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The Noble Acts of Arthur of the round Table

To the Tune of, Flying Fame.
WHen Arthur first in court began,
and was approued King:
By force of armes great victories wan,
and conquest home did bring.
Then into Britaine straight he came,
where fiftie good and able
Knights then repaired vnto him,
which were of the round Table.
And many Iusts and Turnaments,
before them there were drest:
Where valiant Knights did then excell
and farre surmount the rest.
But one Sir Lancelot du Lake,
who was approued well,
He in his fights and deeds of arms,
all other did excell:
When he had rested him a while,
to play to game and sport,
He thought he would go proue himselfe,
in some aduenturous sort.
He armed rode in forrest wide,
and met a Damosell faire:
Who told him of aduentures great,
whereunto he gaue good eare.
Why should I not (quoth Lancelot) tho,
for that cause came I hither:
Thou seemst (quoth she) a Knight right good,
and I will bring thee thither:
Where as the mightiest Knight doth dwell
that now is of great fame:
Wherefore tell me what Knight thou art,
and then what is your name,
My name is Lancelot du Lake;
(quoth she) it likes me than:
Here dwels a Knight that neuer was
orematcht with any man.
Who hath in prison threescore Knights,
and foure that he hath won:
Knights of King Arthurs court they be,
and of his Table round.
She brought him to a Riuers side,
and also to a tree:
Whereas a copper Bason hung,
his fellowes shields to see.
He stroke so hard the Bason broke,
when TRarquin heard the sound,
He droue a horse before him straight,
whereon a Knight lay bound.
Sir Knight then said Sir Lancelot tho,
bring me that horse load hither:
And lay him downe and let him rest,
weele trie our force together.
And as I vnderstand thou hast,
so farre as thou art able,
Done great despight and shame vnto
the Knights of the round Table.
If thou be of the Table round,
(quoth Tarquin, speedily)
Both thee and all thy fellowship,
I vtterly defie.
That’s ouermuch (quoth Lancelot tho),
defend thee by and by.
They put their spurs vnto their Steeds
and each at other flie.
They coucht their speares and horses ran,
as though there had been thunder.
And each stroake then amidst the shield,
wherewith they brake in sunder.
Their horses backes brake vnder them,
the Knights were both astound,
To void their horse they made great hast
to light vpon the ground.
They tooke them to their shields full fast,
their swords they drew out than:
With mighty strokes most egerly,
each one to other ran.
They wounded were, and blew full sore,
for breath they both did stand,
And leaning on their swords a while,
(quoth Tarquin) hold thy hand.
And tell to me what I shall aske.
say on (quoth Lancelot tho):
Thou art (quoth Tarquin) the best Knight,
that euer I did know:
and like a Knight that I did hate,
so that thou be not he,
I will deliuer all the rest,
and eke accord with thee.
That is well said (quoth Lancelot tho):
but sith it must be so,
What is the Knight thou hatest so,
I pray thee to me show,
His name is Sir Lancelot du Lake,
he slew my brother deare;
Him I suspect of all the rest,
I would I had him here.
Thy wish thou hast but now vnknowne,
I am Lancelot du Lake,
Now Knight of Arthurs Table round,
kind Haunds sonne of Benwake:
And I defie thee, do thy worst.
Ha, ha (quoth Tarquin tho):
One of vs two shall end our liues,
before that we do go.
If thou be Lancelot du Lake,
then welcome shalt thou be:
Wherefore see thou thy selfe defend,
for now I thee defie.
They buckled then together so,
like two wilde Boares, so rushing:
And with their swords and shields they ran
at one another lashing,
The ground besprinkled was with bloud,
Tarquin began to faint:
For he gaue backe, and bore his shield
so low, he did repent.
That soone espied Sir Lancelot tho,
he leapt vnto him then:
He pul’d him downe vpon his knees,
and rushing off his helme.
And he stroke his necke in two
and when he had done so,
From prison threescore Knights and foure,
Lancelot deliuered though.

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The Noble Acts of Arthur of the round Table - THOMAS DELONEY