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An Arthurian Miscellany at


poem by



MORGAN-LE-FAY, enchantress, queen of Avalon; soprano
VIVIAN, sorceress; mezzo-soprano
MERLIN, the enchanter, Arthur's councilor; tenor
ADRIHIM, the Spirit of the architect of King Sueliman; bass
ARIEL, the Spirit of music and light; soprano
A HERALD, tenor

Chorus of Fairies, Knights and Spirits

The scene of PART I is laid on the Isle of Avalon; of PART II,
At King Arthur's court; of PART III, at Castle Joyousguard.


A fairy isle, Avalon, which floats at the will of Morgan-le-Fay, its queen, the enemy of Merlin and King Arthur. In the distance rises the palace, where dwell Vivian, the sorceress, and the ladies of the court; terraces descend to the sea, where are marble quays, and the anchorage of the Ship of Dreams.

O Isle of Dreams, O Avalon,
   Thy shores are strewn with pearl and gold,
Across thy lakes the rainbows gleam,
   Around thy hills the sea-mists fold;
All that is fair, all that is fell,
   Is in thy form of fairy mold.

Across the drowsy purple seas
   Thou floatest as a thing of light.
No tempests vex thy golden days,
   No bitter winds assail thy night,
O charmèd Isle by magic raised,
   O dear rose-garden of Delight!

Enchanted Island, Avalon,
   Morgan-le-Fay is owned thy Queen,
She of the veiled, mysterious eyes,
   She of the cold and courtly mien,
She of the skilled and subtle hand
   That feeds the ring-doves as they preen.

Upon thy marble terraces
   The Queen sits in her regal state,
Upon her hand the witchcraft ring
   That gleams with evil eyes of Fate,
Within her heart an evil wish,
   Within her soul the soul of Hate.

Now who shall slay mine enemy?
   And who shall dupe Merlin the wise?
Destroy the power of his hands,
   And close his all unsleeping eyes?
Lo! all my wisdom fails and dies,
   My blackest arts are shorn of span;
I may not reach his soul unstained,
   I may not place him 'neath my ban.
By love alone may he be led:
   Send me the Lady Vivian!

Across the lawns with daisies pied
   She comes, the Lady Vivian!
Her eyes are bright as sparkling jet,
   She moves as only fairies can;
Her hair is gold, and bound with gems,
   She bears a jewelled peacock fan.

Within my chamber, rose-bedight,
   Subtle and sure I felt thy call;
My one desire thou long hast known:
   Of magic power I must know all!
I felt thy wish, and thy will of me,
Draw as the tides draw in the sea;
And I am come, my Queen, to thee,
   From Bower and Hall.

Lo! I am fair as the gods were fair,
   Fair as the nymphs that haunt the sea,
And I shall learn, ere I do thy will,
   The magic power of witchery.
I will seek the court where Merlin dwells,
I will win his love by magic spells,
I will damn his soul to a thousand hells
   With his own sorcery!

I shall be wise as thou art wise,
   And in my hand he shall be as clay;
I will lure his heart as the fowler lures,
   Who calls the bird but to maim and slay.
Give me the ring of Love and Hate;
My hand shall be as the hand of Fate;
He shall find Death when he seeks a mate,

Vivian and Morgan-le-Fay prepare
for the incantation.

See, they have brought the golden lamps,
   And magic oils of strange perfume.
And lo! they sing the ancient songs,
   They chant the long-forgotten rune.
The magic ship draws close amain,
   Across the sapphire seas of June.

The Incantation of the Magic Ship.

      Come, I command thee,
         Ship of enchantment,
      Rune of the waters
         Sing I to thee;
      Come from thy harbor,
         The far, golden haven,
      Where lost ships foregather
      Come, come!
         Come, come!
      Cordage of silver,
         Silken of sail;
      Come through the calms,
         The foam from thee flying,
      Swift as though borne
         On the wings of the gale.
      Charms of Phoenicia,
         Runes of the Northland,
      All the sea's magic,
         To thee I sing.
      Hither, O hither,
         Ship of enchantment!
      Come, I command thee, come!

She comes, she comes, the ship of dreams
   Across the far, mysterious sea;
Red as blood are her sails of samite,
   Her banners golden 'broidery,
With seamaids floating by her side,
   She comes, the ship of Sorcery!

Vivian departing for the Court of King Arthur.

Farewell, farewell, my Vivian!

   Oh, Fair and Fell,
   Farewell, farewell!

Now all the demons down in hell
Shall guard thee, Lady Vivian!

For life or death, for weal or woe,
Morgan-le-Fay, I go, I go!

   Oh, Fair and Fell,
   Farewell, farewell!

Now all the hosts of blackest hell
Guard thee, O Lady Vivian!

   Farewell, farewell!


Hall of the Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur presiding, with Merlin, his chief councilor, at his right hand. The knights are assembled and the feast is in progress when Vivian craves admission as the bearer of a peace-token from Morgan-le-Fay, kinswoman and enemy to King Arthur.

   Hail to Arthur!
      Hail to the lord!
   King and Host
      Of the Knightly board!
   Hail, all hail!
      Let the hall resound
   To the ringing mirth
      Of the Table Round!

Hail! hail! hail!
   With a roar of right good cheer
We drink the health in ruby wine
   Of fair Queen Guenevere.

To Guenevere and her gentle King
   Love and loyalty here we bring.
What ho! squires and pages fair!
   Wine! wine! in goblets rich and rare!
For the pledge is the Table Round,
   And with mirth let the halls resound.
      Hail, all hail!
         Let the hall resound
      To the ringing mirth
         Of the Table Round!

Good men and true, I give ye royal greeting,
   And quaff with joy your pledge of fealty;
May love preside at this, our joyful meeting,
   And love prevail 'twixt all the world and me!

My Lord, without the hall doth stand
   The Princess of Northumberland.

Across the floors vermilion-tiled
   She comes, my Lady Vivian!
Her eyes are bright as sparkling jet,
   She moves as only fairies can;
Her hair is gold, and bound with gems,
   She bears a jewelled peacock fan.

      I sing a land
   Most radiant and serene;
      With roses dight,
      And silver paths;
   The emerald lawns between,
      There clad in white,
      Fair ladies move,
   As fair as lilies of
      The beauteous night;
      And one most fair,
   Our radiant queen,
      Hath sent me here
   To bear her token,
      And sweetest greeting,
   Her faith unbroken,
      Her pledge this ring:

      "Upon his hand,"
      She smiling saith,
   "Who shall be provèd
      Wisest and best,
   This ring to him is given,
      This ring for love;
      And it shall know,
   Upon no other finger go
      In all the land,
      Of all the rest!"

Lo, she hath paced about the hall,
   To each in turn she bears the ring;
It grows, it shrinks, it changes shape,
   It sets the knights to marveling;
Sir Launcelot, Sir Bores have failed,
   It will not fit the knightly King.

Now to Merlin she slowly kneels,
   Upon his finger slips the band:
The magic gold holds fast and strong!
   He may not tear it from his hand!
About his heart and through his soul
   Rush the dark spells of Fairyland.

Because of the magic of the ring, Merlin is con-
   sumed with passion for Lady Vivian.

   Belovèd, O Belovèd!
      O gaze on me,
   Eyes of immortal splendor,
And let me lay my hand on thy bright hair;
      Thy lips are scarlet
   And thy voice is tender,
Thy cheek is like the rose of Persia.
   Listen, O Belovèd!

   Lo! all my power
I hold alone for thee!
   Give me thy heart,
   Thy love for an hour,
And thou shalt have dominion
   O'er all the sea and earth;
   Joyance and mirth
      Shall fill thy days,
For thee I'll rear another Fairyland!

MERLIN, VIVIAN (feigning love that she may
   acquire Merlin's learning and then destroy him)

At last, 't is thou for whom my soul hath cried!
At last, 't is thou! What matter aught beside?
O royal love, I know that thou art mine!
And all my joy, to know that I am thine!
Beyond all goals for which the world hath
E'en to the stars our loyal fate is riven!
Ah! this is life! that thou at last art near!
Ah! this is life! that thou hast found me dear!
Joy of the world, in one mad moment given,
Joy of the world, and glorious ecstasy of heaven!
Lo! I am thine, for ever thine,
   Through life and in death!

   Ah, heed her not!
      I fear for thee!
   Merlin, beware,
      'T is sorcery!

   O, heed her not!
      We fear for thee!
   Merlin, beware,
      'T is sorcery!
   Behold, her hair
      Is rusted gold,
   Her face is young,
      Her eyes are old,
   Her cheeks are pale,
      She bringeth dole;
   Her glance doth show
      A forfeit soul!

   O heed them not!
      O come with me!
   Have faith, my lord,
      I love but thee!

   Behold, thy hair
      Is shining gold,
   Thy beauty young,
      Thy wisdom old;
   Thy face is pale
      For love's sweet dole,
   But, O, my love,
      Thou art my soul!

Now fare they forth across the world
   To find the fairyland of joy,
Where dwell the Ladies of the Lake
   'Mid pleasures that can never cloy.
And now they pause within a wood,
   The haunted forest of Arroy.

The fabled forest-haunt of the fairies-a glade sur-
rounded by giant trees, in the centre of which rises
a hill whereon, at the bidding of Merlin, the Spirits
will build the Palace of Joyousguard.

MERLIN (calling upon the Spirits)
   Out of the womb of earth,
      Out of the caverned air,
   From seawaves green and gold,
      From fires' burning lair,
      Spirits of flame and wind,
      Ye who must serve the Tryne,
   The Star of the Mystic Inde,
      Come to my magic call!
      Come, I command ye!

ARIEL (the Spirit of music and light)
   We come, we are here,
      We kiss thy hand.

   We come, we are near!

ADRIHIM (Spirit of the architect of Sueliman's

Salaam to thee!
May the Wise One live a thousand years!
For I am thy servant Adrihim,
Adrihim, who builded
The Palace of King Sueliman.

   Rear me there a glorious dwelling,
      Gold and azure cramoisie,
   Rear its beauty past all telling,
      Fill it sweet with minstrelsy;
   Set its gardens fair and spacious,
      Fairest ever made for man,
   Fashion all things bright and gracious
      Fit for Lady Vivian!

   We obey, obey!

   Thy will is law!

   I hear, and obey!

So: Joyousguard is builded fair,
Formed from azure of the air,
Warmed bright with sunset golden glows,
Capped with shining argent snows;
Throughout its courts perfumed with Spring
Sweet young voices softly sing.

Master, thy slaves have built aright.
Enter the Palace of Delight!

Enter the Palace of Delight!


The banquet-hall of Joyousguard, decked for a feast and garlanded with flowers. Invisible attendants pass to and fro to strains of mysterious music. Vivian has decided upon the destruction of Merlin.

   A year hath passed, and Vivian
      Hath all of Merlin's magic learned.
   Alas! her heart of adamant
      Hath all his love and dolor spurned.
   Yet hath she smiled as lovers smile,
      While in her soul an hatred burned.

Vivian prepares a feast in honor of Merlin, where-
   at she will rid herself for ever of his presence.

   To me, Spirits all!
   List to my magic call!
   Rouse ye! appear!
      Heed my command!
   Behold, a year
      Hath passed away,
And I would feast my lord, Merlin;

So I will brew a cup of Sleep,
A draught of Silence, deep on deep;
Into a tomb of carven stone
He shall descend to dream alone;
By his own thoughts companionèd,
Living, to lie among the dead.

CHORUS OF SPIRITS (terrified and angered)
   Alas! alas! Pity! pity! O Vivian!
   We obey not thy behest!
      Woe! woe!
   Guile, in the robe of Beauty drest!
   Now, by the souls with God at rest,
   We do defy thy will unblest!

Vivian compels the Spirits by the greater force
   of her evil magic.

   Obey! obey!
      Heed my will!
   Your souls are mine,
      Good or ill!
   On ye all
      I lay the spell:
   Heaven's thrall,
      Strength of Hell!
   Come, then, minions,
      I forbid ye:
   Warn not my lord
      Of the fate that awaits him!
   Lo! he comes.

All heedless now the master comes,
   By his great love made wholly blind,
Save to the festive garlands hung,
   And the fair music of the wind,
And to the glance of Vivian,
   Who smiles upon him fair and kind.

Merlin, though able to read the future for others,
   Was blinded to his own doom.

Wherefore these garlands, Lady mine!
   Wherefore this music in the air?
These fragrant jewelled robes of thine,
   And thy sage eyes grown debonnaire?

      Master, it is for thee;
      A year ago this day
   From Arthur's court we came away.

   A year of love, a year of joy,
   A year of gold without alloy!
   Wisdom and youth together blent,
   With every sense in full content.

This feast for thee, my Lord, my Love!

   I drink to thee, O Lady mine!
   Bring me the rarest perfumed wine
   Wherein to pledge my love and thine.

VIVIAN (tendering the cup of death)
Take thou this cup: with mine own hand
I poured the wine; drink deep, my Lord!

CHORUS OF SPIRITS (seeking to warn Merlin)
   Woe! woe! Master, beware!
   Have mercy, Vivian!

Now what befalls?-My senses reel-
Help! Vivian! I feel
My being ebb-thou art not nigh-
Kiss me, my Lady, before I die!

Vivian spins the magic shroud.

   Woe! woe! woe! woe!
She bends above him, laughs aloud,
   Unbinds her hair of rusted gold;
See, from her quick and cunning hands
   A shroud of golden hair unfold
Like a huge spiderweb of Hate,
   That wraps him in its meshes cold.

   From my hair a shroud I spin,
   Wrought of magic and of sin;
   Merlin, all I learned of thee,
   Yet know naught to set thee free!
   Here in stupor shalt thou lie,
   Till a thousand years go by,
   But one thought for company:
   Thou liest here for love of me,
   Love of Lady Vivian.

Merlin is sealed within the tomb.

She signs, and waves her peacock fan:
   Behold, a yawning cavern tomb!
And now the Spirits at her word
   Bear Merlin's corpse across the room,
'Mid lighted tapers, row on row,
   And voices wailing through the gloom.

   Vivian! Vivian! Vivian!

Farewell, then! Lie thou there in state,
Canopied by mine own Hate.

   Curses on thee, Vivian!
   Every Spirit gives thee hate;
   Thou hast no need of book or bell
   To condemn thy soul to hell!

   I forgive thee, Vivian!

Next: Mordred, a Tragedy, by Henry Newbolt [1895]