The Begetting of Modred

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The Begetting of Modred
written by John Masefield
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WHEN berries were scarlet
In the holly's dark green,
To the court at Caerleon
Came Morgause the Queen,

Being charged by her husband
To spy and report
On the troops under Arthur
From Caerleon court.

There she lived as a lady
From autumn to spring,
But she learned little tidings
To send to her King;

Save that soldiers were mustered
From Uskmouth to Wye,
But for all of her serpent
She could not learn why.

Then she tempted Prince Arthur,
The youth in command,
Till she saw his eyes brighten
At the touch of her hand.

There she baited her beauty
With the lures women use,
But for all of her serpent
She gathered no news.

When the daffodils flowered
In the fields of red clay
And the apple trees blossomed
And the birds sang all day,

When the swallows were building
And the cuckoo had come,
All the camps of Caerleon
Were loud with the drum.

All the troops in Caerleon
Were packing their gear;
All the whets in Caerleon
'Whipped sword-edge or spear.

Queen Morgause of Orkney
Knew wars did prepare,
But for all of her serpent
She could not tell where.

In her room hung with purple
She baited her hooks
With her sweet-smelling body,
Sweet words and sweet looks.

There she tempted Prince Arthur
With beauty's delight,
So that love was between them
For one summer night.

Then when first the red cock crew
The trumpet blew shrill,
And the Caerleon legion
Came down from the hill.

And Prince Arthur rode with them
And left her in doubt,
For, for all of her serpent,
She had not found out.

But in Orkney in winter,
When waiting was done,
She bare the boy Modrcd
From the evil begun,
And the father, the uncle,
Had a nephew for son.

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