share with thee
When we leave the world behind.”

They have taken ship and sailed away
Across the Southland main;
They have sailed by hills were green and gay,
A land of goods and gain.

They have sailed by sea-cliffs stark and white
And hillsides fair enow;
They have sailed by lands of little night
Where great the groves did grow.

They have sailed by islands in the sea
That the clouds lay thick about;
And into a main where few ships be
Amidst of dread, and doubt.

With broken mast and battered side
They drave amidst the tempest’s heart;
But why should death to these betide
Whom love did hold so well apart?

The flood it drave them toward the strand,
The ebb it drew them fro;
The swallowing seas that tore the land
Cast them ashore and let them go.

“Is this the land? is this the land,
Where life and I must part a-twain?”
“Yea, this is e’en the sea-washed strand
That made me yoke-fellow of pain.

“The strand is this, the sea is this,
The grey bent and the mountains grey;
But no mound here his grave-mound is;
Where have they borne my love away?”

“What man is this with shield and spear
Comes riding down the bent to us?
A goodly man forsooth he were
But for his visage piteous.”

“Ghost of my love, so kind of yore,
Art thou not somewhat gladder grown
To feel my feet upon this shore?
O love, thou shalt not long be lone.”

“Ghost of my love, each day I come
To see where God first wrought us wrong:
Now kind thou com’st to call me home,
Be sure I shall not tarry long.”

“Come here, my love; come here for rest,
So sore as my body longs for thee!
My heart shall beat against thy breast
As arms of thine shall comfort me.”

“Love, let thy lips depart no more
From those same eyes they once did kiss,
The very bosom wounded sore
When sorrow clave the heart of bliss!”

O was it day, or was it night,
As there they told their love again?
The high-tide of the sun’s delight,
Or whirl of wind and drift of rain?

“Speak sweet, my love, of how it fell,
And how thou cam’st across the sea,
And what kind heart hath served thee well,
And who thy borrow there might be?”

Naught but the wind and sea made moan
As hastily she turned her round;
From light clouds wept the morn alone,
Not the dead corpse upon the ground.

“O look, my love, for here is he
Who once of all the world was kind,
And led my sad heart o’er the sea!
And now must he be left behind.”

She kissed his lips that yet did smile,
She kissed his eyes that were not sad:
“O thou who sorrow didst beguile,
And now wouldst have me wholly glad!

“A little gift is this,” she said,
“Thou once hadst deemed great gift enow;
Yet surely shalt thou rest thine head
Where I one day shall lie alow.

“There shalt thou wake to think of me,
And by thy face my face shall find;
And I shall then thy borrow be
When all the world is left behind.”

The Half Of Life Gone

The days have slain the days,
and the seasons have gone by
And brought me the summer again;
and here on the grass I lie
As erst I lay and was glad
ere I meddled with right and with wrong.
Wide lies the mead as of old,
and the river is creeping along
By the side of the elm-clad bank
that turns its weedy stream;
And grey o’er its hither lip
the quivering rushes gleam.
There is work in the mead as of old;
they are eager at winning the hay,
While every sun sets bright
and begets a fairer day.
The forks shine white in the sun
round the yellow red-wheeled wain,
Where the mountain of hay grows fast;
and now from out of the lane
Comes the ox-team drawing another,
comes the bailiff and the beer,
And thump, thump, goes the farmer’s nag
o’er the narrow bridge of the weir.
High up and light are the clouds,
and though the swallows flit
So high o’er the sunlit earth,
they are well a part of it,
And so, though high over them,
are the wings of the wandering herne;
In measureless depths above him
doth the fair sky quiver and burn;
The dear sun, floods the land
as the morning falls toward noon,
And a little wind is awake
in the best of the latter June.
They are busy winning the hay,
and the life and the picture they make,
If I were as once I was,
I should deem it made for my sake;
For here if one need not work
is a place for happy rest,
While one’s thought wends over the world
north, south, and east and west.

There are the men and the maids,
and the wives and the gaffers grey
Of the fields I know so well,
and but little changed are they
Since I was a lad amongst them;
and yet how great is the change!
Strange are they grown unto me;
yea I to myself am strange.
Their talk and their laughter mingling
with the music of the meads
Has now no meaning to me
to help or to hinder my needs,
So far from them have I drifted.
And yet amidst of them goes
A part of myself, my boy,
and of pleasure and pain he knows,
And deems it something strange,
when he is other than glad.

Lo now! the woman that stoops
and kisses the face of the lad,
And puts a rake in his hand
and laughs in his laughing face.
Whose is the voice that laughs
in the old familiar place?
Whose should it be but my love’s,
if my love were yet on the earth?
Could she refrain from the fields
where my joy and her joy had birth,
When I was there and her child,
on the grass that knew her feet
’Mid the flowers that led her on
when the summer eve was sweet?

No, no, it is she no longer;
never again can she come
And behold the hay-wains creeping
o’er the meadows of her home;
No more can she kiss her son
or put the rake in his hand
That she handled a while agone
in the midst of the haymaking band.
Her laughter is gone and her life;
there is no such thing on the earth,
No share for me then in the stir,
no share in the hurry and mirth.

Nay, let me look and believe
that all these will vanish away,
At least when the night has fallen,
and that she will be there ’mid the hay,
Happy and weary with work,
waiting and longing for love.
There will she be, as of old,
when the great moon hung above,
And lightless and dead was the village,
and nought but the weir was awake;
There will she rise to meet me,
and my hands will she hasten to take,
And thence shall we wander away,
and over the ancient bridge
By many a rose-hung hedgerow,
till we reach the sun-burnt ridge
And the great trench digged by the Romans:
there then awhile shall we stand,
To watch the dawn come creeping
o’er the fragrant lovely land,
Till all the world awaketh,
and draws us down, we twain,
To the deeds of the field and the fold
and the merry summer’s gain.

Ah thus, only thus shall I see her,
in dreams of the day or the night,
When my soul is beguiled of its sorrow
to remember past delight.
She is gone. She was and she is not;
there is no such thing on the earth
But e’en as a picture painted;
and for me there is void and dearth
That I cannot name or measure.
Yet for me and all these she died,
E’en as she lived for awhile,
that the better day might betide.
Therefore I live, and I shall live
till the last day’s work shall fail.
Have patience now but a little
and I will tell you the tale
Of how and why she died,
and why I am weak and worn,
And have wandered away to the meadows
and the place where I was born;
But here and to-day I cannot;
for ever my thought will stray
To that hope fulfilled for a little
and the bliss of the earlier day.
Of the great world’s hope and anguish
to-day I scarce can think;
Like a ghost, from the lives of the living
and their earthly deeds I shrink.
I will go adown by the water
and over the ancient bridge,
And wend in our footsteps of old
till I come to the sun-burnt ridge,
And the great trench digged by the Romans;
and thence awhile will I gaze,
And see three teeming counties
stretch out till they fade in the haze;
And in all the dwellings of man
that thence mine eyes shall see,
What man as hapless as I am
beneath the sun shall be?

O fool, what words are these?
Thou hast a sorrow to nurse,
And thou hast been bold and happy;
but these, if they utter a curse,
No sting it has and no meaning,
it is empty sound on the air.
Thy life is full of mourning,
and theirs so empty and bare,
That they have no words of complaining;
nor so happy have they been
That they may measure sorrow
or tell what grief may mean.
And thou, thou hast deeds to do,
and toil to meet thee soon;
Depart and ponder on these
through the sun-worn afternoon.

The Hall And The Wood

’Twas in the water-dwindling tide
When July days were done,
Sir Rafe of Greenhowes, ’gan to ride
In the earliest of the sun.

He left the white-walled burg behind,
He rode amidst the wheat.
The westland-gotten wind blew kind
Across the acres sweet.

Then rose his heart and cleared his brow,
And slow he rode the way:
“As then it was, so is it now,
Not all hath worn away.”

So came he to the long green lane
That leadeth to the ford,
And saw the sickle by the wain
Shine bright as any sword.

The brown carles stayed ’twixt draught and draught,
And murmuring, stood aloof,
But one spake out when he had laughed:
“God bless the Green-wood Roof!”

Then o’er the ford and up he fared:
And lo the happy hills!
And the mountain-dale by summer cleared,
That oft the winter fills.

Then forth he rode by Peter’s gate,
And smiled and said aloud:
“No more a day doth the Prior wait,
White stands the tower and proud.”

There leaned a knight on the gateway side
In armour white and wan,
And after the heels of the horse he cried,
“God keep the hunted man!”

Then quoth Sir Rafe, “Amen, amen!”
For he deemed the word was good;
But never a while he lingered then
Till he reached the Nether Wood.

He rode by ash, he rode by oak,
He rode the thicket round,
And heard no woodman strike a stroke,
No wandering wife he found.

He rode the wet, he rode the dry,
He rode the grassy glade:
At Wood-end yet the sun was high,
And his heart was unafraid.

There on the bent his rein he drew,
And looked o’er field and fold,
O’er all the merry meads he knew
Beneath the mountains old.

He gazed across to the good Green Howe
As he smelt the sun-warmed sward;
Then his face grew pale from chin to brow,
And he cried, “God save the sword!”

For there beyond the winding way,
Above the orchards green,
Stood up the ancient gables gray
With ne’er a roof between.

His naked blade in hand he had,
O’er rough and smooth he rode,
Till he stood where once his heart was glad
Amidst his old abode.

Across the hearth a tie-beam lay
Unmoved a weary while.
The flame that clomb the ashlar gray
Had burned it red as tile.

The sparrows bickering on the floor
Fled at his entering in;
The swift flew past the empty door
His winged meat to win.

Red apples from the tall old tree
O’er the wall’s rent were shed.
Thence oft, a little lad, would he
Look down upon the lead.

There turned the cheeping chaffinch now
And feared no birding child;
Through the shot-window thrust a bough
Of garden-rose run wild.

He looked to right, he looked to left,
And down to the cold gray hearth,
Where lay an axe with half burned heft
Amidst the ashen dearth.

He caught it up and cast it wide
Against the gable wall;
Then to the dais did he stride,
O’er beam and bench and all.

Amidst there yet the high-seat stood,
Where erst his sires had sat;
And the mighty board of oaken wood,
The fire had stayed thereat.

Then through the red wrath of his eyne
He saw a sheathed sword,
Laid thwart that wasted field of wine,
Amidmost of the board.

And by the hilts a slug-horn lay,
And therebeside a scroll,
He caught it up and turned away
From the lea-land of the bowl.

Then with the sobbing grief he strove,
For he saw his name thereon;
And the heart within his breast uphove
As the pen’s tale now he won.

“O Rafe, my love of long ago!
Draw forth thy father’s blade,
And blow the horn for friend and foe,
And the good green-wood to aid!”

He turned and took the slug-horn up,
And set it to his mouth,
And o’er that meadow of the cup
Blew east and west and south.

He drew the sword from out the sheath
And shook the fallow brand;
And there a while with bated breath,
And hearkening ear did stand.

Him-seemed the horn’s voice he might hear —
Or the wind that blew o’er all.
Him-seemed that footsteps drew anear —
Or the boughs shook round the hall.

Him-seemed he heard a voice he knew —
Or a dream of while agone.
Him-seemed bright raiment towards him drew —
Or bright the sun-set shone.

She stood before him face to face,
With the sun-beam thwart her hand,
As on the gold of the Holy Place
The painted angels stand.

With many a kiss she closed his eyes;
She kissed him cheek and chin:
E’en so in the painted Paradise
Are Earth’s folk welcomed in.

There in the door the green-coats stood,
O’er the bows went up the cry,
“O welcome, Rafe, to the free green-wood,
With us to live and die.”

It was bill and bow by the high-seat stood,
And they cried above the bows,
“Now welcome, Rafe, to the good green-wood,
And welcome Kate the Rose!”

White, white in the moon is the woodland plash,
White is the woodland glade,
Forth wend those twain, from oak to ash,
With light hearts unafraid.

The summer moon high o’er the hill,
All silver-white is she,
And Sir Rafe’s good men with bow and bill,
They go by two and three.

In the fair green-wood where lurks no fear,
Where the King’s writ runneth not,
There dwell they, friends and fellows dear,
While summer days are hot,

And when the leaf from the oak-tree falls,
And winds blow rough and strong,
With the carles of the woodland thorps and halls
They dwell, and fear no wrong.

And there the merry yule they make,
And see the winter wane,
And fain are they for true-love’s sake,
And the folk thereby are fain.

For the ploughing carle and the straying herd
Flee never for Sir Rafe:
No barefoot maiden wends afeard,
And she deems the thicket safe.

But sore adread do the chapmen ride;
Wide round the wood they go;
And the judge and the sergeants wander wide,
Lest they plead before the bow.

Well learned and wise is Sir Rafe’s good sword,
And straight the arrows fly,
And they find the coat of many a lord,
And the crest that rideth high.

The Haystack In The Floods

Had she come all the way for this,
To part at last without a kiss?
Yea, had she borne the dirt and rain
That her own eyes might see him slain
Beside the haystack in the floods?

Along the dripping leafless woods,
The stirrup touching either shoe,
She rode astride as troopers do;
With kirtle kilted to her knee,
To which the mud splash'd wretchedly;
And the wet dripp'd from every tree
Upon her head and heavy hair,
And on her eyelids broad and fair;
The tears and rain ran down her face.
By fits and starts they rode apace,
And very often was his place
Far off from her; he had to ride
Ahead, to see what might betide
When the roads cross'd; and sometimes, when
There rose a murmuring from his men
Had to turn back with promises;
Ah me! she had but little ease;
And often for pure doubt and dread
She sobb'd, made giddy in the head
By the swift riding; while, for cold,
Her slender fingers scarce could hold
The wet reins; yea, and scarcely, too,
She felt the foot within her shoe
Against the stirrup: all for this,
To part at last without a kiss
Beside the haystack in the floods.

For when they near'd that old soak'd hay,
They saw across the only way
That Judas, Godmar, and the three
Red running lions dismally
Grinn'd from his pennon, under which
In one straight line along the ditch,
They counted thirty heads.

So then
While Robert turn'd round to his men
She saw at once the wretched end,
And, stooping down, tried hard to rend
Her coif the wrong way from her head,
And hid her eyes; while Robert said:
"Nay, love, 'tis scarcely two to one,
At Poictiers where we made them run
So fast--why, sweet my love, good cheer,
The Gascon frontier is so near.
Naught after this."

But, "Oh!" she said,
"My God! my God! I have to tread
The long way back without you; then
The court at Paris; those six men;
The gratings of the Chatelet;
The swift Seine on some rainy day
Like this, and people standing by
And laughing, while my weak hands try
To recollect how strong men swim.
All this, or else a life with him,
For which I should be damned at last.
Would God that this next hour were past!"

He answer'd not, but cried his cry,
"St. George for Marny!" cheerily;
And laid his hand upon her rein.
Alas! no man of all his train
Gave back that cheery cry again;
And, while for rage his thumb beat fast
Upon his sword-hilts, some one cast
About his neck a kerchief long,
And bound him.

Then they went along
To Godmar; who said: "Now, Jehane,
Your lover's life is on the wane
So fast, that, if this very hour
You yield not as my paramour,
He will not see the rain leave off--
Nay, keep your tongue from gibe or scoff,
Sir Robert, or I slay you now."

She laid her hand upon her brow,
Then gazed upon the palm, as though
She thought her forehead bled, and--"No!"
She said, and turn'd her head away,
As there were nothing else to say,
And everything were settled: red
Grew Godmar's face from chin to head:
"Jehane, on yonder hill there stands
My castle, guarding well my lands:
What hinders me from taking you,
And doing that I list to do
To your fair wilful body, while
Your knight lies dead?"

A wicked smile
Wrinkled her face, her lips grew thin,
A long way out she thrust her chin:
"You know that I would strangle you
While you were sleeping; or bite through
Your throat, by God's help--ah!" she said,
"Lord Jesus, pity your poor maid!
For in such wise they hem me in,
I cannot choose but sin and sin,
Whatever happens: yet I think
They could not make me eat or drink,
And so should I just reach my rest."
"Nay, if you do not my behest,
O Jehane! though I love you well,"
Said Godmar, "would I fail to tell
All that I know?" "Foul lies," she said.
"Eh? lies, my Jehane? by God's head,
At Paris folks would deem them true!
Do you know, Jehane, they cry for you:
'Jehane the brown! Jehane the brown!
Give us Jehane to burn or drown!'--
Eh--gag me Robert!--sweet my friend,
This were indeed a piteous end
For those long fingers, and long feet,
And long neck, and smooth shoulders sweet;
An end that few men would forget
That saw it--So, an hour yet:
Consider, Jehane, which to take
Of life or death!"

So, scarce awake,
Dismounting, did she leave that place,
And totter some yards: with her face
Turn'd upward to the sky she lay,
Her head on a wet heap of hay,
And fell asleep: and while she slept,
And did not dream, the minutes crept
Round to the twelve again; but she,
Being waked at last, sigh'd quietly,
And strangely childlike came, and said:
"I will not." Straightway Godmar's head,
As though it hung on strong wires, turn'd
Most sharply round, and his face burn'd.

For Robert--both his eyes were dry,
He could not weep, but gloomily
He seem'd to watch the rain; yea, too,
His lips were firm; he tried once more
To touch her lips; she reach'd out, sore
And vain desire so tortured them,
The poor grey lips, and now the hem
Of his sleeve brush'd them.

With a start
Up Godmar rose, thrust them apart;
From Robert's throat he loosed the bands
Of silk and mail; with empty hands
Held out, she stood and gazed, and saw
The long bright blade without a flaw
Glide out from Godmar's sheath, his hand
In Robert's hair, she saw him bend
Back Robert's head; she saw him send
The thin steel down; the blow told well,
Right backward the knight Robert fell,
And moaned as dogs do, being half dead,
Unwitting, as I deem: so then
Godmar turn'd grinning to his men,
Who ran, some five or six, and beat
His head to pieces at their feet.

Then Godmar turn'd again and said:
"So, Jehane, the first fitte is read!
Take note, my lady, that your way
Lies backward to the Chatelet!"
She shook her head and gazed awhile
At her cold hands with a rueful smile,
As though this thing had made her mad.

This was the parting that they had
Beside the haystack in the floods.

The Haystack In The Woods

Had she come all the way for this,
To part at last without a kiss?
Yea, had she borne the dirt and rain
That her own eyes might see him slain
Beside the haystack in the floods?

Along the dripping leafless woods,
The stirrup touching either shoe,
She rode astride as troopers do;
With kirtle kilted to her knee,
To which the mud splash'd wretchedly;
And the wet dripp'd from every tree
Upon her head and heavy hair,
And on her eyelids broad and fair;
The tears and rain ran down her face.
By fits and starts they rode apace,
And very often was his place
Far off from her; he had to ride
Ahead, to see what might betide
When the roads cross'd; and sometimes, when
There rose a murmuring from his men
Had to turn back with promises;
Ah me! she had but little ease;
And often for pure doubt and dread
She sobb'd, made giddy in the head
By the swift riding; while, for cold,
Her slender fingers scarce could hold
The wet reins; yea, and scarcely, too,
She felt the foot within her shoe
Against the stirrup: all for this,
To part at last without a kiss
Beside the haystack in the floods.

For when they near'd that old soak'd hay,
They saw across the only way
That Judas, Godmar, and the three
Red running lions dismally
Grinn'd from his pennon, under which
In one straight line along the ditch,
They counted thirty heads.

So then
While Robert turn'd round to his men
She saw at once the wretched end,
And, stooping down, tried hard to rend
Her coif the wrong way from her head,
And hid her eyes; while Robert said:
"Nay, love, 'tis scarcely two to one,
At Poictiers where we made them run
So fast--why, sweet my love, good cheer,
The Gascon frontier is so near.
Naught after this."

But, "Oh!" she said,
"My God! my God! I have to tread
The long way back without you; then
The court at Paris; those six men;
The gratings of the Chatelet;
The swift Seine on some rainy day
Like this, and people standing by
And laughing, while my weak hands try
To recollect how strong men swim.
All this, or else a life with him,
For which I should be damned at last.
Would God that this next hour were past!"

He answer'd not, but cried his cry,
"St. George for Marny!" cheerily;
And laid his hand upon her rein.
Alas! no man of all his train
Gave back that cheery cry again;
And, while for rage his thumb beat fast
Upon his sword-hilts, some one cast
About his neck a kerchief long,
And bound him.

Then they went along
To Godmar; who said: "Now, Jehane,
Your lover's life is on the wane
So fast, that, if this very hour
You yield not as my paramour,
He will not see the rain leave off--
Nay, keep your tongue from gibe or scoff,
Sir Robert, or I slay you now."

She laid her hand upon her brow,
Then gazed upon the palm, as though
She thought her forehead bled, and--"No!"
She said, and turn'd her head away,
As there were nothing else to say,
And everything were settled: red
Grew Godmar's face from chin to head:
"Jehane, on yonder hill there stands
My castle, guarding well my lands:
What hinders me from taking you,
And doing that I list to do
To your fair wilful body, while
Your knight lies dead?"

A wicked smile
Wrinkled her face, her lips grew thin,
A long way out she thrust her chin:
"You know that I would strangle you
While you were sleeping; or bite through
Your throat, by God's help--ah!" she said,
"Lord Jesus, pity your poor maid!
For in such wise they hem me in,
I cannot choose but sin and sin,
Whatever happens: yet I think
They could not make me eat or drink,
And so should I just reach my rest."
"Nay, if you do not my behest,
O Jehane! though I love you well,"
Said Godmar, "would I fail to tell
All that I know?" "Foul lies," she said.
"Eh? lies, my Jehane? by God's head,
At Paris folks would deem them true!
Do you know, Jehane, they cry for you:
'Jehane the brown! Jehane the brown!
Give us Jehane to burn or drown!'--
Eh--gag me Robert!--sweet my friend,
This were indeed a piteous end
For those long fingers, and long feet,
And long neck, and smooth shoulders sweet;
An end that few men would forget
That saw it--So, an hour yet:
Consider, Jehane, which to take
Of life or death!"

So, scarce awake,
Dismounting, did she leave that place,
And totter some yards: with her face
Turn'd upward to the sky she lay,
Her head on a wet heap of hay,
And fell asleep: and while she slept,
And did not dream, the minutes crept
Round to the twelve again; but she,
Being waked at last, sigh'd quietly,
And strangely childlike came, and said:
"I will not." Straightway Godmar's head,
As though it hung on strong wires, turn'd
Most sharply round, and his face burn'd.

For Robert--both his eyes were dry,
He could not weep, but gloomily
He seem'd to watch the rain; yea, too,
His lips were firm; he tried once more
To touch her lips; she reach'd out, sore
And vain desire so tortured them,
The poor grey lips, and now the hem
Of his sleeve brush'd them.

With a start
Up Godmar rose, thrust them apart;
From Robert's throat he loosed the bands
Of silk and mail; with empty hands
Held out, she stood and gazed, and saw
The long bright blade without a flaw
Glide out from Godmar's sheath, his hand
In Robert's hair, she saw him bend
Back Robert's head; she saw him send
The thin steel down; the blow told well,
Right backward the knight Robert fell,
And moaned as dogs do, being half dead,
Unwitting, as I deem: so then
Godmar turn'd grinning to his men,
Who ran, some five or six, and beat
His head to pieces at their feet.

Then Godmar turn'd again and said:
"So, Jehane, the first fitte is read!
Take note, my lady, that your way
Lies backward to the Chatelet!"
She shook her head and gazed awhile
At her cold hands with a rueful smile,
As though this thing had made her mad.

This was the parting that they had
Beside the haystack in the floods.

The King Of Denmark's Sons

In Denmark gone is many a year,
So fair upriseth the rim of the sun,
Two sons of Gorm the King there were,
So grey is the sea when day is done.

Both these were gotten in lawful bed
Of Thyrre Denmark’s Surety-head.

Fair was Knut of face and limb
As the breast of the Queen that suckled him.

But Harald was hot of hand and heart
As lips of lovers ere they part.

Knut sat at home in all men’s love,
But over the seas must Harald rove.

And for every deed by Harald won,
Gorm laid more love on Knut alone.

On a high-tide spake the King in hall,
“Old I grow as the leaves that fall.

“Knut shall reign when I am dead,
So shall the land have peace and aid.

“But many a ship shall Harald have,
For I deem the sea well wrought for his grave.”

Then none spake save the King again,
“If Knut die all my days be vain.

“And whoso the tale of his death shall tell,
Hath spoken a word to gain him hell.

“Lo here a doom I will not break,”
So fair upriseth the rim of the sun.
“For life or death or any man’s sake,”
So grey is the sea when the day is done.

O merry days in the summer-tide!
So fair upriseth the rim of the sun.

When the ships sail fair and the young men ride.
So grey is the sea when day is done.

Now Harald has got him east away,
And each morrow of fight was a gainful day.

But Knut is to his fosterer gone
To deal in deeds of peace alone.

So wear the days, and well it is
Such lovely lords should dwell in bliss.

O merry in the winter-tide
When men to Yule-feast wend them wide.

And here lieth Knut in the Lima-firth
When the lift is low o’er the Danish earth.

“Tell me now, Shipmaster mine,
What are yon torches there that shine?”

“Lord, no torches may these be
But golden prows across the sea.

“For over there the sun shines now
And the gold worms gape from every prow.”

The sun and the wind came down o’er the sea,
“Tell them over how many they be!”

“Ten I tell with shield-hung sides.
Nought but a fool his death abides.”

“Ten thou tellest, and we be three,
Good need that we do manfully.

“Good fellows, grip the shield and spear,
For Harald my brother draweth near.

“Well breakfast we when night is done,
And Valhall’s cock crows up the sun.”

Up spoke Harald in wrathful case:
“I would have word with this waxen face!

“What wilt thou pay, thou hucksterer,
That I let thee live another year?

“For oath that thou wilt never reign
Will I let thee live a year or twain.”

“Kisses and love shalt thou have of me
If yet my liegeman thou wilt be.

“But stroke of sword, and dint of axe,
Or ere thou makest my face as wax.”

As thick the arrows fell around
As fall sere leaves on autumn ground.

In many a cheek the red did wane
No maid might ever kiss again.

“Lay me aboard,” Lord Harald said,
“The winter day will soon be dead!

“Lay me aboard the bastard’s ship,
And see to it lest your grapnels slip!”

Then some they knelt and some they drowned,
And some lay dead Lord Knut around.

“Look here at the wax-white corpse of him,
As fair as the Queen in face and limb!

“Make now for the shore, for the moon is bright,
And I would be home ere the end of night.

“Two sons last night had Thyrre the Queen,
So fair upriseth the rim of the sun.
And both she may lack ere the woods wax green,”
So grey is the sea when day is done.

A little before the morning tide,
So fair upriseth the rim of the sun,
Queen Thyrre looked out of her window-side,
So grey is the sea when day is done.

“O men-at-arms, what men be ye?”
“Harald thy son come over the sea.”

“Why is thy face so pale, my son?”
“It may be red or day is done.”

“O evil words of an evil hour!
Come, sweet son, to thy mother’s bower!”

None from the Queen’s bower went that day
Till dark night over the meadows lay.

None thenceforth heard wail or cry
Till the King’s feast was waxen high.

Then into the hall Lord Harald came
When the great wax lights were all aflame.

“What tidings, son, dost thou bear to me?
Speak out before I drink with thee.”

“Tidings small for a seafarer.
Two falcons in the sea-cliff’s were;

“And one was white and one was grey
And they fell to battle on a day;

“They fought in the sun, they fought in the wind,
No boot the white fowl’s wounds to bind.

“They fought in the wind, they fought in the sun,
And the white fowl died when the play was done.”

“Small tidings these to bear o’er the sea!
Good hap that nothing worser they be!

“Small tidings for a travelled man!
Drink with me, son, whiles yet ye can!

“Drink with me ere thy day and mine,
So fair upriseth the rim of the sun,
Be nought but a tale told over the wine.”
So grey is the sea when day is done.

Now fareth the King with his men to sleep,
So fair upriseth the rim of the sun,
And dim the maids from the Queen’s bower creep,
So grey is the sea when day is done.

And in the hall is little light,
And there standeth the Queen with cheeks full white.

And soft the feet of women fall
From end to end of the King’s great hall.

These bear the gold-wrought cloths away,
And in other wise the hall array;

Till all is black that hath been gold
So heavy a tale there must be told.

The morrow men looked on King Gorm and said
“Hath he dreamed a dream or beheld the dead?

“Why is he sad who should be gay?
Why are the old man’s lips so grey?”

Slow paced the King adown the hall,
Nor looked aside to either wall,

Till in high-seat there he sat him down,
And deadly old men deemed him grown.

“O Queen, what thrall’s hands durst do this,
To strip my hall of mirth and bliss?”

“No thrall’s hands in the hangings were,
No thrall’s hands made the tenters bare.

“King’s daughters’ hands have done the deed,
The hands of Denmark’s Surety-head.”

“Nought betters the deed thy word unsaid.
Tell me that Knut my son is dead!”

She said: “The doom on thee, O King!
For thine own lips have said the thing.”

Men looked to see the King arise,
The death of men within his eyes.

Men looked to see his bitter sword
That once cleared ships from board to board.

But in the hall no sword gleamed wide,
His hand fell down along his side.

No red there came into his cheek,
He fell aback as one made weak.

His wan cheek brushed the high-seat’s side,
And in the noon of day he died.

So lieth King Gorm beneath the grass,
But from mouth to mouth this tale did pass.

And Harald reigned and went his way,
So fair upriseth the rim of the sun.
And still is the story told to-day,
So grey is the sea when day is done.

Now sleeps the land of houses,
and dead night holds the street,
And there thou liest, my baby,
and sleepest soft and sweet;
My man is away for awhile,
but safe and alone we lie,
And none heareth thy breath but thy mother,
and the moon looking down from the sky
On the weary waste of the town,
as it looked on the grass-edged road
Still warm with yesterday’s sun,
when I left my old abode;
Hand in hand with my love,
that night of all nights in the year;
When the river of love o’erflowed
and drowned all doubt and fear,
And we two were alone in the world,
and once if never again,
We knew of the secret of earth
and the tale of its labour and pain.

Lo amidst London I lift thee,
and how little and light thou art,
And thou without hope or fear
thou fear and hope of my heart!
Lo here thy body beginning,
O son, and thy soul and thy life;
But how will it be if thou livest,
and enterest into the strife,
And in love we dwell together
when the man is grown in thee,
When thy sweet speech I shall hearken,
and yet ’twixt thee and me
Shall rise that wall of distance,
that round each one doth grow,
And maketh it hard and bitter
each other’s thought to know.

Now, therefore, while yet thou art little
and hast no thought of thine own,
I will tell thee a word of the world;
of the hope whence thou hast grown;
Of the love that once begat thee,
of the sorrow that hath made
Thy little heart of hunger,
and thy hands on my bosom laid.
Then mayst thou remember hereafter,
as whiles when people say
All this hath happened before
in the life of another day;
So mayst thou dimly remember
this tale of thy mother’s voice,
As oft in the calm of dawning
I have heard the birds rejoice,
As oft I have heard the storm-wind
go moaning through the wood;
And I knew that earth was speaking,
and the mother’s voice was good.

Now, to thee alone will I tell it
that thy mother’s body is fair,
In the guise of the country maidens
Who play with the sun and the air;
Who have stood in the row of the reapers
in the August afternoon,
Who have sat by the frozen water
in the high day of the moon,
When the lights of the Christmas feasting
were dead in the house on the hill,
And the wild geese gone to the salt-marsh
had left the winter still.
Yea, I am fair, my firstling;
if thou couldst but remember me!
The hair that thy small hand clutcheth
is a goodly sight to see;
I am true, but my face is a snare;
soft and deep are my eyes,
And they seem for men’s beguiling
fulfilled with the dreams of the wise.
Kind are my lips, and they look
as though my soul had learned
Deep things I have never heard of,
my face and my hands are burned
By the lovely sun of the acres;
three months of London town
And thy birth-bed have bleached them indeed,
“But lo, where the edge of the gown”
(So said thy father) “is parting
the wrist that is white as the curd
From the brown of the hand that I love,
bright as the wing of a bird.”

Such is thy mother, O firstling,
yet strong as the maidens of old,
Whose spears and whose swords were the warders
of homestead, of field and of fold.
Oft were my feet on the highway,
often they wearied the grass;
From dusk unto dusk of the summer
three times in a week would I pass
To the downs from the house on the river
through the waves of the blossoming corn.
Fair then I lay down in the even,
and fresh I arose on the morn,
And scarce in the noon was I weary.
Ah, son, in the days of thy strife,
If thy soul could but harbour a dream
of the blossom of my life!
It would be as the sunlit meadows
beheld from a tossing sea,
And thy soul should look on a vision
of the peace that is to be.

Yet, yet the tears on my cheek!
and what is this doth move
My heart to thy heart, beloved,
save the flood of yearning love?
For fair and fierce is thy father,
and soft and strange are his eyes
That look on the days that shall be
with the hope of the brave and the wise.
It was many a day that we laughed,
as over the meadows we walked,
And many a day I hearkened
and the pictures came as he talked;
It was many a day that we longed,
and we lingered late at eve
Ere speech from speech was sundered,
and my hand his hand could leave.
Then I wept when I was alone,
and I longed till the daylight came;
And down the stairs I stole,
and there was our housekeeping dame
(No mother of me, the foundling)
kindling the fire betimes
Ere the haymaking folk went forth
to the meadows down by the limes;
All things I saw at a glance;
the quickening fire-tongues leapt
Through the crackling heap of sticks,
and the sweet smoke up from it crept,
And close to the very hearth
the low sun flooded the floor,
And the cat and her kittens played
in the sun by the open door.
The garden was fair in the morning,
and there in the road he stood
Beyond the crimson daisies
and the bush of southernwood.
Then side by side together
through the grey-walled place we went,
And O the fear departed,
and the rest and sweet content!

Son, sorrow and wisdom he taught me,
and sore I grieved and learned
As we twain grew into one;
and the heart within me burned
With the very hopes of his heart.
Ah, son, it is piteous,
But never again in my life
shall I dare to speak to thee thus;
So may these lonely words
about thee creep and cling,
These words of the lonely night
in the days of our wayfaring.
Many a child of woman
to-night is born in the town,
The desert of folly and wrong;
and of what and whence are they grown?
Many and many an one
of wont and use is born;
For a husband is taken to bed
as a hat or a ribbon is worn.
Prudence begets her thousands;
“good is a housekeeper’s life,
So shall I sell my body
that I may be matron and wife.”
“And I shall endure foul wedlock
and bear the children of need.”
Some are there born of hate,
many the children of greed.
“I, I too can be wedded,
though thou my love hast got.”
“I am fair and hard of heart,
and riches shall be my lot.”
And all these are the good and the happy,
on whom the world dawns fair.
O son, when wilt thou learn
of those that are born of despair,
As the fabled mud of the Nile
that quickens under the sun
With a growth of creeping things,
half dead when just begun?
E’en such is the care of Nature
that man should never die,
Though she breed of the fools of the earth,
and the dregs of the city sty.
But thou, O son, O son,
of very love wert born,
When our hope fulfilled bred hope,
and fear was a folly outworn.
On the eve of the toil and the battle
all sorrow and grief we weighed,
We hoped and we were not ashamed,
we knew and we were not afraid.

Now waneth the night and the moon;
ah, son, it is piteous
That never again in my life
shall I dare to speak to thee thus.
But sure from the wise and the simple
shall the mighty come to birth;
And fair were my fate, beloved,
if I be yet on the earth
When the world is awaken at last,
and from mouth to mouth they tell
Of thy love and thy deeds and thy valour,
and thy hope that nought can quell.

The Folk-Mote By The River

It was up in the morn we rose betimes
From the hall-floor hard by the row of limes.

It was but John the Red and I,
And we were the brethren of Gregory;

And Gregory the Wright was one
Of the valiant men beneath the sun,

And what he bade us that we did
For ne’er he kept his counsel hid.

So out we went, and the clattering latch
Woke up the swallows under the thatch.

It was dark in the porch, but our scythes we felt,
And thrust the whetstone under the belt.

Through the cold garden boughs we went
Where the tumbling roses shed their scent.

Then out a-gates and away we strode
O’er the dewy straws on the dusty road,

And there was the mead by the town-reeve’s close
Where the hedge was sweet with the wilding rose.

Then into the mowing grass we went
Ere the very last of the night was spent.

Young was the moon, and he was gone,
So we whet our scythes by the stars alone:

But or ever the long blades felt the hay
Afar in the East the dawn was grey.

Or ever we struck our earliest stroke
The thrush in the hawthorn-bush awoke.

While yet the bloom of the swathe was dim
The black-bird’s bill had answered him.

Ere half of the road to the river was shorn
The sunbeam smote the twisted thorn.

Now wide was the way ’twixt the standing grass
For the townsfolk unto the mote to pass,

And so when all our work was done
We sat to breakfast in the sun,

While down in the stream the dragon-fly
’Twixt the quivering rushes flickered by;

And though our knives shone sharp and white
The swift bleak heeded not the sight.

So when the bread was done away
We looked along the new-shorn hay,

And heard the voice of the gathering-horn
Come over the garden and the corn;

For the wind was in the blossoming wheat
And drave the bees in the lime-boughs sweet.

Then loud was the horn’s voice drawing near,
And it hid the talk of the prattling weir.

And now was the horn on the pathway wide
That we had shorn to the river-side.

So up we stood, and wide around
We sheared a space by the Elders’ Mound;

And at the feet thereof it was
That highest grew the June-tide grass;

And over all the mound it grew
With clover blent, and dark of hue.

But never aught of the Elders’ Hay
To rick or barn was borne away.

But it was bound and burned to ash
In the barren close by the reedy plash.

For ’neath that mound the valiant dead
Lay hearkening words of valiance said

When wise men stood on the Elders’ Mound,
And the swords were shining bright around.

And now we saw the banners borne
On the first of the way that we had shorn;
So we laid the scythe upon the sward
And girt us to the battle-sword.

For after the banners well we knew
Were the Freemen wending two and two.

There then that high-way of the scythe
With many a hue was brave and blythe.

And first below the Silver Chief
Upon the green was the golden sheaf.

And on the next that went by it
The White Hart in the Park did sit.

Then on the red the White Wings flew,
And on the White was the Cloud-fleck blue.

Last went the Anchor of the Wrights
Beside the Ship of the Faring-Knights.

Then thronged the folk the June-tide field
With naked sword and painted shield,

Till they came adown to the river-side,
And there by the mound did they abide.

Now when the swords stood thick and white
As the mace reeds stand in the streamless bight,

There rose a man on the mound alone
And over his head was the grey mail done.

When over the new-shorn place of the field
Was nought but the steel hood and the shield.

The face on the mound shone ruddy and hale,
But the hoar hair showed from the hoary mail.

And there rose a hand by the ruddy face
And shook a sword o’er the peopled place.

And there came a voice from the mound and said:
“O sons, the days of my youth are dead,

And gone are the faces I have known
In the street and the booths of the goodly town.

O sons, full many a flock have I seen
Feed down this water-girdled green.

Full many a herd of long-horned neat
Have I seen ’twixt water-side and wheat.

Here by this water-side full oft
Have I heaved the flowery hay aloft.

And oft this water-side anigh
Have I bowed adown the wheat-stalks high.

And yet meseems I live and learn
And lore of younglings yet must earn.

For tell me, children, whose are these
Fair meadows of the June’s increase.

Whose are these flocks and whose the neat,
And whose the acres of the wheat?”

Scarce did we hear his latest word,
On the wide shield so rang the sword.

So rang the sword upon the shield
That the lark was hushed above the field.

Then sank the shouts and again we heard
The old voice come from the hoary beard:

“Yea, whose are yonder gables then,
And whose the holy hearths of men?
Whose are the prattling children there,
And whose the sunburnt maids and fair?

Whose thralls are ye, hereby that stand,
Bearing the freeman’s sword in hand?”

As glitters the sun in the rain-washed grass,
So in the tossing swords it was;

As the thunder rattles along and adown
E’en so was the voice of the weaponed town.

And there was the steel of the old man’s sword,
And there was his hollow voice, and his word:

“Many men many minds, the old saw saith,
Though hereof ye be sure as death.

For what spake the herald yestermorn
But this, that ye were thrall-folk born;

That the lord that owneth all and some
Would send his men to fetch us home

Betwixt the haysel, and the tide
When they shear the corn in the country-side?

O children, Who was the lord? ye say,
What prayer to him did our fathers pray.

Did they hold out hands his gyves to bear?
Did their knees his high hall’s pavement wear?

Is his house built up in heaven aloft?
Doth he make the sun rise oft and oft?

Doth he hold the rain in his hollow hand?
Hath he cleft this water through the land?

Or doth he stay the summer-tide,
And make the winter days abide?

O children, Who is the lord? ye say,
Have we heard his name before to-day?

O children, if his name I know,
He hight Earl Hugh of the Shivering Low:

For that herald bore on back and breast
The Black Burg under the Eagle’s Nest.”

As the voice of the winter wind that tears
At the eaves of the thatch and its emptied ears,

E’en so was the voice of laughter and scorn
By the water-side in the mead new-shorn;

And over the garden and the wheat
Went the voice of women shrilly-sweet.

But now by the hoary elder stood
A carle in raiment red as blood.

Red was his weed and his glaive was white,
And there stood Gregory the Wright.

So he spake in a voice was loud and strong:
“Young is the day though the road is long;

There is time if we tarry nought at all
For the kiss in the porch and the meat in the hall.

And safe shall our maidens sit at home
For the foe by the way we wend must come.

Through the three Lavers shall we go
And raise them all against the foe.

Then shall we wend the Downland ways,
And all the shepherd spearmen raise.

To Cheaping Raynes shall we come adown
And gather the bowmen of the town;

And Greenstead next we come unto
Wherein are all folk good and true.

When we come our ways to the Outer Wood
We shall be an host both great and good;

Yea when we come to the open field
There shall be a many under shield.

And maybe Earl Hugh shall lie alow
And yet to the house of Heaven shall go.

But we shall dwell in the land we love
And grudge no hallow Heaven above.

Come ye, who think the time o’er long
Till we have slain the word of wrong!

Come ye who deem the life of fear
On this last day hath drawn o’er near!

Come after me upon the road
That leadeth to the Erne’s abode.”

Down then he leapt from off the mound
And back drew they that were around

Till he was foremost of all those
Betwixt the river and the close.

And uprose shouts both glad and strong
As followed after all the throng;

And overhead the banners flapped,
As we went on our ways to all that happed.

The fields before the Shivering Low
Of many a grief of manfolk know;

There may the autumn acres tell
Of how men met, and what befell.

The Black Burg under the Eagle’s nest
Shall tell the tale as it liketh best.

And sooth it is that the River-land
Lacks many an autumn-gathering hand.

And there are troth-plight maids unwed
Shall deem awhile that love is dead;

And babes there are to men shall grow
Nor ever the face of their fathers know.

And yet in the Land by the River-side
Doth never a thrall or an earl’s man bide;

For Hugh the Earl of might and mirth
Hath left the merry days of Earth;

And we live on in the land we love,
And grudge no hallow Heaven above.

The God Of The Poor

There was a lord that hight Maltete,
Among great lords he was right great,
On poor folk trod he like the dirt,
None but God might do him hurt.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

With a grace of prayers sung loud and late
Many a widow’s house he ate;
Many a poor knight at his hands
Lost his house and narrow lands.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

He burnt the harvests many a time,
He made fair houses heaps of lime;
Whatso man loved wife or maid
Of Evil-head was sore afraid.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

He slew good men and spared the bad;
Too long a day the foul dog had,
E’en as all dogs will have their day;
But God is as strong as man, I say.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

For a valiant knight, men called Boncoeur,
Had hope he should not long endure,
And gathered to him much good folk,
Hardy hearts to break the yoke.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

But Boncoeur deemed it would be vain
To strive his guarded house to gain;
Therefore, within a little while,
He set himself to work by guile.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

He knew that Maltete loved right well
Red gold and heavy. If from hell
The Devil had cried, “Take this gold cup,”
Down had he gone to fetch it up.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

Twenty poor men’s lives were nought
To him, beside a ring well wrought.
The pommel of his hunting-knife
Was worth ten times a poor man’s life.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

A squire new-come from over-sea
Boncoeur called to him privily,
And when he knew his lord’s intent,
Clad like a churl therefrom he went.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

But when he came where dwelt Maltete,
With few words did he pass the gate,
For Maltete built him walls anew,
And, wageless, folk from field he drew.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

Now passed the squire through this and that,
Till he came to where Sir Maltete sat,
And over red wine wagged his beard:
Then spoke the squire as one afeard.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“Lord, give me grace, for privily
I have a little word for thee.”
“Speak out,” said Maltete, “have no fear,
For how can thy life to thee be dear?”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“Such an one I know,” he said,
“Who hideth store of money red.”
Maltete grinned at him cruelly:
“Thou florin-maker, come anigh.”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“E’en such as thou once preached of gold,
And showed me lies in books full old,
Nought gat I but evil brass,
Therefore came he to the worser pass.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“Hast thou will to see his skin?
I keep my heaviest marks therein,
For since nought else of wealth had he,
I deemed full well he owed it me.”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“Nought know I of philosophy,”
The other said, “nor do I lie.
Before the moon begins to shine,
May all this heap of gold be thine.”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“Ten leagues from this a man there is,
Who seemeth to know but little bliss,
And yet full many a pound of gold
A dry well nigh his house doth hold.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“John-a-Wood is he called, fair lord,
Nor know I whence he hath this hoard.”
Then Maltete said, “As God made me,
A wizard over-bold is he!”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“It were a good deed, as I am a knight,
To burn him in a fire bright;
This John-a-Wood shall surely die,
And his gold in my strong chest shall lie.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“This very night, I make mine avow,
The truth of this mine eyes shall know.”
Then spoke an old knight in the hall,
“Who knoweth what things may befall?”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“I rede thee go with a great rout,
For thy foes they ride thick about.”
“Thou and the devil may keep my foes,
Thou redest me this gold to lose.
Deus est Deus pauperum.”

“I shall go with but some four or five,
So shall I take my thief alive.
For if a great rout he shall see,
Will he not hide his wealth from me?”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

The old knight muttered under his breath,
“Then mayhap ye shall but ride to death.”
But Maltete turned him quickly round,
“Bind me this gray-beard under ground!
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“Because ye are old, ye think to jape.
Take heed, ye shall not long escape.
When I come back safe, old carle, perdie,
Thine head shall brush the linden-tree.”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

Therewith he rode with his five men,
And Boncoeur’s spy, for good leagues ten,
Until they left the beaten way,
And dusk it grew at end of day.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

There, in a clearing of the wood,
Was John’s house, neither fair nor good.
In a ragged plot his house anigh,
Thin coleworts grew but wretchedly.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

John-a-Wood in his doorway sat,
Turning over this and that,
And chiefly how he best might thrive,
For he had will enough to live.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

Green coleworts from a wooden bowl
He ate; but careful was his soul,
For if he saw another day,
Thenceforth was he in Boncoeur’s pay.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

So when he saw how Maltete came,
He said, “Beginneth now the game!”
And in the doorway did he stand
Trembling, with hand joined fast to hand.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

When Maltete did this carle behold
Somewhat he doubted of his gold,
But cried out, “Where is now thy store
Thou hast through books of wicked lore?”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

Then said the poor man, right humbly,
“Fair lord, this was not made by me,
I found it in mine own dry well,
And had a mind thy grace to tell.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“Therefrom, my lord, a cup I took
This day, that thou thereon mightst look,
And know me to be leal and true,”
And from his coat the cup he drew.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

Then Maltete took it in his hand,
Nor knew he ought that it used to stand
On Boncoeur’s cupboard many a day.
“Go on,” he said, “and show the way.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“Give me thy gold, and thou shalt live,
Yea, in my house thou well mayst thrive.”
John turned about and ’gan to go
Unto the wood with footsteps slow.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

But as they passed by John’s woodstack,
Growled Maltete, “Nothing now doth lack
Wherewith to light a merry fire,
And give my wizard all his hire.”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

The western sky was red as blood,
Darker grew the oaken-wood;
“Thief and carle, where are ye gone?
Why are we in the wood alone?
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“What is the sound of this mighty horn?
Ah, God! that ever I was born!
The basnets flash from tree to tree;
Show me, thou Christ, the way to flee!”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

Boncoeur it was with fifty men;
Maltete was but one to ten,
And his own folk prayed for grace,
With empty hands in that lone place.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“Grace shall ye have,” Boncoeur said,
“All of you but Evil-head.”
Lowly could that great lord be,
Who could pray so well as he?
Deus est Deus pauperum.

Then could Maltete howl and cry,
Little will he had to die.
Soft was his speech, now it was late,
But who had will to save Maltete?
Deus est Deus pauperum.

They brought him to the house again,
And toward the road he looked in vain.
Lonely and bare was the great highway,
Under the gathering moonlight grey.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

They took off his gilt basnet,
That he should die there was no let;
They took off his coat of steel,
A damned man he well might feel.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“Will ye all be rich as kings,
Lacking naught of all good things?”
“Nothing do we lack this eve;
When thou art dead, how can we grieve?”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

“Let me drink water ere I die,
None henceforth comes my lips anigh.”
They brought it him in that bowl of wood.
He said, “This is but poor men’s blood!”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

They brought it him in the cup of gold.
He said, “The women I have sold
Have wept it full of salt for me;
I shall die gaping thirstily.”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

On the threshold of that poor homestead
They smote off his evil head;
They set it high on a great spear,
And rode away with merry cheer.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

At the dawn, in lordly state,
They rode to Maltete’s castle-gate.
“Whoso willeth laud to win,
Make haste to let your masters in!”
Deus est Deus pauperum.

Forthwith opened they the gate,
No man was sorry for Maltete.
Boncoeur conquered all his lands,
A good knight was he of his hands.
Dens est Deus pauperum.

Good men he loved, and hated bad;
Joyful days and sweet he had;
Good deeds did he plenteously;
Beneath him folk lived frank and free.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

He lived long, with merry days;
None said aught of him but praise.
God on him have full mercy;
A good knight merciful was he.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

The great lord, called Maltete, is dead;
Grass grows above his feet and head,
And a holly-bush grows up between
His rib-bones gotten white and clean.
Deus est Deus pauperum.

A carle’s sheep-dog certainly
Is a mightier thing than he.
Till London-bridge shall cross the Nen,
Take we heed of such-like men.
Dens est Deus pauperum.

Sir Galahad, A Christmas Mystery

It is the longest night in all the year,
Near on the day when the Lord Christ was born;
Six hours ago I came and sat down here,
And ponder'd sadly, wearied and forlorn.

The winter wind that pass'd the chapel door,
Sang out a moody tune, that went right well
With mine own thoughts: I look'd down on the floor,
Between my feet, until I heard a bell

Sound a long way off through the forest deep,
And toll on steadily; a drowsiness
Came on me, so that I fell half asleep,
As I sat there not moving: less and less

I saw the melted snow that hung in beads
Upon my steel-shoes; less and less I saw
Between the tiles the bunches of small weeds:
Heartless and stupid, with no touch of awe

Upon me, half-shut eyes upon the ground,
I thought: O Galahad! the days go by,
Stop and cast up now that which you have found,
So sorely you have wrought and painfully.

Night after night your horse treads down alone
The sere damp fern, night after night you sit
Holding the bridle like a man of stone,
Dismal, unfriended: what thing comes of it?

And what if Palomydes also ride,
And over many a mountain and bare heath
Follow the questing beast with none beside?
Is he not able still to hold his breath

With thoughts of Iseult? doth he not grow pale
With weary striving, to seem best of all
To her, "as she is best," he saith? to fail
Is nothing to him, he can never fall.

For unto such a man love-sorrow is
So dear a thing unto his constant heart,
That even if he never win one kiss,
Or touch from Iseult, it will never part.

And he will never know her to be worse
Than in his happiest dreams he thinks she is:
Good knight, and faithful, you have 'scaped the curse
In wonderful-wise; you have great store of bliss.

Yea, what if Father Launcelot ride out,
Can he not think of Guenevere's arms, round
Warm and lithe, about his neck, and shout
Till all the place grows joyful with the sound?

And when he lists can often see her face,
And think, "Next month I kiss you, or next week,
And still you think of me": therefore the place
Grows very pleasant, whatsoever he seek.

But me, who ride alone, some carle shall find
Dead in my arms in the half-melted snow,
When all unkindly with the shifting wind,
The thaw comes on at Candlemas: I know

Indeed that they will say: "This Galahad
If he had lived had been a right good knight;
Ah! poor chaste body!" but they will be glad,
Not most alone, but all, when in their sight

That very evening in their scarlet sleeves
The gay-dress'd minstrels sing; no maid will talk
Of sitting on my tomb, until the leaves,
Grown big upon the bushes of the walk,

East of the Palace-pleasaunce, make it hard
To see the minster therefrom: well-a-day!
Before the trees by autumn were well bared,
I saw a damozel with gentle play,

Within that very walk say last farewell
To her dear knight, just riding out to find
(Why should I choke to say it?) the Sangreal,
And their last kisses sunk into my mind,

Yea, for she stood lean'd forward on his breast,
Rather, scarce stood; the back of one dear hand,
That it might well be kiss'd, she held and press'd
Against his lips; long time they stood there, fann'd

By gentle gusts of quiet frosty wind,
Till Mador de la porte a-going by,
And my own horsehoofs roused them; they untwined,
And parted like a dream. In this way I,

With sleepy face bent to the chapel floor,
Kept musing half asleep, till suddenly
A sharp bell rang from close beside the door,
And I leapt up when something pass'd me by,

Shrill ringing going with it, still half blind
I stagger'd after, a great sense of awe
At every step kept gathering on my mind,
Thereat I have no marvel, for I saw

One sitting on the altar as a throne,
Whose face no man could say he did not know,
And though the bell still rang, he sat alone,
With raiment half blood-red, half white as snow.

Right so I fell upon the floor and knelt,
Not as one kneels in church when mass is said,
But in a heap, quite nerveless, for I felt
The first time what a thing was perfect dread.

But mightily the gentle voice came down:
"Rise up, and look and listen, Galahad,
Good knight of God, for you will see no frown
Upon my face; I come to make you glad.

"For that you say that you are all alone,
I will be with you always, and fear not
You are uncared for, though no maiden moan
Above your empty tomb; for Launcelot,

"He in good time shall be my servant too,
Meantime, take note whose sword first made him knight,
And who has loved him alway, yea, and who
Still trusts him alway, though in all men's sight,

"He is just what you know, O Galahad,
This love is happy even as you say,
But would you for a little time be glad,
To make ME sorry long, day after day?

"Her warm arms round his neck half throttle ME,
The hot love-tears burn deep like spots of lead,
Yea, and the years pass quick: right dismally
Will Launcelot at one time hang his head;

"Yea, old and shrivell'd he shall win my love.
Poor Palomydes fretting out his soul!
Not always is he able, son, to move
His love, and do it honour: needs must roll

"The proudest destrier sometimes in the dust,
And then 'tis weary work; he strives beside
Seem better than he is, so that his trust
Is always on what chances may betide;

"And so he wears away, my servant, too,
When all these things are gone, and wretchedly
He sits and longs to moan for Iseult, who
Is no care now to Palomydes: see,

"O good son, Galahad, upon this day,
Now even, all these things are on your side,
But these you fight not for; look up, I say,
And see how I can love you, for no pride

"Closes your eyes, no vain lust keeps them down.
See now you have ME always; following
That holy vision, Galahad, go on,
Until at last you come to ME to sing

"In Heaven always, and to walk around
The garden where I am." He ceased, my face
And wretched body fell upon the ground;
And when I look'd again, the holy place

Was empty; but right so the bell again
Came to the chapel-door, there entered
Two angels first, in white, without a stain,
And scarlet wings, then, after them, a bed

Four ladies bore, and set it down beneath
The very altar-step, and while for fear
I scarcely dared to move or draw my breath,
Those holy ladies gently came a-near,

And quite unarm'd me, saying: "Galahad,
Rest here awhile and sleep, and take no thought
Of any other thing than being glad;
Hither the Sangreal will be shortly brought,

"Yet must you sleep the while it stayeth here."
Right so they went away, and I, being weary,
Slept long and dream'd of Heaven: the bell comes near,
I doubt it grows to morning. Miserere!


[Enter Two Angels in white, with scarlet wings; also, Four Ladies in gowns of red and green; also an Angel, bearing in his hands a surcoat of white, with a red cross.]


AN ANGEL

O servant of the high God, Galahad!
Rise and be arm'd: the Sangreal is gone forth
Through the great forest, and you must be had
Unto the sea that lieth on the north:

There shall you find the wondrous ship wherein
The spindles of King Solomon are laid,
And the sword that no man draweth without sin,
But if he be most pure: and there is stay'd,

Hard by, Sir Launcelot, whom you will meet
In some short space upon that ship: first, though,
Will come here presently that lady sweet,
Sister of Percival, whom you well know,

And with her Bors and Percival: stand now,
These ladies will to arm you.


[FIRST LADY, putting on the hauberk]

Galahad,
That I may stand so close beneath your brow,
Margaret of Antioch, am glad.


[SECOND LADY, girding him with the sword.]

That I may stand and touch you with my hand,
O Galahad, I, Cecily, am glad.


[THIRD LADY, buckling on the spurs.]

That I may kneel while up above you stand,
And gaze at me, O holy Galahad,
I, Lucy, am most glad.


[FOURTH LADY, putting on the basnet.]

O gentle knight,
That you bow down to us in reverence,
We are most glad, I, Katherine, with delight
Must needs fall trembling.


[ANGEL, putting on the crossed surcoat.]

Galahad, we go hence,

For here, amid the straying of the snow,
Come Percival's sister, Bors, and Percival.

[The Four Ladies carry out the bed, and all go but Galahad.]


GALAHAD.

How still and quiet everything seems now:
They come, too, for I hear the horsehoofs fall.

[Enter Sir Bors, Sir Percival and his Sister.]


Fair friends and gentle lady, God you save!
A many marvels have been here to-night;
Tell me what news of Launcelot you have,
And has God's body ever been in sight?

SIR BORS.

Why, as for seeing that same holy thing,
As we were riding slowly side by side,
An hour ago, we heard a sweet voice sing,
And through the bare twigs saw a great light glide,

With many-colour'd raiment, but far off;
And so pass'd quickly: from the court nought good;
Poor merry Dinadan, that with jape and scoff
Kept us all merry, in a little wood

Was found all hack'd and dead: Sir Lionel
And Gauwaine have come back from the great quest,
Just merely shamed; and Lauvaine, who loved well
Your father Launcelot, at the king's behest

Went out to seek him, but was almost slain,
Perhaps is dead now; everywhere
The knights come foil'd from the great quest, in vain;
In vain they struggle for the vision fair.

Of The Wooing Of Halbiorn The Strong

A STORY FROM THE LAND-SETTLING BOOK OF ICELAND, CHAPTER XXX.


At Deildar-Tongue in the autumn-tide,
So many times over comes summer again,
Stood Odd of Tongue his door beside.
What healing in summer if winter be vain?
Dim and dusk the day was grown,
As he heard his folded wethers moan.
Then through the garth a man drew near,
With painted shield and gold-wrought spear.
Good was his horse and grand his gear,
And his girths were wet with Whitewater.
“Hail, Master Odd, live blithe and long!
How fare the folk at Deildar-Tongue?”
“All hail, thou Hallbiorn the Strong!
How fare the folk by the Brothers’-Tongue?”
“Meat have we there, and drink and fire,
Nor lack all things that we desire.
But by the other Whitewater
Of Hallgerd many a tale we hear.”
“Tales enow may my daughter make
If too many words be said for her sake.”
“What saith thine heart to a word of mine,
That I deem thy daughter fair and fine?
Fair and fine for a bride is she,
And I fain would have her home with me.”
“Full many a word that at noon goes forth
Comes home at even little worth.
Now winter treadeth on autumn-tide,
So here till the spring shalt thou abide.
Then if thy mind be changed no whit,
And ye still will wed, see ye to it!
And on the first of summer days,
A wedded man, ye may go your ways.
Yet look, howso the thing will fall,
My hand shall meddle nought at all.
Lo, now the night and rain draweth up,
And within doors glimmer stoop and cup.
And hark, a little sound I know,
The laugh of Snaebiorn’s fiddle-bow,
My sister’s son, and a craftsman good,
When the red rain drives through the iron wood.”
Hallbiorn laughed, and followed in,
And a merry feast there did begin.
Hallgerd’s hands undid his weed,
Hallgerd’s hands poured out the mead.
Her fingers at his breast he felt,
As her hair fell down about his belt.
Her fingers with the cup he took,
And o’er its rim at her did look.
Cold cup, warm hand, and fingers slim,
Before his eyes were waxen dim.
And if the feast were foul or fair,
He knew not, save that she was there.
He knew not if men laughed or wept,
While still ’twixt wall and dais she stept.
Whether she went or stood that eve,
Not once his eyes her face did leave.
But Snaebiorn laughed and Snaebiorn sang,
And sweet his smitten fiddle rang.
And Hallgerd stood beside him there,
So many times over comes summer again,
Nor ever once he turned to her,
What healing in summer if winter be vain?

Master Odd on the morrow spake,
So many times over comes summer again.
Hearken, O guest, if ye be awake,”
What healing in summer if winter be vain?
“Sure ye champions of the south
Speak many things from a silent mouth.
And thine, meseems, last night did pray
That ye might well be wed to-day.
The year’s ingathering feast it is,
A goodly day to give thee bliss.
Come hither, daughter, fine and fair,
Here is a Wooer from Whitewater.
East away hath he gotten fame,
And his father’s name is e’en my names.
Will ye lay hand within his hand,
That blossoming fair our house may stand?”
She laid her hand within his hand;
White she was as the lily wand.
Low sang Snaebiorn’s brand in its sheath,
And his lips were waxen grey as death.
“Snaebiorn, sing us a song of worth,
If your song must be silent from now henceforth.”
Clear and loud his voice outrang,
And a song of worth at the wedding he sang.
“Sharp sword,” he sang, “and death is sure.”
So many times over comes summer again,
“But love doth over all endure.”
What healing in summer if winter be vain?

Now winter cometh and weareth away,
So many times over comes summer again,
And glad is Hallbiorn many a day.
What healing in summer if winter be vain?
Full soft he lay his love beside;
But dark are the days of wintertide.
Dark are the days, and the nights are long,
And sweet and fair was Snaebiorn’s song.
Many a time he talked with her,
Till they deemed the summer-tide was there.
And they forgat the wind-swept ways
And angry fords of the flitting-days.
While the north wind swept the hillside there
They forgat the other Whitewater.
While nights at Deildar-Tongue were long,
They clean forgat the Brothers’-Tongue.
But whatso falleth ’twixt Hell and Home,
So many times over comes summer again,
Full surely again shall summer come.
What healing in summer if winter be vain?

To Odd spake Hallbiorn on a day
So many times over comes summer again,
“Gone is the snow from everyway.”
What healing in summer if winter be vain?
Now green is grown Whitewater-side,
And I to Whitewater will ride.”
Quoth Odd, “Well fare thou winter-guest,
May thine own Whitewater be best.
Well is a man’s purse better at home
Than open where folk go and come.”
“Come ye carles of the south country,
Now shall we go our kin to see!
For the lambs are bleating in the south,
And the salmon swims towards Olfus mouth.
Girth and graithe and gather your gear!
And ho for the other Whitewater!”
Bright was the moon as bright might be,
And Snaebiorn rode to the north country.
And Odd to Reykholt is gone forth,
To see if his mares be ought of worth.
But Hallbiorn into the bower is gone
And there sat Hallgerd all alone.
She was not dight to go nor ride
She had no joy of the summer-tide.
Silent she sat and combed her hair,
That fell all round about her there.
The slant beam lay upon her head,
And gilt her golden locks to red.
He gazed at her with hungry eyes
And fluttering did his heart arise.
“Full hot,” he said, “is the sun to-day,
And the snow is gone from the mountain-way.
The king-cup grows above the grass,
And through the wood do the thrushes pass.”
Of all his words she hearkened none,
But combed her hair amidst the sun.
“The laden beasts stand in the garth
And their heads are turned to Helliskarth.”
The sun was falling on her knee,
And she combed her gold hair silently.
“To-morrow great will be the cheer
At the Brothers’-Tongue by Whitewater.”
From her folded lap the sunbeam slid;
She combed her hair, and the word she hid.
“Come, love; is the way so long and drear
From Whitewater to Whitewater?”
The sunbeam lay upon the floor;
She combed her hair and spake no more.
He drew her by the lily hand:
“I love thee better than all the land.”
He drew her by the shoulders sweet:
“My threshold is but for thy feet.”
He drew her by the yellow hair:
“O why wert thou so deadly fair?
“O am I wedded to death?” he cried
“Is the Dead-strand come to Whitewater side?”
And the sun was fading from the room,
But her eyes were bright in the change and the gloom.
“Sharp sword,” she sang, “and death is sure,
But over all doth love endure.”
She stood up shining in her place
And laughed beneath his deadly face.
Instead of the sunbeam gleamed a brand,
The hilts were hard in Hallbiorn’s hand:
The bitter point was in Hallgerd’s breast
That Snaebiorn’s lips of love had pressed.
Morn and noon, and nones passed o’er,
And the sun is far from the bower door.
To-morrow morn shall the sun come back,
So many times over comes summer again,
But Hallgerd’s feet the floor shall lack.
What healing in summer if winter be vain?

Now Hallbiorn’s house-carles ride full fast,
So many times over comes summer again,
Till many a mile of way is past.
What healing in summer if winter be vain?
But when they came over Oxridges,
’Twas, “Where shall we give our horses ease?”
When Shieldbroad-side was well in sight,
’Twas, “Where shall we lay our heads to-night?”
Hallbiorn turned and raised his head;
“Under the stones of the waste,” he said.
Quoth one, “The clatter of hoofs anigh.”
Quoth the other, “Spears against the sky!”
“Hither ride men from the Wells apace;
Spur we fast to a kindlier place.”
Down from his horse leapt Hallbiorn straight:
“Why should the supper of Odin wait?
Weary and chased I will not come
To the table of my fathers’ home.”
With that came Snaebiorn, who but he,
And twelve in all was his company.
Snaebiorn’s folk were on their feet;
He spake no word as they did meet.
They fought upon the northern hill:
Five are the howes men see there still.
Three men of Snaebiorn’s fell to earth
And Hallbiorn’s twain that were of worth.
And never a word did Snaebiorn say,
Till Hallbiorn’s foot he smote away.
Then Hallbiorn cried: “Come, fellow of mine,
To the southern bent where the sun doth shine.”
Tottering into the sun he went,
And slew two more upon the bent.
And on the bent where dead he lay
Three howes do men behold to-day.
And never a word spake Snaebiorn yet,
Till in his saddle he was set.
Nor was there any heard his voice,
So many times over comes summer again,
Till he came to his ship in Grimsar-oyce.
What healing in summer if winter be vain?

On so fair a day they hoisted sail,
So many times over comes summer again,
And for Norway well did the wind avail.
What healing in summer if winter be vain?
But Snaebiorn looked aloft and said:
“I see in the sail a stripe of red:
Murder, meseems, is the name of it
And ugly things about it flit.
A stripe of blue in the sail I see:
Cold death of men it seems to me.
And next I see a stripe of black,
For a life fulfilled of bitter lack.”
Quoth one, “So fair a wind doth blow
That we shall see Norway soon enow.”
“Be blithe, O shipmate,” Snaebiorn said,
“Tell Hacon the Earl that I be dead.”
About the midst of the Iceland main
Round veered the wind to the east again.
And west they drave, and long they ran
Till they saw a land was white and wan.
“Yea,” Snaebiorn said, “my home it is,
Ye bear a man shall have no bliss.
Far off beside the Greekish sea
The maidens pluck the grapes in glee.
Green groweth the wheat in the English land
And the honey-bee flieth on every hand.
In Norway by the cheaping town
The laden beasts go up and down.
In Iceland many a mead they mow
And Hallgerd’s grave grows green enow.
But these are Gunnbiorn’s skerries wan
Meet harbour for a hapless man.
In all lands else is love alive,
But here is nought with grief to strive.
Fail not for a while, O eastern wind,
For nought but grief is left behind.
And before me here a rest I know,”
So many times over comes summer again,
“A grave beneath the Greenland snow,”
What healing in summer if winter be vain?

Hafbur And Signy

TRANSLATED FROM THE DANISH.


King Hafbur & King Siward
They needs must stir up strife,
All about the sweetling Signy
Who was so fair a wife.
O wilt thou win me then,
or as fair a maid as I be?

It was the King’s son Hafbur
Woke up amid the night,
And ’gan to tell of a wondrous dream
In swift words nowise light.

“Me-dreamed I was in Heaven
Amid that fair abode,
And my true-love lay upon mine arm
And we fell from cloud to cloud.”

As there they sat, the dames and maids,
Of his words they took no keep,
Only his mother well-beloved
Heeded his dreamful sleep.

“Go get thee gone to the mountain,
And make no long delay;
To the elve’s eldest daughter
For thy dream’s areding pray.”

So the King’s son, even Hafbur,
Took his sword in his left hand,
And he’s away to the mountain
To get speech of that Lily-wand.

He beat thereon with hand all bare,
With fingers small and fine,
And there she lay, the elve’s daughter,
And well wotted of that sign.

“Bide hail, Elve’s sweetest daughter,
As on skins thou liest fair,
I pray thee by the God of Heaven
My dream arede thou clear.

“Me-dreamed I was in heaven,
Yea amid that fair abode,
And my true-love lay upon mine arm
And we fell from cloud to cloud.”

“Whereas thou dreamed’st thou wert in heaven,
So shalt thou win that may;
Dreamed’st thou of falling through the clouds,
So falls for her thy life away.”

“And if it lieth in my luck
To win to me that may,
In no sorrow’s stead it standeth me
For her to cast my life away.”

Lord Hafbur lets his hair wax long,
And will have the gear of mays,
And he rideth to King Siward’s house
And will well learn weaving ways.

Lord Hafbur all his clothes let shape
In such wise as maidens do,
And thus he rideth over the land
King Siward’s daughter to woo.

Now out amid the castle-garth
He cast his cloak aside,
And goeth forth to the high-bower
Where the dames and damsels abide.

Hail, sit ye there, dames and damsels,
Maids and queens kind and fair,
And chiefest of all to the Dane-King’s daughter
If she abideth here!

“Hail, sittest thou, sweet King’s daughter,
A-spinning the silken twine,
It is King Hafbur sends me hither
To learn the sewing fine.”

Hath Hafbur sent thee here to me?
Then art thou a welcome guest,
And all the sewing that I can
Shall I learn thee at my best.

“And all the sewing that I can
I shall learn thee lovingly,
Out of one bowl shalt thou eat with me,
And by my nurse shalt thou lie.”

King’s children have I eaten with,
And lain down by their side:
Must I lie abed now with a very nurse?
Then woe is me this tide!”

“Nay, let it pass, fair maiden!
Of me gettest thou no harm,
Out of one bowl shalt thou eat with me
And sleep soft upon mine arm.”

There sat they, all the damsels,
And sewed full craftily;
But ever the King’s son Hafbur
With nail in mouth sat he.

They sewed the hart, they sewed the hind,
As they run through the wild-wood green,
Never gat Hafbur so big a bowl
But the bottom soon was seen.

In there came the evil nurse
In the worst tide that might be:
“Never saw I fair maiden
Who could sew less craftily.

“Never saw I fair maiden
Seam worse the linen fine,
Never saw I noble maiden
Who better drank the wine.”

This withal spake the evil nurse,
The nighest that she durst:
“Never saw I yet fair maiden
Of drink so sore athirst.

“So little a seam as ever she sews
Goes the needle into her mouth,
As big a bowl as ever she gets
Out is it drunk forsooth.

“Ne’er saw I yet in maiden’s head
Two eyes so bright and bold,
And those two hands of her withal
Are hard as the iron cold.”

“Hearken, sweet nurse, whereso thou art,
Why wilt thou mock me still?
Never cast I one word at thee,
Went thy sewing well or ill.

“Still wilt thou mock, still wilt thou spy;
Nought such thou hast of me,
Whether mine eyes look out or look in
Nought do they deal with thee.”

O it was Hafbur the King’s son
Began to sew at last;
He sewed the hart, and he sewed the hind,
As they flee from the hound so fast.

He sewed the lily, and he sewed the rose,
And the little fowls of the air;
Then fell the damsels a-marvelling,
For nought had they missed him there.

Day long they sewed till the evening,
And till the long night was deep,
Then up stood dames and maidens
And were fain in their beds to sleep.

So fell on them the evening-tide,
O’er the meads the dew drave down,
And fain was Signy, that sweet thing,
With her folk to bed to be gone.

Therewith asked the King’s son Hafbur,
“And whatten a bed for me?”
“O thou shalt sleep in the bower aloft
And blue shall thy bolster be.”

She went before, sweet Signy,
O’er the high bower’s bridge aright,
And after her went Hafbur
Laughing from heart grown light.

Then kindled folk the waxlights,
That were so closely twined,
And after them the ill nurse went
With an ill thought in her mind.

The lights were quenched, the nurse went forth,
They deemed they were alone:
Lord Hafbur drew off his kirtle red,
Then first his sword outshone.

Lord Hafbur mid his longing sore
Down on the bed he sat:
I tell you of my soothfastness,
His byrny clashed thereat.

Then spake the darling Signy,
Out of her heart she said,
“Never saw I so rough a shirt
Upon so fair a maid.”

She laid her hand on Hafbur’s breast
With the red gold all a-blaze:
“Why wax thy breasts in no such wise
As they wax in other mays?”

“The wont it is in my father’s land
For maids to ride to the Thing,
Therefore my breasts are little of growth
Beneath the byrny-ring.”

And there they lay through the night so long,
The King’s son and the may,
In talk full sweet, but little of sleep,
So much on their minds there lay.

“Hearken, sweet maiden Signy,
As here alone we lie,
Who is thy dearest in the world,
And lieth thine heart most nigh?”

“O there is none in all the world
Who lieth so near to my heart
As doth the bold King Hafbur:
Ne’er in him shall I have a part.

“As doth the bold King Hafbur
That mine eyes shall never know:
Nought but the sound of his gold-wrought horn
As he rides to the Thing and fro.”

“O, is it Hafbur the King’s son
That thy loved heart holdeth dear?
Turn hither, O my well-beloved,
To thy side I lie so near.”

“If thou art the King’s son Hafbur,
Why wilt thou shame me love,
Why ridest thou not to my father’s garth
With hound, and with hawk upon glove?”

“Once was I in thy father’s garth,
With hound and hawk and all;
And with many mocks he said me nay,
In such wise did our meeting fall.”

All the while they talked together
They deemed alone they were,
But the false nurse ever stood close without,
And nought thereof she failed to hear.

O shame befall that evil nurse,
Ill tidings down she drew,
She stole away his goodly sword,
But and his byrny new.

She took to her his goodly sword,
His byrny blue she had away,
And she went her ways to the high bower
Whereas King Siward lay.

“Wake up, wake up, King Siward!
Over long thou sleepest there,
The while the King’s son Hafbur
Lies abed by Signy the fair.”

“No Hafbur is here, and no King’s son.
That thou shouldst speak this word;
He is far away in the east-countries,
Warring with knight and lord.

“Hold thou thy peace, thou evil nurse,
And lay on her no lie,
Or else tomorn ere the sun is up
In the bale-fire shall ye die.”

“O hearken to this, my lord and king,
And trow me nought but true;
Look here upon his bright white sword,
But and his byrny blue!”

Then mad of mind waxed Siward,
Over all the house ’gan he cry,
“Rise up, O mighty men of mine,
For a hardy knight is anigh:

“Take ye sword and shield in hand,
And look that they be true;
For Hafbur the King hath guested with us;
Stiffnecked he is, great deeds to do.”

So there anigh the high-bower door
They stood with spear and glaive;
“Rise up, rise up, Young Hafbur,
Out here we would thee have!”

That heard the goodly Signy
And she wrang her hands full sore:
“Hearken and heed, O Hafbur,
Who stand without by the door!”

Thank and praise to the King’s son Hafbur,
Manly he played and stout!
None might lay hand upon him
While the bed-post yet held out.

But they took him, the King’s son Hafbur,
And set him in bolts new wrought;
Then lightly he rent them asunder,
As though they were leaden and nought.

Out and spake the ancient nurse,
And she gave a rede of ill:
“Bind ye him but in Signy’s hair,
So shall hand and foot lie still.

“Take ye but one of Signy’s hairs
Hafbur’s hands to bind,
Ne’er shall he rend them asunder
His heart to her is so kind.”

Then took they two of Signy’s hairs
Bonds for his hands to be,
Nor might he rive them asunder
So dear to his heart was she.

Then spake the sweetling Signy
As the tears fast down her cheek did fall:
“O rend it asunder, Hafbur,
That gift to thee I give withal.”

Now sat the King’s son Hafbur
Amidst the castle-hall,
And thronged to behold him man and maid,
But the damsels chiefest of all.

They took him, the King’s son Hafbur,
Laid bolts upon him in that place,
And ever went Signy to and fro,
The weary tears fell down apace.

She speaketh to him in sorrowful mood:
“This will I, Hafbur, for thee,
Piteous prayer for thee shall make
My mother’s sisters three.

“For my father’s mind stands fast in this,
To do thee to hang upon the bough
On the topmost oak in the morning-tide
While the sun is yet but low.”

But answered thereto young Hafbur
Out of a wrathful mind:
“Of all heeds I heeded, this was the last,
To be prayed for by womankind.

“But hearken, true-love Signy,
Good heart to my asking turn,
When thou seest me swing on oaken-bough
Then let thy high-bower burn.”

Then answered the noble Signy,
So sore as she must moan,
“God to aid, King’s son Hafbur,
Well will I grant thy boon.”

They followed him, King Hafbur,
Thick thronging from the castle-bent:
And all who saw him needs must greet
And in full piteous wise they went.

But when they came to the fair green mead
Where Hafbur was to die,
He prayed them hold a little while:
For his true-love would he try.

“O hang me up my cloak of red,
That sight or my ending let me see.
Perchance yet may King Siward rue
My hanging on the gallows tree.”

Now of the cloak was Signy ware
And sorely sorrow her heart did rive,
She thought: “The ill tale all is told,
No longer is there need to live.”

Straightway her damsels did she call
As weary as she was of mind:
“Come, let us go to the bower aloft
Game and glee for a while to find.”

Yea and withal spake Signy,
She spake a word of price:
“To-day shall I do myself to death
And meet Hafbur in Paradise.

“And whoso there be in this our house
Lord Hafbur’s death that wrought,
Good reward I give them now
To red embers to be brought.

“So many there are in the King’s garth
Of Hafbur’s death shall be glad;
Good reward for them to lose
The trothplight mays they had.”

She set alight to the bower-aloft
And it burned up speedily,
And her good love and her great heart
Might all with eyen see.

It was the King’s son Hafbur
O’er his shoulder cast his eye,
And beheld how Signy’s house of maids
On a red low stood on high.

“Now take ye down my cloak of red,
Let it lie on the earth a-cold;
Had I ten lives of the world for one,
Nought of them all would I hold.”

King Siward looked out of his window fair,
In fearful mood enow,
For he saw Hafbur hanging on oak
And Signy’s bower on a low.

Out then spake a little page
Was clad in kirtle red:
“Sweet Signy burns in her bower aloft,
With all her mays unwed.”

Therewithal spake King Siward
From rueful heart unfain:
“Ne’er saw I two King’s children erst
Such piteous ending gain.

“But had I wist or heard it told
That love so strong should be,
Ne’er had I held those twain apart
For all Denmark given me.

O hasten and run to Signy’s bower
For the life of that sweet thing;
Hasten and run to the gallows high,
No thief is Hafbur the King.”

But when they came to Signy’s bower
Low it lay in embers red;
And when they came to the gallows tree,
Hafbur was stark and dead.

They took him the King’s son Hafbur,
Swathed him in linen white,
And laid him in the earth of Christ
By Signy his delight.
O wilt thou win me then,
or as fair a maid as I be?

The Story Of Sigurd The Volsung (Excerpt)

But therewith the sun rose upward and lightened all the earth,
And the light flashed up to the heavens from the rims of the glorious girth;
But they twain arose together, and with both her palms outspread,
And bathed in the light returning, she cried aloud and said:
"All hail, O Day and thy Sons, and thy kin of the coloured things!
Hail, following Night, and thy Daughter that leadeth thy wavering wings!
Look down With unangry eyes on us today alive,
And give us the hearts victorious, and the gain for which we strive!
All hail, ye Lords of God-home, and ye Queens of the House of Gold!
Hail, thou dear Earth that bearest, and thou Wealth of field and fold!
Give us, your noble children, the glory of wisdom and speech,
And the hearts and the hands of healing, and the mouths and hands that teach!"

Then they turned and were knit together; and oft and o'er again
They craved, and kissed rejoicing, and their hearts were full and fain.
Then Sigurd looketh upon her, and the words from his heart arise:
"Thou art the fairest of earth, and the wisest of the wise;
O who art thou that lovest? I am Sigurd, e'en as I told;
I have slain the Foe of the Gods, and gotten the Ancient Gold;
And great were the gain of thy love, and the gift of mine earthly days,
If we twain should never sunder as we wend on the changing ways.
O who art thou that lovest, thou fairest of all things born?
And what meanest thy sleep and thy slumber in the wilderness forlorn?"

She said: "I am one that loveth: I was born of the earthly folk,
But of old Allfather took me from the Kings and their wedding yoke:
And he called me the Victory-Wafter, and I went and came as he would,
And I chose the slain for his war-host, and the days were glorious and good,
Till the thoughts of my heart overcame me, and the pride of my wisdom and speech,
And I scorned the earth-folk's Framer and the Lord of the world I must teach:
For the death-doomed I caught from the sword, and the fated life I slew,
And I deemed that my deeds were goodly, and that long I should do and undo.
But Allfather came against me and the God in his wrath arose;
And he cried: `Thou hast thought in thy folly that the Gods have friends and foes,
That they wake, and the world wends onward, that they sleep, and the world slips back,
That they laugh, and the world's weal waxeth, that they frown and fashion the the wrack:
Thou hast cast up the curse against me; it shall fall aback on thine head;
Go back to the sons of repentance, with the children of sorrow wed!
For the Gods are great unholpen, and their grief is seldom seen,
And the wrong that they will and must be is soon as it had not been.'

"Yet I thought: `Shall I wed in the world,shall I gather grief on the earth?
Then the fearless heart shall I wed, and bring the best to birth,
And fashion such tales for the telling, that Earth shall be holpen at least,
If the Gods think scorn of its fairness, as they sit at the changeless feast.'
"Then somewhat smiled Allfather; and he spake: 'So let it be!
The doom thereof abideth; the doom of me and thee.
Yet long shall the time pass over ere thy waking day be born:
Fare forth, and forget and be weary 'neath the Sting of the Sleepful Thorn!'

'So I came to the head of Hindfell and the ruddy shields and white,
And the wall of the wildfire wavering around the isle of night;
And there the Sleep-thorn pierced me, and the slumber on me fell,
And the night of nameless sorrows that hath no tale to tell.
Now I am she that loveth; and the day is nigh at hand
When I, who have ridden the sea-realm and the regions of the land,
And dwelt in the measureless mountains and the forge of stormy days,
Shall dwell in the house of my fathers and the land of the people's praise;
And there shall hand meet hand, and heart by heart shall beat,
And the lying-down shall be joyous, and the morn's uprising sweet.
Lo now, I look on thine heart and behold of thine inmost will,
That thou of the days wouldst hearken that our portion shall fulfil;
But O, be wise of man-folk, and the hope of thine heart refrain!
As oft in the battle's beginning ye vex the steed with the rein,
Lest at last in the latter ending, when the sword hath hushed the horn,
His limbs should be weary and fail, and his might be over-worn.
O be wise, lest thy love constrain me, and my vision wax o'er-clear,
And thou ask of the thing that thou shouldst not, and the thing that thou wouldst not hear.

Know thou, most mighty of men, that the Norns shall order all,
And yet without thine helping shall no whit of their will befall;
Be wise! 'tis a marvel of words, and a mock for the fool and the blind;
But I saw it writ in the heavens, and its fashioning there did I find:
And the night of the Norns and their slumber, and the tide when the world runs back,
And the way of the sun is tangled, it is wrought of the dastard's lack.
But the day when the fair earth blossoms, and the sun is bright above,
Of the daring deeds is it fashioned and the eager hearts of love.

"Be wise, and cherish thine hope in the freshness of the days,
And scatter its seed from thine hand in the field of the people's praise;
Then fair shall it fall in the furrow, and some the earth shall speed,
And the sons of men shall marvel at the blossom of the deed:
But some the earth shall speed not: nay rather, the wind of the heaven
Shall waft it away from thy longing--and a gift to the Gods hast thou given,
And a tree for the roof and the wall in the house of the hope that shall be,
Though it seemeth our very sorrow, and the grief of thee and me.

"Strive not with the fools of man-folk: for belike thou shalt overcome;
And what then is the gain of thine hunting when thou bearest the quarry home?
Or else shall the fool overcome thee, and what deed thereof shall grow?
Nay, strive with the wise man rather, and increase thy woe and his woe;
Yet thereof a gain hast thou gotten; and the half of thine heart hast thou won
If thou mayst prevail against him, and his deeds are the deeds thou hast done;
Yea, and if thou fall before him, in him shalt thou live again,
And thy deeds in his hand shall blossom, and his heart of thine heart shall be fain.

"When thou hearest the fool rejoicing, and he saith, 'It is over and past,
And the wrong was better than right, and hate turns into love at the last,
And we strove for nothing at all, and the Gods are fallen asleep;
For so good is the world a-growing that the evil good shall reap:'
Then loosen thy sword in the scabbard and settle the helm on thine head,
For men betrayed are mighty, and great are the wrongfully dead.

"Wilt thou do the deed and repent it? thou hadst better never been born:
Wilt thou do the deed and exalt it? then thy fame shall be outworn:
Thou shalt do the deed and abide it, and sit on thy throne on high,
And look on today and tomorrow as those that never die.

"Love thou the Gods--and withstand them, lest thy fame should fail in the end,
And thou be but their thrall and their bondsman, who wert born for their very friend:
For few things from the Gods are hidden, and the hearts of men they know,
And how that none rejoiceth to quail and crouch alow.

"I have spoken the words, belov{`e}d, to thy matchless glory and worth;
But thy heart to my heart hath been speaking, though my tongue hath set it forth:
For I am she that loveth, and I know what thou wouldst teach
From the heart of thine unlearned wisdom, and I needs must speak thy speech."

Then words were weary and silent, but oft and o'er again
They craved and kissed rejoicing, and their hearts were full and fain.

Then spake the Son of Sigmund: "Fairest, and most of worth,
Hast thou seen the ways of man-folk and the regions of the earth?
Then speak yet more of wisdom; for most meet meseems it is
That my soul to thy soul be shapen, and that I should know thy bliss."

So she took his right hand meekly, nor any word would say,
Not e'en of love or praising, his longing to delay;
And they sat on the side of Hindfell, and their fain eyes looked and loved,
As she told of the hidden matters whereby the world is moved:
And she told of the framing of all things, and the houses of the heaven;
And she told of the star-worlds' courses, and how the winds be driven;
And she told of the Norns and their names, and the fate that abideth the earth;
And she told of the ways of the King-folk in their anger and their mirth;
And she spoke of the love of women, and told of the flame that burns,
And the fall of mighty houses, and the friend that falters and turns,
And the lurking blinded vengeance, and the wrong that amendeth wrong,
And the hand that repenteth its stroke, and the grief that endureth for long:
And how man shall bear and forbear, and be master of all that is;
And how man shall measure it all, the wrath, and the grief, and the bliss.
"I saw the body of Wisdom, and of shifting guise was she wrought,
And I stretched out my hands to hold her, and a mote of the dust they caught;
And I prayed her to come for my teaching, and she came in the midnight dream--
And I woke and might not remember, nor betwixt her tangle deem:
She spake, and how might I hearken; I heard, and how might I know;
I knew, and how might I fashion, or her hidden glory show?
All things I have told thee of Wisdom are but fleeting images
Of her hosts that abide in the heavens, and her light that Allfather sees:
Yet wise is the sower that sows, and wise is the reaper that reaps,
And wise is the smith in his smiting, and wise is the warder that keeps:
And wise shalt thou be to deliver, and I shall be wise to desire;
--And lo, the tale that is told, and the sword and the wakening fire!
Lo now, I am she that loveth, and hark how Greyfell neighs,
And Fafnir's Bed is gleaming, and green go the downward ways,
The road to the children of men and the deeds that thou shalt do
In the joy of thy life-days' morning, when thine hope is fashioned anew.
Come now, O Bane of the Serpent, for now is the high-noon come,
And the sun hangeth over Hindfell and looks on the earth-folk's home;
But the soul is so great within thee, and so glorious are thine eyes,
And me so love constraineth, and mine heart that was called the wise,
That we twain may see men's dwellings and the house where we shall dwell,
And the place of our life's beginning, where the tale shall be to tell."

So they climb the burg of Hindfell, and hand in hand they fare,
Till all about and above them is nought but the sunlit air,
And there close they cling together rejoicing in their mirth;
For far away beneath them lie the kingdoms of the earth,
And the garths of men-folk's dwellings and the streams that water them,
And the rich and plenteous acres, and the silver ocean's hem,
And the woodland wastes and the mountains, and all that holdeth all;
The house and the ship and the island, the loom and the mine and the stall,
The beds of bane and healing, the crafts that slay and save,
The temple of God and the Doom-ring, the cradle and the grave.

Then spake the Victory-Wafter: "O King of the Earthly Age,
As a God thou beholdest the treasure and the joy of thine heritage,
And where on the wings of his hope is the spirit of Sigurd borne?
Yet I bid thee hover awhile as a lark alow on the corn;
Yet I bid thee look on the land 'twixt the wood and the silver sea
In the bight of the swirling river, and the house that cherished me!
There dwelleth mine earthly sister and the king that she hath wed;
There morn by morn aforetime I woke on the golden bed;
There eve by eve I tarried mid the speech and the lays of kings;
There noon by noon I wandered and plucked the blossoming things;
The little land of Lymdale by the swirling river's side,
Where Brynhild once was I called in the days ere my father died;
The little land of Lymdale 'twixt the woodland and the sea,
Where on thee mine eyes shall brighten and thine eyes shall beam on me."
"I shall seek thee there," said Sigurd, "when the day-spring is begun,
Ere we wend the world together in the season of the sun."

"I shall bide thee there," said Brynhild, "till the fulness of the days,
And the time for the glory appointed, and the springing-tide of praise."
From his hand then draweth Sigurd Andvari's ancient Gold;
There is nought but the sky above them as the ring together they hold,
The shapen ancient token, that hath no change nor end,
No change, and no beginning, no flaw for God to mend:
Then Sigurd cries: "O Brynhild, now hearken while I swear,
That the sun shall die in the heavens and the day no more be fair,
If I seek not love in Lymdale and the house that fostered thee,
And the land where thou awakedst 'twixt the woodland and the sea!"

And she cried: "O Sigurd, Sigurd, now hearken while I swear
That the day shall die for ever and the sun to blackness wear,
Ere I forget thee, Sigurd, as I lie 'twixt wood and sea
In the little land of Lymdale and the house that fostered me!"

Then he set the ring on her finger and once, if ne'er again,
They kissed and clung together, and their hearts were full and fain.

So the day grew old about them and the joy of their desire,
And eve and the sunset came, and faint grew the sunset fire,
And the shadowless death of the day was sweet in the golden tide;
But the stars shone forth on the world, and the twilight changed and died;
And sure if the first of man-folk had been born to that starry night,
And had heard no tale of the sunrise, he had never longed for the light:
But Earth longed amidst her slumber, as 'neath the night she lay,
And fresh and all abundant abode the deeds of Day.

The Defence Of Guenevere

But, learning now that they would have her speak,
She threw her wet hair backward from her brow,
Her hand close to her mouth touching her cheek,

As though she had had there a shameful blow,
And feeling it shameful to feel ought but shame
All through her heart, yet felt her cheek burned so,

She must a little touch it; like one lame
She walked away from Gauwaine, with her head
Still lifted up; and on her cheek of flame

The tears dried quick; she stopped at last and said:
"O knights and lords, it seems but little skill
To talk of well-known things past now and dead.

"God wot I ought to say, I have done ill,
And pray you all forgiveness heartily!
Because you must be right, such great lords--still

"Listen, suppose your time were come to die,
And you were quite alone and very weak;
Yea, laid a dying while very mightily

"The wind was ruffling up the narrow streak
Of river through your broad lands running well:
Suppose a hush should come, then some one speak:

" 'One of these cloths is heaven, and one is hell,
Now choose one cloth for ever; which they be,
I will not tell you, you must somehow tell

" 'Of your own strength and mightiness; here, see!'
Yea, yea, my lord, and you to ope your eyes,
At foot of your familiar bed to see

"A great God's angel standing, with such dyes,
Not known on earth, on his great wings, and hands
Held at two ways, light from the inner skies

"Showing him well, and making his commands
Seem to be God's commands, moreover, too,
Holding within his hands the cloths on wands;

"And one of these strange choosing cloths was blue,
Wavy and long, and one cut short and red;
No man could tell the better of the two.

"After a shivering half-hour you said:
'God help! heaven's colour, the blue;' and he said: 'hell.'
Perhaps you then would roll upon your bed,

"And cry to all good men that loved you well,
'Ah Christ! if only I had known, known, known;'
Launcelot went away, then I could tell,

"Like wisest man how all things would be, moan,
And roll and hurt myself, and long to die,
And yet fear much to die for what was sown.

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

Her voice was low at first, being full of tears,
But as it cleared, it grew full loud and shrill,
Growing a windy shriek in all men's ears,

A ringing in their startled brains, until
She said that Gauwaine lied, then her voice sunk,
And her great eyes began again to fill,

Though still she stood right up, and never shrunk,
But spoke on bravely, glorious lady fair!
Whatever tears her full lips may have drunk,

She stood, and seemed to think, and wrung her hair,
Spoke out at last with no more trace of shame,
With passionate twisting of her body there:

"It chanced upon a day that Launcelot came
To dwell at Arthur's court: at Christmas time
This happened; when the heralds sung his name,

" 'Son of King Ban of Benwick,' seemed to chime
Along with all the bells that rang that day,
O'er the white roofs, with little change of rhyme.

"Christmas and whitened winter passed away,
And over me the April sunshine came,
Made very awful with black hail-clouds, yea

"And in the Summer I grew white with flame,
And bowed my head down--Autumn, and the sick
Sure knowledge things would never be the same,

"However often Spring might be most thick
Of blossoms and buds, smote on me, and I grew
Careless of most things, let the clock tick, tick,

"To my unhappy pulse, that beat right through
My eager body; while I laughed out loud,
And let my lips curl up at false or true,

"Seemed cold and shallow without any cloud.
Behold my judges, then the cloths were brought;
While I was dizzied thus, old thoughts would crowd,

"Belonging to the time ere I was bought
By Arthur's great name and his little love;
Must I give up for ever then, I thought,

"That which I deemed would ever round me move
Glorifying all things; for a little word,
Scarce ever meant at all, must I now prove

"Stone-cold for ever? Pray you, does the Lord
Will that all folks should be quite happy and good?
I love God now a little, if this cord

"Were broken, once for all what striving could
Make me love anything in earth or heaven?
So day by day it grew, as if one should

"Slip slowly down some path worn smooth and even,
Down to a cool sea on a summer day;
Yet still in slipping there was some small leaven

"Of stretched hands catching small stones by the way,
Until one surely reached the sea at last,
And felt strange new joy as the worn head lay

"Back, with the hair like sea-weed; yea all past
Sweat of the forehead, dryness of the lips,
Washed utterly out by the dear waves o'ercast,

"In the lone sea, far off from any ships!
Do I not know now of a day in Spring?
No minute of that wild day ever slips

"From out my memory; I hear thrushes sing,
And wheresoever I may be, straightway
Thoughts of it all come up with most fresh sting:

"I was half mad with beauty on that day,
And went without my ladies all alone,
In a quiet garden walled round every way;

"I was right joyful of that wall of stone,
That shut the flowers and trees up with the sky,
And trebled all the beauty: to the bone,

"Yea right through to my heart, grown very shy
With weary thoughts, it pierced, and made me glad;
Exceedingly glad, and I knew verily,

"A little thing just then had made me mad;
I dared not think, as I was wont to do,
Sometimes, upon my beauty; if I had

"Held out my long hand up against the blue,
And, looking on the tenderly darken'd fingers,
Thought that by rights one ought to see quite through,

"There, see you, where the soft still light yet lingers,
Round by the edges; what should I have done,
If this had joined with yellow spotted singers,

"And startling green drawn upward by the sun?
But shouting, loosed out, see now! all my hair,
And trancedly stood watching the west wind run

"With faintest half-heard breathing sound--why there
I lose my head e'en now in doing this;
But shortly listen--in that garden fair

"Came Launcelot walking; this is true, the kiss
Wherewith we kissed in meeting that spring day,
I scarce dare talk of the remember'd bliss,

"When both our mouths went wandering in one way,
And aching sorely, met among the leaves;
Our hands being left behind strained far away.

"Never within a yard of my bright sleeves
Had Launcelot come before--and now, so nigh!
After that day why is it Guenevere grieves?

"Nevertheless you, O Sir Gauwaine, lie,
Whatever happened on through all those years,
God knows I speak truth, saying that you lie.

"Being such a lady could I weep these tears
If this were true? A great queen such as I
Having sinn'd this way, straight her conscience sears;

"And afterwards she liveth hatefully,
Slaying and poisoning, certes never weeps,--
Gauwaine, be friends now, speak me lovingly.

"Do I not see how God's dear pity creeps
All through your frame, and trembles in your mouth?
Remember in what grave your mother sleeps,

"Buried in some place far down in the south,
Men are forgetting as I speak to you;
By her head sever'd in that awful drouth

"Of pity that drew Agravaine's fell blow,
I pray your pity! let me not scream out
For ever after, when the shrill winds blow

"Through half your castle-locks! let me not shout
For ever after in the winter night
When you ride out alone! in battle-rout

"Let not my rusting tears make your sword light!
Ah! God of mercy, how he turns away!
So, ever must I dress me to the fight;

"So--let God's justice work! Gauwaine, I say,
See me hew down your proofs: yea, all men know
Even as you said how Mellyagraunce one day,

"One bitter day in la Fausse Garde, for so
All good knights held it after, saw--
Yea, sirs, by cursed unknightly outrage; though

"You, Gauwaine, held his word without a flaw,
This Mellyagraunce saw blood upon my bed--
Whose blood then pray you? is there any law

"To make a queen say why some spots of red
Lie on her coverlet? or will you say:
`Your hands are white, lady, as when you wed,

" `Where did you bleed?' and I must stammer out: 'Nay,
I blush indeed, fair lord, only to rend
My sleeve up to my shoulder, where there lay

" `A knife-point last night:' so must I defend
The honour of the lady Guenevere?
Not so, fair lords, even if the world should end

"This very day, and you were judges here
Instead of God. Did you see Mellyagraunce
When Launcelot stood by him? what white fear

"Curdled his blood, and how his teeth did dance,
His side sink in? as my knight cried and said:
'Slayer of unarm'd men, here is a chance!

" `Setter of traps, I pray you guard your head,
By God I am so glad to fight with you,
Stripper of ladies, that my hand feels lead

" `For driving weight; hurrah now! draw and do,
For all my wounds are moving in my breast,
And I am getting mad with waiting so.'

"He struck his hands together o'er the beast,
Who fell down flat and grovell'd at his feet,
And groan'd at being slain so young `at least.'

"My knight said: `Rise you, sir, who are so fleet
At catching ladies, half-arm'd will I fight,
My left side all uncover'd!' then I weet,

"Up sprang Sir Mellyagraunce with great delight
Upon his knave's face; not until just then
Did I quite hate him, as I saw my knight

"Along the lists look to my stake and pen
With such a joyous smile, it made me sigh
From agony beneath my waist-chain, when

"The fight began, and to me they drew nigh;
Ever Sir Launcelot kept him on the right,
And traversed warily, and ever high

"And fast leapt caitiff's sword, until my knight
Sudden threw up his sword to his left hand,
Caught it, and swung it; that was all the fight,

"Except a spout of blood on the hot land;
For it was hottest summer; and I know
I wonder'd how the fire, while I should stand,

"And burn, against the heat, would quiver so,
Yards above my head; thus these matters went;
Which things were only warnings of the woe

"That fell on me. Yet Mellyagraunce was shent,
For Mellyagraunce had fought against the Lord;
Therefore, my lords, take heed lest you be blent

"With all this wickedness; say no rash word
Against me, being so beautiful; my eyes,
Wept all away to grey, may bring some sword

"To drown you in your blood; see my breast rise,
Like waves of purple sea, as here I stand;
And how my arms are moved in wonderful wise,

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

"The shadow lies like wine within a cup
Of marvellously colour'd gold; yea now
This little wind is rising, look you up,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"My maids were all about me, and my head
On Launcelot's breast was being soothed away
From its white chattering, until Launcelot said--

"By God! I will not tell you more to-day,
Judge any way you will--what matters it?
You know quite well the story of that fray,

"How Launcelot still'd their bawling, the mad fit
That caught up Gauwaine--all, all, verily,
But just that which would save me; these things flit.

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

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

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

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

Love Is Enough: Songs I-Ix

I1.
Love is enough: though the World be a-waning
.
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
.
Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover
.
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
.
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder,
.
And this day draw a veil over all deeds passed over,
.
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter;
.
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
.
These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.II2.
Love is enough: have no thought for to-morrow
.
If ye lie down this even in rest from your pain,
.
Ye who have paid for your bliss with great sorrow:
.
For as it was once so it shall be again.
.
Ye shall cry out for death as ye stretch forth in vain2.
Feeble hands to the hands that would help but they may not,
.
Cry out to deaf ears that would hear if they could;
.
Till again shall the change come, and words your lips say not
.
Your hearts make all plain in the best wise they would
.

And the world ye thought waning is glorious and good:2.

And no morning now mocks you and no nightfall is weary,
.

The plains are not empty of song and of deed:
.

The sea strayeth not, nor the mountains are dreary;
.

The wind is not helpless for any man's need,
.

Nor falleth the rain but for thistle and weed.2.

O surely this morning all sorrow is hidden,
.

All battle is hushed for this even at least;
.

And no one this noontide may hunger, unbidden
.

To the flowers and the singing and the joy of your feast
.

Where silent ye sit midst the world's tale increased.2.

Lo, the lovers unloved that draw nigh for your blessing!
.

For your tale makes the dreaming whereby yet they live
.

The dreams of the day with their hopes of redressing,
.

The dreams of the night with the kisses they give,
.

The dreams of the dawn wherein death and hope strive.2.

Ah, what shall we say then, but that earth threatened often
.

Shall live on for ever that such things may be,
.

That the dry seed shall quicken, the hard earth shall soften,
.

And the spring-bearing birds flutter north o'er the sea,
.

That earth's garden may bloom round my love's feet and me?III3.
Love is enough: it grew up without heeding
.
In the days when ye knew not its name nor its measure,
.
And its leaflets untrodden by the light feet of pleasure
.
Had no boast of the blossom, no sign of the seeding,
.
As the morning and evening passed over its treasure.3.
And what do ye say then?--That Spring long departed
.
Has brought forth no child to the softness and showers;
.
--That we slept and we dreamed through the Summer of flowers;
.
We dreamed of the Winter, and waking dead-hearted
.

Found Winter upon us and waste of dull hours.3.

Nay, Spring was o'er-happy and knew not the reason,
.

And Summer dreamed sadly, for she thought all was ended
.

In her fulness of wealth that might not be amended;
.

But this is the harvest and the garnering season,
.

And the leaf and the blossom in the ripe fruit are blended.3.

It sprang without sowing, it grew without heeding,
.

Ye knew not its name and ye knew not its measure,
.

Ye noted it not mid your hope and your pleasure;
.

There was pain in its blossom, despair in its seeding,
.

But daylong your bosom now nurseth its treasure.IV4.
Love is enough: draw near and behold me
.
Ye who pass by the way to your rest and your laughter,
.
And are full of the hope of the dawn coming after;
.
For the strong of the world have bought me and sold me
.
And my house is all wasted from threshold to rafter.
.
--Pass by me, and hearken, and think of me not!4.
Cry out and come near; for my ears may not hearken,
.
And my eyes are grown dim as the eyes of the dying.
.
Is this the grey rack o'er the sun's face a-flying?
.

Or is it your faces his brightness that darken?
.

Comes a wind from the sea, or is it your sighing?
.

--Pass by me and hearken, and pity me not!4.

Ye know not how void is your hope and your living:
.

Depart with your helping lest yet ye undo me!
.

Ye know not that at nightfall she draweth near to me,
.

There is soft speech between us and words of forgiving
.

Till in dead of the midnight her kisses thrill through me.
.

--Pass by me and harken, and waken me not!4.

Wherewith will ye buy it, ye rich who behold me?
.

Draw out from your coffers your rest and your laughter,
.

And the fair gilded hope of the dawn coming after!
.

Nay this I sell not,--though ye bought me and sold me,--
.

For your house stored with such things from threshold to rafter.
.

--Pass by me, I hearken, and think of you not!V5.
Love is enough: through the trouble and tangle
.
From yesterday's dawning to yesterday's night
.
I sought through the vales where the prisoned winds wrangle,
.
Till, wearied and bleeding, at end of the light
.
I met him, and we wrestled, and great was my might.5.
O great was my joy, though no rest was around me,
.
Though mid wastes of the world were we twain all alone,
.
For methought that I conquered and he knelt and he crowned me,
.
And the driving rain ceased, and the wind ceased to moan,
.

And through clefts of the clouds her planet outshone.5.

O through clefts of the clouds 'gan the world to awaken,
.

And the bitter wind piped, and down drifted the rain,
.

And I was alone--and yet not forsaken,
.

For the grass was untrodden except by my pain:
.

With a Shadow of the Night had I wrestled in vain.5.

And the Shadow of the Night and not Love was departed;
.

I was sore, I was weary, yet Love lived to seek;
.

So I scaled the dark mountains, and wandered sad-hearted
.

Over wearier wastes, where e'en sunlight was bleak,
.

With no rest of the night for my soul waxen weak.5.

With no rest of the night; for I waked mid a story
.

Of a land wherein Love is the light and the lord,
.

Where my tale shall be heard, and my wounds gain a glory,
.

And my tears be a treasure to add to the hoard
.

Of pleasure laid up for his people's reward.5.

Ah, pleasure laid up! Haste then onward and listen,
.

For the wind of the waste has no music like this,
.

And not thus do the rocks of the wilderness glisten:
.

With the host of his faithful through sorrow and bliss
.

My Lord goeth forth now, and knows me for his.VI6.
Love is enough: cherish life that abideth,
.
Lest ye die ere ye know him, and curse and misname him;
.
For who knows in what ruin of all hope he hideth,
.
On what wings of the terror of darkness he rideth?
.
And what is the joy of man's life that ye blame him
.
For his bliss grown a sword, and his rest grown a fire?6.
Ye who tremble for death, or the death of desire,
.
Pass about the cold winter-tide garden and ponder
.
On the rose in his glory amidst of June's fire,
.

On the languor of noontide that gathered the thunder,
.

On the morn and its freshness, the eve and its wonder:
.

Ye may make it no more--shall Spring come to awaken?6.

Live on, for Love liveth, and earth shall be shaken
.

By the wind of his wings on the triumphing morning,
.

When the dead, and their deeds that die not shall awaken,
.

And the world's tale shall sound in your trumpet of warning,
.

And the sun smite the banner called Scorn of the Scorning,
.

And dead pain ye shall trample, dead fruitless desire,
.

As ye wend to pluck out the new world from the fire.VII7.
Dawn talks to Day
.
Over dew-gleaming flowers,
.
Night flies away
.
Till the resting of hours:
.
Fresh are thy feet
.
And with dreams thine eyes glistening,
.
Thy still lips are sweet
.
Though the world is a-listening.
.
O Love, set a word in my mouth for our meeting,
.

Cast thine arms round about me to stay my heart's beating!
.

O fresh day, O fair day, O long day made ours!...7.

Morn shall meet noon
.

While the flower-stems yet move,
.

Though the wind dieth soon
.

And the clouds fade above.
.

Loved lips are thine
.

As I tremble and hearken;
.

Bright thine eyes shine,
.

Though the leaves thy brow darken.
.

O Love, kiss me into silence, lest no word avail me,
.

Stay my head with thy bosom lest breath and life fail me!
.

O sweet day, O rich day, made long for our love!7.

Late day shall greet eve,
.

And the full blossoms shake,
.

For the wind will not leave
.

The tall trees while they wake.
.

Eyes soft with bliss,
.

Come nigher and nigher!
.

Sweet mouth I kiss,
.

Tell me all thy desire!
.

Let us speak, love, together some words of our story,
.

That our lips as they part may remember the glory!
.

O soft day, O calm day, made clear for our sake!7.

Eve shall kiss night,
.

And the leaves stir like rain
.

As the wind stealeth light
.

O'er the grass of the plain.
.

Unseen are thine eyes
.

Mid the dreamy night's sleeping,
.

And on my mouth there lies
.

The dear rain of thy weeping.
.

Hold silence, love, speak not of the sweet day departed,
.

Cling close to me, love, lest I waken sad-hearted!
.

O kind day, O dear day, short day, come again!VIII8.
Love is enough: while ye deemed him a-sleeping,
.
There were signs of his coming and sounds of his feet;
.
His touch it was that would bring you to weeping,
.
When the summer was deepest and music most sweet:
.
In his footsteps ye followed the day to its dying,
.
Ye went forth by his gown-skirts the morning to meet:
.
In his place on the beaten-down orchard-grass lying,
.
Of the sweet ways ye pondered left for life's trying.8.
Ah, what was all dreaming of pleasure anear you,
.

To the time when his eyes on your wistful eyes turned,
.

And ye saw his lips move, and his head bent to hear you,
.

As new-born and glad to his kindness ye yearned?
.

Ah, what was all dreaming of anguish and sorrow,
.

To the time when the world in his torment was burned,
.

And no god your heart from its prison might borrow,
.

And no rest was left, no today, no tomorrow?8.

All wonder of pleasure, all doubt of desire,
.

All blindness, are ended, and no more ye feel
.

If your feet treat his flowers or the flames of his fire,
.

If your breast meet his balms or the edge of his steel.
.

Change is come, and past over, no more strife, no more learning:
.

Now your lips and your forehead are sealed with his seal,
.

Look backward and smile at the thorns and the burning.
.

--Sweet rest, O my soul, and no fear of returning!IX9.
Love is enough: ho ye who seek saving,
.
Go no further; come hither; there have been who have found it,
.
And these know the House of Fulfilment of Craving;
.
These know the Cup with the roses around it;
.
These know the World's Wound and the balm that hath bound it:
.
Cry out, the World heedeth not, 'Love, lead us home!'9.
He leadeth, He hearkeneth, He cometh to you-ward;
.
Set your faces as steel to the fears that assemble
.
Round his goad for the faint, and his scourge for the froward,
.

Lo his lips, how with tales of last kisses they tremble!
.

Lo his eyes of all sorrow that may not dissemble!
.

Cry out, for he heedeth, 'O Love, lead us home!'9.

O hearken the words of his voice of compassion:
.

'Come cling round about me, ye faithful who sicken
.

Of the weary unrest and the world's passing fashions!
.

As the rain in mid-morning your troubles shall thicken,
.

But surely within you some Godhead doth quicken,
.

As ye cry to me heeding, and leading you home.9.

'Come--pain ye shall have, and be blind to the ending!
.

Come--fear ye shall have, mid the sky's overcasting!
.

Come--change ye shall have, for far are ye wending!
.

Come--no crown ye shall have for your thirst and your fasting,
.

But the kissed lips of Love and fair life everlasting!
.

Cry out, for one heedeth, who leadeth you home!'9.

Is he gone? was he with us?--ho ye who seek saving,
.

Go no further; come hither; for have we not found it?
.

Here is the House of Fulfilment of Craving;
.

Here is the Cup with the roses around it;
.

The World's Wound well healed, and the balm that hath bound it:
.

Cry out! for he heedeth, fair Love that led home.

In Arthur's House

In Arthur's house whileome was I
When happily the time went by
In midmost glory of his days.
He held his court then in a place
Whereof ye shall not find the name
In any story of his fame:
Caerliel good sooth men called it not,
Nor London Town, nor Camelot;
Yet therein had we bliss enow.
--Ah, far off was the overthrow
Of all that Britain praised and loved;
And though among us lightly moved
A love that could but lead to death,
Smooth-skinned he seemed, of rosy breath,
A fear to sting a lady's lip,
No ruin of goodly fellowship,
No shame and death of all things good.

Forgive the old carle's babbling mood;
As here I sit grey-haired and old,
My life gone as a story told,
Ye bid me tell a story too;
And then the evil days and few,
That yet were overlong for me
Rise up so clear I may not see
The pictures of my minstrel lore.

Well hearken! on a day of yore
From prime of morn the court did ride
Amidmost of the summertide
To search the dwellings of the deer
Until the heat of noon was near;
Then slackening speed awhile they went
Adown a ragged thorn-bushed bent
At whose feet grew a tangled wood
Of oak and holly nowise good:
But therethrough with some pain indeed
And rending of the ladies' weed
They won at last, and after found
A space of green-sward grown around
By oak and holly set full close;
And in the midst of it arose
Two goodly sycamores that made
A wide and little sun-pierced shade
About their high boles straight and green:
A fount was new-born there-between,
And running on as clear as glass,
Flowed winding on amid the grass
Until the thick wood swallowed it.
A place for happy folk to sit
While the hot day grew hotter still
Till eve began to work his will.
--So might those happy people think
Who grudged to see the red sun sink
And end another day of bliss
Although no joy tomorn should miss --
They laughed for joy as they drew nigh
The shade and fount: but lo, thereby
A man beside the fountain laid
The while his horse 'twixt sun and shade
Cropped the sweet grass: but little care
Had these of guile or giant's lair,
And scarce a foot before the Queen
Rode Gawain o'er the daisied green
To see what man his pleasure took;
Who rose up in meanwhile and shook
His tangled hair aback, as one
Who e'en but now his sleep hath done.
Rough-head and yellow-haired was he
Great-eyed, as folk have told to me,
And big and stout enow of limb:
As one who thinks no harm he smiled,
And cried out: "Well met in the wild,
Fair King and Queen; and ye withal
Sweet dames and damsels! Well befal
This day, whereon I see thee nigh,
O Lancelot, before I die!
And surely shall my heart rejoice
Sir Gawain, when I hear thy voice!"

Then Lancelot laughed: "Thou knowest us then
Full well among a many men?"

"As quoth the lion to the mouse,"
The man said; "in King Arthur's House
Men are not names of men alone,
But coffers rather of deeds done."

The Queen smiled blithe of heart, and spake:
"Hast thou done deeds for ladies' sake?"

"Nay Dame," he said, "I am but young;
A little have I lived and sung
And seen thy face this happy noon."

The King said: "May we hearken soon
Some merry tale of thee? for I
Am skilled to know men low and high
And deem thee neither churl nor fool."

Said he, "My fathers went to school
Where folk are taught a many things,
But not by bliss: men called them kings
In days when kings were near to seek;
But as a long thread waxeth weak,
So is it with our house; and now
I wend me home from oaken bough
Unto a stead where roof and wall
Shall not have over far to fall
When their last day comes."
As he spake
He reddened: "Nathless for their sake,
Whom the world loved once, mock not me
O King, if thence I bring to thee
A morsel and a draught of wine,
Though nothing king-like here thou dine."

Of some kind word King Arthur thought,
But ere he spake the woodman caught
His forest-nag and leapt thereon,
And through the tangled brake was gone.
Then leapt the King down, glad at heart,
Thinking, This day shall not depart
Without some voice from days that were;
And lightly leapt down Guenevere,
And man and maid lay presently
Neath the bee-laden branches high,
And sweet the scent of trodden grass
Amid the blossoms' perfume was.

There long they lay, and little spake,
As folk right loth the calm to break;
Till lo upon the forest-breeze
A noise of folk, and from the trees
They came: the first-seen forester,
A grizzled carle in such-like gear,
And then two maidens poorly clad
Though each a silver chaplet had
And round her neck a golden chain:
And last two varlets led a wain
Drawn by white oxen well bedight
With oaken boughs and lilies white;
Therein there lay a cask of wine
And baskets piled with bread full fine,
And flesh of hart and roe and hare;
And in the midst upon a chair
Done over with a cloth of gold
There sat a man exceeding old
With long white locks: and clad was he
No other than his company
Save that a golden crown he bore
Full fairly fashioned as of yore,
And with a sword was girt about
Such as few folk will see I doubt.
Right great it was: the scabbard thin
Was fashioned of a serpent's skin,
In every scale a stone of worth;
Of tooth of sea-lion of the north
The cross was, and the blood-boot stone
That heals the hurt the blade hath done
Hung down therefrom in silken purse:
The ruddy kin of Niblung's curse
O'er tresses of a sea-wife's hair
Was wrapped about the handle fair;
And last a marvellous sapphire stone
Amidst of the great pommel shone,
A blue flame in the forest green.
And Arthur deemed he ne'er had seen
So fair a sword: nay not when he
The wonder of the land-locked sea
Drew from the stone that Christmas-tide.

Now forth the forest youth did ride,
Leapt down beside the King, and spake:
"King Arthur for thy greatness' sake
My grandsire comes to look on thee;
My father standeth here by me;
These maidens are my sisters twain;
My brethren draw out from the wain
Somewhat thy woodland cheer to mend."

Thereat his sire the knee did bend
Before the King, who o'er the brown
Rough sleeve of the man's homespun gown
Beheld a goodly golden ring:
And fell to greater marvelling
When he beheld how fine and fair
The woodman's kneeling sisters were.
And all folk thereby deemed in sooth
That (save indeed the first seen youth)
These folk were nobler e'en than those
Of Arthur's wonder of a house.

But now the elder drew anigh,
By half a head was he more high
Than Arthur or than Lancelot,
Nor had eld bent him: he kneeled not
Before the King, but smiling took
His hands in hands that nowise shook;
And the King joyed as he who sees
One of his fathers' images
Stand glad before him in a dream.

Then down beside the bubbling stream
They sat together, and the King
Was loth to fall a questioning;
So first the elder spake and said:

"It joys me of thy goodlihead
O great king of our land; and though
Our blood within thee doth not flow,
And I who was a king of yore
May scarcely kneel thy feet before,
Yet do I deem thy right the best
Of all the kings who rule the West.
I love thy name and fame: behold,
King Arthur, I am grown so old
In guilelessness, the Gods have sent,
Be I content or uncontent,
This gift unto my latter days
That I may see as through a haze
The lives and deeds of days to come:
I laugh for some, I weep for some --
I neither laugh nor weep for thee,
But trembling through the clouds I see
Thy life and glory to the end;
And how the sweet and bitter blend
Within the cup that thou must drink.
Good is it that thou shalt not shrink
From either: that the afterdays
Shall still win glory from thy praise
And scarce believe thee laid asleep
When o'er thy deeds the days lie deep."

He ceased but his old lips moved still,
As though they would the tale fulfil
His heart kept secret: Arthur's eyes
Gleamed with the pride that needs would rise
Up from his heart, and low he said:
"I know the living by the dead
I know the future by the past."
Wise eyes and kind the elder cast
Upon him; while a nameless fear
Smote to the heart of Guenevere,
And, fainting there, was turned to love:
And thence a nameless pain did move
The noble heart of Lancelot,
The store of longing unforgot.
-- And west a little moved the sun
And noon began, and noon was done.

But as the elder's grey eyes turned
On Guenevere's, her sweet face burned
With sweet shame; as though she knew
He read her story through and through.
Kindly he looked on her and said:
"O Queen, the chief of goodlihead,
Be blithe and glad this day at least
When in my fathers' house ye feast:
For surely in their ancient hall
Ye sit now: look, there went the wall
Where yon turf ridge runs west-away:
Time was I heard my grand-dame say
She saw this stream run bubbling down
The hall-floor shut in trench of stone;
Therein she washed her father's cup
That last eve e'er the fire went up
O'er ridge and rafter and she passed
Betwixt the foeman's spears the last
Of all the women, wrapping round
This sword the gift of Odin's ground."

He shook the weapon o'er his knee,
Thereon gazed Arthur eagerly.
"Draw it, my lord," quoth Guenevere,
"Of such things have we little fear
In Arthur's house." And Lancelot rose
To look upon the treasure close.
But grimly smiled the ancient man:
"E'en as the sun arising wan
In the black sky when Heimdall's horn
Screams out and the last day is born,
This blade to eyes of men shall be
On that dread day I shall not see --"
Fierce was his old face for a while:
But once again he 'gan to smile
And took the Queen's slim lily hand
And set it on the deadly brand
Then laughed and said: "Hold this, O Queen,
Thine hand is where God's hands have been,
For this is Tyrfing: who knows when
His blade was forged? Belike ere men
Had dwelling on the middle-earth.
At least a man's life is it worth
To draw it out once: so behold
These peace-strings wrought of pearl and gold
The scabbard to the cross that bind
Lest a rash hand and heart made blind
Should draw it forth unwittingly."

Blithe laughed King Arthur: "Sir," said he,
"We well may deem in days by gone
This sword, the blade of such an one
As thou hast been, would seldom slide
Back to its sheath unsatisfied.
Lo now how fair a feast thy kin
Have dight for us and might we win
Some tale of thee in Tyrfing's praise,
Some deed he wrought in greener days,
This were a blithesome hour indeed."

"Sir," said the elder, "little need
To pray me hereof. Please ye dine
And drink a cup of woodman's wine,
Surely meantime some tale shall stir
Within my heart of days that were."

Then to their meat they gat and there
Feasted amid the woodland fair
The fairest folk of all the land.
Ah me when first the Queen's fair hand
Drew near the kneeling forest youth
New-wrought the whole world seemed in sooth
And nothing left therein of ill.
So at the last the Queen did fill
A cup of wine, and drank and said:
"In memory of thy fathers dead
I drink, fair lord, drink now with me
And then bethink thee presently
Of deeds that once won prize and praise
The glory of thy fathers' days."
He drank and laughed and said," Nay, nay,
Keep we the peace-strings whole today.
This draught from where thy lips have been
Within mine old heart maketh green
The memory of a love full true,
The first recorded deed that drew
My fathers' house from dark to light.

If thus my grandame told aright,
A rougher place our land was then,
Quoth she, than with us living men,
And other trees were in the wood
And folk of somewhat other blood
Than ours: then were the small-eyed bears
More plenty in the woodland lairs
Than badgers now: no holiday
It was to chase the wolves away,
Yea there were folk who had to tell
Of lyngworms lying on the fell,
And fearful things by lake and fen,
And manlike shapes that were not men.
Then fay-folk roamed the woods at noon,
And on the grave-mound in the moon
Faint gleamed the flickering treasure-flame.
Days of the world that won no fame,
Yet now, quoth she, folk looking back
Across the tumult and the wrack
And swelling up of windy lies
And dull fool-fashioned cruelties,
Deem that in those days God abode
On earth and shared ill times and good
And right and wrong with that same folk
Their hands had fashioned for the yoke.
Quoth she, of such nought tells my tale,
Yet saith that such as should prevail
In those days o'er the fears of earth
Must needs have been some deal of worth,
And saith that had ye seen a kin
Who dwelt these very woods within
Them at the least ye would have told
For cousins of the Gods of old.
Amongst all these it tells of one,
The goodman's last-begotten son,
Some twenty summers old: as fair
As any flower that blossomed there
In sun and rain, and strong therewith
And lissom as a willow withe.
Now through these woods amidst of June
This youngling went until at noon
From out of the thicket his fair face
Peered forth upon this very place;
For he had been a-hunting nigh
And wearied thought a while to lie
Beside the freshness of the stream.
But lo as in a morning dream
The place was changed, for there was dight
A fair pavilion blue and white
E'en where we play, and all around
Was talk of men and diverse sound,
Tinkling of bit and neigh of steed
Clashing of arms and iron weed.
For round about the painted tent
Armed folk a many came or went,
Or on the fresh grass lay about.
Surely our youth at first had doubt
If 'twere not better to be gone
Than meet these stranger folk alone --
But wot ye well such things as these
Were new to him born mid the trees
And wild things: and he thought, Maybe
The household of the Gods I see:
Who for as many tales as I
Have heard of them, I ne'er saw nigh.
If they be men, I wotted not
That such fair raiment men had got;
They will be glad to show them then.

For one thing taught these woodland men
Whatever wisdom they let fall
Men since have won Fear nought at all.

So from the holly brake he strode
Shouldering the while his hunter's load,
A new slain roe; but there arose
To meet him half a score of those
Whom in fair words he greeted well.

Now was he clad in a sheep's fell
And at his back his quiver hung,
His woodknife on his thigh: unstrung
His bow he held in a staff's stead.
An oaken wreath was round his head
From whence his crispy locks of brown
Well nigh unto his belt hung down,
And howso frank his eyes might be
A half-frown soothly might you see
As these men handled sword or spear
And cried out, "Hold, what dost thou here?"
"Ah," said he, "then no Gods ye are.
Fear not, I shall not make you war."
Therewith his hunting-knife he drew
And the long blade before them he threw.
Then loud they laughed; one sheathed his sword:
"Thanks, army-leader, for that word!
We are not Gods e'en as thou say'st,
Nor thou a devil of the waste
But e'en a devil's a friend belike."
Something [of] hate hereat did strike
Unto the woodsman's unused heart,
Yet he spake softly for his part:
"What men are ye and where dwell ye?
What is the wondrous house I see?"
"In the fair southland is our home
Yet from the north as now we come,"
Said one: then with a mocking smile,
"And in our house there dwells awhile
A very Goddess of the north.
But lo you, take a thing of worth
For that thy quarry, and begone."

But as he spake another one
Spake softly in his ear: and so
The word from this to that did go,
With laughing that seemed nowise good
Unto the dweller of the wood,
Who saying nought moved toward the tent.
But they came round him as he went
And said: "Nay, pagan, stay thy feet;
Thou art not one our dame to greet

. . .

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