Alfred Lord Tennyson

Here you will find the Long Poem Gareth And Lynette of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson

Gareth And Lynette

The last tall son of Lot and Bellicent, 
And tallest, Gareth, in a showerful spring 
Stared at the spate. A slender-shafted Pine 
Lost footing, fell, and so was whirled away. 
'How he went down,' said Gareth, 'as a false knight 
Or evil king before my lance if lance 
Were mine to use--O senseless cataract, 
Bearing all down in thy precipitancy-- 
And yet thou art but swollen with cold snows 
And mine is living blood: thou dost His will, 
The Maker's, and not knowest, and I that know, 
Have strength and wit, in my good mother's hall 
Linger with vacillating obedience, 
Prisoned, and kept and coaxed and whistled to-- 
Since the good mother holds me still a child! 
Good mother is bad mother unto me! 
A worse were better; yet no worse would I. 
Heaven yield her for it, but in me put force 
To weary her ears with one continuous prayer, 
Until she let me fly discaged to sweep 
In ever-highering eagle-circles up 
To the great Sun of Glory, and thence swoop 
Down upon all things base, and dash them dead, 
A knight of Arthur, working out his will, 
To cleanse the world. Why, Gawain, when he came 
With Modred hither in the summertime, 
Asked me to tilt with him, the proven knight. 
Modred for want of worthier was the judge. 
Then I so shook him in the saddle, he said, 
"Thou hast half prevailed against me," said so--he-- 
Though Modred biting his thin lips was mute, 
For he is alway sullen: what care I?' 

And Gareth went, and hovering round her chair 
Asked, 'Mother, though ye count me still the child, 
Sweet mother, do ye love the child?' She laughed, 
'Thou art but a wild-goose to question it.' 
'Then, mother, an ye love the child,' he said, 
'Being a goose and rather tame than wild, 
Hear the child's story.' 'Yea, my well-beloved, 
An 'twere but of the goose and golden eggs.' 

And Gareth answered her with kindling eyes, 
'Nay, nay, good mother, but this egg of mine 
Was finer gold than any goose can lay; 
For this an Eagle, a royal Eagle, laid 
Almost beyond eye-reach, on such a palm 
As glitters gilded in thy Book of Hours. 
And there was ever haunting round the palm 
A lusty youth, but poor, who often saw 
The splendour sparkling from aloft, and thought 
"An I could climb and lay my hand upon it, 
Then were I wealthier than a leash of kings." 
But ever when he reached a hand to climb, 
One, that had loved him from his childhood, caught 
And stayed him, "Climb not lest thou break thy neck, 
I charge thee by my love," and so the boy, 
Sweet mother, neither clomb, nor brake his neck, 
But brake his very heart in pining for it, 
And past away.' 

 To whom the mother said, 
'True love, sweet son, had risked himself and climbed, 
And handed down the golden treasure to him.' 

And Gareth answered her with kindling eyes, 
'Gold?' said I gold?--ay then, why he, or she, 
Or whosoe'er it was, or half the world 
Had ventured--HAD the thing I spake of been 
Mere gold--but this was all of that true steel, 
Whereof they forged the brand Excalibur, 
And lightnings played about it in the storm, 
And all the little fowl were flurried at it, 
And there were cries and clashings in the nest, 
That sent him from his senses: let me go.' 

Then Bellicent bemoaned herself and said, 
'Hast thou no pity upon my loneliness? 
Lo, where thy father Lot beside the hearth 
Lies like a log, and all but smouldered out! 
For ever since when traitor to the King 
He fought against him in the Barons' war, 
And Arthur gave him back his territory, 
His age hath slowly droopt, and now lies there 
A yet-warm corpse, and yet unburiable, 
No more; nor sees, nor hears, nor speaks, nor knows. 
And both thy brethren are in Arthur's hall, 
Albeit neither loved with that full love 
I feel for thee, nor worthy such a love: 
Stay therefore thou; red berries charm the bird, 
And thee, mine innocent, the jousts, the wars, 
Who never knewest finger-ache, nor pang 
Of wrenched or broken limb--an often chance 
In those brain-stunning shocks, and tourney-falls, 
Frights to my heart; but stay: follow the deer 
By these tall firs and our fast-falling burns; 
So make thy manhood mightier day by day; 
Sweet is the chase: and I will seek thee out 
Some comfortable bride and fair, to grace 
Thy climbing life, and cherish my prone year, 
Till falling into Lot's forgetfulness 
I know not thee, myself, nor anything. 
Stay, my best son! ye are yet more boy than man.' 

Then Gareth, 'An ye hold me yet for child, 
Hear yet once more the story of the child. 
For, mother, there was once a King, like ours. 
The prince his heir, when tall and marriageable, 
Asked for a bride; and thereupon the King 
Set two before him. One was fair, strong, armed-- 
But to b