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An Arthurian Miscellany at




The Rubric
When the brown bowl is filled for yule, let the dome or upper half be set on; then let the waes-haelers kneel one by one and draw up the wine with their reeds through the two bosses at the rim. Let one breath only be drawn by each of the morice for his waes-hael.

Waes-hael for knight and dame!
   O! merry be their dole;
Drink-hael! in Jesu's name
   We fill the tawny bowl;
But cover down the curving crest,
Mould of the orient lady's breast.

Waes-hael! yet lift no lid:
   Drain ye the reeds for wine!
Drink-hael! the milk was hid
   That soothed that Babe divine;
Hushed, as this hollow channel flows,
He drew the balsam from the rose.

Waes-hael! thus glowed the breast
   Where a God yearned to cling;
Drink-hael! so Jesu pressed
   Life from its mystic spring;
Then hush, and bend in reverent sign,
And breathe the thrilling reeds for wine.

Waes-hael! in shadowy scene,
   Lo! Christmas children we;
Drink-hael! behold we lean
   At a far Mother's knee;
To dream, that thus her bosom smiled,
And learn the lip of Bethlehem's Child.
   The rounded shape of the bowl for waes-hael was intended to recal the image of a mother's breast; and thus it was meant, with a touching simplicity, to blend the thought of our Chrismas gladness with the earliest nurture of the Child Jesus.

Next: Queen Guennivar's Round, by Robert Stephen Hawker [1869]