Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/The knight's grave


The Knight's Grave - Percival Skelton.png


Under painted cross and chalice
In the flood of light,
Lies in marble, with Dame Alice,
Andrew Welldon, Knight;
Side by side, the legend sayeth,
These two lived and died,
And carved stone o’er mingled bone
Showeth them side by side.


Nothing here, above or under,
Of fanatic gloom;
No fool’s fear of death’s deep wonder
Spoils their simple tomb:
Seems it that the sculptor graved it
Only for to show
What the Knight and what his Dame were
Now they are not so.


Merry cheeps of madcap swallows
Reach them, darting by,
Changeful shadows from the sallows
On their white brows lie;
Changeful shadows from the sallows,
Constant from the limes;
For light friends go, if winds do blow,
As in their ancient times.


Certes, lovely was the Lady!
Eyes, I guess, whose blue,
Calm, and cold, but gleaming steady,
Tender was and true:
Of a noble presence surely,
Dutiful and staid,
Worthinesse was glad before her,
Worthlessnesse afraid.


Read beneath, in golden letters,
Proudly written down,
Names of all her “sonnes and daughteres,”
Each a matron crown:
Deftly cut in ruff and wimple
Kneeling figures show
Small heads over smaller rising,
In a solemn row.


These her triumphs. Sterner token
Chronicles her Lord:
Hangs above him, grim and broken,
Gilded helm and sword.
Sometimes, when with quire and organ
All the still air swings,
Red with the rust and grey with the dust,
Low rattles that blade, and rings.


Time was, Knight, that tiny treble
Should have stirred thy soul
More than drums and trumpets rebel
Braying health to Noll.
No more fight now!—nay, nor flight now!
The rest that thou hast given
In chancel shade to that good blade
God gives thy soul in heaven.


Somewhere on this summer morning,
In this English isle,
Blooms a cheek whose rich adorning
Herits, Dame, thy smile:
Some one in the realm whose fathers
Suffered much, and long,
Owes that sword and its good lord
Thanks for a righted wrong.


Therefore, for that maiden say I:
“Dame, God thee assoil;”
Therefore for that freeman pray I:
“Knight, God quit thy toil;”
And for all Christian men and me
Grace from the gracious Lord
To write our name with no more shame,
And sheathe as clean a sword.

Edwin Arnold.