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I did not come to curse thee, Guinevere, I, whose vast pity almost makes me die To see thee, laying there thy golden head, My pride in happier summers, at my feet. The wrath which forced my thoughts on that fierce law,

The doom of treason and the flaming death,

When first I learned thee hidden here,is past.

The pang-which, while I weigh'd thy heart with one

Too wholly true to dream untruth in thee,

Made my tears burn-is also past-in part.

And all is past, the sin is sinn'd, and I, Lo, I forgive thee, as Eternal God Forgives! do thou for thine own soul the rest.

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They summon me their King to lead mine hosts

Far down to that great battle in the west, Where I must strike against the man they call

My sister's son-no kin of mine, who leagues

With Lords of the White Horse, heathen, and knights, Traitors-and strike him dead, and meet myself

Death, or I know not what mysterious doom.

And thou remaining here wilt learn the event;

But hither shall I never come again, Never lie by thy side, see thee no more— Farewell!"

And while she grovell'd at his feet, She felt the King's breath wander o'er her neck,

And in the darkness o'er her fallen head Perceived the waving of his hands that blessed.

Then, listening till those armed steps were gone,

Rose the pale Queen, and in her anguish found

The casement: "peradventure," so she thought,

"If I might see his face, and not be seen."

And lo, he sat on horseback at the door! And near him the sad nuns with each a light

Stood, and he gave them charge about the Queen,

To guard and foster her for evermore. And while he spake to these his helm was lower'd,

To which for crest the golden dragon clung

Of Britain; so she did not see the face, Which then was as an angel's, but she saw,

Wet with the mists and smitten by the lights,

The Dragon of the great Pendragonship Blaze, making all the night a steam of fire.

And even then he turn'd; and more and


The moony vapor rolling round the King, Who seem'd the phantom of a giant in

it, Enwound him fold by fold, and made him gray

And grayer, till himself became as mist Before her, moving ghostlike to his doom.

Then she stretch'd out her arms and cried aloud,

"O Arthur!" there her voice brake suddenly,

Then-as a stream that spouting from a cliff

Fails in mid air, but gathering at the base Re-makes itself, and flashes down the vale

Went on in passionate utterance:

"Gone-my lord! Gone thro' my sin to slay and to be slain! And he forgave me, and I could not speak. Farewell? I should have answer'd his farewell. His mercy choked me. Gone, my lord the King,

My own true lord! how dare I call him mine?

The shadow of another cleaves to me, And makes me one pollution. He, the King,

Call'd me polluted. Shall I kill myself? What help in that? I cannot kill my sin,

If soul be soul, nor can I kill my shame;
No, nor by living can I live it down.
The days will grow to weeks, the weeks
to months.

The months will add themselves and make the years,

The years will roll into the centuries, And mine will ever be a name of scorn. I must not dwell on that defeat of fame. Let the world be; that is but of the world

What else? what hope? I think there was a hope,

Except he mock'd me when he spake of hope; His hope he call'd it; but he never mocks,

For mockery is the fume of little hearts. And blessed be the King, who hath forgiven

My wickedness to him, and left me hope That in mine own heart I can live down sin And be his mate hereafter in the heavens Before high God! Ah great and gentle lord, Who wast, as is the conscience of a saint

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Full easily all impressions from below, Would not look up, or half-despised the height

To which I would not or I could not climb

I thought I could not breathe in that fine air,

That pure severity of perfect light— I yearn'd for warmth and color which I found

In Lancelot-now I see thee what thou art,

Thou art the highest and most human too,

Not Lancelot, nor another. Is there


Will tell the King I love him tho' so late? Now-ere he goes to the great battle? none !

Myself must tell him in that purer life, But now it were too daring. Ah my God, What might I not have made of thy fair world,

Had I but loved thy highest creature here?

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I must not scorn myself; he loves me still.

Let no one dream but that he loves me still.

So let me, if you do not shudder at me, Nor shun to call me sister, dwell with you;

Wear black and white, and be a nun like you,

Fast with your fasts, not feasting with your feasts;

Grieve with your griefs, not grieving at your joys,

But not rejoicing; mingle with your rites;

Pray and be pray'd for; lie before your shrines;

Do each low office of your holy house; Walk your dim cloister, and distribute dole

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A white-hair'd shadow roaming like a dream

The ever-silent spaces of the East,
Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of


Alas! for this gray shadow, once a


So glorious in his beauty and thy choice, Who madest him thy chosen, that he seem'd

To his great heart none other than a God!

I ask'd thee, "Give me immortality." Then didst thou grant mine asking with a smile,

Like wealthy men who care not how they give.

But thy strong Hours indignant work'd their wills,

And beat me down and marr'd and wasted me,

And tho' they could not end me, left me maim'd

To dwell in presence of immortal youth, Immortal age beside immortal youth, And all I was in ashes. Can thy love. Thy beauty, make amends, tho' even

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Of April, and could hear the lips that kiss'd Whispering I knew not what of wild and sweet,

Like that strange song I heard Apollo sing,

While Ilion like a mist rose into towers. Yet hold me not for ever in thine East:

How can my nature longer mix with thine?

Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold Are all thy lights, and cold my wrinkled feet

Upon thy glimmering thresholds, when the steam

Floats up from those dim fields about the homes [die, Of happy men that have the power to And grassy barrows of the happier dead. Release me, and restore me to the ground. [grave; Thou seest all things, thou wilt see my Thou wilt renew thy beauty morn by morn, [courts, I earth in earth forget these empty And thee returning on thy silver wheels. About 1835. 1860.

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