Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 2/The crown of love

Inspired by the lai "The Two Lovers" by Marie de France. Illustrated by John Everett Millais.


O, might I load my arms with thee,
Like that young lover of Romance,
Who loved and gain’d so gloriously
The fair Princess of France!

Because he dared to love so high,
He, bearing her dear weight, must speed
To where the mountain touch’d the sky:
So the proud king decreed.

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Unhalting he must bear her on,
Nor pause a space to gather breath,
And on the height she would be won;—
And she was won in death!

Red the far summit flames with morn,
While in the plain a glistening Court
Surrounds the king who practised scorn
Thro’ such a mask of sport.

She leans into his arms; she lets
Her lovely shape be clasp’d: he fares.
God speed him whole! The knights make bets:
The ladies lift soft prayers.

O have you seen the deer at chase?
O have you seen the wounded kite?
So boundingly he runs the race,
So wavering grows his flight.

My lover! linger here, and slake
Thy thirst, or me thou wilt not win.”
See’st thou the tumbled heavens? they break!
They beckon us up, and in.”

Ah, hero-love! unloose thy hold:
O drop me like a cursed thing.”
See’st thou the crowded swards of gold?
They wave to us Rose and Ring.”

O death-white mouth! O cast me down!
Thou diest? Then with thee I die.”
See’st thou the angels with a Crown?
We twain have reach’d the sky.”

George Meredith.