When evening wrapped the castle in its cloak
And warm winds wed the fragrance of the night —
The woodland after rain and torches’ smoke —
High in the tower sat the wounded knight
And listened after meat as his delight,
The countess, softly sang a psalm of yore,
Of wicked men as trees, who reach great height,
Whose flourishing branches spread the country o’er,
But suddenly are felled and burned, and seen no more.
Three weeks he tarried there within her lands
And caused tribute and honour to be paid,
While government she took within her hands.
And when he had so long beside her stayed
As Whitsuntide drew on, he told the maid:
“I must this coming feast in Caerleon keep
And cannot here much longer be delayed.”
Then paleness cross her rose-red cheek did creep
And as rose-petals fall, so fell she in a heap.
He lifted her from off the flagstones cold
And gently led her to her stately chair,
“Lady”, he said, “more wise than can be told:
Can I believe that I could ever bear
From out the forest the flower that I found there?
That you should at the court stand by my side,
Beyond its splendours wonderfully fair,
And pledge before the King to be my bride?”
”No magic of the forest holds me here.” the maid replied.
“Then take my hand fair lady of this place,
Your hand in mine to me shall witness be
That truly you’re with me. And when your face
In shining summer smiles sheds light on me,
And I shall look into your eyes and see
A loveliness unfathomable as the the sea,
That shall a second faithful witness be.
But if I still should doubt my ecstasy,
Then speak, so I may know by these witnesses three.