"There is a popular tradition in Wales, that King Arthur did not die, but was carried away by fairies to some place, where he will remain some time, and then return again to earth, and reign in as great authority and power as ever."--Ancient Ballads.
Some believe that he is still on earth in the form of a raven, and their superstition is so great that they will not upon any account kill one of those birds.
At eve by a wandering stream I laid,
And balmy winds around me gently play'd,
Sweet Morpheus wav'd his wings above my head,
And buds of scarlet poppy o'er me spread;
While airy sylphs my weary eyelids close,
And fann'd me with their breath to sound repose.
Methought there rose from out the silver flood
A fairy form which bright before me stood.
It clasp'd me as I slept, and soar'd on high
To distant worlds unseen by mortal eye.
At length it stopp'd above a flowry plain,
Suspended in the skies by airy chain.
There sunk in sleep behold a warrior lay,
While nymphs around soft airs of music play;
And now he started, now he grasp'd his brand,
Then smil'd, and wav'd in sign of peace his hand,
Till sooth'd his slumbers by the attending train,
He clos'd his eyes, and sunk to rest again.
I question'd then my beauteous fairy guide,
Who, kind attending, thus at length reply'd:
"The knight thou see'st is well to mortals known,
And once in triumph sat on Britain's throne;
By friends admir'd, and dreaded by his foes--
What infant but the name of Arthur knows?
But none below know how the hero died;
Conjecture only has the tale supplied.
By some 'tis said he yet on earth remains,
And in the figure of a raven reigns;
And some believe, by mermaids borne away,
In Neptune's court he lives beneath the sea:
But unto mortals 'tis not given to know
How he forsook their transient realms below.
His restless spirit no reward could please,
Tho' borne by sylphs thro' air, thro' earth, and seas.
On conquest and on glory still he thought,
And sigh'd for all the battles he had fought;
'Till pitying heaven its kind assistance lent,
And to this flow'ry plain his spirit sent.
Here, war and conquest now his dreams employ,
Which while he liv'd on earth was all his joy.
At every three years end his eyes unclose,
And for a time he leaves his sound repose.
When to the Land of Bliss by zephyrs borne,
Where joy is constant--there he breathes forlorn;
And at a twelvemonth's end returns again,
T'enjoy his dreams upon the flowry plain."
The genius ceas'd, and long I begg'd to know,
How first he left for heaven the realms below.
And now I hop'd the mystery to see,
Ne'er shown to other mortal than to me;
When to my fear I found my guide was gone,
And I amidst the skies was left alone:
'Till seiz'd by hands unseen, my form was hurl'd,
I woke, extended in our nether world,
And rose, lamenting that my dream was vain,
Resolv'd to drive King Arthur from my brain,
And live, content in darkness to remain.