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An Arthurian Miscellany at

When Tristan Sailed


Helen Hay Whitney

When Tristan sailed from Ireland
Across the summer sea,
How young he was, how debonnaire,
How glad he was and free.
Why should he know the gales would blow,
The skies be black above,
How should he dream his port was Death,
And Doom, whose name is Love?

The Lady Iseult, sweet as prayer,
We hardly dare to pray,
Pearl-pale beneath her shadow hair,
Grows fairer day by day,
The ichor gains her spring-kissed veins,
Her skies the eyes of youth.
How should she dream the ichor Love,
Was hellebore in truth?

So Tristan sailed from Ireland
As youth must always sail;
He quaffed the cup, nor asked the wine;
He dared, nor feared to fail.
And be it poison, be it life,
Or wrecks that strew the shore,
Tristan set forth! nor ask the end,
Else youth shall sail no more.

Next: Merlin: A Drama in Three Acts, by Lambert A. Wilmer [1827]