An Arthurian Miscellany at sacred-texts.com
THE NEW SANGREAL
ROSE TERRY COOKE "Show me the Sangreal, Lord! Show me Thy blood!
Thy body and Thy blood! Give me the Quest!
Lord, I am faint and tired; my soul is sick
Of all the falseness, all the little aims,
The weary vanities, the gasping joys,
The slow procession of this satiate world!
Dear Lord, I burn for Thee! Give me Thy Quest!
Down through the old reverberating time,
I see Thy knights in wonderful array
Go out to victory, like the solemn stars
Fighting in courses, with their conquering swords,
Their sad, fixed lips of purity and strength,
Their living glory, their majestic death.
Give me Thy Quest! Show me the Sangreal, Lord!"
He lay upon a mountain's rocky crest,
So high, that all the glittering, misty world,
All summer's splendid tempests, lay below,
And sudden lightnings quivered at his feet;
So still, not any sound of silentness
Expressed the silence, nor the pallid sun
Burned on his eyelids; all alone and still,
Save for the prayer that struggled from his lips,
Broken with eager stress. Then he arose.
But always, down the hoary mountain-side,
Through whispering forests, by soft-rippled streams,
In clattering streets, or the great city's roar,
Still from his never sated soul went up,
"Give me Thy Quest! Show me the Sangreal, Lord!"
Through all the land there poured a trumpet's clang,
And when its silvery anger smote the air,
Men sprang to arms from every true man's home,
And followed to the field. He followed, too, --
All the mad blood of manhood in his veins,
All the fierce instincts of a warring race
Kindled like flame in every tingling limb,
And raging in his soul on fire with war.
He heard a thousand voices call him on:
Lips hot with anguish, shrieking their despair
From swamps and forests and the still bayous
That hide the wanderer, nor bewray his lair;
From fields and marshes where the tropic sun
Scorches a million laborers scourged to work;
From homes that are not homes; from mother-hearts
Torn from the infants lingering at their breasts;
From parted lovers, and from shuddering wives;
From men grown mad with whips and tyranny;
From all a country groaning in its chains.
Nor sleep, nor dream beguiled him any more;
He leaped to manhood in one torrid hour,
And armed, and sped to battle. Now no more
He cried or prayed, -- "Show me the Sangreal, Lord!"
So in the front of deadly strife he stood;
The glorious thunder of the roaring guns,
The restless hurricane of screaming shells,
The quick, sharp singing of the rifle-balls,
The sudden clash of sabres, and the beat
Of rapid horse-hoofs galloping at charge,
Made a great chorus to his valorous soul,
The dreadful music of a grappling world,
That hurried him to fight. He turned the tide,
But fell upon its turning. Over him
Fluttered the starry flag, and fluttered on,
While he lay helpless on the trampled sward,
His hot life running scarlet from its source,
And all his soul in sudden quiet spent,
As still as on the silent mountain-top;
So still that from his quick-remembering heart
Burst that old cry, -- "Show me the Sangreal, Lord!"
Then a bright mist descended over him,
And in its central glory stood a shape,
Wounded, yet smiling. With His bleeding hands
Stretched toward that bleeding side, His eyes divine
Like a new dawn, thus softly spake the Lord: --
"The blood poured out for brothers is my blood;
The flesh for brothers broken is my flesh;
No more in golden chalices I dwell,
No longer in a vision, angel-borne:
Here is the Sangreal, here the Holy Quest.
Thy prayer is heard, thy soul is satisfied:
Come, my belovèd! I am come for thee.
As first I broke the bread and poured the wine,
So have I broken thee and poured thy life,
So do I bless thee and give thanks for thee
So do I bear thee in my wounded hands."
Smiling, He stooped, and kissed the tortured brow,
And over all its anguish stole a smile;
The blood-sealed lips unclosed; the dying breath
Sighed, like the rain-sound in a summer wind,
Sobbing, but sweet, -- "I see the Sangreal, Lord!"
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