(To Robert Gould Shaw)
Flushed with the hope of high desire,
He buckled on his sword,
To dare the rampart ranged with fire,
Or where the thunder roared;
Into the smoke and flame he went,
For God's great cause to die—
A youth of heaven's element,
The flower of chivalry.
This was the gallant faith, I trow,
Of which the sages tell;
On such devotion long ago
The benediction fell;
And never nobler martyr burned,
Or braver hero died,
Than he who worldly honor spurned
To serve the Crucified.
And Lancelot and Sir Bedivere
May pass beyond the pale,
And wander over moor and mere
To find the Holy Grail;
But ever yet the prize forsooth
My hero holds in fee;
And he is Blameless Knight in truth,
And Galahad to me.
Gone are the sensuous stars, and manifold,
Clear sunbeams burst upon the front of night;
Ten thousand swords of azure and of gold
Give darkness to the dark and welcome light;
Across the night of ages strike the gleams,
And leading on the gilded host appears
An old man writing in a book of dreams,
And telling tales of lovers for the years;
Still Troilus hears a voice that whispers, Stay;
In Nature's garden what a mad rout sings!
Let's hear these motley pilgrims wile away
The tedious hours with stories of old things;
Or might some shining eagle claim
These lowly numbers for the House of Fame!