The pale queen’s honour! A low laugh scathing
A mumbling as made by the dead in the tombs ye wot.
Braveth the dead this queen? ’Hear it, whoso hath hearing,
I vowed by my love, cold king, but I loved thee not.’
Honour! An echo in aisles and the solemn portals,
Low sinketh this queen by the bier with its freight forlorn;
Yet kneeling, ‘Hear me!’ she crieth, ’you just immortals,
You saints bear witness I vowed and am not forsworn.
I vowed in my youth, fool-king, when the golden fetter
Thy love that bound me and bann’d me full weary I wore,
But all poor men of thy menai I held them better,
All stalwart knights of thy train unto me were more.
Twenty years I have lived on earth and two beside
Thirty years thou didst live on earth, and two on the throne:
Let it suffice there be none of thy rights denied thee,
Though I dare thy presence—I—come for my ring alone.’
She risen shuddereth, peering, afraid to linger
Behold her ring, it shineth! ’Now yield to me, thou dead,
For this do I dare the touch of thy stark stiff finger.’
The queen hath drawn her ring from his hand, the queen hath fled.
’O woman fearing sore, to whom my man’s
The faith enwrought with love and life hath mocks for its meed’—
The dead king lying in state, of his past bereaved,
Twice dead. Ay, this is death. Now dieth the king indeed.
’Wake, the seely gnomes do fly,
Drenched across yon rainy sky,
With the vex’d moon-mother’d elves,
And the clouds do weep themselves
All night long
Hath thy weird thee sore opprest;
Wake, I have found within my breast
Counsel.’ Ah, the weird was strong,
But the time is told. Release
Openeth on him when his eyes
Lift them in dull desolate wise,
And behold he is at peace.
Ay, but silent. Of all done
And all suffer’d in the night,
Of all ills that do him spite
She shall never know that one.
Then he heareth accents bland,
Seeth the queen’s ring on his hand,
And he riseth calmed withal.
Rain and wind on the palace wall
Beat and bluster, sob and moan,
When at noon he musing lone,
Comes the queen anigh his seat,
And she kneeleth at his feet.
Quoth the queen, ’My love, my lord,
Take thy wife and take thy sword,
We must forth in the stormy weather,
Thou and I to the witch together.
Thus I rede thee counsel deep,
Thou didst ill to sell thy sleep,
Turning so man’s wholesome life
From its meaning. Thine intent
None shall hold for innocent.
Thou dost take thy good things first,