The First Meeting of Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere

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The First Meeting of Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere

The Lady Guinevere was crown'd,
And all Prince Arthur's Table Round
     Their fealty came to yield.
She sat, the very fairest queen
That England's realm had ever seen,
Beside the bravest king, I ween,
E'er handled weapon sharp and keen
     Or sceptre learn'd to wield.

The golden circlet jewell'd rare
Shone through the wealth of braided hair
     That wreathed her perfect head;
With crimson robe and snowy vest,
And gems on arms and rounding breast,
It seem'd to every knightly guest
To be a hope supremely blest
     For her his blood to shed.

As one by one their bearded lips
Just press'd her slender finger-tips,
     In token of their zeal,
She bore her part with regal grace,
That show'd the throne was fitting place
For blood of Leodegraunce's race;
And who before such peerless face
     Would hesitate to kneel?

But when, unhelmeted and tall,
Sir Launcelot trode across the hall
     And bow'd before the throne,
A sudden meeting of their eyes
Quick caused the eddying blood to rise,
To flush her cheek with richer dyes,
Each echoing the other's sighs,
     As his hand touch'd her own.

And thus, an instant, all forgot
Was royal mien and queenly lot
     In joy of passion's birth;
The heart-pulse leapt through all her frame;
Love's dawning broke in rosy flame
Of blushing clouds that went and came
As Launcelot vow'd henceforth her name
     Should be his star on earth!

A moment, and the spell was o'er:
The woman was a queen once more,
     And Launcelot, loyal knight;
But ever through that festal day,
Mid tournament or mock-mêlée,
Their glances caught each other's ray;
And Arthur praised her that alway
     Her blushes were so bright!