An Arthurian Miscellany at sacred-texts.com
A ROMANCE OF KING ARTHUR AND KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE
J. DUNBAR HYLTON, M.D., LL.D.
THE ORIGIN OF THE TALE.
Arthur, King of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. A Partial List of the Knights of the Round Table. Their Usefulness. The Feast at Camelot. The Tournament; Beau De Main is by King Arthur Declared Victor; is Crowned with a Wreath by Clotilda. A Description of that Maid. Her Birth and Education. An Old Man Enters at the Feast with a Sword. Hands the same to the King. All Endeavor to Draw it from the Sheath, and all Fail to do so except Beau De Main, who Draws it Easily. A Description of the Sword. A Description of Arthur's Halls. The Old Man and Beau De Main go on a Quest. They Reach the Cave of a Dragon. A Description of the Monster. The Knight's Prayer for Victory. He Slays the Monster. He Passes with his Guide Through a Secret Passage to the Towers of Arteloise. A Description of Those Bulwarks. His Conquest of the Place, which Ends the First Day.
Time--Night. The Knight with his Guide seeks an Entrance to the Towers. They see Wizards Dancing round a Skull, within which Burns a Light. They give Battle to the Knight and are Overthrown. He Extinguishes their Light by the Dragon's Blood. The Towers Reel and Rock, and over all Instantly is Wrought a Change. The Hymn of the Captives. They are sought for and set at Liberty, but their Succor arrives too late. They Die of Exhaustion while Drinking from a Fountain of Water. The Towers and all their Halls are Explored. The Strange and Wonderful Scenes therein Found. The Prophet of the Shrine. His Anger at seeing the Deathless Jew. The Jew Confronts him with equal Scorn. After a Wordy War the Prophet strikes his Shield with his Sword, which sets up a Terrible Noise. Then the Prophet Mysteriously Disappears.
A Continuation of the Description of the Scenes of Wonder found within the Towers of Arteloise. The Sculptured Walls, Floors and Ceiling Described. The Guide's Sudden Disappearance. The Knight enters the Forbidden Halls, where Dwell the Spirits of Fire. He Fights with them and they are Overthrown. Their Wonderful Book. He passes on to another Hall, and finds Clotilda and her Attendant Maidens lying on Couches in an Enchanted Sleep, brought about by the Artifice of Merlin. He Overthrows all the Temptations of Sin. The Halls Catch on Fire. His Prayer for Deliverance. The Place is suddenly filled with a Polar Atmosphere, which as suddenly becomes Heated, and Expands and Blows the Place to Atoms, leaving Clotilda and her Maidens Unharmed and still Asleep.
Griselda, the Daughter of King Pellinore, meets the Knight on his Passage to another Tower, wherein is Heard Melodious Music. Description of Griselda. She goes with the Knight to Slay a Dragon that has Guarded the Cyclops' Treasures for Two Thousand Years. They meet the Dragon at the Mouth of his Cavern. The Knight gives Battle to the Dragon, and while the Monster's Breast is Impaled on the boss of his Shield Griselda Pierces it to Death with Arrows from her Bow. At this Necromancy gives a Dying Groan. The Hills around Quake, and a General Change Overtakes the Appearance of the Valley. The Moon Rises. How all Nature Looks under the Brightness of her Beams. Both the Maiden and the Knight tell how they have Sought for the Holy Grail. Sweet Music issues from everything Around, and Lulls all Nature to Sweet Repose. Two Songs, coming from an Unknown Source, are Sung and are Paradox. Again all Space and Earth are Teeming with Music. The Heavens show Wonderful Signs, and a Bridge of Light Instantly Spans from the Sky to the Hill whereon stand the Knight and Maiden, and a Throng of Angels come Descending on the Bridge, Bearing to the Knight and Maiden the Holy Grail. It is Given to the Two, and after the Foremost Angel Pours a Blessing on the Maid and Knight they take their Departure over the bright Bridge of Light back to Heaven, which Ends the First Night.
The Second Day Arrives. The Sunrise. How the Earth and all Nature are Delighted at his Coming, and how everything Shines, Grows and Teems with Life under the Glory of his Beams. Griselda Carries the Holy Grail to where Clotilda and her Maidens still Lie in their Enchanted Sleep. She Wakens them. Clotilda tells how Merlin Wrought his Enchantment over them. Merlin's Sudden Appearance. A Description of him. His Wishes. His Prophecies. Two Great Battles to be Fought. He requests Beau De Main to go to the Polar Regions and bring away his Daughter, Ursula, who has there been Sleeping an Enchanted Sleep for over Six Hundred Years. Fate has Decreed that no one shall Waken her but Beau De Main. King Arthur and his Knights arrive at the Towers of Arteloise. The Deathless Jew leads them to the Dragon's Cave, from which they carry the Enormous Treasures of the Giants of Old and their Cyclops Allies. A Description of the Wonderful Amount of Treasure. Lions, Elephants and all manner of Beast are there found cast out of Solid Gold. The Knight, with the Deathless Jew, sets sail, which Ends the Second Day. As the Mortal-made Armor that he wears would be useless in Battle against the Polar Spirits he has to obtain Arms wrought by Vulcan. His Guide steers the Barge to the Straits of Hercules. They enter the Mediterranean Sea and sail to the Isle of Sicily, where they enter the Gorge that leads them to the Forges of Vulcan. A Description of the Place. Vulcan measures the Knight for a Suit of Armor. His Forges glow and his three Cyclops Smiths aid in building the Armor. It is completed and the Knight dons it. A General Description of Vulcan's Wonderful Workmanship, of the Shield and its artistic engraving. A Spear of Enormous Size and Strength is next forged. Then an Axe of Redundant Brightness. Then the Sword is forged by Vulcan and all three of his Cyclops Smiths. Vulcan places a Vast Wedge on an Anvil, and, with one terrific blow, cuts both Wedge and Anvil in two with the Sword, without the least injury to its keenness. The Knight with his Armor leaves Vulcan's Works, guided by the Jew. They sail to the Polar Seas. A General Description of the Whole Place. The Beasts there found Frozen in the Ice. What caused the Polar Mountains of Ice. An Open Sea found. How it Originated, and for what Purpose. The Knight meets the Might of the Polar Spirits. A Battle ensues, in which those Spirits are Overthrown. Ursula found and roused from her Sleep. Is brought away to Britain. A Description of the Places they pass, which Ends the Second Night.
The Birth, Life and Education of Ursula. Her Fondness for the Tourney, caused by the Teaching of her Sire, Merlin. Her Cruelty and Pride. The Knight carries her to the Halls of King Arthur, where the Extreme Beauty of her Charms creates Quite an Excitement amongst the Heroes of the Round Table, and even on the King. A Herald enters, bearing a Broken Cross, and tells of the Approach of the Invading Roman Fleet. Amidst the Darkness and Confusion that ensues Ursula and the Jew depart and Night sets in, which closes the Third Day. The King orders the Fires for Signals of Distress to be lit on the Hill-tops, to warn his Allies of his and their own Danger. Their glow lights up the Hills, and soon the answering Signals are seen. The Forges are all fired and the old armor repaired, and new ones made. A General Description of the Stir and Activity displayed amongst the Troops throughout the Night. King Arthur, armed and on horseback, departs from his Followers. His Adventures. His Prayer. The History of the Deathless Jew. His Mode of Setting Fire to the Roman Fleet. He suddenly Departs in Search of Beau de Main, and the King and Ursula are left alone on the Hill for the Night. Their Admiration for each other, which Ends the Third Night.
Day Dawns. The Gathering of the Allies and Preparing for Battle. Their Appearance in Battle Array. The Names of some of King Arthur's Knights. A Description of the Roman Host. The Appearance of the Prophet of the Shrine. He Marshals his Host for Battle. The First Day's Battle. The Determination of either Host to Win. The Heroic Deeds of Arthur and Beau de Main. Ursula and the Deathless Jew with their Mirrors Fire the Roman Fleet. Its Destruction. Night closing in, puts an end to the First Day's Battle, which ends the Fourth Day. After Sentinels are placed to Watch the Enemy, the Britons take Rest and Refreshments. Arthur and Beau de Main Discover Clotila wounded on the Battle-Field amongst the Slain. How she became Wounded. Her Death. Their Sorrow over her Fate. They then both go to the Tent of King Pellinore. A Description of that King. Arthur and his Knights join in the Feast that is there Spread. Pellinore Sings a Love Tale. When the Song ends he finds Arthur and his Knights fast asleep. Day Dawns. Both Armies Drawn up in Battle Array. How they Looked. The Second Day's Battle. The Fierceness of the Conflict. A Knight sheathed in White Armor rides up to the Roman Line that walled in the Prophet from Harm. He breaks through it. Drives his Spear through the Prophet, and while he is in the act of Falling the Knight Cuts his Head off, and casts it up high in air to the view of all. The Desperate Struggle of Arthur, Beau de Main and Pellinore to save the life of the Knight in White Armor. He is killed by the Romans. The Earth Quakes, and Merlin arises amidst the Battle. His Magic Banner. It waves in Windless Air as in a Storm. A Description of the Banner. The Battle ends with the Total Destruction of the Roman Army. The Earth Quakes, and Merlin, wrapping his Banner around his child, departs mysteriously. A general silence ensues. All being Over-fatigued with the Toil of Day, Rest where they are, Night having closed in. Griselda, with the Holy Grail, meets Beau de Main. They exchange mutual Sentiments of Love. The Deathless Jew Approaches them, Joins their Hands, Blesses them and tells them that he is a Rabbi and that they are Wed, which closes the Story.
TO MY SON.
Among the many races found
Within wide Nature's spacious bound
Breathes there a maiden or a youth,
Or aged dame, or man, forsooth,
Who does not lend a willing ear
Strange stories of the Past to hear?
Though they be wild and void of truth
As is a rock of love or ruth,
Be wild as ever Fiction drew,
Or in Romance's regions grew,
If in the tale were love and woe,
And pains and joys we mortals know,
And feel and love or hate and fear,
The story finds a willing ear.
The Arabian Nights shall please
Both old and young, on land or seas,
While ages on their flight proceed
As in the past, where man can read.
Though Homer's songs three thousand years
Have sounded on the human ears,
Three thousand years to come and more
His songs shall sound on every shore,
Wherever breathes a human soul
Whose feeling noble thoughts control.
He'll be the rich, exhaustless mine,
Where delighted sport the Sacred Nine.
When but a boy behind my plow
I sang his songs, and sing them now;
Nor shall he ever cease to charm
Me through all toil, and it disarm
Of weariness, and pain and care,
And all that doth make wear and tear
On human tissue, but keep me strong,
While toiling I shall sing his song.
Oft when a boy my teachers sought
On Euclid's page to bind my thought,
In problems there my mind involve
Archimedes might gladly solve.
Away from them I swiftly slid,
Within the woods all day I hid,
And read Shah Nameh or the Cid,
Or, foodless, there I dwelt all day,
Feasting on the Nibelungen Lay.
Tasso's or Virgil's songs I read,
Or tales of Dante filled my head;
Nor in those days I e'er forgot
The immortal poet, Walter Scott.
But all the bards of ancient time,
Or modern days, whate'er their rhyme,
Of Southern or of Northern clime,
Of lands throughout the East or West,
Old Ossian I then loved the best
He was my solace, my delight,
My joy by day, my dream by night.
The more I conned him o'er and o'er
The more he warmed my bosom's core.
His tales of love, and war, and woe,
Made all my soul with wonder glow.
Whole days and nights did Ossian's page
Enraptured all my soul engage.
Fingal's great deeds, in war and peace,
His triumphs, his glory's grand increase,
My boyish soul with daring fraught,
Till seemed beside that king I fought;
Seemed I rushed with Ossian o'er the field,
And met the battle on my bossy shield;
Stood by the tuneful warrior's side,
And wept with him when noble Oscar died.
No matter what or how we sing,
Or strike the lyre's sounding string,
If short or long, we make the line
When come in aid the tuneful Nine,
If we some noble feelings bring
Within the tales we tell or sing--
Something to move the joy or woe,
Or yearnings that we mortals know,
No matter if we limn the form
Of the grim spirit of the storm,
Place him on heights stupendous hurled,
Midst clouds above a moving world,
His meteor-banner there unfurled
To storms and lightnings round him twirled
Or place him on the ocean's wave,
To give the bounding bark its grave,
So that we fill the human soul
With wonder, pity, joy or dole;
Teach there's a path that should be trod
By mortals that leads up to God.
Where they shall view the final end--
One Judge, one God, one Father, Friend;
Or if we limn the rainbow's form
At eve, amidst the dying storm,
And paint the hills with sunset glow,
While floods his beams of glory show,
While skipping lambs and grazing sheep
All peaceful throng the glassy steep,
And shepherds watchful vigils keep;
Or paint with every rural charm
The pleasures on a Jersey farm,
Where every joy of mortal life
Around has Nature scattered rife;
Or lead the reader through a vale,
Flowers all sides the eye assail,
Into the fields of choicest fruits,
To pluck whate'er his fancy suits,
No matter what we tell or sing,
So strictly we to Nature cling--
Nature, man's mortal, final goal,
When God emancipates his soul;
Nature that unto dust shall bring
His form and every mortal thing,
And scatter on the tempest's pride
His dust o'er all her regions wide;
And who at last shall bow her head,
And, hoary, slumber with the dead--
That path be by her spirit trod
That brings us face to face with God.
Some mortals on this planet dwell
Who doubt all things that poets tell,
Believe no more that Arthur lived
Than mountains through a screen were sieved
Of meshes half an inch in size
Ere they did from earth's surface rise,
Though there were just as huge and vast
As now when they those meshes past.
They even doubt this spacious earth
From the Almighty had its birth,
That it alone through Chance was born,
And all the worlds that space adorn;
But who is Chance? Who did all this?
Who formed all Space's vast abyss?
How Chance did into being move
And make all things they cannot prove,
And when we all their theories view,
And search and sift them through and through,
We find their theories all unsound,
And they the only liars found.
That Arthur lived I well believe,
It a historic truth receive,
And see no more to doubt in him
Than fish do in the waters swim,
Or birds fly through the yielding air,
Or earth blooms with its flowers fair,
Or storms the waves of ocean roll
With force no mortal can control;
Or that the hills my hands can lift,
And them from off their bases shift.
Or I the sun could drag to earth,
And place him on my little hearth;
Or I could stop the Comet's car,
And load it with the Polar Star.
Yea, let the skeptics doubt the birth
Of good King Arthur on this earth,
Deny him all his fame and worth,
And prowess of unmeasured girth;
We'll war 'gainst them both day and night,
And we shall conquer in the fight.
My son, the winds are wild and shrill,
They drive the snow o'er glen and hill;
The night with all its clouds is stored,
And not a planet is abroad;
Deep darkness fills all sky and space,
And over all of Nature's face
No object through the night we trace.
But let the night be as it will,
And blasts scream over moor and hill,
Warm beside our blazing hearth,
We'll listen to the tempest's mirth;
Be just as happy and as gay
As winds that rough the forests sway.
Come, let's broach the ruddy wine,
Drink healths unto the Sacred Nine,
And to the Spirit of the Soil,
Who ever doth reward man's toil.
Hail to the Spirit of the Land,
Who gives us food on every hand,
Who fills the earth with germs of life,
And crowns it all with fruitage rife;
Who makes the vine on hill and field
Its purple, ample harvest yield,
From which we press the luscious wine,
Which fills the veins with glow divine--
Hail! hail to Ceres ever blest!
May every bliss her heart invest!
The goddess of the wholesome corn,
That doth with vigor man adorn,
That gives him muscle, brain and bone,
And spirit of a lofty tone;
Hail to the goddess, all divine,
And to her daughter, Proserpine,
Who crown the earth with corn and wine!
Who make the vine yield well and live
When man it proper care will give.
My song unto its end has run,
And now its dedication's done.
Come, bring the wine; 'tis Christmas Eve,
Maids round the altars flowers weave;
To-morrow brings the happy morn
The Saviour of this World was born.
A story of our fathers
In the misty days of old,
Their deeds of daring and their tourneys,
Their battles fierce and bold;
Their high feasts and merry meetings,
Their love, their hate, their joys and woes,
And of their dread necromancers
This ancient story shall disclose.
And how in Etna's fiery caves,
Within the mighty Cyclops' den,
Were forged on thundering anvils,
Immortal arms for godlike men.
The shield no earthly spear could pierce,
The breakless, adamantine helm,
The sword and axe, that aye in fight
Would every enemy o'erwhelm.
The morion before whose sheen
The hardiest foemen quail,
By the light it threw, full well they knew
Immortal Vulcan forged the mail.
And how in rocky caves of hills,
Guarded safe by dragons bold,
Lie enormous hoarded treasures
Of glittering gems and gold.
And how a knight of fearless prowess,
With soul untouched by mortal sin,
As prophesied by Merlin's breath,
Did the countless treasure win.
Of gallant knights and ladies fair,
Whom grisly giants sought to wrong;
Of courts of kings and castles strange,
I yet shall tell you in this song.
A king in ancient Britain reigned,
For high valor far renowned;
Before him no greater hero lived,
And since no greater can be found.
He ruled o'er all merry England,
Fair Scotland, Ireland, and Wales,
And many Islands of the deep
The far distant sea assails.
In peace and war was he renowned,
And good King Arthur was his name;
O'er Christendom where mortal lived
Was spread wide his deathless fame.
And many knights and chiefs had he,
Of mighty prowess and of worth,
Whose gallant deeds of hardihood
Ever shall be sung on earth;
Their many battles, fierce and bold,
With proud princes and with kings;
With monsters, dreadful to behold,
Dragons and infernal things,
Shall down the corridors of time,
Come on poet's deathless song,
And how they, aye, upbuoyed the right,
And bore ever down the wrong.
How day and night in armour bright,
They ever sought for perils new;
To crush the cruel, faithless, vile--
Aid the noble, good, and true.
There was Lancelot de Lake,
With glittering sword and shield,
Who, aye, ready was for lady's sake
His conquering blade to wield.
And Sir Tristeam, the bold and strong,
The proud, fear-defying chief,
Who ever warr'd 'gainst others' wrong,
Soothed and lessened others' grief.
There was Gawaine, Kings Bore and Ban,
All desperate men in fray;
And Bedivere, who, in the van
Of glory, shone both night and day.
And there was Percivale, the famed,
With the helmet crushing mace;
And gallant Lionell, who claimed,
In field and foray, foremost place.
There was Galahad, the divine,
Loved of angels and the Lord;
Who hung upon religions' shrine,
All the trophies of his sword.
There was Aglovale, of giant limb,
There was Tor, and Pelinore;
All knights in peril, bold and grim,
And full a thousand heroes more
Who made renowned the Table Round;
For knights of prowess and of worth--
Whose fame through fleeting times hall go
'Till deeds heroic fade from earth.
True knights who by King Arthur's side,
Full, twelve times, in bloody fray,
Crushed down the Roman ranks of pride;
And overwhelmed them with dismay.
Save King Arthur, of all that Train,
For deeds of hardihood and worth
Was none like valiant Beau de Main
'Mongst all the heroes of the earth.
True knight was he to friend or foe,
In time of peace and battle grim;
A heart more true in weal or woe,
Ne'er sent blood through human limb.
He was the knight of prowess bold,
And of sin untainted soul;
Whom the voice of Merlin had foretold,
Should the power alone control
That should slay the dragon fierce and grim,
Within a cavern dark and drear;
And monsters of gigantic limb
That guarded hoarded treasures there.
And bring the hoard from out that den,
With spirit void of mortal fears--
Though it had hidden been from men,
Twice one thousand fleeting years.
A royal feast at Camelot,
Had the noble Arthur spread,
Nor was there a single knight forgot
Who did glory's pathway tread;
All knights renowned of the Table Round,
And kings were gathered there, I ween,
There many a comely knight was found
And many a courteous queen;
The morning fair midst tourney sports,
Had most blithely past away,
The din throughout King Arthur's courts
Had sprightly rung of mimic fray;
The ground where it had been all strown,
With wreck'd and splintered spears was seen,
And plumes of every color known
With these were spread o'er all the green.
Had storms of lightning and of hail,
Fiercely over woodlands past,
And countless branches strown the gale,
And broken on the earth had cast;
And there unnumbered flowers brought
Of all shape and size and hue;
And strewing them 'midst limbs had sought
To hide the grassy earth from view;
It had resembled much the ground
Where had past that mimic fray,
Where shivered spears were cast around,
And torn plumes unnumbered lay;
And that grand morning's tourney prize
The gallant Beau de Main had won,
He 'neath King Arthur's judging eyes
The knightliest deeds had done;
And never breathed a man on earth
More fitter than that gallant king,
To judge a hero's knightly worth,
And deed of skill in tourney ring.
A mighty helm of flashing steel,
With purest ruddy gold inlaid,
That o'er it waving plumes reveal
That day as prize the Monarch made.
And on the head of Beau de Main
Was placed that helm by Arthur's hand,
While joyous shouts from all his Train
Reechoed loud across the land;
The fairest of the maidens there
Forth stepped from out the female crowd,
With wreath as fair as queen could wear,
On knee to her the hero bowed;
Firm on his head the wreath was placed,
Where waved the towering plumes above;
Then spoke the maid, A wreath ne'er graced
Chief fitter maiden's faith, and love;
And I have crowned thee here, Sir Knight
Champion of the Chaste and fair,
May virtue be thy guiding light,
And woman's honor be thy care.
All knights renowned of the Table Round
Have thronged unto the festive board,
Ceased is the clanging armor's sound,
And ringing clash of spear and sword,
With sparkling wave the cups are crowned,
For in them ruddy wine is poured;
And not a care-worn face is found
From humblest knight to proudest lord.
All is merry feasting, joy and mirth,
In every stir and sight and sound,
Nor happier scenes has witnessed earth
Since ever hero kings were crowned,
By knights where e'er the eye may go,
Are all beauteous maidens seen,
The best the whole wide world can show
In comeliness of face and mien.
Each gallant baron, king and knight,
Has his fair partner by his side,
For whose fair name and honor bright
He unto deed of death would ride.
The fair Gunever ever blest
With sweetest charms in beauty stored,
Sits with heart at ease and soul at rest,
Beside her loved and loving lord;
But those who'd know each beauteous guest
That sat around that spacious board,
Let them through Arthur's annals quest,
The tales will well their time reward!
Of her who sat by Beau de Main
It will be my duty here to tell:
Of all the maids 'neath Arthur's reign
She did in comeliness excell,
Her eyes were like the living light
Of meteors born of blue,
And from each orb, so starry bright,
A generous soul looked through
Her face like garden of the East
When summer blooms in all her prime,
Roses red and white the showers feast,
Do all commingling bloom sublime.
A nobler head and fairer brow
Was never seen with mortal maid,
Nor through all the ages until now
Were such wavy, golden locks surveyed;
As opening rose her mouth was sweet,
Never yet did rubier lip
The searching eye of nature greet,
Nor from a mortal goblet sip.
White as the foam the billows show,
Heaved 'neath gauzy silk her bosom fair.
As golden sushine cast on snow
O'er neck and shoulders stream'd her hair;
Her white round arms were like the down
That waves upon the autumn field,
That with snowy loveliness doth crown
The dark brown hulls that did it yield.
A form more perfect and more fair,
By nature crowned with nobler grace,
Ne'er trod the earth, nor breathed its air,
Nor did those of mortal mold embrace.
A foot more light, yet firm than hers,
Upon this world has never trod;
Not lighter summer's zephyr stirs
That bows no grass along the sod,
Her tread was like the fleecy snow
That touches on the river's face,
But ruffles not its tranquil flow,
Nor leaves behind the slightest trace;
Her voice was soft as wind that sighs
At summer through the sultry vale,
Sweet as perfumes that on it rise--
From violets, rose and lillies pale!
No wonder that the maid was fair,
And famed for beauty o'er the earth,
For from a bright immortal pair
'Twas said that maiden drew her birth.
A pair of angels, so the story runs,
Left their heavenly homes of yore,
To journey space and view the suns,
And countless planets to explore;
From world to world, from star to star,
The adventurous angels flew,
And where the comets blazed afar
All grand, but terrible to view;
And while amidst the realms of space,
Where worlds on worlds unnumbered glow'd
And over all creation's face
Their blazing lights eternal flowed.
Amidst the boundless realms afar,
A world they saw in glowing azure drest
That seem'd to them a gleaming star,
More beautiful than all the rest;
And down they shot on lightning wings
Beyond the utmost speed of thought,
Past planets form'd in glowing rings,
All with immortal beauty fraught;
And lighted here upon this sphere,
The lovely home of mortal man;
Enraptured stare the angel pair,
No world they'd seen of grander plan;
And here on earth their home they made,
Though all unseen of mortal men,
Save at noons when forests spread their shade,
And sunshine warm'd the hill and glen.
All those who saw the lovely pair,
Of them did wonderous marvels tell,
One was a maiden heavenly fair,
Her waving, golden tresses fell
O'er shoulders fair as froth on seas,
Face with all charms in rainbows seen;
Her airy step was like the breeze
That stirs not e'en the aspen green.
The other was a comely youth,
Of godlike, all commanding mien,
Whose visage seem'd the shrine of truth,
With every virtue glittering sheen;
The Genii he was styled by men
Of all the mountains and the hills,
And she was the Nymph of sunny glen,
And all the fountains and the rills;
One sole offspring, but of form divine,
Sprung from the union of this pair,
In her did all their virtues shine,
And all beauties of her mother fair:
They kept her in their secret glen
Throughout many an age of time.
And taught her all that mortals ken,
And all of angel lore sublime;
Then sent her forth as mortal maid,
To charm and gladden human kind;
In every glorious cause to aid,
And lead the race on paths refined.
Clotilda was this maiden named,
In Orkney she'd been born and bred,
And much through her those isles were famed,
Back in the misty ages fled.
The glories of King Arthur's court,
Had reached her in her secret glen,
And unto Camelot did she resort
To see this first of mortal men.
In quest of gallant knight came she,
Who could achieve adventures bold,
And for her pining captives free,
Grim giants kept in rocky hold.
But none like Beau de Main she found
In perilous deeds and knightly worth;
All knights renowned of the Table Round
He far out shone, and all on earth;
So he she singled for perils grim,
And dread, awe inspiring deed;
What recked he loss of life and limb,
Her faith and love his glorious meed;
If was death his lot, he lost her not,
His spirit would move at her side,
If he lived, then at high Camelot
Her King Arthur would give as bride.
Done is the feast, the mirth has ceased,
In King Arthur's glittering halls;
Where spear and sword and targes broad
Hang vast along the mighty walls,
Where axes bright and mace of might
The gazing coward's soul appalls;
And high o'er head the banner red,
O'er helms and gleaming armor falls,
In awful rows they there repose,
For not a sound to battle calls.
But loud the lay of love and fray
The skillful bards of Arthur sing;
Deep, full, strong, flows forth the song,
While chords of harps responding ring.
Of gallant knight and lady bright,
Of loves and hates and wars of old,
Of daring king in tourney ring,
Waving plume and helm of gold;
Of hydras dread with dragon's head,
By arm of mortal heros slain;
Of slighted oath and broken troth,
And dying friendship's throes and pain;
Hunts o'er brake, and moor for stag and boar,
And glories of the chase they sing,
And varied swell and songs as well
From bards and harps alternate ring.
The festive day is waning fast,
Yet shines the sun in Arthur's halls,
Though eastward of those towers vast
Apace a lengthening shadow falls;
Yet, 'ere he goes his beams are cast
In living splendor on those walls,
On shield and lance the sunbeams glance,
And all like waving flame they blaze;
On greaves of steel the sunbeams reel,
And flash around their blinding rays.
On shield and lance the sunbeams glance,
On Morion, sword and helmet sheen,
On armor bright those beams alight,
And all resplendent glows the scene;
So long they glar'd on polished steel,
And so intense the sheen became,
It seems those halls within reveal
One waving flood of dazzling flame;
Then at the sight as if inspired
With brightness that around them fell.
Each bard and minstrel's soul seems fired
With something more than mortal spell.
And loud and louder still their song,
And strains of music roar and ring,
'Till like a storm it sweeps along
Through all the castles of the king;
And swifly turns where splendor burns
The eyes of every chief and knight,
Soul and mind all thought and feeling spurns,
Save steel gleaming to the sunbeams bright.
While gleam'd the shine of the day's decline,
In princely Arthur's royal halls,
And stirring chime of minstrel's rhyme
Reechoed loud within the walls;
Strode in the hall an aged man,
With locks as white as Denmark's snow,
Who bowed to the king and then began
To speak in accents soft and low;
King Arthur, o'er many a mile
Of earth my weary feet have trod,
O'er mountain high and deep defile,
O'er deserts drear and vernal sod,
To many a kingly court I've been,
And noble kings were they, I trow,
But never place like this I've seen,
Through all my journeys until now.
The knights renown'd of the Table Round
Are known throughout the spacious earth,
Their praise doth sound where men are found
Who honor give to fame and worth;
And hither here I've sped to see
If any hero I can find,
Whose soul's of every baseness free,
And has an unpolluted mind,
For such alone can draw this sword,
From out its diamond studded sheath,
And he who doth, shall be its lord,
Nor any peril fear yon sky beneath;
With that he placed in Arthur's hand
A long, massive glittering sword,
Than Excalibur, far more grand,
More terrible and long and broad.
Long, long essayed the gallant king,
To draw from out its sheath that magic blade,
But it from sheath he could not bring,
Though he with all his might essayed;
Then all dismayed his chiefs surveyed
The ponderous, glittering brand
They knew 'twas vain for them to try
When failed had Arthur's stalwart hand.
They all essayed to draw that blade
They all essayed but Beau de Main,
In his hand was laid the starry blade
Nor was that hero's effort vain;
Forth at his touch the weapon came,
Loud rattling from its starry sheath,
The glittering falchion flashed like flame
From burning cloud on midnight heath;
Then high up on the Table Round
He the glittering falchion threw,
There it fell, with thundering sound,
While gems of lightning from it flew,
Abashed with surprise the heroes all
The wonderous deed behold,
And louder through King Arthur's hall
The swelling strains of music rolled.
Come, come with me, the old man spake,
And thou shalt rise to honors new;
Thou shalt yokes of banded tyrants break,
And glory's brightest path pursue.
Thou art the lord of magic sword,
And thou with it shall prowess do;
On battle field, 'twill cleave each shield,
And smite all mortal armor through.
Beneath its sheen and edges keen,
Those who never fled before shall fly;
And monsters grim in form and limb
That vex and curse the world shall die
So mount thy steed and with me speed
For ere yon sun our sight shall leave,
Thou shalt range through a castle strange,
And deeds of prowess high achieve.
Forth on their steeds the twain have gone,
From King Arthur's ancient halls,
Where yet the glowing sunbeams shone,
On glittering steel clad walls.
O'er moor and brake, by stream and lake,
The wild boar's reedy fen,
By hill and crag where roams the stag,
And wilds scarce known to men;
Ride on those twain, until they gain
A valley lone and drear,
Abrupt and grand on either hand,
The towering hills appear;
Each steep incline with fir and pine,
And oak and gum is crowned,
And o'er them the twine huge folds of vine,
That trail along the ground,
Though here and there the hills are bare,
No trees bedeck their side,
Yet there green moss with glowing gloss
Waves in its vernal pride.
O'er boulders steep huge torrents leap
Into the vale below,
O'er boulders brown those floods rush down,
With foam as white as snow.
In roaring mass they onward pass,
To a river deep and broad,
Those waters strong flow fierce along,
Too wild for steed to ford.
And midst its flow huge boulders show
At times their naked heads,
Some red as blood, some white as flood,
When froth its surface spreads.
And some are dark as is the bark
When charred by scorching flame,
Some somber brown that sternly frown,
O'er floods they can not tame;
That by them toil in fierce turmoil,
And o'er them dash their spray,
As if their pride all rocks defied,
That dared to bar their way;
And long that vale the lillies pale
Waved o'er those waters wide;
And roses set by violet
Bedeck the river's side;
And grasses green as ever seen
Wave o'er the teeming soil;
And incommode the narrow road
'Long which those horsemen toil,
And years have past, a number vast,
Since there has horseman trod;
All men feared well that haunted dell,
And shunn'd its fatal sod,
In rhymes of old strange tales are told
About that valley drear,
Of monsters dread that there are bred,
And fiends for men to fear;
Of dragons grim in form and limb,
That fly on wings of flame;
All O'er whose hide strange scales abide,
Hard as yet sword became;
And ne'er could feel the edge of steel,
All o'er its horrid frame;
And vain the force of man and horse
Its grisly rage to tame.
Ne'er mortal trod that fatal sod
By either night nor day,
But to its jaw and horrid maw
They instant found their way.
But little reck'd our hero bold
For idle tales that minstrels told
'Bout either glen or hill or wold,
Of caverns dread or giants bold,
His spirit knew no more of fear
Than rock 'round which the surges tear;
His soul was set on perils grim,
And these alone delighted him;
With hand on rein and rowels red,
He followed where that old men led,
Little he knew and less he cared,
What perils should that day be dared;
His arm was strong, his sword was keen,
He longed to dye its glowing sheen
With blood of paynim tyrants grim,
Or giants of stupendous limb;
Such as by bards were said to dwell
Within that valley lone and fell.
Onward he goes, at length he sees
Amidst a grove of giant trees,
Whose mighty limbs though spreading wide
With flame are darken'd, scorched and dried,
And 'midst them at the mountain's base,
A horrid cavern he could trace,
Where grisly dragons flame disgorge
Dread as yet stream'd from blazing forge;
There noxious flames terrific float,
Grim, pestilence and death denote;
Sulphurous fumes midst flame and smoke,
And chlorine, lungs and nostrils choke,
Yet in that cave of stifling breath,
Was silence dread as that of death;
Though from it flowed a mighty flood,
Of reeking liquid red as blood.
Then spoke the man of hoary head:
Through yonder cavern we must tread,
But thou the dangerous way must lead,
So ready make for daring deed:
Thy sword unsheath, onward spur thy steed
And I'll thy thirst for glory feed.
Roused at the voice, from out the cave
A fearful leap the dragon gave,
Forward it roaring comes amain,
Like mountain torrent swelled with rain;
Black broods the air above its head,
And serpents spring beneath its tread;
Its horrid jaws are opened wide,
Nor belching flames its fangs could hide;
Those were in awful rows revealed,
Though half in reeking gore concealed,
Which from its jaws dropped down like rain;
And from its neck a shaggy mane,
Black as was ever darkness found,
Hung down and trailed along the ground.
Broad was its head and vast its length,
And all stupendous seemed its strength;
And over all its sable hide
Were folds on folds of horny pride,
That sharpest steel of man defied
To pierce, or harm it to betide;
Two mighty wings it shook in air,
Stirred it as though a storm were there.
To gaze upon its mighty size,
Its lion's head and horrid eyes,
It seemed all vain for man to hope
In fray 'gainst such a beast to cope;
Too vast its force, too huge its length,
For mortal's steel or hero's strength.
But thought not thus the gallant knight,
He longed to meet that beast in fight;
He eyed it with a stern delight,
But ere he drew his falchion bright
To heaven a secret prayer he made,
Invoked his Lord Jehovah's aid;
Prayed as all knights and heroes true
Are wont, when glory they pursue.
Great God of every sea and clime,
Who sits 'midst seraph hosts sublime,
Thine the earth and sun and starry zone,
That journey round Thy endless throne,
Thine is the fount of life and light,
As well as death's all whelming might;
Thou gracious Judge of right and wrong,
Who can make the hero weak or strong,
Thy gracious ear to me incline,
And hear my thoughts for they are Thine
Almighty and eternal Lord,
This day, with victory, crown my sword!
Strengthen my arm, make good my breath,
That I may stretch yon beast in death;
Let earth drink up its vital gore,
So it may curse mankind no more,
Let it beneath Thy servant fall,
So may it be, Thou Lord of all!
Then swift, soon as the prayer he breathed,
He his glittering sword unsheathed,
And springing from his gallant horse
On foot he tries the dragon's force.
High o'er his head on ponderous wings
In air the horrid monster springs;
And as it strove with grisly claw
The gallant knight from earth to draw,
With one fell blow his sword he brings
On one of its tremendous wings,
Clean severed from its trunk it flew,
And prone on earth the monster threw.
From mouth that stream'd forth gore and flame
A dread, infernal roaring came;
On earth the wing descending fell,
With shock that shook the lonely dell,
While gore gushed from the monster's side,
And shooting far the forests dyed
Where o'er the trees on every limb.
Hung hissing folds of serpents grim.
Again the beast his head uprears,
For victory or death prepares;
Dread as the thunder cloud he came,
His throat a roaring fount of flame,
Swift as the lightning bolt it sped
A claw above the hero's head;
Another swoop of his trusty blade,
And on the earth that claw is laid;
Swift down it falls 'midst streaming gore,
To injure mortal man no more.
Then fiercer wax'd the monster's ire,
And dreader gushed the founts of fire;
Before those flames of sulphur dire
From conflict did the knight retire.
But through the path he sped, anon
The roaring terror thundered on,
Forward it sped where e'er he came,
O'er him casting forky, waving flame;
Yet sped the knight where purer air
Did soon his wasted strength repair;
Then high he reared his seven-fold shield,
Which shelter from the flame did yield;
And while on this he caught the flame,
Full on the roaring beast he came,
Between its eyes his reeking sword
Made horrid passage deep and broad;
Prone on the earth the terror came,
And ceased the roaring fount of flame,
Though fast and dread its serpent tail
Moved round the hero like a flail!
Backward a space the hero drew,
Where he could well the monster view,
Then back he sped with vigor rife,
To end the grisly Terror's life;
One full sweep with his trusty blade,
And the snaky tail on earth is laid;
Three times his sword he drives in gore,
And with a hoarse and horrid roar,
Shaking the earth on which it lies,
The roaring Terror writhing dies.
While rivers huge of reeking gore
Adown the winding valley pour.
The horrid serpents vast and grim,
That hang from every tree and limb,
All palsied drop with stiffened fang,
And breathe on earth their dying pang.
Soon as the grisly Terror dies,
And lifeless all it smoking lies,
From gore the hero wipes his sword,
Gives thanks to Heaven's eternal Lord.
Up through that cavern dark and drear,
Where that grim Terror made its lair,
Upon their strong and mettled steeds,
That hero with his guide proceeds;
Through subterranean passage drear,
They go and mock at night and fear.
The way was rough and dark and dread
For either steed or man to tread;
Yet safely on their way they made
Till daylight on the darkness played;
And here a gate did they survey,
That blocked the passage of that way,
Huge bars of steel and beams of brass,
A gate, a strong and ponderous mass,
That gleamed all o'er like molten glass,
Completely blocked that gloomy pass.
Down from his steed the hero springs,
And 'gainst the gate his force he flings,
But vain 'gainst it his strength he brings,
It neither stirs nor shakes nor rings;
Solid as rock or mountain's side,
It stood and all his force defied;
Nor least bewildered and amazed,
Upon that gate the hero gazed;
But strove and strove with all his force,
To move that gate and clear his course.
Then spake the man with hoary head:
The path we came again no man shall tread.
Behold, it all is closed with rock,
That ne'er shall move to earthquake's shock,
To flame, nor storm, nor hand of time,
Till nature's death-knell God shall chime.
Before us life and glory glow,
Behind are only death and woe,
To linger midst this stifling breath
Would shortly bring us ghastly death;
So then, most valiant knight and good,
Well proved in deeds of hardihood,
Once more 'gainst it thy valor try,
And clear the way or here we die;
Perhaps in this thy gleaming sword
May unto thee some aid afford."
Behind the hero cast his eye,
And nought but rock could he descry;
The path that they had journeyed through
No longer met his searching view;
But rocks as hard as e'er were drilled
In solid mass that passage filled,
Nor left the faintest trace behind,
Where'd been that pass for him to find.
A moment, and but a moment's space,
He gazed on the enchanted place,
Then from his sheath his blade he drew,
While sparks of lightning from it flew,
Which far and wide spread flashing round,
And filled the place with light and sound.
Then swift on that barrier grim
It sped with all his force of limb,
The ponderous gate terrific rings,
And from its place like lightning springs,
And instant fades from mortal sight,
Like on the cloud the flash of light.
Then spoke a voice, a voice sublime,
That seemed to sound all o'er that clime:
Dreadful hour and fatal day,
All our power has past away;
All, all our spells and magic grand,
Are wrecked for aye by mortal hand,
Past away, as foretold of yore,
By Merlin's voice and Merlin's lore;
Dreadful day and fatal hour,
That ends on earth the wizard's power.
Ceased the voice, but ere died its sound
Like rolling waves the earth stirred round,
'Till rocks from out their places rose,
And writhed with all terrific throes;
The lofty hills were rent in twain
A moment's space, then joined again,
While over all a sable cloud
Closed grim and dread with thunders loud,
Though not a lightning flash nor flame
From out that shroud of thunder came;
Dread and more dread the thunder rolled,
And darker grew that awful fold,
Beneath those peals of thunder loud
To earth their heads the forests bowed,
As if there a roaring whirlwind trod,
Or dreader still, an angry God!
The thunder ceased and shrieks aghast,
Loud as the roar of mountain blast,
Burst from that cloud's terrific fold,
Then all at once from sight it rolled;
Where it had been nought else was seen
But azure sky and mountains green,
A flowery dell with lofty trees,
That waved their leaves 'midst balmy breeze;
Along which that old man hoar and strange
With Beau de Main begins to range.
Far up that dell those travellers wound,
O'er barren rock and grassy ground;
At length a lofty hill they spy,
Piled up against the western sky,
Where many a tower confronts the eye,
With wall and gate and bulwark high;
All formed of vast stupendous blocks,
And seem'd a pyramid of rocks,
Of dark and green and red and gray;
By Titans piled in vast array,
To rear their battlements and towers,
When warr'd they 'gainst the heavenly powers.
High on the hills they stood sublime,
Seemed out of reach of storm or time,
As there they gleamed in grand array,
Beneath the beams of closing day!
But to them, of path, no utter trace
Was seen upon that mountain's face,
Of road where e'er the eye pursue
On right or left was caught no clue;
Like some rock-guarded eagle's nest,
High hung upon the mountain's crest,
Beyond the reach of hunter's hand,
Those towers amidst the sunshine stand!
O'er his eyes his hand the hero raised,
To shield them from the beam that blazed,
And at their splendor all amazed
Steadfastly on those bulwarks gazed,
For stronger, loftier tower
He'd never seen before that hour;
It looked all like some mighty hold
Reared by the Cyclops Kings of old,
Yet all within and all around
Seem'd wrapt in silence so profound,
So void of life and stir and sound--
Those hills seem'd with a phantom crown'd.
But while he gazed the old man spake:
Come, thy way to yonder bulwark take!
No road I see, the knight replied,
O'er all yon mountain's lofty side,
Its whole broad surface I can view,
And road on it I see no clue;
And vain for me or you to try
The scaling of that mountain high;
Those rocks are all too smooth and steep
For man up them to climb or creep.
There is a road, the other spake,
Thyself for it now ready make,
Within thy hand thy falchion take,
Lift shield, and keep thine eye awake,
For I may lead on peril's path,
And thou must nobly brave their wrath;
And never glory yet was won
By any knight beneath yon sun,
Who did not bravely troubles meet,
And all unflinching dangers greet;
And put all perils to defeat,
Be they of body or of soul,
And onward press to glory's goal!
While thus he speaks they swiftly ride
Far down along the mountain's side,
To where the base with trees was crowned,
And then 'midst tangled bush they found
There opened a passage broad and wide,
Right through the hollow mountain's side;
In rode the twain, and soon anon
Saw a broad, steep way leading on,
To where those lofty towers rose,
In dream-like silence and dread repose.
They reached the bulwark's lofty wall,
Pass'd through an archway broad and tall,
Where stood a gate wide open cast,
Wrought out of bars of iron vast,
Braced with hands of ponderous brass,
And those of steel in mighty mass.
Scarce by the gate those twain were past
Than 'cross the archway it was cast,
Closed with a fierce and sudden sound,
That echoed all those bulwarks round;
And loud and plain was heard the jar
Of placing lock and bolt and bar.
The knight turn'd round with searching eye,
But not a thing could he descry
In likeness of the human race
About that archway's ample space;
The deed was done by hand unseen,
Perhaps not one of mortal mien.
Then onward swift those horsemen ride
Into a court-yard long and wide,
Yet all the place of life seems free,
For not a beast nor man they see;
No sound of human voice they hear,
Nor any stir breaks on their ear,
Save their coursers' tread on stony ground,
They meet no other stir nor sound;
And these re-echo strange and drear
Through all those lofty bulwarks there.
Was it some dread, enchanted place
Unknown to those of mortal race,
Where never mortal trod before,
And whence he shall depart no more,
'Till time the judgment morn shall bring?
Or was it the tomb of some great king,
Who reign'd amidst the ages past,
Long since 'neath oblivion cast?
Who, though he rear'd a tomb as grand
As ever yet by monarch plann'd,
His fame and name he could not save
However cruel, good, or brave,
From wasting time and fleeting years,
That crumble all that mortal rears,
And all that nature can control?
While thus revolved the hero's soul,
From westward, from whence beam'd the sun
His setting rays o'er mountains dun,
He heard a deafening trumpet clang,
That echoing through those bulwarks rang;
Hills shook beneath that trumpet's blast,
As if through them an earthquake past,
And right between him and the light
The sunbeams cast upon that height.
A steel-clad champion he espied
Upon a coal-black charger ride,
With visor down and spear in rest,
Right onward unto him he press'd;
With clang of arms and courser's tread
The air was filled with tumult dread;
As if with riving thunders torn,
Not swifter yet a cloud was borne
Upon the pinions of the storm
Than sped that horse and steel-clad form;
And like a cloud that meets the sight,
Whose centre all is black as night,
Though round its edges lightnings play,
Gild it with terrible array,
For man and horse from head to heel
Are sheathed in plates of sable steel;
But gleaming helm and spear and sword,
And axe terrific, keen and broad,
That armed that rider cast a light
Like that round thunder-cloud at night.
Another glorious trumpet clang
Throughout those lofty ramparts rang;
And straight a line of glittering spears
Behind that rider grim appears;
Far down the hill they swift arise
Like flashing clouds that mount the skies,
And glowing helm and sword and shield
Are 'midst the rising ranks revealed;
And o'er the coming wave of steel
To and fro, golden banners reel.
Onward it came in swift career,
While dust made dark the stagnant air,
All that wide space grew dark and dun,
To silence sped the glowing sun,
As when the simoom fierce and red
Roars o'er the desert's sandy bed:
Yet nearer fast that wave of steel
Comes on with deafening trumpet peal,
That shakes the air with tumult dread,
While nearer sounds the measured tread
Of armed men, whose clanging sound
The stormy trumpet notes have drowned:
And nearer 'midst the dark'ning gloom
Is seen the coming helm and plume;
With broken gleams of ruddy light
Rise long arrays of lances bright;
The long arrays of shield and sword,
Of daggers keen and axes broad.
Then from those lofty ramparts rose
Storms of unutterable woes,
Sighs, lamentations and loud moans,
Horrible outcries and hoarse groans;
All languages--tongues of every clime
Mix'd in that storm of anguish chime;
With hands together smote amain,
And feet that stamp with throes of pain.
Made up a tumult dread and fell
As ever roused the king of hell;
Made up a tumult grim and drear,
That whirled through all that darken'd air,
Like burning sand the simoom lifts,
And on that roaring whirlwind drifts.
With ear intent and eye awake,
As stands the lion in the brake,
With soul as void of mortal fear,
As oaks round which the tempests tear
All things strange, Beau de Main watched there
That met his eye or pierced his ear.
My gallant knight, thus spoke his guide,
Fear not the least yon ranks of pride,
Though they hem thee in on every side,
Thou shalt as victor o'er them ride.
Go, cleave each gleaming helm and shield,
Yon host through thee to death shall yield;
First take this spear and spur thy steed,
'Gainst him who doth yon squadron lead;
Yon sable knight who comes so fierce,
Him through the breast and breast-plate pierce,
He said, then unto Beau de Main
A spear he gave of twisted grain.
All like a stately mast in length,
And like the mountain oak for strength,
Armed at the end with steel as strong
As e'er was forged, wrought sharp and long,
This swift the hero placed in rest,
Waiting for him who onward pressed.
As there he stood a sudden flame
Swift bursting from that darkness came,
High o'er the hemisphere it sailed,
And through the darkened air prevailed.
As some dark cloud of giant form,
That rides upon the roaring storm,
That shakes the world beneath its path,
Whose thunders mutter forth its wrath;
Whose lightnings fiercely round it play,
And guides it on its rapid way,
That meeting bursts with deafening shock,
Upon the side of some firm rock;
Then downward falls in sudden flight,
Before that rock and fades from sight
So met that hero Beau de Main,
So sudden rolled upon the plain;
Through breast-plate and through breast that spear
Had torn a passage grim and drear,
With horrid din his armor rung,
As horse and man to earth were flung;
O'er broken steel his crimson blood
Fast steam'd to earth in ample flood;
By fallen steed he writhed with pain,
And never to arise again.
As to earth that champion came,
Died in the air that flash of flame;
Swift from the hemisphere it sailed,
And the darkness grim again prevailed
Then favored by the solid gloom,
That gathered as the dread simoom,
Like whirlwind on that armed band
Rode Arthur's knight with flaming brand;
As through a grove of saplings strong
The horrid cyclone sweeps along,
Uproots and tears them from the ground,
And strews them all in ruin round;
Wide is its path and grim and dread
The devastation 'neath it spread;
When past the groves, it stays its course,
Then back returns with tenfold force;
Another path of ruin dread
Behind its roaring flight is spread;
So through that grove of lances bright,
Rode to and fro King Arthur's knight;
And all before him, right and left,
Went down with heads and helmets cleft,
Slaughtered and dying strew the ground
While armor clangs with horrid sound
And thunders through those ramparts tall,
Like waters o'er some mighty fall--
And echo over hill and glen.
Not tamely died those armed men:
They closed upon King Arthur's knight,
With sword and spear and axes bright;
Three times they closed in fierce array,
And three times stopped his gory way,
While on his shield with horrid clang
Their spears and swords and axes rang.
With fearful din they closed on him,
Like roarings of the lions grim
Upon the night o'er shadowed wild,
With reeking slaughter round them piled;
And hunger drives them on amain,
To make themselves tombs of the slain.
They closed like angry billows' shock,
At midnight on a solid rock,
Whose lofty head with giant pines
Towering o'er the deep inclines;
Who while the floods are rocked below,
The roaring storms that o'er them blow;
In thousand shapes their branches throw,
And from them make fell tumult flow;
The branches clash, the waters roar,
On tempests mingled tumults pour,
And waked by nature's fierce unrest
The eagles leave their lofty nest;
And mounting on the tempest's car,
High o'er the elemental jar,
They flap their wings, then whirl around,
Send far their screams on night profound;
So on that knight those men closed in,
With trumpet's clang and armor's din.
But while amidst that darkness dread
Their blows at Arthur's knight they sped,
Full many a warrior's buckler broad
Was rent by his own comrade's sword;
Full many a brawny bosom there
Was pierced by its own comrade's spear;
By scores they fell amongst the slain,
By their own men, not Beau de Main;
Yet fought that hero fierce and grim,
'Till not one living stood round him.
Died out the trumpet's stirring peal,
And ceased the horrid clang of steel;
Then through the darkness burst a flame,
That gleaming o'er the ramparts came,
And ceased of pain, the horrid din
That roar'd like storms those walls within;
The setting sun his glory threw,
Around and all that gloom withdrew;
There round the hero lay his foes,
All stark and still in dread repose;
There broken armor strew'd the ground,
Heads cleft or pierced with wounds profound:
They lay in reeking crimson drown'd.
None save that hero and his guide
Were living 'midst that wreck espied.
Where that huge steed and rider lay
Those twain there bent their eager way;
His towering plume of sable hue
From off his glittering helm they drew;
Then doff his helm and visor all,
Full on his face the sunbeams fall.
Darker than night his shaggy beard,
Matted o'er visage stern appeared;
A savage frown those features wore,
As always in their life they bore;
And glared his eyes in death unclosed,
As fierce as when he foe opposed;
Dark as the shades of night were they,
And gleam'd in death with piercing ray;
O'er them his brows descending flowed,
Black as e'er raven's plumaged glowed;
Like eagle's bill his massive nose
Descending o'er his mouth arose;
But this was hid from human eye,
With heavy beard of sable dye;
A fiercer countenance on man
Than his, ne'er yet did nature scan.
Taking his face and bearing all,
His mighty statue broad and tall,
Ponderous limbs of massive length,
That all bespoke a monster's strength;
He seem'd more like a Titan grim
Than one of mortal form and limb.
But he was one of mortal mould,
A giant cruel, strong and bold,
As in history we are told
Were often seen in days of old,
And wrought to mortal's dole and wrong.
His were those bulwarks tall and strong,
Whose walls of rock so broad and high,
Might wear of storm and time defy;
Whose bristling parapets and towers
Scoffing frown'd at human powers.
Right often did King Arthur's ear
Strange stories of these ramparts hear;
They told him of its mighty lord,
His savage statue tall and broad,
In size surpassing those of earth,
And who from monsters drew his birth;
Who lived on flesh of mortal men,
And drank their blood; who in his den
Unnumbered captives held in thrall.
Good knights and gentle ladies all.
But never could King Arthur's eye
The passage to those walls descry--
By day and night the path he sought,
But ne'er a clue to it he caught;
Or unto it had sped that king,
With all the knights that he could bring.
And he had raised that bulwark's wall,
Those captives straight had set from thrall,
Or he had with them found his fall
Beneath that grisly giant tall;
But of road or path no single clue
To reach those walls could Arthur view,
So safe from hand of mortal foe
They proudly scoffed at all below,
And safe within its lofty hold
Dwelt its tyrant owner fierce and bold,
Surrounded by a mighty throng
Of followers, haughty, huge and strong,
Who through the force of Beau de Main
Were numbered 'mongst the gory slain.
And for allies the giant sought
All who in necromancy wrought;
All conjurers of magic spell
Who wrought on earth the lore of hell;
Who could enchantments cast around,
And men with wizard's charms confound;
All those who could those arts unfold
Found favor in that lofy hold;
Through them he hidden kept the road
From men that led to his abode.
But ways there were and more than three
That gave egress and ingress free,
By which could pass both steeds and men,
From there unto the distant glen,
Easier far and safer more
Than that De Main had travelled o'er.
And when a destined deed he'll do,
He'll break the subtle secrets through,
To every road he'll find the clue
And easily each road he pursue.
In glowing chambers of the West
The sun's in all his glory drest,
Basking beneath his tingeing smile
Float round unnumbered clouds the while,
O'er his bright disk their forms they throw,
And 'neath him all resplendent glow.
All o'er the sky the clouds are rolled
With hues of amber and of gold,
With forms apart by sunbeams torn,
They all the western skies adorn.
But in the East a mighty cloud
Doth all the sky with sable shroud;
From earth unto the zenith's bound,
It spread its robe of gloom profound;
But bright on the darkness that it reared
A vision of glory there appeared;
It came like a spirit on the cloud,
Whose beauty could no darkness shroud;
It spread in a glorious arch,
From horizon to zenith did march.
Then sublime in its grandeur it stood,
O'er hanging the mountains and wood,
The valleys, the torrents, and flood,
Tingeing their flow with the hues of blood;
Sped the rays of the sun from the land,
Yet, that iris the heavens still spann'd;
Near the earth it ends darkened anon,
While in the zenith it still beam'd on,
Smiled on earth like an angel of light,
'Till the sunbeams departed from sight.
Then away like a phantom it fled,
And dense darkness after it sped.
Night o'er the mountains her banner unfurl'd,
And solid gloom settled over the world.
Next: The Dwarf's Quest: A Ballad, by Sophie Jewett