Queen Guenevere

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Queen Guenevere

Thence, up the sea-green floor, among the stems
Of mighty columns whose unmeasured shades
From aisle to aisle, unheeded in the sun,
Moved without sound, I, following all alone
A strange desire that drew me like a hand,
Came unawares upon the Queen.
                                                                 She sat
In a great silence, which her beauty filled
Full to the heart of it, on a black chair
Mailed all about with sullen gems, and crusts
Of sultry blazonry. Her face was bowed,
A pause of slumbrous beauty, o'er the light
Of some delicious thought new-risen above
The deeps of passion. Round her stately head
A single circlet of the red gold fine
Burned free, from which, on either side streamed down
Twilights of her soft hair, from neck to foot.
Green was her kirtle as the emerolde is,
And stiff from hem to hem with seams of stones
Beyond all value; which, from left to right
Disparting, half revealed the snowy gleam
Of a white robe of spotless samite pure.
And from the soft repression of her zone,
Which like a light hand on a lutestring pressed
Harmony from its touch, flowed warmly back
The bounteous outlines of a glowing grace,
Nor yet outflowed sweet laws of loveliness.

Then did I feel as one who, much perplext,
Led by strange legends and the light of stars
Over long regions of the midnight sand
Beyond the red tract of the Pyramids,
Is suddenly drawn to look upon the sky
From sense of unfamiliar light, and sees,
Revealed against the constellated cope
The great cross of the South.
                                                            The chamber round
Was dropt with arras green; and I could hear,
In courts far off, a minstrel praising May,
Who sang . . . Si douce, si douce est la Margarete!
To a faint lute. Upon the window-sill,
Hard by a latoun bowl that blazed i' the sun
Perched a strange fowl, a Falcon Peregrine;
With all his feathers puft for pride, and all
His courage glittering outward in his eye;
For he had flown from far, athwart strange lands,
And o'er the light of many a setting sun,
Lured by his love (such sovereignty of old
Had Beauty in all coasts of Christendom!)
To look into the great eyes of the Queen.