The Song of the Four Knights

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The Song of the Four Knights

by: Ernest Rhys (Author)

Merlin. But tell me now, how went this fight Of Camlan field? . . .


I
The First Knight.
One star was bright,—the cold dawn-star!
I saw a thousand lift the spear
In Modred's camp, to end the night,
As grey, we rode in the morning light.

II
The Second Knight.
The King rode with us,—and his head
Was grown grey too, we saw and said:
When he cried Halt! on Camlan Hill
The dawn-star pale above him still.

III
The Third Knight.
His face too, grey beneath his helm:
Then: "For the Table and the Realm
Ride now!" he cried, and on we flowed
Each spear athirst for Modred's blood.

IV
The Fourth Knight.
But Modred met us, spear for spear.
Was he afraid? He showed no fear:
When Arthur riding, shining, thrust
The death-spear through him, to the dust.

V
"Kneel now, Haut King!" he cried, "and save
My soul the travail it shall have,
Were this not told of my remorse!"
And Arthur lighted off his horse.

VI
The First Knight.
Ah Snake! he crept upon the shaft
Could not be drawn: and dying, laught,
And with his sword struck at the head
Bent there to hear what thing he said.

VII
The Third Knight.
So Modred died,—a traitor still,
Up to the end, by Camlan Hill!
And as we bore the King away,—
On Modred's lips the death-laugh lay.

VIII
The Four Knights.
Now, of the Flower of Camelot,—
Knight, Arthur loved, and Launcelot,
What is there left but stricken men
That bear the Haut King home again.
Additional Information:
Taken from Rhys's Gwenevere: A Lyric Play (1905)