Below the place called Avalon
the river winds down to a stone
which holds a sword in fast embrace,
a long time prisoner in this place.
Excalibur awaits the man,
the chosen one alone, who can
free it from the place it’s sheathed;
to him a kingdom is bequeathed,
Young Arthur grasped the jewelled sword
and proved he was the one true lord
and future king. This sword would break,
but fairest Lady of the Lake
delivered into Arthur’s hand
a new sword famed throughout the land.
A sword he pledged he would return
before his funeral pyre could burn.
The scabbard lost; the magic died.
A mortal wound smote Arthur’s side.
At Camlann was the king struck down,
a fatal wound to England’s crown.
He bade Sir Bedivere to take
the magic sword back to the lake.
The glinting sword thrown in the air,
was caught by the lady waiting there.
Then through the mist at Avalon,
the sword, and lady’s hand were – gone.
Copyright Grace Galton September 2010
NB As Arthur lay dying, he tells a reluctant Sir Bedivere to return the sword to the lake by throwing it into the water. Bedivere thinks the sword too precious to throw away, so twice only pretends to do so. Each time, Arthur asks him to describe what he saw. When Bedivere tells him the sword simply vanished underwater, Arthur scolds him harshly. Finally, Bedivere throws Excalibur into the lake. Before the sword strikes the water's surface, the hand reaches up to grasp it and pull it under.