“Farewell, my Kathanal, take as you go
This spotless scarf, the girdle from my robe,
And put it where the purple plume has been,
And wear it as my favour in your helm.
If that lost plume was darksome omen ill,
Let this defy it with an omen fair,
A prophecy to spur you on your quest.
My heart says it is better as it is;
I joy me that you flung into the sea
That purple plume my loving, longing gaze
Has often followed in the tournament.
Remember, purple doth betoken pain,
And white betokens conquest, purity;
Look, Kathanal, beloved, in my eyes!
I know that you will find the Holy Grail.”
She stood immaculate, and from those eyes
That oft had kindled passionate desire
He drew an inspiration high and pure,
A prescient sense of victory and peace,
And falling on his knees once more, he bowed,
Kissed her white robe, and left her standing there.
Then followed days of struggle and dark gloom.
Far from the court he found a lonely cell,
Where morn and night he prayed, and, praying, wrought
A score of earnest, unrecorded deeds
To purify and cleanse himself from sin.
Oft the old passion would arise and sweep
His spirit bare of every conquest Once
The longing and the yearning were so great,
So strong beyond all thought of holiness,
He sprang up from his bed at dead of night
And stopped not, night nor day, until he reached
His old home by the sea, and saw Leorre.
Her hair had its untarnished golden glow,
Her beauty was unchanged, but her sweet mouth
Had caught a touch of pathos in its smile;
She wore a purple robe, and stood in state
Beside Sir Reginault,—who greeted him
With tender, grave, and kind solicitude,—
And lifted eyes that smote upon his heart
With a long gaze of passionate appeal
That held a pain at bay deep in their depths.
“So weak,” he whispered to his heart,
I will be strong for her, she needs my strength.”
Again he hurried from her sight, half glad
For the remembered pain within her eyes;
Ashamed of his own soul that it was glad.
For years he struggled, prayed, and fought his fight;
And sometimes when his soul was desolate
And he was weary from his eager quest,
When such a sense of deep humility
Would fall upon his praying, watching heart
That he would fain forego all in despair,
A marvellous ray of light, mysterious,
Would slant athwart the darkness of his cell,
Then he would rouse him to his quest once more
And say, “Perchance the Holy Grail is near!”
One night at midnight came the ray again,
And with it came a strange expectancy
Of spirit as the light waxed radiant.
The cell was filled with spicy odours sweet,
And on the midnight stillness song was borne
As sweet as heaven’s harmony—the words,—
The same Sir Launcelot had heard of old,—