Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Passing of Arthur

One of the most stirring passages from Tennyson's Idylls of the King are the last stanzas of "The Passing of Arthur," in which the wounded king is spirited away to the "island-valley" of Avalon.

And slowly answered Arthur from the barge:
‘The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfills himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of....

Thereat once more he moved about, and clomb
Even to the highest he could climb, and saw,
Straining his eyes beneath an arch of hand,
Or thought he saw, the speck that bare the King,
Down that long water opening on the deep
Somewhere far off, pass on and on, and go
From less to less and vanish into light.
And the new sun rose bringing the new year. Share

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