Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pray for the Dead--"Let Thy Voice Rise Like a Fountain"


Then loudly cried the bold Sir Bedivere:

“Ah! my Lord Arthur, whither shall I go?

Where shall I hide my forehead and my eyes?

For now I see the true old times are dead,

When every morning brought a noble chance,

And every chance brought out a noble knight.

Such times have been not since the light that led

The holy Elders with the gift of myrrh.

But now the whole Round Table is dissolv’d

Which was an image of the mighty world,

And I, the last, go forth companionless,

And the days darken round me, and the years,

Among new men, strange faces, other minds.”


And slowly answer’d Arthur from the barge:

“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,

And God fulfils himself in many ways,

Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.

Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?

I have liv’d my life, and that which I have done

May He within himself make pure! but thou,

If thou shouldst never see my face again,

Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer

Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice

Rise like a fountain for me night and day.

For what are men better than sheep or goats

That nourish a blind life within the brain,

If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer

Both for themselves and those who call them friend?

For so the whole round earth is every way

Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.

But now farewell. I am going a long way

With these thou seëst—if indeed I go

(For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)—

To the island-valley of Avilion;

Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,

Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies

Deep-meadow’d, happy, fair with orchard lawns

And bowery hollows crown’d with summer sea,

Where I will heal me of my grievous wound.”


So said he, and the barge with oar and sail

Mov’d from the brink, like some full-breasted swan

That, fluting a wild carol ere her death,

Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the flood

With swarthy webs. Long stood Sir Bedivere

Revolving many memories, till the hull

Look’d one black dot against the verge of dawn,

And on the mere the wailing died away.

From The Passing of Arthur--Alfred Lord Tennyson

2 comments:

Emily G. said...

It's been years since I read that poem and I've forgotten it. I definitely forgot how eloquently Tennyson speaks of praying for the dead. How beautiful! Praying for the poor souls in Purgatory has always been a favourite devotion of mine.

Wendy Haught said...

It is beautiful, and it reflected well my feelings about John: "For now I see the true old times are dead. . ."