“He gladdened then. I would not slip again,
And baulk the death of half its shame and pain.
I, his best sword, must fall, in earnest fight.
The old despair was coward—he was right.
Now, king, I pay your debt. A purple stain
Hides his laced throat—I sober at the sight.” [via]
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- “THE king was silent. In the blazoned hall Shadows, more mute than at a funeral True mourners, waited, waited in the gloom; Waited to hear what child was in the womb Of his high thoughts. As dead men were we all; As dead men wait the trumpet in the tomb. The king was silent. Tense the high-strung air Must save itself by trembling–if it dare. Then a lone shudder ran across the space; Each man ashamed to see his fellow’s face, Each troubled and confused. He did not spare Our fear–he spake not yet a little space.”
- “I turned–the path? My horror was complete– A flaming sword across the earthquake gap. I cried aloud to God in my despair. ‘The quest of quests! I seek it, for I dare! Moonward! on, moonward!'”
- “The king did start, Gripped my strong hands, and held me to his heart, And could not speak a moment. Then he set A curb of sorrow and subdued its dart. ‘Go! and the blessing of high God attend Thy path, and lead thee to the doubtful end. No tongue that secret ever may reveal. Thy soul is god-like and thy frame is steel; Thou mayst win the quest–the king, thy friend, Gives thee his sword to keep thee–Gereth, kneel! ‘I dub thee Earl; arise!’ And then there rings The queen’s voice: ‘Shall my love not match the king’s? Here, from my finger drawn, this gem of power Shall guard thee in some unimagined hour. It hath strange virtue over mortal things. I freely give it for thy stirrup’s dower.’ I left the presence. Now the buffeting wind Gladdens my face–I leave the court behind. Am I Stark mad? My face grows grim and grave; I see–O Mary Mother, speak and save! I stare and stare until mine eyes are blind– There was no jewel in the ring she gave!”
- “The king was silent. None of us would stir. I sat, struck dumb, a living sepulchre. For–hear me! in my heart this thing became My sacrament, my pentecostal flame. And with it grew a fear–a fear of Her. What Her? Shame had not found itself a name. Simply I knew it in myself. I brood Ten years–so seemed it–O! the bitter food In my mouth nauseate! In the silent hall One might have heard God’s sparrow in its fall. But I was lost in mine own solitude– I should not hear Mikhael’s trumpet-call. Yet there did grow a clamour shrill and loud: One cursed, one crossed himself, another vowed His soul against the quest; the tumult ran Indecorous in that presence, man to man. Stilled suddenly, beholding how I bowed My soul in thought: another cry began. ‘Gereth the dauntless! Gereth of the Sea! Gereth the loyal! Child of royalty! witch-mothered Gereth! Sword above the strong, heart pure, head many-wiled!’ The knightly throng Clamour my name, and flattering words, to me– If they may ‘scape the quest–I do them wrong; They are my friends! Yet something terrible Rings in the manly music that they swell. They are all caught in this immense desire Deeper than heaven, tameless as the fire. All catch the fear–the fear of Her–as well, And dare not–even afraid, I must aspire.”
- “I passed, confounded, lifeless as the clay, Somewhere I knew not. Many a dismal league Of various terror wove me its intrigue, And many a demon daunted: day by day Death dogged despair, and misery fatigue.”