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With grappling hook, and cord, and iron band

To yon firm peak, the Ararat of our ark.

Then with good heart pierce to the vapour-land ;

For the crane's scream, and the bear's welcome roar

Tell where the wave joins solid to the shore."

XXXVT.

Swift as he spoke, the gallant Northmen sprang
On the sharp ice, — drew from the frozen blocks

The mangled wreck; — with many a barbed fang
And twisted cable to the horrent rocks

Moor'd : and then, shouting up the solitude,

Their guiding star, the Dove's pale wing, pursued.

XXXVII.

Well had divined the King, — -as on they glide,
They see the silvery Arctic fox at play.

Sure sign of land, — and, scattering wild and wide,
Clamor the sea gulls, luring to his prey

The ravening glaucus* sudden shooting o'er

The din of wings from the gray gleaming shore.

XXXVIII.

At length they reach the land, — if land that be
Which seems so like the frost piles of the deep,

That where commenced the soil and ceased the sea,
Shows dim as is the bound between the sleep

And waking of some wretch whose palsied brain

Dulls him to even the slow return of pain.

♦ The Larus Glauciis, the great bird of proy in the Polar regions.



BOOK IX. 75

XXXIX,

Advancing farther, burst upon the eye

Patches of green miraculously isled
In the white desert. Oh! the rapture cry

That greeted God and gladdened thro' the wild !
The very sight suffices to restore, [more !

Green Earth — green Earth — the Mother, smiles once

XL.

Blithe from the turf the Dove the blessed leaves*
That heal the slow plague of the sunless dearth

Bears to each sufferer whom the curse bereaves
Even of all hope, save graves in that dear earth.

Woo'd by the kindly King they taste, to know

How to each ill God plants a cure below.

XLI. m

Long mused the anxious hero, if to dare

Once more the fearful sea — or from the bark

Shape rugged huts, and wait, slow-lingering there,
Till Eos issuing from the gates of Dark

Unlock the main ? dread choice on either hand —

The liquid Acheron, or the Stygian land.

XLII. ^,

At length, resolved to seize the refuge given.
Once more he leads the sturdiest of the crew

Back to the wreck — the planks, asunder riven.
And such scant stores as yet the living few

May for new woes sustain, are shoreward borne ;

And hasty axes shape the homes forlorn.

* Herbs which act as the antidotes to the scurvy (the cochlearia, &c.) are found
under the snows, when all other vegetation seems to cease.



76 KING ARTHUR.

XLIII.

Now, every cliink closed on the deathful air,
In the dark cells the weary labourers sleep ;

Deaf to the fierce roar of the hungering bear,
And the dull thunders clanging on the deep —

Till on their waking sense the discords peel.

And to the numb hand cleaves unfelt the steel.

XLIV.

What boots long told the tale of life one war

With the relentless iron Element ?
More, day by day, the mounting snows debar

Ev'n search for food, — yet oft the human scent
Lures the wild beast, which, mangling while it dies.
Bursts on the prey, to fall itself the prize !

XLV.

But as the winter deepens, ev'n the beast

Shrinks from its breath, and with the loneliness

To Famine leaves the solitary feast.

Suffering halts patient in its last excess.

Closed in each fireless, lightless, foodless cave

Cowers a dumb ghost unconscious of its grave.

XLVI.

Nature hath stricken down in that waste world
All — save the Soul of Arthur ! That, sublime,

Hung on the wings of heavenward faith unfurl'd,
O'er the far light of the predicted Time ;

Believe thou hast a mission to fulfil.

And human valour grows a Godhead's will !



BOOK IX. 77

XLVII.

Calm to that fate above the moment given
Shall thy strong soul divinely dreaming go,

Unconscious as an eagle, entering heaven,

Where its still shadow skims the rocks below.

High beyond this, its actual world is wrought,

And its true life is in iis sphere of thought.

XL VIII.

Yet who can 'scape the infection of the heart ?

Who, tho' himself invulnerably steel'd,
Can boast a breast indiiferent to the dart

That threats the life his love in vain would shield ?
When some large nature, curious we behold
How twofold comes it from the glorious mould !

XLIX.

How lone, and yet how living in the All !

While it imagines how aloof from men !
How like the ancestral Adam ere the fall.

In Eden bowers the painless denizen !
But when it feels — the lonely heaven resign'd —
How social moves the man among mankind !

L.

Forth from the tomblike hamlet strays the King,
Restless with ills from which himself is free ;

In that dun air the only living thing,

He skirts the margin of the soundless sea ;

No — not alone, the musing Wanderer strays;

For still the Dove smiles on the dismal ways.

VOL. II. 6



78 KING ARTHUR.

LI.

Nor can tongue tell, nor tliouglit conceive how far
Into that storm-beat heart, the gentle bird

Had built the halcyon's nest. How precious are
In desolate hours, the Affections ! — How (unheard

Mid Noon's melodious myriads of delight)

Thrills the lone note that steals the gloom from night !

LII.

And, in return, a human love replying

To his caress, seem'd in those eyes to dwell,

That mellow murmur, like a human sighing,

Seemed from those founts that lie i' the heart to swell.

Love wants not speech ; from silence speech it builds,

Kindness like light speaks in the air it gilds.

LIII.

That angel guide ! His fate while leading on,
It followed each quick movement of his soul.

As the soft shadow from the setting sun
Precedes the splendour passing to its goal,

Before his path the gentle herald glides,

Its life reflected from the life it guides.

LIV.

Was Arthur sad ? how sadden'd seemed the Dove !

Did Arthur hope ? how gaily soared its wings !
Like to that sister spirit left above.

The half of ours, which, torn asunder, springs
Ever thro' space, yearning to join once more
The earthlier half, its own and Heaven's before ;*

* In allusion to the Platonic fancy, that love is the yearning of the soul for the
twin soul with which it was united in a former existence, and which it instinctively



BOOK IX. 79

LV.

Like an embodied living Sympathy

Wiiicli hath no voice and yet replies to all

That wakes the lightest smile, the faintest sigh, —
So did the instinct and the mystery thrall

To the earth's son the daughter of the air ;

And pierce his soul — to place the sister there.

LVI.

She was to him as to the bard his muse,

The solace of a sweet confessional.;
The hopes — the fears which manlj^ lips refuse

To speak to man, — those leaves of thought that fall
With every tremulous zephyr from the Tree
Of Life, whirl'd from us down the darksome sea ; —

LVII.

Those hourly springs and winters of the heart

Weak to reveal to Reason's sober eye,
The proudest yet will to the muse impart

And grave in song the record of a sigh.
And hath the muse no symbol in the Dove ? —
Both give what youth most miss'd in human love !

Lviir.

Over the world of winter strays the King,

Seeking some track of hope — some savage prey

Which, famish'd, fronts and feeds the famishing;
Or some dim outlet in the darkling way

From the dumb grave of snows which form with snows

Wastes Avide as realms thro' which a spectre goes.

recognises below. Schiller, in one of his earlier poems, has enlarged on this iJca
with earnest feeling and vigorous fancy.



80 K I N G A R T H U R.

LIX.

Amazed he halts : — Lo, on the rimy layer

That clothes sharp peaks — the print of human feet!

An awe thrill'd thro' him, and thus spoke in prayer,
" Thee, God, in man once more then do I greet ?

Hast thou vouchsafed the brother to the brother,

Links which reweave thy children to each other ?

. LX.

" Be they the rudest of the clay divine,

Warmed with the breath of soul, how faint so ever,
Yea, tho' their race but threat new ills to mine,

All hail the bond thy sons cannot dissever !
Bowed to thy will, of life or death dispose,
But if not human friends, grant human foes !"

Lxr.

Thus while he prayed, blithe from his bosom flew
The guidhig Dove, along the frozen plain

Of a mute river, winding vale-like thro'

Kocks lost in vapour from the voiceless main.

And as the man pursues, more thickly seen.

The foot-prints tell where man before has been.

Lxir.

Sudden a voice — a yell, a whistling dart !

Dim thro' the fog, behold a dwarf-like band,
(As from the inner earth, its goblins,) start ;

Here threatening rush, there hoarsely gibbering stand!
Plaits the firm hero ; mild but undismay'd.
Grasps the charm'd hilt, but shuns to bare the blade.



BOOK IX. 81

LXIIT.

And, with a kingly gesture eloquent.

Seems to command the peace, not shun the fray ;
Daunted they back recoil, yet not relent ;

As Indians round the forest lord at bay.
Beyond his reach they form the deathful ring,
And every shaft is fitted to the string.

LXIV.

When in the circle a grand shape appears.
Day's lofty child amid those dwarfs of Night,

Ev'n thro' the hides of beasts, (its garb) it rears
The glorious aspect of a son of light.

Hush'd at that presence was the clamoring crowd ;

Dropp'd every hand and every knee was bow'd.

LXV.

Forth then alone, the man approached the King ;

And his own language smote the Cymrian's ear,
^' What fates, unhappy one, a stranger bring

To shores," — he started, stopp'd, — and bounded near;
Gazed on that front august, a moment's space, —
liush'd, — lock'd the wanderer in a long embrace ;

LXVT.

Weeping and laughing in a breath, the cheek.

The lip he kiss d — then kneeling, clasp'd the hand ;

And gasping, sobbing, sought in vain to speak —

Meanwhile the King the beard-grown visage scann'd :

Amazed — he knew his Cardeul's comely lord,

And the warm heart to heart as warm restored !



82 KING ARTHUR.

LXVII.

Speech came at length : first iiiir:dful of the lives
Claiming his care and peril'd for his sake,

Not vet the account that love demands and srives
The generous leader paused to yield and take ;

Brief words his follower's w^ants and woes explain ; —

"Light, warmth, and food. — Satverhum" quoth Gawaine.

LXVIII.

Quick to his wondering and Pigmgean troops —

Quick sped the Knight; — he spoke and was obey'd;

Vanish once more the goblin-visaged groups
And soon return caparisoned for aid ;

Laden with oil to w^arm and light the air,

Flesh from the seal, and mantles from the bear.

LXIX.

Back with impatient rapture bounds the King,
Smiling as he was wont to smile of yore ;

While Gawaine, blithesome as a bird of spring.
Sends his sweet laughter ringing to the shore ;

Pams thro' that maze of questions, " How and Why ?"

And lost in joy stops never for reply.

LXX.

Before them roved wild clogs too numb to bark,

Led by one civilized majestic hound,
Wlio scarcely deign'd his followers to remark,

Save, wdien they touch'd him, by a snarl profound.
Teaching that plebs, as history may my readers,
How^ curs are look'd on by patrician leaders.



BOOK IX. , 83

LXXI.

Now gained the Iiuts^ silent with drowsy life,
That scarcely feels the quick restoring skill ;

Trained Avith stern elements to wage the strife,
The pigmy race are Nature's conquerors still.

With practised hands they chafe the frozen veins,

And gradual loose the chill heart from its chains ;



LXXII.

Heap round the limbs the fur's thick warmth of fold,
And with the cheerful oil revive the air.

Slow wake the eyes of Famine to behold
The smiling faces and the proffered fare ;

Kank tho' the food, 't is that which best supplies

The powers exhausted by the withering skies.



LXXIII.

This done, they next the languid sufferers bear

(Wrapp'd from the cold) athwart the vapoury shade,

Regain the vale, and show the homes that there
Art's earliest god. Necessity, hath made ;

Abodes hewn out from winter, winter-proof,

Ice-blocks the walls, and hollow'd ice the roof!*



• The houses of the Esquimaux who received Captain Lyon were thus con-
structed : — the frozen snow being formed into slabs of about two feet long and half
a f'^ot thick ; the benches were made with snow, strewed with twigs, and covered
with skins ; and the lamp suspended from the roof, fed with seal or walrus oil, was
the sole substitute for the hearth, furnished light and tire for cooking.

The Esquimaux were known to the settlers and pirates of Norway by the con-
temptuous name of dwarfs or pigmies — {Skrallings.)



84 KING ARTHUR.

LXXIV.

Without, the snowy lavas, hard'ning o'er,

Hide from the beasts the buried homes of men,

But in the dome is placed the artful door

Thro' which the inmate gains or leaves the den.

Down thro' the chasm each lowers the living load,

Then from the winter seals the pent abode.

LXXV.

There ever burns, sole source of warmth and light.
The faithful lamp the whale or walrus gives,

Thus, Lord of Europe, in the heart of Night,
Unjoyous not, thy patient brother lives!

To thee desire, to him possession sent,

Thine worlds of wishes^ — his that incli^ Content !

LXXVI.

But Gawaine's home, more dainty than the rest,
Betray'd his tastes exotic and luxurious,

The walls of ice in furry hangings drest
Form'd an apartment elegant if curious ;

Like some gigantic son of Major Ursa

Turned inside out by barbarous vice versa.

LXXVII.

Here then he lodged his royal guest and friend,
And, having placed a slice of seal before him,

Quoth he, " Thou ask'st me for my tale, attend ;
Then give me thine, lieus renovo doloremr

Therewith the usage villainous and rough,

Schemed in cold blood by that malignant chough;



BOOK IX. 85.

LXXVIII. ■ ' i.

The fraudful dinner (its dessert a wife ;)
The bridal roof with nose-assaulting glaive ;

The oak whose leaves with pinching imps were rife ;
The atrocious trap into the Viking's cave ;

The chief obdurate in his damn'd idea,

Of proving Freedom by a roast to Freya ;

LXXIX.

The graphic portrait of the Nuptial goddess;

And diabolic if symbolic spit ;
The hierarch's heresy on types and bodies ;

And how at last he jDosed and silenced it ;
All facts traced clearly to that corvus niger,
Were told with pathos that had touch'd a tiger.

LXXX.

So far the gentle sympathizing Nine

In dulcet strains have sung Sir Gawaine's woes ;
What now remains they bid the historic line

With Dorian dryness unadorned disclose ;
So counsel all the powers of fancy stretch,
Then leave the judge to finish ofi' the wretch !

LXXXI.

Along the beach Sir Gawaine and the hound
Roved all the night, and at the dawn of day

Came unawares upon a squadron bound
To fish for whales, arrested in a bay

For want of winds, which certain Norwav has-s

Had squeezed from heaven and bottled up in bags.*

* A well-known popular superstition, not perhaps quite extinct at this day,
amongst the Baltic mariners.



86 KING ARTHUR.

LXXXII.

Straight wlien the seamen, fretting on the shore.
Behold a wanderer chad as Freya's priest,

They rush, and round him kneehng, they imj^lore ^
The runes, by which the winds may be releast :

The spurious priest a gracious answer made,

And told them Freya sent him to their aid ;

LXXXIII.

Bade them conduct himself and hound on board,
And broil two portions of their choicest meat.

" The spell," quoth he, " our sacred arts afford
To free the wdnd, is in the food we eat ;

We dine, and dining exorcise the witches.

And loose the bags from their infernal stitches.

LXXXIV.

'^ Haste then, my children, and dispel the wind ;

Haste, for the bags are awfully inflating !"
The ship is gain'd. Both priest and dog have dined ;

The crews assembled on the decks are waiting.
A heavier man arose the audacious priest
And stately stepp'd he west and stately east !

LXXXV.

Mutely invoked St. David and St. Bran

To charge a stout north-western with their blessing ;
Then cleared his throat and lustily began

A hoAvl of vowels huge from Taliessin.
Prone fell the crew^s before the thunderino: tunes.
In words like mountains roll'd the enormous runes !



BOOK IX. 87

LXXXVI.

The excited hound, symphonious with the song,
Yell'd as if heaven and earth were rent asunder ;

The rocks Orphean seemed to dance along ;

The affrighted whales plunged waves affrighted under ;

Polyphlosboian, onwards booming bore

The deaf 'ning, strident, rauque, Homeric roar !

LXXXVII.

As lions lash themselves to louder ire,

By his own song the knight sublimely stung

Caught the full oestro of the poet's fire,

And grew more stunning every note he sung !

In each dread blast a patriot's soul exhales,

And Norway quakes before the storm of Wales.

LXXXVIII.

Whether, as grateful Cymri should believe,
That blatant voice heroic burst the bags,

(For sure it might the caves of Boreas cleave
Much more the stitch work of such losel haa's !

Or heaven, on any terms, resolved on peace ;

The wind sprung up before the Knight would cease.

LXXXIX.

Never again hath singer heard such praise

As Gawaine heard ; for never since hath song

Found out the secret how the wind to raise ! —
Around the charmer now the seamen throng.

And bribe his best attendance on their toil.

With bales of bear skin and with tuns of oil.



88 KING ARTHUR.

xr.

Well pleased to leave the inhospitable shores,
The artful Knight yet slowly seemed to yield. —

Now thro' the ocean plunge the brazen prores ;
They pass the threshold of the world congeal'd;

Surprise the snorting mammoths of the main ;

And ]3ile the decks with Pelions of the slain.

xei.
When, in the midmost harvest of the spoil,

Pounce comes a storm unspeakably more hideous
Than that wliich drove upon the Lybian soil

Anchises' son, the pious and perfidious.
When whooping Notus, as the Nine assure us,
Rush'd out to play with Africus and Eurus.

XCII.

Torn each from each, or down the maelstrom whirl'd.
Or grasp'd and gulph'd by the devouring sea,

Or on the ribs of hurrying icebergs hurl'd,
The sundered vessels vanish momently.

Scarce thro' the blasts which swept his own, Gawaine

Heard the crew shrieking " Chaunt the runes again !"

xciir.
Far other thoughts engaged the prescient knight,

Fast to a plank he lash'd himself and hound ;
Scarce done, than, presto, shooting out of sight,

The enormous eddy spun him round and round,
Along the deck a monstrous wave had pour'd,
Caught up the plank and tossed it overboard.



BOOK IX. 89

xciv.

What of the ship became, saith history not.

What of the man — the man himself shall show.

" Like stone from sling," quoth Gawaine, " I was shot
Into a ridge of what they call a ^oe,*

There much amazed, but rescued from the waters,

Myself and hound took up our frigid quarters.

xcv.
" Freed from the plank, drench'd, spluttering, stunn'd,
and bruised,
We peer'd about us on the sweltering deep.
And seeing nought, and being much confused,

Crept side by side and nestled into sleep.
The nearest kindred most avoid each other.
So to shun Death, we visited his brother.

XCVI.

" Awaked at last, we found the weaves had stranded
A store of waifs portentous and nefarious ;

Here a dead whale was at my elbow landed,
There a sick polypus, that sea-Briareus,

Stretch'd out its claws to incorporate my corpus ;

While howl'd the hound half buried by a porpoise !

XCVII.

" Nimbly I rose, disporpoising my friend ; —
Around me scattered lay more piteous wrecks.

With every wave the accursed Tritons send
Some sad memento of submergent decks.

Prows, rudders, casks, ropes, blubber, hides, and hooks.

Sailors, salt beef, tubs, cabin boys, and cooks.

* The smaller kind of ice field is called by the northern whale fishers, ' a floe,'—
the name is probably of very ancient date.



90 KING ARTHUR.

XCVIII.

^^Graves on the dead, with pious care bestowed,
(Graves in the ice hewn out with mickle pain

By axe and bill, which with the waifs had tlowed
To that strange shore) I next collect the gain -,

Placed in a hollow cleft- — and covered o'er ; —

Then knight and hound proceeded to explore.

XCIX.

^' Far had we wandered, for the storm had joined
To a great isle of ice, our friend the floe^

When as the day (three hours its length !) declined.
Out bray'd a roar; I stared around, and lo

A flight of dwarfs about the size of sea-moths.

Chased by two bears that might have eat behemoths !

c.

'' Armed with the axe the Tritons had ejected,
I rush'd to succour the Pigmasan nation.

In strife our valour, I have oft suspected,
Proportions safety to intoxication.

As drunken men securely walk on walls

From which the wretch who keeps his senses falls;

CI.

" The blood mounts up, suffuses sight and brain ;

The Hercles vein herculeanates the form ;
The rill when swollen swallows up a plain.

The breeze runs mad before it blows a storm,
To do great deeds, first lose your wits, — then do them !
In fine — I burst upon the bears, and slew them !



BOOK IX. 91

CII.

^' The dwarfs, delivered, kneel, and pull their noses f-
In tugs which mean to say the ^ Pigmy Nation

A vote of thanks respectfully proposes
From all the noses of the corporation !'

Your Highness knows ' Magister Artis Vender /'

On signs for breakfast my replies concenter !

cm.
" Quick they conceived, and quick obey ; the beasts

Are skinn'd, and drawn, and quartered in a trice,
But Vulcan leaves Diana to the feasts.

And not a wood-nymph consecrates the ice —
Bear is but so-so, when 't is cook'd the best.
But bear just skinn'd and perfectly undrest!

CIV.

" Then I bethink me of the planks and casks
Stowed in the cleft — for fuel quantum suff:

I draw the dwarfs — sore chattering, from their tasks,
Choose out the morsels least obdurely tough ;

With these I load the Pigmies — bid them follow —

Regain the haven, and review the hollow.

cv.

^' But when those minnow-men beheld the whale

It really was a spectacle affecting ;
They shout, they sob, they leap — -embrace the tail,

Peep in the jaws; then, round me re-collecting.
Draw forth those noselings from their hiding places,
Which serve as public speakers to their faces !

• A salutatioa still in vogue among certain tribes of the Esquimaux.



92 KING ARTHUR.

cvi.
^^ While I revolve wliat this Stalute may mean,

They rush once more upon the poor balsena,
Clutch — rend — gnaw — bolt the blubber ; but the lean

Reject as drying to the duodena !
This done, — my broil they aid me to obtain,
And, while I eat — the noses go again !

CVII.

^' My tale is closed — the grateful pigmies lead
Myself and hound across the ice defiles ;

Regain their people and recite my deed.

Describe the monsters and display the spoils ;

With royal rank my feats the dwarfs repay,

And build the palace which you now survey !

CVIII.

" The vanquish'd bears are troj^hied on the wall ;

The oil you scent once floated in the whale ;
I had a vision to illume the hall

With lights less fragrant, — human hopes are frail 1
With cares ingenious from the bruins' fat,
I made some candles, — which the ladies ate !

cix.

" 'T is now your turn to tell the tale. Sir King, —
And by the way our Comrade, Lancelot ?

I hope he found a raven in the ring!

Monstrum liorrendiira I — Sire, I question not

That in your justice you have heard enough

When we get home — to crucify that chough !"



BOOK IX. 93

ex.

" Gawaine," said Arthur, with his sunny smile,
" Methinks thy heart will soon absolve the raven,

Thy friend had perished in this icy isle
But for thy voyage to the Viking's haven,

In every ill which gives thee such offence,

Thou see'st the raven, I the Providence !"

CXI.

The knight reluctant shook his learned head ;

" So please you, Sire, you cannot find a thief
Who picks our pouch, but Providence hath led

His steps to pick it ; — yet to my belief.
There's not a judge who'd scruple to exhibit
That proof of Providence upon a gibbet !

CXII.

'^ The chough was sent by Providence : — Agreed :
We send the chough to Providence, in turn !

Yet in the hound and not the chough, indeed,
Your friendly sight should Providence discern ;

For had the hound been just a whit less nimble.

Thanks to the chough, your friend had been a symbol !"

CXIII.

'' Thy logic," answered Arthur, ^' is unsound.

But for the chou2;h thou never had'st been married ;
But for the wife thou ne'er hadst seen the hound ; —



The Ah initio to the chough is carried :
The hound is but the effect — the chough the cause,"
The generous Gawaine murmured his applause.

VOL. II. 7



94 KING ARTHUR.

cxiv.

"Do veniam Gorvo! Sire, the chough 's acquitted!"


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