Collected Poems
" I should say, ' Let them be as they have been.
A few more years will heap no vast account
Against eternity, and all their love
Was what I gave them. They brought on the end
Of Arthur ' s empire, which I wrought through Merlin
For the world ' s knowing of what kings and queens
Are made for; but they knew not what they did
Save as a price, and as a fear that love
Might end in fear. It need not end that way,
And they need fear no more for what I gave them;
For it was I who gave them to each other. '
If I were God, I should say that to you. "
He saw tears quivering in her pleading eyes,
But through them she could see, with a wild hope,
That he was fighting. When he spoke, he smiled
Much as he might have smiled at her, she thought,
Had she been Gawaine, Gawaine having given
To Lancelot, who yet would have him live,
An obscure wound that would not heal or kill.
" My life was living backward for the moment, "
He said, still burying in the coals and ashes
Thoughts that he would not think. His tongue was dry,
And each dry word he said was choking him
As he said on : " I cannot ask of you
That you be kind to me, but there ' s a kindness
That is your proper debt. Would you cajole
Your reason with a weary picturing
On walls or on vain air of what your fancy,
Like firelight, makes of nothing but itself?
Do you not see that I go from you only
Because you go from me? because our path
Led where at last it had an end in havoc,
As long we knew it must as Arthur too,
And Merlin knew it must? as Go ' d knew it must?