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And the great sheik sent a slave to express his wish that Eva and her maidens should appear. So she came to listen to the ode which the poet had composed in her honor. He had seen palm trees, but they were not as tall and graceful as Eva; he had beheld the eyes of doves and antelopes, but they were not as bright and soft as hers; he had tasted the fresh springs in the wilderness, but they were not more welcome than she, and the soft splendor of the desert moon was not equal to her brow. She was the daughter of Amalek, the daughter of a thousand chiefs. Might she live forever in their tents, ever ride on Nejid steeds and on dromedaries with silver harness, ever show herself to the people like a free Arabian maiden !

The poet, after many variations on this theme, ceased amid great plaudits.

"He is a true poet," said an Arab, who was, like most of his brethren, a critic; "he is, in truth, a second Antar."

"If he had recited these verses before the King of Persia, he would have given him a thousand camels," replied his neighbor, gravely.

"They ought to be suspended in the Temple of Mecca," said a third.

"What I most admire is his image of the full moon — that cannot be too often introduced," said a fourth.

"Truly the moon should ever shine," said a fifth. "Also, in all truly fine verses there should be palm trees and fresh springs."

Tancred, to whom Baroni had conveyed the meaning of the verses, was also pleased. Having observed that on a previous occasion the great sheik had rewarded the bard, Tancred ventured to take a chain, which he fortunately chanced to wear, from his neck, and sent it to the poet of Eva. This made a great sensation, and highly delighted the Arabs.


Alfred Tennyson was born in Lincolnshire in 1810. He is the son of a clergyman, and one of a numerous and gifted family. He was educated at Cambridge. Before finishing his course he published a volume containing the series of airy portraits, which, read now in the light of his great fame, seem exquisite, but were condemned by the critics then, as the dainty affectations of a poetaster. In his second volume was published The Miller's Daughter, and The May Queen, both full of human interest, and remarkable for a subtile skill in wordpainting. But his third volume, which contained The Gardener's Daughter, Locksley Hall, Dora, Ulysses, and the first of the legendary tales of Arthur's Court, established his reputation as the first of English poets; and upon the death of Wordsworth, in 1850, he was appointed Poet Laureate. His principal poems since published are, The Princess, In Memoriam, Maud, The Idyls of the King, Enoch Arden, and The Holy Grail.

Tennyson is generally considered to be a philosophical poet, and it is true that there is more of reverie and more of deep meditation than of apparent movement in his smoothly finished verse. But there is not one of the poems just named, no matter with what nice care its perfect epithets have been chosen, that is not alive to the core with some of the passions of our nature. His style has been stigmatized as "enamelled," but his enamel is like Milton's and Gray's, burned into the classic shape it covers, and as indestructible as the great thoughts it adorns.

The student who would know how the old Saxon element of the language can be moulded into the most terse, musical and picturesque blank verse must read the series of idyls (forming a real epic), upon the Knights of the Round Table. The characters are strongly drawn; the incidents are in due perspective, and the style appears so simple, that at first one does not suspect either the vigor that inspires or the art that has rounded the verse. The songs of Tennyson, especially those in The Princess, have a delicious melody, to which the finest music can hardly add any charm.

Another trait must be noticed, and that is the pictorial art of the poet. Every stanza in his descriptive poems brings up a vivid scene to the least imaginative reader; the earth, the sky, and the sea are seen to be in harmony with the feeling of the hour; and by their sympathetic aspect give dignity and intensity to the human element.

Tennyson is a man of large stature, dark in complexion, with a full beard and abundant hair. He lives mostly at Faringford, in the Isle of Wight, not far from the Queen's residence. His aversion to meeting strangers is peculiarly strong; and the determined silence, or the short and gruff phrases by which even the most cultivated visitors and admirers have been repelled, leave us without much knowledge of his social character. Many a celebrity is most safely worshipped at a distance.


So all day long the noise of battle rolled
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur's table, man by man,
Had fallen in Lyonnesse about their lord,
King Arthur: then, because his wound was deep,
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,

And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land.
On one side lay the Ocean, and on one
Lay a great water, and the moon was full.

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere:
"The sequel of to-day unsolders all
The goodliest fellowship of famous knights
Whereof this world holds record. Such a sleep
They sleep- the men I loved. I think that we
Shall never more, at any future time,
Delight our souls with talk of knightly deeds,
Walking about the gardens and the halls

Of Camelot, as in the days that were.
I perish by this people which I made,
Though Merlin sware that I should come again
To rule once more - but let what will be, be,
I am so deeply smitten through the helm
That without help I cannot last till morn.
Thou therefore take my brand Excalibur,
Which was my pride: for thou rememberest how
In those old days, one summer noon, an arm
Rose up from out the bosom of the lake,
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
Holding the sword—and how I rowed across
And took it, and have worn it, like a king:
And, wheresoever I am sung or told
In after-time, this also shall be known:
But now delay not: take Excalibur,
And fling him far into the middle mere :
Watch what thou seest, and lightly bring me word."


To him replied the bold Sir Bedivere :

"It is not meet, Sir King, to leave thee thus,
Aidless, alone, and smitten through the helm.
A little thing may harm a wounded man.
Yet I thy hest will all perform at full,
Watch what I see, and lightly bring thee word."

So saying, from the ruined shrine he stept,
And in the moon athwart the place of tombs,
Where lay the mighty bones of ancient men,
Old knights, and over them the sea-wind sang
Shrill, chill, with flakes of foam. He, stepping down
By zigzag paths, and juts of pointed rock,
Came on the shining levels of the lake.

There drew he forth the brand Excalibur,
And o'er him, drawing it, the winter moon,
Brightening the skirts of a long cloud, ran forth
And sparkled keen with frost against the hilt:
For all the haft twinkled with diamond sparks,
Myriads of topas-lights, and jacinth-work
Of subtlest jewelry. He gazed so long

That both his eyes were dazzled, as he stood,
This way and that dividing the swift mind,
In act to throw; but at the last it seemed
Better to leave Excalibur concealed
There in the many-knotted water-flags,
That whistled stiff and dry about the marge.
So strode he back slow to the wounded king.

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere: "Hast thou performed my mission which I gave? What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard?"

And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere : "I heard the ripple washing in the reeds, And the wild water lapping on the crag."

To whom replied King Arthur, faint and pale:
"Thou hast betrayed thy nature and thy name,
Not rendering true answer, as beseemed
Thy fealty, nor like a noble knight:
For surer sign had followed, either hand,
Or voice, or else a motion of the mere.
'This is a shameful thing for men to lie.

Yet now, I charge thee, quickly go again
As thou art lief and dear, and do the thing
I bade thee, watch, and lightly bring me word."

Then went Sir Bedivere the second time
Across the ridge, and paced beside the mere,
Counting the dewy pebbles, fixed in thought;
But when he saw the wonder of the hilt,
How curiously and strangely chased, he smote
His palms together, and he cried aloud:

"And if indeed I cast the brand away,
Surely a precious thing, one worthy note,
Should thus be lost forever from the earth,
Which might have pleased the eyes of many men.
What good should follow this, if this were done?
What harm, undone? deep harm to disobey,
Seeing obedience is the bond of rule.

Were it well to obey then, if a king demand
An act unprofitable, against himself?
The king is sick, and knows not what he does.
What record, or what relic of my lord
Should be to after-time, but empty breath
And rumors of a doubt? but were this kept,
Stored in some treasure-house of mighty kings,
Some one might show it at a joust of arms,
Saying, King Arthur's sword, Excalibur,
Wrought by the lonely maiden of the Lake.
Nine years she wrought it, sitting in the deeps
Upon the hidden bases of the hills.'


So might some old man speak in the after-time
To all the people, winning reverence.

But now much honor and much fame were lost."

So spake he, clouded with his own conceit,
And hid Excalibur the second time,
And so strode back slow to the wounded king.

Then spoke King Arthur, breathing heavily: "What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard?

And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere, "I heard the water lapping on the crag, And the long ripple washing in the reeds."

To whom replied King Arthur, much in wrath:
"Ah, miserable and unkind, untrue,
Unknightly, traitor-hearted! Woe is me!
Authority forgets a dying king,

Laid widowed of the power in his eye

That bowed the will. I see thee what thou art,
For thou, the latest-left of all my knights
In whom should meet the offices of all,

Thou wouldst betray me for the precious hilt;
Either from lust of gold, or like a girl
Valuing the giddy pleasure of the eyes.

Yet, for a man may fail in duty twice,
And the third time may prosper, get thee hence:
But, if thou spare to fling Excalibur,

I will arise and slay thee with my


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