Collected Poems
" I thank you, gentlemen,
Though I am not so shaken, I dare say,
As you would have me. This is not the hour
When kings who do not sleep are at their best;
And had I slept this night that now is over,
No man should ever call me King again. "
He pulled his heavy robe around him closer,
And laid upon his forehead a cold hand
That came down warm and wet. " You, Bedivere,
And you, Gawaine, are shaken with events
Incredible yesterday, but kings are men.
Take off their crowns and tear away their colors
And let them see with my eyes what I see
Yes, they are men, indeed ! If there ' s a slave
In Britain with a reptile at his heart
Like mine that with his claws of ice and fire
Tears out of me the fevered roots of mercy,
Find him, and I will make a king of him!
And then, so that his happiness may swell
Tenfold, I ' ll sift the beauty of all courts
And capitals, to fetch the fairest woman
That evil has in hiding; after that,
That he may know the sovran one man living
To be his friend, I ' ll prune all chivalry
To one sure knight. In this wise our new king
Will have his queen to love, as I had mine,
His friend that he may trust, as I had mine,
And he will be as gay, if all goes well,
As I have been : as fortunate in his love,
And in his friend as fortunate as I am !
And what am I ? . . . And what are you you two I
If you are men, why don ' t you say I ' m dreaming?
I know men when I see them, I know daylight;
And I see now the gray shine of our dreams.
I tell you I ' m asleep and in my bed! . . .