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The Secret of Sir Dinadan

"For he was a good knight, but he was a a scoffer and a jester, and the merriest knight among fellowship that was that time living.
"And he had such a custom that he loved every good knight, and every good knight loved him again.
"And so he (Dinadan) rode into the castle. Anon Belle Isoud came unto him, and either saluted other. Then she asked him of whence he came.
"'Madam,' said Dinadan, 'I am of the court of King Arthur, and knight of the Table Round, and my name is Dinadan.'
"'Madam,' said Dinadan, 'I marvel of Sir Tristram and other lovers, what aileth them to be so mad and so sotted upon women.'
"'Why,' said La Belle Isoud, 'are ye a knight and be no lover?'
"'Nay,' said Sir Dinadan, 'for the joy of love is too short, and the sorrow thereof, and what cometh thereof, dureth over long.'

"As it happened Sir Palamides looked up toward her (Isoud) where she lay in the window, and he espied how she laughed: and therewith he took such a rejoicing that he smote down, what with his spear and with his sword, all that ever he met, for through the sight of her he was so enamored in her love. 'Well,' said Dinadan to himself, 'this worship that Sir Palamides hath here this day, he may thank the Queen Isoud: for had she been away this day Sir Palamides had not gotten the prize this day.'" - (From Mallory's "Morte d'Arthur.")

AH, Dinadan! light as thy lance in rest,
Rang the gay laugh of thy gibe and thy jest;
But he that laughs last laughs ever the best,
    And love is no theme for thy laughter.
Friendship thou knowest, and knighthood's sure truth,
But love of a man for a man, in sooth,
Sufficeth but rarely the blood of youth,
    Though it leaveth no sting thereafter.

Why did ye mock to the belle Dame Isoud,
Fresh from thy ride through the murmuring wood,
Vaunting the strength that love's darts had withstood,
    With laughter so mirthless and dreary?
Scoffing, thou saidst that love's joy was but brief,
Long as life dureth its sorrow and grief;
Years in their passing bring never relief,
    To lovers' hearts, heavy and weary.

She who loved Tristram so long and so well,
Laughed in the casement like chime of a bell;
But, Dinadan, who shall say what befell
    The heart that thy armor concealed?
Sure in thy boast and thy laugh rang a cry;
Hid in thy mail which all knights could defy,
Lay in the weak spot where love's arrows did fly;
    The wound that thy words had revealed.

How couldst thou guess how love's sorrow was long,
How couldst thou know how love's strength made one strong,
How couldst thou bear its refrain in thy song,
    Whose heart had loved never a woman?
Ah, Dinadan, merriest friend and knight,
Loved of them all whom the king pledged to right,
Fear we that once thou wert worsted in fight,
    In secretly loving wert human!