Poetical Tragedies

Mordred: A Tragedy in Five Acts.

by William Wilfred Campbell



SCENE V.—The apartment of GUINEVERE and a lady attendant.

     Guinevere.     Now Unid I have seen this noble Arthur.

I spied him from my turret as he rode,
And all my heart went out in love to him,
The knight incarnate of my girlhood’s dreams.
Did’st thou notice his bearing Unid?


     Unid.     Yea my lady, and fairer man and nobler knight

Eye hath not seen.


     Guin.     His face was like the gardens when the sun

Lifts up his crimson splendor after dawn,
His bearing as the bearing of a god,
And yet as one who would be kind and loving.


     Unid.     Yea, my lady, he seemed glad and fair,

And fit to be the lord to thee, my Princess.


     Guin.     Come Unid take my hand and we will sit

And speak of this great Arthur. Well thou knowest
My maiden fears regarding this same marriage.
I honored this Arthur as a noble king,
The mighty monarch and the splendid warrior.
And yet I fear him for reputed coldness.
Thou knowest me a princess warm in blood,
Brim with fire and sweetness of this life,
Not fitted to be wedded to a statue,
A marble, though that marble be a king.
For something stirred my life-springs long ago,
And whispered, Guinevere were made for love
And love alone would rule her destiny.
And when I looked and saw him enter there,
And knew my lord, and felt him gaze my way,
Knowing his errand to my father’s hall,
I blushed me till mine inmost being burned.
And all the roses whispered, “Arthur”! “Arthur”!
And “Arthur”! “Arthur”! rang though all the halls.
I wonder if he will love me Unid?


     Unid.     In sooth he must, my lady, be he noble.

Though he never saw thee, who but heard
Of all thy charms, my Princess Guinevere,
Could help but love thee when he seeth thy face?


     Guin.     ’Tis in my mind to sound his manner, Unid.

To take him treacherous and unawares.
I like not much this way of wedding maids,
In cruel blindness of their coming fate.
This marriage savoreth much of state affairs,
Even o’er much to please my noble fancy.
I would me much to see this royal lover,
And know with mine own senses if he loves
With that intense delight and warmth of feeling,
With which poor Darby freely weddeth Joan.
Though I be all a queen I be a woman,
With all the thoughts and instincts of a woman.


     Unid.     What would’st thou do, my lady?


     Guin.     That I this even meet him in the garden.


     Unid.     On what pretence, my lady? ’Twere a risky business.


     Guin.     Thou wilt be veiled and take this golden ring,

Cozen his squire, and say, this for the knight
Who rode within the castle walls to-day.
Leave thou him word, a lady in distress,
Who needeth a knight to aid her in her sorrow,
Would meet him in the garden walls at sunset.


     Unid.     I will do it my lady. but what if he come not?


     Guin.     No danger of his not coming if he be

The man I worshipped from my tower this morning.
He’d come were yon rose-plot enchanted ground,
And gated by a thousand belching fiends.
He’d come, my king! Oh Unid, how I love him!