Lancelot Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


Gawaine aware again of LancelotA
In the King s garden coughed and followed himB
Whereat he turned and stood with folded armsC
And weary waiting eyes cold and half closedD
Hard eyes where doubts at war with memoriesE
Fanned a sad wrath Why frown upon a friendF
Few live that have too many Gawaine saidG
And wished unsaid so thinly came the lightH
Between the narrowing lids at which he gazedI
And who of us are they that name their friendsJ
Lancelot said They live that have not anyK
Why do they live Gawaine Ask why and answerL
Two men of an elected eminenceM
They stood for a time silent Then GawaineK
Acknowledging the ghost of what was goneK
Put out his hand Rather I say why askN
If I be not the friend of LancelotA
May I be nailed alive along the groundO
And emmets eat me dead If I be notA
The friend of Lancelot may I be friedP
With other liars in the pans of hellQ
What item otherwise of immolationK
Your Darkness may invent be it mine to endureR
And yours to gloat on For the time betweenK
Consider this thing you see that is my handS
If once it has been yours a thousand timesT
Why not again Gawaine has never liedP
To Lancelot and this of all wrong daysU
This day before the day when you go southV
To God knows what accomplishment of exileW
Were surely an ill day for lies to findX
An issue or a cause or an occasionK
King Ban your father and King Lot my fatherL
Were they alive would shake their heads in sorrowY
To see us as we are and I shake mineK
In wonder Will you take my hand or noY
Strong as I am I do not hold it outZ
For ever and on air You see my handS
Lancelot gave his hand there to GawaineY
Who took it held it and then let it goY
Chagrined with its indifferenceM
Yes GawaineY
I go tomorrow and I wish you wellQ
You and your brothers Gareth GaherisM
And Agravaine yes even AgravaineY
Whose tongue has told all Camelot and all BritainY
More lies than yet have hatched of Modred s envyK
You say that you have never lied to meK
And I believe it so Let it be soM
For now and always Gawaine I wish you wellQ
Tomorrow I go south as Merlin wentA2
But not for Merlin s end I go GawaineY
And leave you to your ways There are ways leftB2
There are three ways I know three famous waysM
And all in Holy Writ Gawaine said smilingC2
The snake s way and the eagle s way are twoD2
And then we have a man s way with a maidE2
Or with a woman who is not a maidE2
Your late way is to send all women scuddingC2
To the last flash of the last cramoisyM
While you go south to find the fires of GodF2
Since we came back again to CamelotA
From our immortal Quest I came back firstG2
No man has known you for the man you wereL
Before you saw whatever t was you sawM
To make so little of kings and queens and friendsM
Thereafter Modred Agravaine My brothersM
And what if they be brothers What are brothersM
If they be not our friends your friends and mineY
You turn away and my words are no markC2
On you affection or your memoryK
So be it then if so it is to beK
God save you Lancelot for by Saint StephenY
You are no more than man to save yourselfH2
Gawaine I do not say that you are wrongC2
Or that you are ill seasoned in your lightnessM
You say that all you know is what you sawM
And on your own averment you saw nothingC2
Your spoken word Gawaine I have not weighedE2
In those unhappy scales of inferenceM
That have no beam but one made out of hatesM
And fears and venomous conjecturingsM
Your tongue is not the sword that urges meK
Now out of Camelot Two other swordsM
There are that are awake and in their scabbardsM
Are parching for the blood of LancelotA
Yet I go not away for fear of themI2
But for a sharper care You say the truthJ2
But not when you contend the fires of GodF2
Are my one fear for there is one fear moreK2
Therefore I go Gawaine I wish you wellQ
Well wishing in a way is well enoughL2
So in a way is caution so in a wayM2
Are leeches neatherds and astrologersM
Lancelot listen Sit you down and listenY
You talk of swords and fears and banishmentN2
Two swords you say Modred and AgravaineY
You mean Had you meant Gaheris and GarethO2
Or willed an evil on them I should welcomeP2
And hasten your farewell But AgravaineY
Hears little what I say his ears are Modred sM
The King is Modred s father and the QueenY
A prepossession of Modred s lunacyM
So much for my two brothers whom you fearQ2
Not fearing for yourself I say to youD2
Fear not for anything and so be wiseM
And amiable again as heretoforeK2
Let Modred have his humor and AgravaineY
His tongue The two of them have done their worstG2
And having done their worst what have they doneY
A whisper now and then a chirrup or soM
In corners and what else Ask what and answerL
Still with a frown that had no faith in itR2
Lancelot pitying Gawaine s lost endeavourL
To make an evil jest of evidenceM
Sat fronting him with a remote forbearanceM
Whether for Gawaine blind or Gawaine falseM
Or both or neither he could not say yetS2
If ever and to himself he said no moreK2
Than he said now aloud What else GawaineY
What else am I to say Then ruin I sayM2
Destruction dissolution desolationY
I say should I compound with jeopardy nowY
For there are more than whispers here GawaineY
The way that we have gone so long togetherL
Has underneath our feet without our willT2
Become a twofold faring Yours I trustU2
May lead you always on as it has led youD2
To praise and to much joy Mine I believeV2
Leads off to battles that are not yet foughtW2
And to the Light that once had blinded meM
When I came back from seeing what I sawM
I saw no place for me in CamelotA
There is no place for me in CamelotA
There is no place for me save where the LightH
May lead me and to that place I shall goM
Meanwhile I lay upon your soul no loadX2
Of counsel or of empty admonitionY
Only I ask of you should strife ariseM
In Camelot to remember if you mayM2
That you ve an ardor that outruns your reasonY
Also a glamour that outshines your guileW
And you are a strange hater I know thatY2
And I m in fortune that you hate not meM
Yet while we have our sins to dream aboutZ
Time has done worse for time than in our makingC2
Albeit there may be sundry falteringsM
And falls against us in the Book of ManY
Praise Adam you are mellowing at lastZ2
I ve always liked this world and would so stillT2
And if it is your new Light leads you onY
To such an admirable gait for God s sakeC2
Follow it follow it follow it LancelotA
Follow it as you never followed gloryM
Once I believed that I was on the wayM2
That you call yours but I came home againY
To Camelot and Camelot was rightH
For the world knows its own that knows not youD2
You are a thing too vaporous to be sharingC2
The carnal feast of life You mow down menY
Like elder stems and you leave women sighingC2
For one more sight of you but they do wrongC2
You are a man of mist and have no shadowM
God save you Lancelot If I laugh at youD2
I laugh in envy and in admirationY
The joyless evanescence of a smileW
Discovered on the face of LancelotA
By Gawaine s unrelenting vigilanceM
Wavered and with a sullen change went outZ
And then there was the music of a womanY
Laughing behind them and a woman spokeC2
Gawaine you said God save you LancelotA
Why should He save him any more to dayM2
Than on another day What has he doneY
Gawaine that God should save him GuinevereM
With many questions in her dark blue eyesM
And one gay jewel in her golden hairM
Had come upon the two of them unseenY
Till now she was a russet apparitionY
At which the two arose one with a dashA3
Of easy leisure in his courtlinessM
One with a stately calm that might have pleasedB3
The Queen of a strange land indifferentlyW
The firm incisive languor of her speechC3
Heard once was heard through battlesM

Edwin Arlington Robinson


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Jewels Love: Lancelot is a book-length poem. This is not the complete poem. It's not even the complete Part I of the poem. There are 34 more lines in Part I.

AND: where this ends is not even the end of that particular line! The complete line is:

Heard once, was heard through battles: "Lancelot,

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