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The Story of Nimue
Merlin, by arts of Grammarie,
Had woven a spell, right cunningly,
That his mortal life prolonged should be.
Of herbs he had made an elixir quaint
To prolong his life, ere his years were spent;
But Fate hath frustrated his intent.
A chalice, he lifted in his hand,
To drink the elixir which fate had banned.
It fell and was spilt upon the sand.
"But," he thought, "it is not as yet too late.
I will go at once, nor a moment wait;
Though the night be dark and the hour be late."
Nimue knew of Merlin's guile;
How evil he veiled in a simple smile.
How his heart was laden with many a wile.
She had gone by night to a churchyard grey
And the herbs she had torn from the earth away.
And Merlin will curse this evil day.
For the wizard will be appalled to think
That he is trembling upon the brink
Of the grave: Life's elixir no more he'll drink.
Old he grew in a single night;
His limbs were palsied, his hair was white.
Helpless was he to set it right.
Nimue was a fairy maid,
In a Grecian garment of white arrayed.
And her hair was bound with a golden braid.
Black was her hair as ebony,
Her eyes the fairest a man might see,
Shining with magic mystery.
"Now," she cried, "is the hour mine own,
As Merlin shall for his sins atone;
His power for evil is past and gone."
When Merlin crawled on his weary way,
The little children would pause at play
To jeer at the wizard, old and grey.
He sat him down by a hollow tree,
And unto him came Nimue.
She sat her down on the Wizard's knee.
Long had the dotard followed her;
Chasing the fair one, near and far.
"Nothing now my desire will bar."
He thought for her long white arms entwined
Round his shrunken neck; and the wanton wind
Blew her hair in his face; and she seemed kind.
His shrivelled lips upon hers were prest;
His hands were fondling her warm soft breast;
As this ladie weird he in love caressed.
He told her of many a subtle spell;
And, hearing his secrets her heart doth swell
As she cries, "O Merlin, I love thee well!"
"I am thine for ever, for good or ill,
If the wish of my heart wilt thou fulfil.
If thou wilt obey me, thou hast thy will."
" 'Neath yonder stone, hast thou said to me,
Is a cave and only by grammarie,
From its mouth, that great stone mov'd may be."
"But to me it seemeth impossible
That the stone could be lifted by any spell.
Raise it for me; for I love thee well."
Merlin arose with an air sedate,
To a certain doom, impelled by fate,
He openeth now the rocky gate.
"Further, I'll prove thee," then said she,
"Enter this magic cave for me;
Shut thou the door, by grammarie."
"Then shall thou roll the rock away,
Proving thy power by this assay,
Thou'llt stand again in the open day."
She spake, and the stone was rolled aside,
And the old man entered the cavern wide--
Besotted by love and by foolish pride.
Loud laughed the fairie Nimue:
She uttered some words of mysterie,
No more shall that dark cave opened be.