“I am the king: you know it, friend! We wed.
That is the tale of how my wooing sped.
And oh! the quest: half won—incredible?
I am so brave, and pure—folk love me well.
But oh! my life, my being! That is dead,
And my whole soul—a whirlwind out of hell!” [via]
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- “I too was wounded: shameful runs the song. She nursed me through that melancholy long Month of despair: she won my life from death. Ah God! she won that most reluctant breath Out of corruption: love! ah! love is strong! What waters quench it? King Shalomeh saith.”
- “But carelessness Of life and death and love is on me–yes! Only the quest! if any quest there be! What is my purpose? Could the Godhead guess?”
- “Loved, and no sin done! Ay, the world shall see The quest is first–a love less terrible. Yet, as I ride toward the edge of snow That cuts the blue, I think. For even so Comes reason to me: ‘Oh, return, return! What folly is it for two souls to burn With hell’s own fire! What is this quest of woe? What is the end? Consider and discern!’ Banish the thought! My working reason still Is the rebellious vassal to my will, Because I will it. That is God’s own mind. I cast all thought and prudence to the wind: On, to the quest! The cursed parrot hill Mocks on, on, on! The thought is left behind.”
- “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 plain is covered with a many dead. Glisten white bone and salt-encrusted head, Glazed eye imagined, of a crystal built. And see! dark patches, as of murder spilt. Ugh! ‘So thy fellows of the quest are sped! Thou shall be with them: onward, if thou wilt!’ So was the chilling whisper at my side, Or in my brain.”