Never Learned

The Myth of Arthur.
G. K. Chesterton.

O learned man who never learned to learn,
Save to deduce, by timid steps and small,
From towering smoke that fire can never burn
And from tall tales that men were never tall.
Say, have you thought what manner of man it is
Of who men say “He could strike giants down” ?
Or what strong memories over time’s abyss
Bore up the pomp of Camelot and the crown.
And why one banner all the background fills,
Beyond the pageants of so many spears,
And by what witchery in the western hills
A throne stands empty for a thousand years.
Who hold, unheeding this immense impact,
Immortal story for a mortal sin;
Lest human fable touch historic fact,
Chase myths like moths, and fight them with a pin.
Take comfort; rest–there needs not this ado.
You shall not be a myth, I promise you.

Rex Quondam, Rexque Futurus

Death of Uther Pendragon, king of England, to whom succeeded his son, King Arthur, who instituted the Round Table.

[Bas Oiter Pendragen regis Anglie cui sucsessit filius suus, .i. Cingh Arrtur, .i. do orrdaig an bord cruinn.]

— Annals of Ulster, U467.3.

God in His Mercy Lend Her Grace

The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, 1888 (Tate Gallery, London).

Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
A corse between the houses high,
Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
The Lady of Shalott.

Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross’d themselves for fear,
All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, “She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
The Lady of Shalott.”

— From The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.