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Poetry meme

February 4th, 2009 (11:16 pm)
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I know the poem which I'd like to bring you; it's a piece of political verse marking the accession of George III, but I don't have the section which actually sticks in the memory. I've been looking through the periodical which I thought it was in, online, and I can't find it. The gist of it was that all the dead King Henries and King Edwards mourn King George II, and then are surprised at the arrival of another George, as if they've been waiting for kings called George for centuries, and then three come along at once, as perhaps people said about hackney-coaches in 1760.

So instead, here's Sir Galahad by Tennyson. It was quoted in a Doctor Who story once...

My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.
The shattering trumpet shrilleth high,
The hard brands shiver on the steel,
The splinter'd spear-shafts crack and fly,
The horse and rider reel:
They reel, they roll in clanging lists,
And when the tide of combat stands,
Perfume and flowers fall in showers,
That lightly rain from ladies' hands.

How sweet are looks that ladies bend
On whom their favours fall!
For them I battle till the end,
To save from shame and thrall:
But all my heart is drawn above,
My knees are bow'd in crypt and shrine:
I never felt the kiss of love,
Nor maiden's hand in mine.
More bounteous aspects on me beam,
Me mightier transports move and thrill;
So keep I fair thro' faith and prayer
A virgin heart in work and will.

When down the stormy crescent goes,
A light before me swims,
Between dark stems the forest glows,
I hear a noise of hymns:
Then by some secret shrine I ride;
I hear a voice but none are there;
The stalls are void, the doors are wide,
The tapers burning fair.
Fair gleams the snowy altar-cloth,
The silver vessels sparkle clean,
The shrill bell rings, the censer swings,
And solemn chaunts resound between.

Sometime on lonely mountain-meres
I find a magic bark;
I leap on board: no helmsman steers:
I float till all is dark.
A gentle sound, an awful light!
Three angels bear the holy Grail:
With folded feet, in stoles of white,
On sleeping wings they sail.
Ah, blessed vision! blood of God!
My spirit beats her mortal bars,
As down dark tides the glory slides,
And star-like mingles with the stars.

When on my goodly charger borne
Thro' dreaming towns I go,
The cock crows ere the Christmas morn,
The streets are dumb with snow.
The tempest crackles on the leads,
And, ringing, springs from brand and mail;
But o'er the dark a glory spreads,
And gilds the driving hail.
I leave the plain, I climb the height;
No branchy thicket shelter yields;
But blessed forms in whistling storms
Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields.

A maiden knight--to me is given
Such hope, I know not fear;
I yearn to breathe the airs of heaven
That often meet me here.
I muse on joy that will not cease,
Pure spaces clothed in living beams,
Pure lilies of eternal peace,
Whose odours haunt my dreams;
And, stricken by an angel's hand,
This mortal armour that I wear,
This weight and size, this heart and eyes,
Are touch'd, are turn'd to finest air.

The clouds are broken in the sky,
And thro' the mountain-walls
A rolling organ-harmony
Swells up, and shakes and falls.
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
"O just and faithful knight of God!
Ride on! the prize is near."
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
By bridge and ford, by park and pale,
All-arm'd I ride, whate'er betide,
Until I find the holy Grail.

Text sourced from The Camelot Project at the University of Rochester.


Posted by: richenda (richenda)
Posted at: February 5th, 2009 09:16 am (UTC)

Presumably the strength of Ten?
Next stupid question - does Ten know that he's Ten?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 5th, 2009 10:56 am (UTC)

More like the strength of Three... see reply to wellinghall.

Posted by: wellinghall (wellinghall)
Posted at: February 5th, 2009 10:47 am (UTC)

Which story?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 5th, 2009 10:57 am (UTC)

Frontier in Space, from 1973 - Jo Grant asks the Master what keeps him going, and he replies "My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure."

Posted by: wellinghall (wellinghall)
Posted at: February 5th, 2009 10:59 am (UTC)


Posted by: Alice Dryden (huskyteer)
Posted at: February 5th, 2009 10:48 am (UTC)
Don Quixote

This floated through my head last night, oddly enough - it's one of my favourites.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 5th, 2009 11:03 am (UTC)

It's interesting - the landscape through which Galahad rides is innocuous in that it seems to represent a kind of social and spiritual balance, but I'm not sure whether Galahad himself is in torment because he is not wholly of this world.