Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere
 
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron (1809–92)
 
 
LIKE souls that balance joy and pain,
With tears and smiles from heaven again
The maiden Spring upon the plain
Came in a sun-lit fall of rain.
    In crystal vapor everywhere        5
Blue isles of heaven laugh’d between,
And far, in forest-deeps unseen,
The topmost elm-tree gather’d green
    From draughts of balmy air.
 
Sometimes the linnet pip’d his song:        10
Sometimes the throstle whistled strong
Sometimes the sparhawk, wheel’d along,
Hush’d all the groves from fear of wrong:
    By grassy capes with fuller sound
In curves the yellowing river ran,        15
And drooping chestnut-buds began
To spread into the perfect fan,
    Above the teeming ground.
 
Then, in the boyhood of the year,
Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere        20
Rode thro’ the coverts of the deer,
With blissful treble ringing clear.
    She seem’d a part of joyous Spring;
A gown of grass-green silk she wore,
Buckled with golden clasps before;        25
A light-green tuft of plumes she bore
    Clos’d in a golden ring.
 
Now on some twisted ivy-net,
Now by some tinkling rivulet,
In mosses mix’d with violet        30
Her cream-white mule his pastern set:
    And fleeter now she skimm’d the plains
Than she whose elfin prancer springs
By night to eery warblings,
When all the glimmering moorland rings        35
    With jingling bridle-reins.
 
As fast she fled thro’ sun and shade,
The happy winds upon her play’d,
Blowing the ringlet from the braid:
She look’d so lovely, as she sway’d        40
    The rein with dainty finger-tips,
A man had given all other bliss,
And all his worldly worth for this,
To waste his whole heart in one kiss
    Upon her perfect lips.        45
 

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