The Works of Sydney Fowler Wright 1874 - 1965

The Song Of Arthur - Chapter II

by S. Fowler Wright

Return to Chapter I

Uther And Igraine.

The western gate of Camelot was barred.
Storm and wild night across the city lay,
When down the paving of the middle way
A clang of coming hooves aroused the guard;
For under that dark cloak of night and rain
Fled from the king, Duke Gorlois and Igraine.

Soon at the ward the reined-in chargers steamed:
The penselled lances rose into the night:
While on wet mail the warders' torches gleamed,
And sign and counter-sign were changed aright.
Yet had the warders paused - a band it seemed
Starkly arrayed for foray or for flight -
But when the shield of that great lord they knew
Who shortly with their king was reconciled,
Without demur the grating bars withdrew,
And forth he rode toward the outer wild.

But when from the grey walls the grey dawn showed
A land wind-beaten and abashed with rain,
Pierced by the straight blade of the Roman road,
The fear-born flight of Gorlois and Igraine
Aroused the royal towers, and prince and lord
Were called in haste to Uther's council board.

"Lords," spake the king, "ye know that Gorlois long
Our Devon border vexed with raid and wrong,
Before our strengthened realm such front could show
As made ourselves at last the deadlier foe:
That brought of no true faith, but urged of fear
He came, and terms of peace accorded here;
And yestermorn, his weaker rule to save,
Reluctant to our throne allegiance gave.
Now, wrothed at eve because I sought to gain
The moment's favour of the fair Igraine,
To more deride me, secretly and late,
Fled all his household by the western gate.
Doubtless he plots to range his subject powers
Beneath the shelter of Tintagel towers;
Where he may linger, like a wolf in wait,
His time to bide, that haply, soon or late,
When Northern raiders on our borders press,
The league of Cornwall and of Lyonesse
May lightly pierce an unprotected side.
Now, lords, such menace should we break or bide?
Should ordered war, or swift pursuit be tried?"

So Uther spake; and answered he who wrought
A realm from out the lawless north; alike
Cunning his time to wait, and swift to strike,
The fair-haired Lot of Lothian. Only he
Spake out, as king to king, direct and free.

"Lord king," he said, "thou art accounted wise.
But what is wisdom to a woman's eyes!
At yester noon our counsel brought accord
Between thy kingdom and this rebel lord;
And now - a foolish word, a woman's frown,
And all our work of peace is broken down.
Yet mayst thou practice to attain thine end,
To draw from Gorlois every doubtful friend,
And gather all thy lieges to thy side. . .
Ere with himself his strength his heart debate,
And cooler wisdom on his fury wait,
Hard bid thy heralds to Tintagel ride,
And straitly charge him, by allegiance sworn,
He here attend thee on the Easter morn.
And surely as thy call he shall decline,
His is the oath forsworn, the wrong is thine.

"Then should Pendragon sheathe an idle sword
The while a vassel prince defies his lord?
How if with such a tale the minstrel went
Wandering among the trustless tribes of Trent?
If Gorlois should so lightly loose the cord,
How should we bind Northumbria's hostile horde?
Such cause of quarrel fastens all thy friends,
Whose safety on thy settled throne depends.
When on his lands thy gathered power appears
Shall Gorlois face the might of all thy spears?
Shall any height of tower or depth of vault
Immune him sheltered from thy strong assault?
Or when the flames of strongholds stormed arise
Are not the women still the victor's prize?"


While sowed the craft of Lot such seed as grew
To fruit of deaths untaled, and flowered anew
A glory lifted for a world to view,
Informed of births and fames which had not been
Had Uther not Igraine in longing seen,
Or counsel failed, the angered Gorlois, he
Whom hope of equal peace to Uther's court
Had seven days since the king's safe-conduct brought,
Toward his eyrie by the western sea,
Rode gale-swept moor and sheltered combe, until
No more the faltering steed the rider's will
Controlled; such haste had Gorlois' wrath: such fear
Beat in Igraine the loud pursuit to hear.

Short space they drew perforce reluctant rein,
And then with night the windy moors again
They rode, though scarce to guide their path availed
The moon's white shield in drifting vapour veiled.
Nor willing pause was theirs until they saw
Those age-old towers to any wave of war
Found virgin: through the drifting cloud they rose,
Where on sheer cliff the might of ocean throws
Its weight in vain. And here, in short secure
They dwelt, and treaties all and threats denied,
Till Uther launched his war.

                        To best endure
The heavier ranks, and in good heart abide
A sheltered storm, and most to hold Igraine,
That though the king might gain he should not gain
His first desire, had Gorlois warded strong
Tintagel's high sea-towers, where memory-long
Had foemen stormed in vain; and fortified
The Castle Terribil, ten rough miles away,
That hard across the invader's pathway lay.
Both holds he garnished with great store, to stay
The long-drawn months of war; and in the first
Igraine he placed, that there, though came the worst
To those wide towers that first assault must dure,
Still might she bide in scatheless height secure.

Wide-walled was Terribil, on the broken plain,
And many-gated. Built that leaguering foe,
Whose force, thin-stretched should all its girth contain,
No rest from fear of issuing ranks might know
From any of all its gates, their siege to break
Ere aid might reach; or swift blood-tribute take,
And waiting port regain; and underground
Were secret ways, that past the widest bound
Of girding hosts led free.

                        Pendragon's power
Came with the lengthening days. On gate and tower
Flung battle beat. The King's desire to gain
Were venturous deeds emprised, and strong men slain
On either part. The urged assault in vain
Attempted walls too high, and issuing through
Their opened gates, the strong defenders slew
Disheartened foes.

        The long weeks passed, and flew,
From those high walls, defiant of all Logre,
The flag which long had ruled from sea to sea
The narrowing lands. The vain assaults were ceased.
The rigour of the straitening lines increased
All paths to bar, that starving days should tame
A pride too high. At this constraint there came
A word that mocked from Gorlois to the king.
"To those lean dogs," he wrote, "who round my gate
For meat not theirs in restless hunger wait,
The word of Gorlois: Here, with meats to spare,
Which they may noway take who noway dare,
Who wills may learn my mercy: ask and share."

But Uther, while the long siege stayed, and while,
Or meeting force with force, or guile with guile,
His foe yet held him from his sighted prey,
To sickness fell. And all the windless day,
While drowsed the camp, and summer parched the land,
And danced the air above the glaring sand,
Fevered with thwarted hope and wrath he lay,
Till peaceless night. From that diseaseful bed
His captains held: his serfs had gladlier fled.

A noble knight, Sir Ulfius named, whom most
The thwarted king would heed of all his host,
Approached, and spake: "Lord king, though gaunt and weak
Of sickness here ye lie, no leech ye seek,
Nor food ye will, nor this vain sieging break
Of garnished towers whose strength we may not take
Ere winter force our more contemned retreat;
So wilt thou thus thy larger ends defeat,
Distress thy friends, thy cold allies estrange,
To past its use a futile raid prolong.
What helps it Gorlois' peace that towers too strong
For all assault he holds, and furnished well?
Might we not through his land in wasting range
From sea to sea a locust host? How long
Would then content his heart that close confine
When rumours of some fresh despoil should tell
As frequent as the following days? But here,
With naught of honour gained thy ranks to cheer,
Base treasons stir, and nobler motions pine."

"Good friend," the king made answer, "might ye know
My grief, thy doubts were done. Behold, I show
A weakness for thy scorning bare. Not storm
Of these strong towers, not gain of this wide land,
Not Gorlois' life I seek, except that so
Igraine were mine thereby; and her to win
There is nor hazard of loss, nor mortal sin,
Nor price, nor toil, that shall mine end withstand;
And therefore, while these stubborn walls endure,
No food can comfort, and no leech can cure."

"Lord king," he said, "when tides that strength shall fail,
Oft at the loss shall cunning wile avail;
And since that here thy purpose halts delayed,
Some deeper counsel than thine own to aid
Were well besought. Bethink ye Merlin; he
Whose wisdom in thy service works, would free
This longing from thy heart, or gain it thee
At short device."

        "Who bringeth," said the king,
"Mage Merlin here, may ask for guerdoning
His heart's most hope, and gain it."

                        "That will I,
And in short space, except that first I die;
Seeking him even where, his feared retreat,
At eve and morn the sounding waters meet."


Now when three days had Ulfius ridden, and wide
Had bent his path from Severn's narrowing side,
And the great woods were round him, and the night
Was closing, seemed it to his doubtful sight
Approached him through the boughs a minstrel lad,
In velvet prankt; and then, but meanlier clad,
Likelier he seemed an aged thrall, that wore
The badge of servitude, and groaning bore
A faggot piled. The startled charger swerved,
That scarce stern word and tightened reining served
To hold him to the path. With nearer view,
In amice garbed, the sage he sought he knew.

"Ulfius," he said, "I rede the quest ye ride.
Return at hastened pace to Uther's side;
For soon I follow." Ere Ulfius, gazing there,
Had shaped reply, the shadowed path was bare.

But when returned in Uther's tent he stood,
And told the vision of the darkened wood,
Ere the king's doubt in wrathful words had way,
Was Merlin there. And when the couch he neared,
And the wide tent of all men else was cleared:
"Oh, Merlin," spake the king, "at greater need
I called thee never, though long the call delayed;
And hope I fairly of this wondrous speed
That thou wilt cure the grief I need not say."

Answered the sage: "To seek my sooner aid,
Unurged of any, thy thought had turned, but thou
Wast dred to hear an evil purpose weighed
In speech of one that not thy fear should hold
From ruder telling than thy wraths allow.
Yet, as in Heaven the wondrous weird is writ
Nor but High God can turn or alter it,
That gives thy land a coming dawn of gold,
Which else would pass thy power to work - let be
The boon I will (thy greater gain) and ye,
Yea, even tonight, and if thou let me deal,
The arms ye seek in willing love shalt feel
About thee; not reluctant or constrained,
Which all thine utmost power had noway gained."

Then Uther sware upon the Cross Divine,
By the Shed Blood, and by the Sacred Sign,
If fainly to his arms she came, and he
Begat a child upon her, such babe should be
At Merlin's will.

                That night, with Ulfius, he
Moving at Merlin's word most secretly,
Left the stilled camp. "Forget not momently,"
So charged the sage, "we be not whom we be.
But thou, the king, art Gorlois' self, and we
Are knights of Gorlois. So shall all men see
Our own belief."

        And feigning thus, they rode
To where Tintagel's strong integrity
Rose massed and black against their upward way.
As these dark walls they gained, extending far,
Through the west heaven there trailed a splendid star,
With widening skirts of fire. Was glad to see
The sage such portent of high destiny
As here he deemed.

                Beneath the barbican
The password Merlin gave. The sentinel
Allowed them who they were. The drawbridge fell
- The fate of nations with it - A quick word ran
To where Igraine her lonely rest had sought;
And she received him as her lord she ought,
Adventured through the perilous night to find
Some space from narrowing woes a kind resort.
And if by Merlin's art, or darkness blind
And silence guiled, who knoweth? But ere the morn
Conceived, of that strange night a babe was born
Whose fame a thousand years should more extend,
Uplifted till the tale of fame shall end.

Ere light returned, at Merlin's urgent hest,
Had Uther risen, and passed again unguessed
Beyond those hostile walls. But as they gained
The clearer way, from out the dawn there came,
With hooves that struck the flying flint to flame,
A courier. Scarce his trembling steed, back-reined,
The narrow edge sustained. "Make path," he cried,
"I stand for none, The courier-sign ye see."

But Merlin: "Speak what news of haste and fear
Ye bear, that reckless thus the path ye ride."

"I bring the news of Gorlois' death," said he,
And smote his steed to further speed, and passed.

For Gorlois of that moonless night and clear
Avail had sought. Within his mind he cast
With one fierce onset on a sleeping host
His foes to break. His utmost force he led
In cautioned silence forth; and thus that most
Confounding panic in their lines should spread,
He clave their leaguer through, and backward bent
In swift reverse, their startled rear to take
Unware. In this design his swift outbreak
Obtained. To noise of nearing strife they wake,
And terrored steeds that fly the burning tent.
Astonied, blinded, foolish path they fled,
Where Gorlois raged. Across his deathful way
Icenia's spears and Garlot's bowmen lay;
And these he broke.

                But camping more away,
Roused were the iron-ruled ranks of Lot. Not here
To panic, or the hastened pulse of fear,
They waked; but gathering in close ranks, the while
The impatient and reiterant trumpets shrilled
Their urgent calls of war, full fast arrayed,
His waiting spears their wary lord obeyed,
Leash-strained. But that stark-hearted king, and skilled
In warlike lore, and many a fruitful guile,
His rescue paused, until, enforced the more
By Urience and the lighter ranks of Gore,
Out through the night he moved their joined array,
And in like coin a deadly craft to pay,
On Gorlois' rear his doubled force he flung.

Thus was the strife. While Gorlois overbore
Icenia, and their wounded remnant fled,
The more advanced the exultant van, the more
His rear, indriven by Lot, behind him bled;
And Gorlois, hearing, forced a backward way,
The slaughter of that trodden rear to stay.

As some broad oak the tender copse among
He showed. A huge twice-bladed axe he swung.
Shrank from its sweep his boldest foes, but they,
As waiting dogs, that hold the boar at bay,
Or wolves that shrink to leap the antlered prey,
Half ringed him round. A long Icenian spear,
Cast from the cumbered hand of flight, there lay
On that strewn ground where strife had passed before.
This spear a Lothian warrior raised and flung,
Low-aimed, at Gorlois' feet. Beneath his knee
A laming wound it gave. He stooped; he rose
Staggering; to left, to right, his closing foes
Apart he hurled. Though naught but these he saw,
In hope the rush of rescuing friends to hear,
Above the multitudinous sounds of war,
Rejecting fate, his lifted warcry rang.
Hewing on the fierce waves of that whelming sea,
Vain deaths he gave, but not for these the less
The friendlier cries recede, the deeper press
Engulfs him ever, beyond relieve, that he
Whose might so long had Uther's might defied,
Unbent of valour and untamed of pride,
Of countless wounds, of no man slain he died.


They were good knights of Gorlois, proven men
Alike in counsel and the smiting fray,
To whom the guarding of Igraine he gave.
Not surely lightlier to her cause they clave
That in the castle chantry cold he lay,
Their lord no more. Yet cooler words had way
Than could with Gorlois live have been, and when,
By truce agreed, less desperate hope they saw
Then offering from the hard appeal of war
Their doubtful hearts allowed, full glad were they.

For freedom gave the king, at Merlin's word,
That chosen lords of either part conferred
A common peace to find, and truth was said,
That were Igraine to Uther's kingdom wed,
Rest should both lands from weary strifes, that sore
Had barrened many a weary year before
From fair increase of life, and natural store.

This thought, of Ulfius fostered, grew. The king
Heard, and was glad. A bargained suit they bring
To one who granted with blithe heart - and she?
This for her land she did. Of what she thought
Was no man knew. Above the recent grave
Of whom she loved, to whom in life she clave,
To his most foe her troth and hand she gave;
And her three daughters, in the same accord,
The brides of Uther's strong allies were plight.

Her first, Elaine, was given to Garlot's lord.
The next, Morgause, whose tawny hair, alight
With changing fire, in many a lauding lay
Had minstrels to the wilds of Lothian sung,
Best loved and fairest of those sisters three,
But doomed for those whom most she loved to be
A deathly snare, was chosen of Lot.

                        Too young
For bridal then, to Urience, lord of Gore,
Was Morgan, called in after years Le Fey,
Affianced. In sheltering nunnery walls awhile
He left her, where, through many a dreaming day,
Avid of life, against that slow delay
She chafed in vain. To lagging hours beguile,
Ill chanced, she lighted on an ancient store
Of writings of dead days, unthought, unread,
In baffling scripts of eld, that there had lain
Since heathen hands had left them. Seeking fain,
Of keen desires and curious dreamings led,
A fearful lore she found. For there were writ
Charms that could bend the very fiends of hell
To man's caprice; and many a secret spell
That nature thralled: and mystic rites, unfit
For mortal thought to know.

                        Of these so well
She learned, that soon, with fearful trembling joy
She sought in midnight hour to first employ
The power she gained, and proved it. Held in aid
Such service bound and dread, her lifted thought
Saw Uther to her feet in vengeance brought
For her dead sire, and at her hand repaid
The griefs he gave. So passed her days, until
Forth-called to bend her life to Urience' will.

From closing convent walls to bridal bed
She came; and yet two months before she wed
Were ended her short years of maidenhed.
None knoweth if first herself she willed the wrong,
Or powers invoked for ill she found too strong
To bind. But all the moonless night, men say,
Closed in strange arms of lower earth she lay;
And when released she rose with rising day,
And found her chamber barred and void, was lain
This weird upon her, to seek with restless pain
That earthless joy she knew, and seek in vain,
And find it never.

        And yet her babe, Ewaine,
Of incubus derived, or fear unknown,
A true knight, and of loyal heart was he.


Lord of the west, with Garlot, Lothian, Gore,
To further friendship drawn; and next his side,
Beyond fair hope, a longed, consenting bride;
What more of fate could Uther claim, what more
Could fortune grant? Yet irked his heart that now,
Though fixed in speech and deed she held her vow,
Unlike the golden fruit he plucked before,
Her colder arms received him, and her eyes
Were loveless. More to vex his peace, he heard
In the fierce north, half-tamed, dissensions stirred,
Impending war: a tempest muttering low
Which yet might break in ruin. A closer care,
The pledge to Merlin, in his heart would rise,
While of that babe weird-gotten the nearer drew
The hour of birth. At last the sage he sought.
"Merlin," he spake, "this babe Igraine shall bear -
What would ye with it?"

                The sage replied: "That so
Its life may prosper. If thy heart foreknew
The time that cometh, thy thanks were paid. There lives
- His towers wood-hidden the pathless hills amid -
In far North Gales, a knight of worth, and wed
To one of gracious mood, and wise and fair.
Worthy her lord. This dame but now doth bear
Her firstling son. In that lone safety hid,
Thy child shall grow, the while in all she gives
To one not hers an equal care. To bring
Such end to be, this knight, Sir Anton, call
Before thee in a privy place, and there
Entreat him with great gifts, and charge as king,
That he shall take a child unknown, in all
To rear as his, in first esteem. Declare
No more; but only that the kingdom's weal
His trust depends."

                        As Merlin told, he did.
The knight, though loth, of loyalty urged, his word
Gave in full faith, that past his own preferred,
This babe, that soon the king should send, his care
Would foster ever; nor speech nor act reveal
From whence it came to any. Large gifts and rare,
And store of gold, the king, beyond his will,
In guerdon gave.

                Then further to fulfil
The mind of Merlin, passed the king his way
His purpose feignly to Igraine to show,
Where in the shadow of that near birth she lay;
To whom as one in soothful doubt, he said:
"Tell truly if the babe be mine or no,
As Christ at last shall save thee."

                        "Lord," she said,
"I know not. On the night that Gorlois died,
As all men say, it seemed he sought my side,
And I received him as was meet. Next day
From Castle Terribil they brought him dead.
And though that ye believe my word or nay,
I cannot change it."

                "Rest in peace," he said,
"I well believe thee. Yet this babe not mine,
(For so thou sayest, and truth is dark to see),
Whose claim of rule, with my sure heirs at strife,
Might break the kingdom's peace in days to be,
You shall with birth to such sure hand resign
As Merlin's wisdom shows, to raise its life
As one not born to any high degree,
Its place and name unknown of all but he."

"Lord, as thou wilt." For grief and marvel long
Had spoiled her thought, who knew no meaning wrong,
With memory seeming truth which well she knew
Nowise for all its seeming truth were true;
And shame that shrank the seeking word; and fear
That grief had raught her mind.

                        At evensong
The pains of more than death, that life belong,
Were hers to dure. At twilight birth of day
The child of Merlin's wile beside her lay.
At eve returned, from out the postern gate
To Ulfius mounted in the dusk await,
They bore it from her. Through the casement wide,
The hoof beats on her heart to silence died.


There came no peace to Uther. Discords rent
A realm scarce welded. Wooded wastes of Trent
Poured their wild tribes, and Humber's wolds allied
A gathering cloud behind them rose. To ride
North, in his name, beyond his own Logre,
Or west of where broad Severn turns the sea,
Might no man dare. His nearer foes to aid,
From frozen lands that heathen gods obeyed,
Invading hosts, wing-helmed, were called, and came
Naught loth, and to the land a searing flame
Their passing proved. In two great strifes oppressed,
His captains' hard retreat their loss confessed,
To Ouse's swamps retired. Himself the while,
Of some strange sickness seized, in Servage isle,
In fretful weakness lay.

                        At last he sent
For Merlin's aid, who not his house had failed
At previous calls. But little comfort gave
The doubtful seer. "Behold, the future veiled,
By all my arts," he spake, "I may not see.
For mortal seems thy fate, and near, and save
Thyself can lead thy host, it may not be
But thy strong foes shall wrest their victory.
Yet falleth not thy realm in final loss
To these winged rovers of the frozen sea."

"Nay," said the King, "it seems, by God His Cross,
Myself must rede it. Hast thine art no power
To grant me vigour for one passing hour,
Who am not old, nor weakling deemed afore,
To sweep these raiders to the northern shore?
Be death the toll, no more I ask."

                                But he:
"There is no power but God's shall grant it thee,
Whose weakness toward thine end declines."

                                The King
Roused his last wrath. "My banners yet shall fling
Despite of all, above me, while I drive
Raider and rebel without relent, who strive
Too soon these lands to share: their lord on live
Who drave them ever."

                Though doomed to rise no more,
Lain on a litter, and borne his host before,
He entered London. There some space he stayed,
And all his force in that last strife arrayed,
Summoning the powers by fear or fealty bound
Of tributory kings and lords allied;
While word to Lot, in his far north conveyed,
How best to strike, his own design to aid.
Then in his time he moved, and choosing ground,
Halted before St. Albans, camped astride
The Roman road, and waited, till the sound
Of heathen war-cries waked, and moving men.

Shocked the great hosts with following dawn of day;
And where amidst the opening strife he lay,
Beside his couch he gave command to fling
The dragon banner wide, and plant it deep;
An ensign rooted for his host to keep,
Or lose at once their standard and their king.
There, round the sign of that famed symbol spread,
From earliest lift of dawn till eve was red,
Loud battle roared and rang. For countering there
Were legions striving for a land most fair,
With all it held, and trampled deaths unsung
Countless for that great stake were given, and deeds
And toils heroic in that joined front were hid,
The noise of weapons and blinding dust amid,
And cries that rose in many an outland tongue.

Round the red field the wolves impatient cried:
A cloud in air the gathering ravens hung.

But though declined in heaven the westward day,
To reap more deaths the heathen axes rose
Sateless; and still of racial hate supplied
Was strength renewed in stalwart hearts of those
Who felt their shield-locked line to breaking sway,
Threatening the hour of woe when kindless foes
Upon their children's necks thrall bonds should set,
And on their maids an alien race beget,
If failed their comrades from that field, or they.

Hence with firm hearts reiterant shocks they met,
Though but with force to lift high shield remained
A remnant of themselves, and o'er the dead
Closed their outnumbered front again, that yet
No whit allowed their strife discomfited;
And yet beneath Pendragon their rooted ground
To death's oblivion held; though charged them round,
Three sides at once, wolf-hearted foes who sought
Such gain as gave a fertile land their prey,
With spoil of women to captive servage led;
Meadows and cornlands wide, and herd and stead;
And fair walled towns, the spoiling victors' prize,
And garniture of wealth their homes within,
And in the rich-piled booths strange merchandise,
That one day's jeopard of dear life should win.

So to dusk eve the great strife held; but then
On that fierce rear the noise of charging men
Waked the dim heavens, and swift confusion spread
The invading ranks among, for on their track,
Hard marching, reached and smote the Lothian Lot.
A death to those who fought or those who fled,
Twofold the Christian hosts became. In wrack,
Cloven to the core, with all but fear forgot,
A scattering rout was flung that fierce array.

A broken rout they fled. As each man may
His backward life from that defeat he bears,
Through woods and ways alert of heartened foes.
In shadowy eve or blinder night he goes.
Of wood-doves' food the husks and haws he shares,
Lean as the wintering wolves, and fierce as they.

Were scenes of men that skulk and men that slay
Wide through the land, till all from sea to sea
Northumbria broad and far to Forth was free,
And Eastland and North Gales and all Logre
Heard but from lips of slaves the heathen tongue;
And Lot's hard rule the rebel tribes among
In Uther's name had treasons crushed. But he
The more revered for that great victory,
And lauded by the land he saved, returned
To London: there of weakening pain he learned
How poor the pride of this world's empery;
Till passed he, ending with a voice which called
Igraine, who came not.

                Thus dark Uther died.
No certain heir he left. The sad years saw
A weakened realm that many wraths divide,
Vext with internal and invading war
That inly raged from tortured side to side;
While, midst waste hates and spent confusions wide,
Strength raped, and cunning held, and neither ruth
Regarded, nor the abandoned yoke of law.

For all were kings alike, where king in truth
There was not: no man's arm of strength to stay
The wasting tides of war: no voice to say:
"Be heir to this abandoned realm who may,
Lord-born to break an anarch wrong am I.
I charge ye by my sword: be ruled, or die."
While that lost babe Igraine to Uther bare,
Close nurtured of the kindly hills, unware
Of vacant throne, or waiting land's despair,
To sanguine youth from dreaming childhood grew,
Till near the hour of Merlin's purpose drew.

End of Chapter II