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ANTHOLOGY OF MASSACHUSETTS POETS (60)

2006-08-28 19:24

    THE SWORD OF ARTHUR

    A CASTLE stands in Yorkshire (Oh, the hill is fair and green!) And far beneath it lies a cave No living man has seen.

    It is the cave enchanted (Oh, seek it ere ye die!) And there King Arthur and his knights In dreamless slumber lie.

    One time a peasant found it (Oh, the years have hurried well!) It was the day of fate for him, And this is what befell:

    Upon a couch of crystal (Oh, heart be pure and strong!) He saw the King, and, close beside, The armored knights athrong.

    And all of them were sleeping (Praise God, who sendeth rest!) The sleep that comes when strife is done And ended every quest.

    Beside the good King Arthur (How high is your desire?) His sword within its scabbard lay, The sword with blade of fire.

    Now had the peasant known it (Oh, if we all could know!)

    He should have drawn that wondrous blade Before he turned to go.

    If but his hand had touched it (The sword still lieth there!) He would have felt in every vein A lofty purpose thrill. If but his hand had drawn it (The sword still lieth there!) A kingly way he would have walked, Wherever he might fare. But no; he fled affrighted (Oh, pitiful the cost!) And then he knew; but lo! the way Into the cave was lost.

    He searched forever after (All this was long ago!) But nevermore that crystal cave His eager eyes could know.

    Pray God ye have the vision (Oh, search in every land!) To seize the sword that Arthur bore When it lies at your hand.

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