The Tomb of the Twelve Kings

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The Tomb of the Twelve Kings

Within St. Steven's holy aisle,
Requiems chanting all the while,
          They buried bold King Lot.
Right bravely he had fought, and well:
Minstrel and harper long could tell
How fatally his sharp strokes fell
          Ere his own death was got!

With dripping sword and shatter'd mail,
His shower'd blows without avail
          To turn the battle's tide;
His best knights lay around him, slain;
His wounded steed was mad with pain;
Twelve kings a bloody couch had ta'en,
          And slumber'd side by side!

No recreant he, to turn and fly:
So, shouting loud his battle-cry,
          He charged Sir Pellinore!
The knight heaved once his ruddy blade,
One downward stroke the weapon made,
That ever still the monarch laid,
          His life and warfare o'er!

And when the hour of strife was done,
Prince Arthur bade the knights who won
          Bear forth the gallant dead,
And foremost in the funeral train
To place that valiant sovereign slain,
That first in field by him again
          His comrades might be led!

And then within the sacred walls,
Their tatter'd banners for their palls,
          And sword in each right hand,
They buried them at Camelot;
And Arthur built upon the spot
Their tomb, to keep still unforgot
          The fame of this brave band!

In sepulchre full rich and fair,
Of marble stone with carving rare,
          They laid King Lot alone;
And where the other sovereigns lay,
Twelve gilded figures, night and day,
Held burning tapers bright alway
          Above their tablet stone.

And over all, with unsheathed sword,
Stood Arthur as their conquering lord,
          The crown upon his head!
For years before the Sancgreal came,
Above each quaintly sculptured name,
Like living bursts of golden flame,
          Their light the tapers shed.