Arthurian and Grail Poetry
King Arthur's Waes-Hael
By Robert Stephen Hawker
When the brown bowl is filled for yule, let the dome or upper half be set on; then let the waes-haelers
kneel one by one and draw up the wine with their reeds through the two bosses at the rim. Let one
breath only be drawn by each of the morice for his waes-hael.
Waes-hael for knight and dame!
O! merry be their dole;
Drink-hael! in Jesu's name
We fill the tawny bowl;
But cover down the curving crest,
Mould of the orient lady's breast.
Waes-hael! yet lift no lid:
Drain ye the reeds for wine!
Drink-hael! the milk was hid
That soothed that Babe divine;
Hushed, as this hollow channel flows,
He drew the balsam from the rose.
Waes-hael! thus glowed the breast
Where a God yearned to cling;
Drink-hael! so Jesu pressed
Life from its mystic spring;
Then hush, and bend in reverent sign,
And breathe the thrilling reeds for wine.
Waes-hael! in shadowy scene,
Lo! Christmas children we;
Drink-hael! behold we lean
At a far Mother's knee;
To dream, that thus her bosom smiled,
And learn the lip of Bethlehem's Child.
The rounded shape of the bowl for waes-hael was intended to recall the image of a mother's
breast; and thus it was meant, with a touching simplicity, to blend the thought of our
gladness with the earliest nurture of the Child Jesus.