The Quest

A poem by Rudyard Kipling

The knight came home from the quest,
Muddied and sore he came.
Battered of shield and crest,
Bannerless, bruised and lame.
Fighting we take no shame,
Better is man for a fall.
Merrily borne, the bugle-horn
Answered the warder’s call:,
“Here is my lance to mend (Haro!),
Here is my horse to be shot!
Ay, they were strong, and the fight was long;
But I paid as good as I got!”

“Oh, dark and deep their van,
That mocked my battle-cry.
I could not miss my man,
But I could not carry by:
Utterly whelmed was I,
Flung under, horse and all.”
Merrily borne, the bugle-horn
Answered the warder’s call!

“My wounds are noised abroad;
But theirs my foemen cloaked.
Ye see my broken sword,
But never the blades she broke;
Paying them stroke for stroke,
Good handsel over all.”
Merrily borne, the bugle-horn
Answered the warder’s call!

“My shame ye count and know.
Ye say the quest is vain.
Ye have not seen my foe.
Ye have not told his slain.
Surely he fights again, again;
But when ye prove his line,
There shall come to your aid my broken blade
In the last, lost fight of mine!
And here is my lance to mend (Haro!),
And here is my horse to be shot!
Ay, they were strong, and the fight was long;
But I paid as good as I got!”

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