An Arthurian Miscellany at sacred-texts.com
THE LAMENT OF SIR ECTOR DE MARIS
Thro' waste and steep, this seven year
Sir Ector seeks Sir Launcelot,
His flower of knights, his brother dear.
From Calabre to Gwent, he sought;
Last home to Joyous Garde, he hight
By roads that once Sir Launcelot brought.
What lights are they that burn all night,
Within the quire of Joyous Garde?
Sir Ector draws rein at the sight.
What songs are they to heaven's Lord?
What singing men, that sing and pause?
Sir Ector doffs his helm and sword.
They sing no song of "Deo Laus":
Sir Ector de Maris knows them not:
Yet, well they know his thrice-scarr'd brows.
"There lies they brother, Launcelot,"
Sir Bors says, standing by the bier,
"That thou this seven year hath sought!"
Through waste and steep, this seven year,
He sought; and now he swoons to see
That face he sought lie on the bier.
The kneeling knights rise silently:
They bear him forth to the cool night-air
The summer night drinks from the sea.
When Ector woke, what anguish there
He made, what pity in him wrought:
His cries were more than heart can bear.
"Oh Launcelot, oh Launcelot,
Of Christian knight, the flower and head,
And there thou liest, Sir Launcelot.
"I will dare say," Sir Ector said,
"Of all men thou wert courtliest,
And the truest knight ever love bested.
"Of a sinful man, thou wert the best,
That ever loved; and of all, did ride
The lists full-arm'd, the goodliest.
"And thou were first in the battle-tide
To meet the spears; yet, the gentlest man
That sate in hall by the ladies' side.
"And thou wert always the meekest one
That served thy lord in Camelot:
And the sternest knight, since wars began,
"Put spear in rest, or ever fought
With thy mortal foe: and there, how low,
How low, thou liest, Sir Launcelot!"
* * *
The sorrow then, no man can know:
Weeping, complaining, without end,
For the noblest knight, the truest friend,
That ever into the grave did go.
Next: The Last Sleep of Sir Launcelot, by Ernest Rhys