Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, KING HERMANDIAZ, by EDWARD ROBERT BULWER-LYTTON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

KING HERMANDIAZ, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Then, standing by the shore, I saw the moon
Last Line: "that said or seemed to say, ""hail, hermandiaz!"
Alternate Author Name(s): Meredith, Owen; Lytton, 1st Earl Of; Lytton, Robert
Subject(s): Arthurian Legend; Sea Voyages; Avalon (legend); Arthur, King

THEN, standing by the shore, I saw the moon
Change hue, and dwindle in the west, as when
Warm looks fade inward out of dying eyes,
And the dim sea began to moan.
I knew
My hour had come, and to the bark I went.
Still were the stately decks, and hung with silk
Of stoled crimson: at the mast-head burned
A steadfast fire with influence like a star,
And underneath a couch of gold. I loosed
The dripping chain. There was not any wind:
But all at once the magic sails began
To belly and heave, and like a bat that wakes
And flits by night, beneath her swarthy wings
The black ship rocked and moved. I heard anon
A humming in the cordage and a sound
Like bees in summer, and the bark went on,
And on, and on, until at last the world
Was rolled away and folded out of sight,
And I was all alone on the great sea.
There a deep awe fell on my spirit. My wound
Began to bite. I, gazing round, beheld
A lady sitting silent at the helm,
A woman white as death, and fair as dreams.
I would have asked her "Whither do we sail?"
And "how?" but that my fear clung at my heart,
And held me still. She, answering my doubt,
Said slowly, "To the Isle of Avalon."

And straightway we were nigh a strand all gold,
That glittered in the moon between the dusk
Of hanging bowers made rich with blooms and balms,
From which faint gusts came to me; and I heard
A sound of lutes among the vales, and songs
And voices faint like voices through a dream
That said or seemed to say, "Hail, Hermandiaz!"

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