Arthurian and Grail Poetry
The Legend Of King Arthur
By Bishop Thomas Percy
Of Brutus' blood, in Brittaine borne,
King Arthur I am to name;
Through Christendome and Heathynesse
Well knowne is my worthy fame.
In Jesus Christ I doe beleeve;
I am a Christyan bore;
The Father, Sone, and Holy Gost,
One God, I doe adore.
In the four hundred ninetieth yeere,
Oer Brittaine I did rayne,
After my Savior Christ his byrth,
What time I did maintaine
The fellowshipp of the Table Round,
Soe famous in those dayes;
Whereatt a hundred noble knights
And thirty sat alwayes:
Who for their deeds and martiall feates,
As bookes done yett record,
Amongst all other nations
Wer feared through the world
And in the castle of Tyntagill
King Uther mee begate,
Of Agyana, a bewtyous ladye,
And come of hie estate.
And when I was fifteen yeere old,
Then was I crowned kinge:
All Brittaine, that was att an uprÚre,
I did to quiett bringe;
And drove the Saxons from the realme,
Who had opprest this land;
All Scotland then, throughe manly feates,
I conquered with my hand.
Ireland, Denmarke, Norwaye,
These countryes wan I all;
Iseland, Gotheland, and Swetheland;
And made their kings my thrall.
I conquered all Gallya,
That now is called France;
And slew the hardye Froll in feild,
My honor to advance.
And the ugly gyant Dynabus,
Soe terrible to vewe,
That in Saint Barnards mount did lye,
By force of armes I slew.
And Lucyus, the emperour of Rome,
I brought to deadly wracke;
And a thousand more of noble knightes
For feare did turne their backe.
Five kinges of paynims I did kill
Amidst that bloody strife;
Besides the Grecian emperour,
Who alsoe lost his liffe.
Whose carcasse I did send to Rome,
Cladd poorlye on a beere;
And afterward I past Mount-Joye
The next approaching yeere.
Then I came to Rome, where I was mett
Right as a conquerour,
And by all the cardinalls solempnelye
I was crowned an emperour.
One winter there I made abode,
Then word to mee was brought,
How Mordred had oppressd the crowne,
What treason he had wrought
Att home in Brittaine with my queene:
Therfore I came with speede
To Brittaine backe, with all my power,
To quitt that traiterous deede;
And soone at Sandwiche I arrivde,
Where Mordred me withstoode:
But yett at last I landed there,
With effusion of much blood.
For there my nephew Sir Gawaine dyed,
Being wounded in that sore
The whiche Sir Launcelot in fight
Had given him before.
Then chased I Mordered away,
Who fledd to London right,
From London to Winchester, and
To Cornwalle tooke his flyght.
And still I him pursued with speed,
Till at the last wee mett;
Wherby an appointed day of fight
Was there agreed and set:
Where we did fight, of mortal life
Eche other to deprive,
Till of a hundred thousand men
Scarce one was left alive.
There all the noble chivalrye
Of Brittaine took their end.
O see how fickle is their state
That doe on fates depend!
There all the traiterous men were slaine,
Not one escapte away;
And there dyed all my vallyant knightes.
Alas! that woefull day!
Two and twenty yeere I ware the crowne
In honor and great fame,
And thus by death was suddenlye
Deprived of the same.