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An Arthurian Miscellany at




"Here, with my arms curled round the sacred cross
         That in white warning stands above his bones,
         I crouch, with hot limbs pressed against the stones,
And moan his name, and wail and weep his loss.
"Stand back, good sirs -- ye shall not drag me hence;
         But, pray ye, keep between me and King Mark;
        My husband? yes -- God pity me -- but hark,
Surely ye know not his most foul offence.
"Yet know ye how he came, that rainy day,
        When Tristram played the harp to me, to keep
        The hours in joyance. -- Ah, sirs, could ye sleep,
And in a dream but hear Sir Tristram play --
"How like the tinkle of a silver bell
        The sweet notes from his cunning fingers tripped,
        In airy melody that softly slipped
Into the heart, with sunny stir and swell. --
"In very heaven of joy I heard him play,
        And saw his eyes with love grow master-ful;
        When, at a sudden, stealthy, noiseless pull,
The curtains parted and for Mark made way.
"I felt my lips were frozen in a smile,
        And with that fixèd smile I watched King Mark
        Drive his sharp glaive thro' Tristram's throat, still stark
My Tristram lay -- and I said naught the while,
"Until that man came to me -- half in fear,
        I wot -- whereat I shrieked, and in a swoon
        Fell down, and knew no more until the moon
Rose yesternight, and then I hurried here.
"Now shall Mark come to judge me? -- he? -- who knew
        All of my Tristram's love from first to last,
        And knowing how that love would bind him fast
Made use of him to keep his kingdom true.
"Has any man who profits by a sin,
        In ways direct or indirect, a right
        To sit as judge of what is black or white,
Or join his voice to the accusing din?
"O, I can say no more! -- do what ye will!
        My heart grows sick above my Tristram's tomb --
        O loyal love, how fares it in the gloom?
Dost hear my voice? hath it the old-time thrill?
"Rest, rest, my love -- I grow so weak and faint,
        Thou shalt not wait me long. O blessed hour!
        When from the gate of heaven's portal-tower
Thou wilt rush forth to still my cold complaint."

Next: Sir Palamides, by John Grosvenor Wilson [1886]