Arthurian and Grail Poetry
The Dream Of Sir Galahad
By Madison Cawein
With the knights Peredur and Gawain he sits, in a chapel in Lyonesse, speaking while the dawn
slowly reddens on the sea, gray-seen through the open door.
Cast on sleep there came to me
Three great angels, o'er the sea
Moaning near the priory:
Cloudy clad in awful white,
Each one's face, a lucid light,
Rayed and blossomed out of night.
In my sleep I saw them rest,
Each, a long hand on her breast,
Like the new-moon in the west:
And their hair like sunset rolled
Down their shoulders, burning cold,
An insufferable gold.
Flaming round each high brow bent
Fourfold starry gold, that sent
Light before them as they went:
'Neath their burning crowns their eyes
Shone like awful stars the skies
Rock in shattered storm that flies.
Dark their eyes were, lurid dark;
And within their eyes a spark
Like the opal's burned: my sark
Seemed to shrivel 'neath their gaze;
As, with marvel and amaze,
All my soul it seemed to raise.
And I saw their mouths were fire,
Ruby-red as the desire
Of the Sanc Graal: fair and dire
Were their lips, whereon the kiss
Of all Heaven lay; the bliss
Of all happiness that is.
Calm as Beauty lying dead,
Tapers lit at feet and head,
Were they, round whom prayers seemed said:
Fragrant as that woman who,
Born of blossoms and of dew
And of magic, wedded Llew.
And the first one said to me:--
"Thou has slept thus holily
While seven sands ran shadowy;
Earth hath served thee like a slave,
Serving us who found thee brave,
Pure of life and great to save:
"Know!"--She touched my brow: a pain
As of arrows pierced my brain:
Ceased: and earth, both sea and plain,
Vanished: and I stood where thought
Stands, and worship, spirit-fraught,
Watching how the heavens are wrought.
Then the second said to me:
"Thou hast come all sinlessly
Thro' life's sin-enveloped sea:
Know the things thou hast not seen:
Filling all the soul with sheen;
Meaning more than earth may mean:
"See!"--Her voice sang like a lyre,
Comprehending all desire
In its gamut's throbbing fire:--
And my inner eyelids,--which
Dimmed clairvoyance,--raised: and rich,
As one chord's vibrating pitch,
Grew my soul with light: that saw
The embodiment of awe,
Love, divinity, and law,
Orbed and eöned: and the power,
Circumstance, like some vast flower;
From which time fell, hour on hour.
'Neath the third one's mighty will
All my soul lay very still,
Feeling all its being thrill
As she, smiling, said to me:
"Thou dost know, and thou canst see:
What thou art arise and be!"
To my lips her lips she pressed;
And my new-born soul, thrice-blessed,
Clasped her radiance and caressed:
Mounted and, in glory clad,
Soared with them who chorused glad:
"Christ awaits thee, Galahad!"