Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

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 Aing 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 helni.

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.”

So saying, from the ruin'd shrine he stept

And in the moon athwart the place of tombs,
Where lay the mighty bones of ancient men,
Old knights, and over them the sea-wind sang
Shrill, chill, with flakes of loam. He, stepping

down

By zig-zag paths, and juts of pointed rock,
Came on the shining levels of the lake.

There drew he forth the brand Excalibur,
And o'er him, drawing it, the winter moon,
Brightening the skirts of a long cloud, ran forth

And sparkled keen with frost against the hilt:

For all the haft twinkled with diamond sparks,

Myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth-work

Of subtlest jewellery. He gazed so long
That both his eyes were dazzled, as he stood,
This way and that dividing the swift mind,
In act to throw: but at the last it seem'd

Better to leave Excalibur conceal'd

There in the many-knotted waterflags,

That whistled stiff and dry about the marge.

So strode he back slow to the wounded King.

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere : “ Hast thou perform'd niy niission which I gave?

I

What is it thou hast seen ? or what hast heard ?"

And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere :

“I heard the ripple washing in the reeds, And the wild water lapping on the crag."

To whom replied King Arthur, faint and pale : “ Thou hast betray'd thy nature and thy name, Not rendering true answer, as beseem'd Thy fëalty, nor like a noble knight: For surer sign had follow'd, either hand,

a

Or voice, or else a motion of the nere.

This is a shameful thing for men to lie.
Yet

now, I charge thee, quickly go again

As thou art lief and dear, and do the thing

I bad thee, watch, and lightly bring me word.”

Then went Sir Bedivere the second time

Across the ridge, and paced beside the mere,
Counting the dewy pebbles, fix'd in thought ;
But when he saw the wonder of the hilt,
How curiously and strangely chased, he smote
His palms together, and he cried aloud.

“ And if indeed I cast the brand away,

Surely a precious thing, one worthy note,

Should thus be lost for ever from the earth,

Which might have pleased the eyes of many men. What good should follow this, if this were done? What harm, undone? deep harm to disobey,

Seeing obedience is the bond of rule.

Were it well to obey then, if a king demand

An act unprofitable, against himself?
The King is sick, and knows not what he does.

What record, or what relic of my lord

a

Should be to astertime, but empty breath
And rumours of a doubt? but were this kept,
Stored in some treasure-house of mighty kings,
Some one night show it at a joust of arms,

Saying, 'King Arthur's sword, Excalibur,
Wrought by the lonely maiden of the Lake.

Nine years she wrought it, sitting in the deeps
Upon the hidden bases of the hills.'

So might some old man speak in the aftertime

To all the people, winning reverence.

But now much honour and much fame were lost."

So spake he, clouded with his own conceit,

And hid Excalibur the second time,

And so strode back slow to the wounded King.

Then spoke King Arthur, breathing heavily :

“What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard ?

And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere:

“ I heard the water lapping on the crag,

« PředchozíPokračovat »