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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Sir Galahad Achieves the Grail-Quest
The Legend of the Holy Grail
 
From Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King’

“WHEN the hermit made an end,
In silver armor suddenly Galahad shone
Before us, and against the chapel door
Laid lance, and entered, and we knelt in prayer.
And there the hermit slaked my burning thirst,        5
And at the sacring of the mass I saw
The holy elements alone; but he—
‘Saw ye no more? I, Galahad, saw the Grail,
The Holy Grail, descend upon the shrine,
I saw the fiery face as of a child        10
That smote itself into the bread, and went;
And hither am I come; and never yet
Hath what thy sister taught me first to see,
This Holy Thing, failed from my side, nor come
Covered, but moving with me night and day,        15
Fainter by day, but always in the night
Blood-red, and sliding down the blackened marsh
Blood-red, and on the naked mountain top
Blood-red, and in the sleeping mere below
Blood-red. And in the strength of this I rode,        20
Shattering all evil customs everywhere,
And past thro’ pagan realms, and made them mine,
And clashed with pagan hordes, and bore them down,
And broke thro’ all, and in the strength of this
Come victor. But my time is hard at hand,        25
And hence I go; and one will crown me king
Far in the spiritual city; and come thou, too,
For thou shalt see the vision when I go.’
  “While thus he spake, his eye, dwelling on mine,
Drew me, with power upon me, till I grew        30
One with him, to believe as he believed.
Then, when the day began to wane, we went.
  “There rose a hill that none but man could climb,
Scarred with a hundred wintry water-courses—
Storm at the top, and when we gained it, storm        35
Round us and death: for every moment glanced
His silver arms and gloomed; so quick and thick
The lightnings here and there to left and right
Struck, till the dry old trunks about us, dead,
Yea, rotten with a hundred years of death,        40
Sprang into fire: and at the base we found
On either hand, as far as eye could see,
A great black swamp and of an evil smell,
Part black, part whitened with the bones of men,
Not to be crost, save that some ancient king        45
Had built a way, where, linked with many a bridge,
A thousand piers ran into the great Sea.
And Galahad fled along them bridge by bridge,
And every bridge as quickly as he crost
Sprang into fire and vanished, tho’ I yearned        50
To follow; and thrice above him all the heavens
Opened and blazed with thunder such as seemed
Shoutings of all the sons of God: and first
At once I saw him far on the great Sea,
In silver-shining armor starry-clear;        55
And o’er his head the Holy Vessel hung
Clothed in white samite or a luminous cloud.
And with exceeding swiftness ran the boat,
If boat it were—I saw not whence it came.
And when the heavens opened and blazed again        60
Roaring, I saw him like a silver star—
And had he set the sail, or had the boat
Become a living creature clad with wings?
And o’er his head the Holy Vessel hung
Redder than any rose, a joy to me,        65
For now I knew the veil had been withdrawn.
Then in a moment when they blazed again
Opening, I saw the least of little stars
Down on the waste, and straight beyond the star
I saw the spiritual city and all her spires        70
And gateways in a glory like one pearl—
No larger, tho’ the goal of all the saints—
Strike from the sea; and from the star there shot
A rose-red sparkle to the city, and there
Dwelt, and I knew it was the Holy Grail,        75
Which never eyes on earth again shall see.
Then fell the floods of heaven drowning the deep.
And how my feet recrost the deathful ridge
No memory in me lives: but that I touched
The chapel doors at dawn I know; and thence,        80
Taking my war-horse from the holy man,
Glad that no phantom vext me more, returned
To whence I came, the gate of Arthur’s wars.”
 
 
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