[Scottish Painter, 1823-1904]
Oil on canvas
36 1/8 x 54 1/8 inches (92 x 137.5 cm)
Arthur in Avalon, or La Mort d'Arthur
Manchester City Art Gallery
John Arthur Blaikie
Arthur in Avalon
Published in The Magazine of Art, 1884, pp. 433-434.
STRICKEN of man, and sore beset of Fate,
He lies amid the groves of Avalon;
What comfort mete ye unto Uther's son,
O mournful Queens? What styptic to abate
Life's eager stream? Alas, not theirs to sate
His soul with earthly vision! he hath done
With mortal life, and chivalry's bright sun
Is darkened by the powers of hell and hate.
Lo! now, the garden of his agony
Is very sweet, though dread the hour, and drear
With utterless spell of horrid potency;
The barrèd east beyond the brightening sea,
Thick with portentous wraiths of phantom fear,
Is flushed with triumph, stirred with melody.
"Glory of knighthood, that through Lyonesse
Was as a lamp, O selfless soul and pure,
What though thy visionary rule endure
So ill the assault of envy? Not the less
Thy victory, though failure thee oppress;
Not sterile thy example, and most sure
The seeded fruit; with might thou shalt allure
For evermore through life's embattled press
Thy spiritual sons to follow thee;"
The mystic Four their solemn vigil keep
Until day break, and eastward silently,
Over the kingless land and wailing deep,
The sacrificial symbol fire the sky;
Then they arise, no more to watch and weep.