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For we are Ancients of the earth,

And in the morning of the times.


So sleeping, so aroused from sleep

Thro' sunny decads new and strange, Or gay quinquenniads would we reap The flower and quintessence of change.


Ah, yet would I—and would I might !
So much your eyes my fancy take-
Be still the first to leap to light

That I might kiss those eyes awake!
For, am I right, or am I wrong,

To choose your own you did not care ;

You'd have my moral from the


And I will take my pleasure there:

And, am I right or am I wrong,

My fancy, ranging thro' and thro', To search a meaning for the song,

Perforce will still revert to you; Nor finds a closer truth than this

All-graceful head, so richly curl'd,

And evermore a costly kiss

The prelude to some brighter world.


For since the time when Adam first

Embraced his Eve in happy hour, And every bird of Eden burst

In carol, every bud to flower,

What eyes, like thine, have waken'd hopes,
What lips, like thine, so sweetly join'd?
Where on the double rosebud droops
The fulness of the pensive mind;
Which all too dearly self-involved,

Yet sleeps a dreamless sleep to me;
A sleep by kisses undissolved,

That lets thee neither hear nor see:

But break it. In the name of wife,
And in the rights that name may give,

Are clasp'd the moral of thy life,

And that for which I care to live.


So, Lady Flora, take my lay,

And, if you find a meaning there, O whisper to your glass, and say,

'What wonder, if he thinks me fair?'

What wonder I was all unwise,

To shape the song for your delight

Like long-tail'd birds of Paradise

That float thro' Heaven, and cannot light?

Or old-world trains, upheld at court

By Cupid-boys of blooming hueBut take it earnest wed with sport, And either sacred unto you.


So all day long the noise of battle roll'd
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur's table, man by man,
Had fallen in Lyonnesse about their Lord,

King Arthur: then, because his wound was deep,
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,

Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights,
And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land.
On one side lay the Ocean, and on one
Lay a great water, and the moon was full.

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
'The sequel of to-day unsolders all
The goodliest fellowship of famous knights
Whereof this world holds record.

Such a sleep

They sleep-the men I loved. I think that we

Shall never more, at any future time,

Delight our souls with talk of knightly deeds,
Walking about the gardens and the halls.
Of Camelot, as in the days that were.
I perish by this people which I made,—
Tho' Merlin sware that I should come again
To rule once more—but let what will be, be,
I am so deeply smitten thro' the helm
That without help I cannot last till morn.
Thou therefore take my brand Excalibur,
Which was my pride: for thou rememberest how
In those old days, one summer noon, an arm
Rose up from out the bosom of the lake,
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
Holding the sword—and how I row'd across
And took it, and have worn it, like a king:
And, wheresoever I am sung or told
In aftertime, this also shall be known:
But now delay not: take Excalibur,

And fling him far into the middle mere:
Watch what thou seëst, and lightly bring me word.'

To him replied the bold Sir Bedivere:

'It is not meet, Sir King, to leave thee thus,
Aidless, alone, and smitten thro' the helm.

A little thing may harm a wounded man.
Yet I thy hest will all perform at full,

Watch what I see, and lightly bring thee word.’

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