Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.

Wales: Caerleon-upon-Usk

King Arthur

By Bessie Rayner Parkes (1829–1925)

WHEN good King Arthur ruled this land,

He dwelt at Caerleon-upon-Usk;

He held it with an armed right hand,

And drank red wine from dawn till dusk.

How stalwart were the warriors then,

In our time no such maidens are:

King Arthur was the first of men,

The fairest dame Queen Guenevar.

When Merlin waved his silver wand,

None dared dispute its awful spells;

On summer nights the moonlit strand

Was musical with fairy bells.

And all the knights in Arthur’s court

Made glorious that enchanted spot;

And who was first in every sport,—

Ah, who was loved but Launcelot!

How bright the armor which they wore

When setting out at morning-tide,—

The silken banners which they bore,

By gentle hands were wrought and dyed.

And who shall rise, and who shall fall,

When they the robber-bands assail;

And whose pure hands shall duty call

To seek and find the holy Grail!

Fair company of noble knights

That ride in that mysterious land,

And celebrate your mystic rites

With stainless sword in stainless hand.

Ah, where is Caerleon-upon-Usk!

Though somewhere in the south of Wales,

The wanderer there, at gathering dusk,

When dreaming o’er these ancient tales,

Will hardly see such lovely dames,

Will hardly meet such noble men,

Till bards and prophets prove their claims,

And good King Arthur comes again!