First section

Camelot

Aileen Wang

In deepest heart of forest wild

The last of fairies in exile

Will sometimes flit by evening mild

To settle on a mossy tile

Of ancient Camelot.

In samite white she sits and sings

And plays upon her lyre sweet.

Beating softly ghost-thin wings

She sings of Camelot.

On strings of gold she carefully plucks

With fingers long and callused be,

And wakes the nested sleeping ducks

With half-forgotten history

Of ancient Camelot.

Of damosel and armoured knight

And table round and questing beast,

Held dear though lost, she sings by night

Remembering Camelot:

‘Yea Arthur, bastard, ill-conceived

On magic night in masked deceit.

For years well-hid, by none perceived,

Till he did sword from stone unseat,

O king of Camelot.

So young, and fair, and fresh was he

A bairn! They cried, of no import

And in his eyes they could not see

The future, Camelot.

On yonder hill with oaken rings

Did bright Excalibur from its sheath

There fell the many English kings

And drive the Saxons from the heath

Where would stand Camelot.

Then much was sung of the king new-crowned,

Of all his feats of axe and sword,

But not on arms did he then found

The kingdom, Camelot.

For in the filth of bloody war

He turned away from tyrant might.

No more for him those hills of gore –

He swore instead for gentle right

Within his Camelot.

O sweet head bearing gentle crown

Not strength of arms he used, instead

With chivalry did he lay down  

The bricks of Camelot.

A table round he fixed in place

For all to feast abundantly.

And round the table’s wooden face

He called them to as equals be,

The knights of Camelot.

Before the boy-king Arthur each

Would swear their oath of fealty,

And of each he would then beseech,

Rise, o knight of Camelot!

To right and dignity forsworn,

To gentleness not tyranny.

By Christian cross and old hawthorn,

By oak or Mary’s heraldry,

They swore in Camelot.

Then merriment for all day long,

And feasting by the dimming coals,

And in the night the whitethroat’s song,

In wooded Camelot.

O blessed realm of hearth and stone

O flame of silk and chivalry!

As high as highest bird has flown

So blazed its holy revelry,

Such was Camelot!

A place of strange and fairy sights,

With tourney jousted in the day

And dance to last throughout the night,

Remember Camelot!

So all the village girls and boys

Now dream of quests and domed mead halls

And beg of wooden swords for toys

And practice dance to troubadours

That sing of Camelot.

And even now in woodland deep

There wander still some hapless youths

That stumble by; I watch them they weep:

‘O, where is Camelot?’

In vain they seek, ‘tis here no more,

On Camlann Plains its ashes fell

Where friend slew friend in dreadful war

And mournful rang the low death knell

Of beloved Camelot.

To sword at last its beauty gave

And all its magic put to torch

And hidden even is the grave

Of ruined Camelot.

Remain I here, the fairy sings,

Within these walls of ivy green,

Where moss the shattered column rings

And buried low there lays unseen

The bricks of Camelot.

Of all of us who guard this lake

I the last, and I too fade,

But still from dreams I cannot wake

Of golden Camelot.’

First section

Camelot

Aileen Wang

In deepest heart of forest wild

The last of fairies in exile

Will sometimes flit by evening mild

To settle on a mossy tile

Of ancient Camelot.

In samite white she sits and sings

And plays upon her lyre sweet.

Beating softly ghost-thin wings

She sings of Camelot.

On strings of gold she carefully plucks

With fingers long and callused be,

And wakes the nested sleeping ducks

With half-forgotten history

Of ancient Camelot.

Of damosel and armoured knight

And table round and questing beast,

Held dear though lost, she sings by night

Remembering Camelot:

‘Yea Arthur, bastard, ill-conceived

On magic night in masked deceit.

For years well-hid, by none perceived,

Till he did sword from stone unseat,

O king of Camelot.

So young, and fair, and fresh was he

A bairn! They cried, of no import

And in his eyes they could not see

The future, Camelot.

On yonder hill with oaken rings

Did bright Excalibur from its sheath

There fell the many English kings

And drive the Saxons from the heath

Where would stand Camelot.

Then much was sung of the king new-crowned,

Of all his feats of axe and sword,

But not on arms did he then found

The kingdom, Camelot.

For in the filth of bloody war

He turned away from tyrant might.

No more for him those hills of gore –

He swore instead for gentle right

Within his Camelot.

O sweet head bearing gentle crown

Not strength of arms he used, instead

With chivalry did he lay down  

The bricks of Camelot.

A table round he fixed in place

For all to feast abundantly.

And round the table’s wooden face

He called them to as equals be,

The knights of Camelot.

Before the boy-king Arthur each

Would swear their oath of fealty,

And of each he would then beseech,

Rise, o knight of Camelot!

To right and dignity forsworn,

To gentleness not tyranny.

By Christian cross and old hawthorn,

By oak or Mary’s heraldry,

They swore in Camelot.

Then merriment for all day long,

And feasting by the dimming coals,

And in the night the whitethroat’s song,

In wooded Camelot.

O blessed realm of hearth and stone

O flame of silk and chivalry!

As high as highest bird has flown

So blazed its holy revelry,

Such was Camelot!

A place of strange and fairy sights,

With tourney jousted in the day

And dance to last throughout the night,

Remember Camelot!

So all the village girls and boys

Now dream of quests and domed mead halls

And beg of wooden swords for toys

And practice dance to troubadours

That sing of Camelot.

And even now in woodland deep

There wander still some hapless youths

That stumble by; I watch them they weep:

‘O, where is Camelot?’

In vain they seek, ‘tis here no more,

On Camlann Plains its ashes fell

Where friend slew friend in dreadful war

And mournful rang the low death knell

Of beloved Camelot.

To sword at last its beauty gave

And all its magic put to torch

And hidden even is the grave

Of ruined Camelot.

Remain I here, the fairy sings,

Within these walls of ivy green,

Where moss the shattered column rings

And buried low there lays unseen

The bricks of Camelot.

Of all of us who guard this lake

I the last, and I too fade,

But still from dreams I cannot wake

Of golden Camelot.’