Collected Poems
That irked him out of utterance, found again
Before him a still plain without an army.
What the mist hid between him and the distance
He knew not, but a multitude of doubts
And hopes awoke in him, and one black fear,
At sight of a truce-waving messenger
In whose approach he read, as by the Light
Itself, the last of Arthur. The man reined
His horse outside the gate, and Lancelot,
Above him on the wall, with a sick heart,
Listened : " Sir Gawaine to Sir Lancelot
Sends greeting; and this with it, in his hand.
The King has raised the siege, and you in France
He counts no longer with his enemies.
His toil is now for Britain, and this war
With you, Sir Lancelot, is an old war,
If you will have it so. " " Bring the man in, "
Said Lancelot, " and see that he fares well. "
All through the sunrise, and alone, he sat
With Gawaine ' s letter, looking toward the sea
That flowed somewhere between him and the land
That waited Arthur ' s coming, but not his.
" King Arthur ' s war with me is an old war,
If I will have it so, " he pondered slowly;
" And Gawaine ' s hate for me is an old hate,
If I will have it so. But Gawaine ' s wound
Is not a wound that heals; and there is Modred
Inevitable as ruin after flood.
The cloud that has been darkening Arthur ' s empire
May now have burst, with Arthur still in France,
Many hours away from Britain, and a world
Away from me. But I read this in my heart.
If in the blot of Modred ' s evil shadow,
Conjecture views a cloudier world than is,