Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > England
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV.  1876–79.
 
Amesbury
Guinevere
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)
 
(From Idyls of the King)

QUEEN GUINEVERE had fled the court, and sat
There in the holy house at Almesbury
Weeping, none with her save a little maid,
A novice: one low light betwixt them burned
Blurred by the creeping mist, for all abroad,        5
Beneath a moon unseen albeit at full,
The white mist like a face-cloth to the face
Clung to the dead earth, and the land was still.
*        *        *        *        *
  “You know me, then, that wicked one, who broke
The vast design and purpose of the King.        10
O shut me round with narrowing nunnery-walls,
Meek maidens, from the voices crying ‘Shame.’
I must not scorn myself: he loves me still.
Let no one dream but that he loves me still.
So let me, if you do not shudder at me        15
Nor shun to call me sister, dwell with you,
Wear black and white, and be a nun like you,
Fast with your fasts, not feasting with your feasts,
Grieve with your griefs, not grieving at your joys,
But not rejoicing; mingle with your rites;        20
Pray and be prayed for, lie before your shrines,
Do each low office of your holy house,
Walk your dim cloister, and distribute dole
To poor sick people, richer in His eyes
Who ransomed us, and haler too than I,        25
And treat their loathsome hurts and heal mine own,
And so wear out in almsdeed and in prayer
The sombre close of that voluptuous day,
Which wrought the ruin of my lord the King.”
 
  She said: they took her to themselves; and she        30
Still hoping, fearing, “Is it yet too late?”
Dwelt with them, till in time their Abbess died,
Then she, for her good deeds and her pure life,
And for the power of ministration in her,
And likewise for the high rank she had borne,        35
Was chosen Abbess, there, an Abbess, lived
For three brief years, and there, an Abbess, past
To where beyond these voices there is peace.
 
 
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