Its fairy towers soar into the air.
The white stone walls reflect the sunlight fair.
Broad city ways are cobbled, clean-swept streets
Which please the eye. The eye up-lifted meets
The castle, garrisoned, its watch keeping.
The dragon-banners shout: here dwells the king!
Well-armed patrols make circuits of the wall.
Stout archers, ready, lookout over all.
The mighty lords, their knights, their ladies gay
Seek pleasure in the city’s glad display
Of pageantry and courtship, where each knight
Has taken oath as Arthur’s man to fight.
Silk gowns! Night dances! Revels at the court!
High festivals! When tournaments are fought
Sir Lancelot excels the field: they tell
A dozen knights before his prowess fell
To cheers resounding from the watching crowd
Who cheer the champion of the queen aloud!
In melee: battle-tests of knightly men
Between opposing teams engaging when
The queen of Tournament waving her hand
At where the trumpeters outfitted stand:
The trumpets sound. Each warrior doth contest
With all the might and prowess he possessed!
The king gives royal judgement. Then the cheers
Herald the victors as the night-tide nears.
The statuary of stone upon each roof
With magic wrought provide exquisite proof
Of Merlin’s mastery of magic spell:
Each statue’s face, deportment, is so well
Depicted that one feels they are alive!
So well did Merlin’s arts them all contrive.
Gargoyles watch, and flying creatures lurk
Protectively around the royal kirk.
Figures of man and woman, fowl and beast –
The mythical, the greatest and the least
Appear in stone charades upon each wall.
It seems they change position with the fall
Of evening. Many murmur they appear
In different poses as the morning clear
Dawns shining fresh-lit sunlight on their face.
These statues – whether they move or stay in place
Relate a story, or a prophecy
Of things to come: to those prepared to see
And read their secrets wrought into grey stone
Which Merlin worked therein when he alone
Raised up fair Camelot within a day
Upon its hill. At least, the many say:
Within short space Merlin the Mage had wrought
The city into being, out of nought.
When Arthur entered by its open gate
To see its gardens, bowers roseate
With plashing fountains, twittering birdsong rose
To bid him welcome. Merlin did dispose
The city as his gift. The miracle
Of how it’s built is kept a secret still.
King Arthur reigned: ruling from Camelot
His capital. So from this central spot
The heralds might proclaim what he’s decreed.
King Arthur’s knights are given as their meed
Fair residence within the city’s bound
To constitute the royal Table Round.
In but one day this fabled city wrought.
But what is worked in one day may be brought
Down into nothing on a latter day:
Such revolutions often are the way
In history! If Merlin ceased to be –
What would become of this magic city?
Can white magic by black arts be undone?
In halycon days such questions troubled none.