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And weighing find them less; for gone

is he

To wage grim war against Sir Lancelot there,

Round that strong castle where he holds the Queen;

And Modred whom he left in charge of all, The traitor-Ah, sweet lady, the King's grief For his own self, and his own Queen and realm,

Must needs be thrice as great as any of ours!

For me, I thank the saints, I am not great;

For if there ever come a grief to me
I cry my cry in silence, and have done;
None knows it, and my tears have
brought me good.

But even were the griefs of little ones As great as those of great ones, yet this grief

Is added to the griefs the great must bear,

That, howsoever much they may desire Silence, they cannot weep behind a cloud:

As even here they talk at Almesbury About the good King and his wicked Queen,

And were I such a King with such a Queen,

Well might I wish to veil her wicked


But were I such a King it could not be."

Then to her own sad heart mutter'd the Queen,

"Will the child kill me with her innocent talk?"

But openly she answer'd, "Must not I, If this false traitor have displaced his lord, [realm?" Grieve with the common grief of all the

"Yea," said the maid, "that all is woman's grief,

That she is woman, whose disloyal life Hath wrought confusion in the Table Round

Which good King Arthur founded, years ago,

With signs and miracles and wonders,


At Camelot, ere the coming of the Queen."

Then thought the Queen within herself again,

"Will the child kill me with her foolish prate?"

But openly she spake and said to her, "O little maid, shut in by nunnery walls,

What canst thou know of Kings and Tables Round,

Or what of signs and wonders, but the signs

And simple miracles of thy nunnery?"

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Then thought the Queen, " Lo! they have set her on,

Our simple-seeming abbess and her nuns, To play upon me," and bow'd her head nor spake. Whereat the novice crying, with clasp'd hands,

Shame on her own garrulity garrulously, Said the good nuns would check her gadding tongue

Full often," and, sweet lady, if I seem To vex an ear too sad to listen to me, Unmannerly, with pratiling and the tales

Which my good father told me, check me too

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To reverence the King, as if he were Their conscience, and their conscience as their King,

To break the heathen and uphold the Christ,

To ride abroad redressing human wrongs, To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it, To honor his own word as if his God's, To lead sweet lives in purest chastity, To love one maiden only, cleave to her, And worship her by years of noble deeds, Until they won her; for indeed I knew Of no more subtle master under heaven Than is the maiden passion for a maid, Not only to keep down the base in man, But teach high thought, and amiable words

And courtliness, and the desire of fame, And love of truth, and all that makes a


And all this throve before I wedded thee, Believing, "Lo, mine helpmate, one to feel

My purpose and rejoicing in my joy!" Then came thy shameful sin with Lancelot;

Then came the sin of Tristram and Isolt; Then others, following these my mightiest knights,

And drawing foul ensample from fair


Sinn'd also, till the loathsome opposite Of all my heart had destined did obtain, And all thro' thee! so that this life of mine

I guard as God's high gift from scathe and wrong,

Not greatly care to lose; but rather think How sad it were for Arthur, should he


To sit once more within his lonely hall. And miss the wonted number of my knights,

And miss to hear high talk of noble deeds
As in the golden days before thy sin.
For which of us who might be left could

Of the pure heart, nor seem to glance at thee?

And in thy bowers of Camelot or of Usk Thy shadow still would glide from room to room,

And I should evermore be vext with thee
In hanging robe or vacant ornament,
Or ghostly footfall echoing on the stair.
For think not, tho' thou wouldst not
love thy lord,

Thy lord has wholly lost his love for thee.

I am not made of so slight elements. Yet must I leave thee, woman, to thy shame.

I hold that man the worst of public foes Who either for his own or children's sake,

To save his blood from scandal, lets the wife

Whom he knows false abide and rule the house:

For being thro' his cowardice allow'd Her station, taken everywhere for pure, She like a new disease, unknown to men, Creeps, no precaution used, among the crowd,

Makes wicked lightnings of her eyes, and saps

The fealty of our friends, and stirs the pulse

With devil's leaps, and poisons half the young.

Worst of the worst were that man he that reigns!

Better the King's waste hearth and aching heart

Than thou reseated in thy place of light, The mockery of my people and their bane!"

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