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After Reading “Le Morte D’Arthur”

ISSUE:  Autumn 1958

So, having felled the Green Knight at the ford,
Broken the Blue Knight’s sword,
And pushed the Red to the Utterance,
Sir Thomas Malory
After a hundred perils passed,
By the Black Knight unhorsed at last
In the Dark Tower was cast;

Where left by friend and foe languishing,
Unpardoned by the king,
Crying alas for villainous chance,
Sir Thomas prayed
God and his Mother to deliver him;
Who nevertheless gave him for his sins
A long night to remember in.

Of triumphs on old fields—and he young—
Lions and leopards running among
Horses with mummers’ faces
Sir Thomas dreamed;
Of the hacking and hewing, the crying
To God and his Mother of the dying,
Trampled under feet, and flags flying,

And wept afresh his captivity,
Till God or his Mother it may be
By the French book delivered him.
And Sir Thomas mad
Beyond time a world of worshipful knights
Stern, passing dangerous fights,
But wounds healed, wrongs made right,

All in a maytime of valor and love,
With leopards and lions running above
The living rose of chivalry.
Till Sir Thomas learned
How Lancelot, all good knights come at last
To the Dark Tower and noble things pass—
And for mankind he cried alas.


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