Arthurian and Grail Poetry
By William Morris
About the middle of the month of June
Sir Palomydes rode upon his quest,
Twixt sunrise and the setting of the moon:
Beast Glatysaunt did give him little rest
At midday, and at midnight must he sleep,
And still the beast trailed on unceasingly
Waking strange echoes in the forest deep,
Leaving strange scales on many a bush or tree.
So the days went and no lovesickness came
O'er the knight's heart to weaken it or bow
His head; he rode on with the same
Set purpose still in his unwrinkled brow.
Until one day when that he rode thinking
Whether the beast as they met face to face
Would turn to fight him with a sudden spring,
Or creep away and whine in some dark place
Until he bound his jaws and led him out--
And then he thought until his heart grew hot
Of how the folk would laugh and sing and shout
And he should lead the beast through Camelot,
The heralds crying, "Ho good people, see!
For this is Palomydes the good knight
Who hath achieved his quest most gloriously
And won the Questing Beast in open fight!"
Thereat in sooth he almost seemed to be
There in the streets with all the bells ringing
And all the folk at window him to see,
Damsels and minstrels ready for to sing.
Almost he heard the praises of the King
And Launcelot saying "Now beyond all doubt
Is Palomydes the best knight living
Though Lamorak and Tristram are most stout."
Abroad from thence the bruit shall go of me,
And many a lord shall say, "Hold we high feast;
Tomorrow an uncouth sight shall we see:
Here cometh Palomydes and his beast."
And so to Cornwall shall I come at last --
But saying this he sighed, for well he thought:
When all this noble fame has been compassed
Shall Iseult's love be nearer to me brought?
Now at that time the forest thinner grew
On the left hand, and all between the trees
The light of the green fields began to show,
And ever fresher blew the western breeze,
On either side of him the thrushes sang
And as he drew his rein it seemed to him
That from some far-off tower the bells rang.
So he passed on to that great forest's rim
And then beneath him by the meadows fair
With their broad acres of the good green wheat
Starred with the blood-red poppies burning clear,
There sat he, and the smell of hay came sweet
Upon the wind and therewithal the chimes
Uncertain as the kisses of a maid
Sang out their tale in sweet outlandish rymes
Hard to remember. Therefore down he laid
His bridle, and he cried, How fair, how fair,
You walk within the summer gardens
O bright Iseult!--having but little care
For Palomydes, as I full well know.