Collected Poems
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LANCELOT
Time was! God help me, what am I saying now!
Does a Queen ' s memory wither away to that?
Am I so dry as that?^ Am I a shell?
Have I become so cheap as this? ... I wonder
Why the King cared ! " She fell down on her knees
Crying, and held his knees with hungry fear.
Over his folded arms, as over the ledge
Of a storm-shaken parapet, he could see,
Below him, like a tumbling flood of gold,
The Queen ' s hair with a crumpled foam of white
Around it: " Do you ask, as a child would,
For France because it has a name? How long
Do you conceive the Queen of the Christian world
Would hide herself in France were she to go there?
How long should Rome require to find her there?
And how long, Rome or not, would such a flower
As you survive the unrooting and transplanting
That you commend so ingenuously tonight?
And if we shared your cave together, how long,
And in the joy of what obscure seclusion,
If I may say it, were Lancelot of the Lake
And Guinevere an unknown man and woman,
For no eye to see twice? There are ways to France,
But why pursue them for Rome ' s interdict,
And for a longer war? Your path is now
As open as mine is dark or would be dark,
Without the Light that once had blinded me
To death, had I seen more. I shall see more,
And I shall not be blind. I pray, moreover,
That you be not so now. You are a Queen,
And you may be no other. You are too brave
And kind and fair for men to cheer with lies.
We cannot make one world of two, nor may we
Count one life more than one. Could we go back
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