Tag Archives: Morte Arthur

In which Lancelot is boring but Galahad is worse

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By this point it should be clear that there is little love lost between Lancelot and Yours Truly. And I am sorry, I really am! I tried to like the guy or at least view him with some sort of academic objectivity, but I can’t. Him and Guinevere, they’re supposed to be this power couple and yet Lancelot seems to have as many ladies fawning over him (with various degrees of reluctance on his part) as Gawain. And Gawain is known as the Ladies’ Knight! Give me a break. Anyway…What was I saying? Oh, yes! For the longest time I thought Lancelot would hold the “least favourite knight” title for me. Then I came across this young lad named Galahad….

 

Galahad’s character suffers from what I like to call the Superman Syndrome (and if that is a real thing I apologise to whoever coined the term). His singular function in the Arthurian tales is to be flawless. He’s the best knight; he’s the other person to pull the sword from the stone (thank you Malory…); he’s the one to find the Grail; yada, yada, yada. And you know what? I could –somewhat begrudgingly- deal with all that if he got some character development on the way. But nooooooo… I’m not kidding! In Malory’s version (which I’m going with since I don’t have access to the other versions of the story right now) he finds the Grail, rules as king on a city nearby (or was it the city he found the Grail in? I always get confused at this point.) and then dies. I think the way it is explained is that he was too pure for this imperfect world. Or it could just be that Sir Bores-a-lot Jr. had no other reason for existence. I’m not exaggerating. From the moment Elaine (not Elaine of Astolat, another Elaine) hears Lancelot is visiting her father and starts plotting to sleep with him, it is with the understanding that the result of the union will be the Chosen One. And we all know how that works out….

 

 

There are versions of the legend were Percival or even Gawain (-sigh- When am I gonna get a movie about him?) find the Grail. Heck! I’m pretty sure Lancelot finds it in one. Do I have a problem with that too? Well, I have problems with the Grail subplot in general, but that is the subject for another post (or more likely a dissertation). But no, I do not mind any of these three gentlemen finding the Grail. Why? Because that is not their only characteristic. They are not carbon cut-outs or lists of tropes on legs. They are three-dimensional characters with all the imperfections and struggles that come with that. And for that reason I can sympathise with them. Because I can see there was a process and a struggle to better themselves in order to be considered “worthy”, whatever that means….In Galahad’s case, not so much.

 

Now, someone might point out the fondness that medieval authors had for allegorical storytelling and archetypical characters. I understand and respect that. Sometimes variations on an already familiar theme are more imaginative than a completely new melody. However, even archetypes develop over time and I’m sorry but I just don’t see that in Galahad’s case.

The Mother

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The mother Morgana

Gazes at her child;

She smiles through her tears

And cries through her smile.

The mother Morgana

Can read the threads

Of the fate of her brother,

Her lover, her son.

 

Her precious promised child

Dying at the hands of Fate

To bring about the end

Of the Golden Age of Men.

And women will weep,

At the alabaster towers of Camelot,

For their proud Corn King,

For Arthur Pendragon.

 

But who will weep

For the Dark Prince?

Who will weep for Mordred?

When the Fey, dry-eyed,

Welcomes her brother to Avalon.

 

And so the mother Morgana

Gazes at her child,

Sings him to sleep,

And cries.

In which there are pancakes

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Happy Pancake Day!

Boy, do I love this holiday! Is it a holiday? Don’t know. It should be. (In case you didn’t notice, I’m functioning with a slight sugar rush right now. Apologies for any typos.) So, yeah… I actually didn’t know that there was such a day until I came to England. I mean I know it originally started as a “Let’s clear out the kitchen before Lent” thing but I am of the firm (and probably heretic) opinion that sometimes celebrating the name is more important than celebrating the reason behind the holiday. You should have seen what I did in honour of Never-you-mind-my-relationship-status Day last Saturday. And how will this crazy kid celebrate Pancake Day you ask? Well, for one I’ll be eating lots of pancakes. For another I will be doing the first round of spring cleaning in my house. Random, I know, but I have this soufflé recipe I wanna try, and I don’t know about you, but I cannot cook in a dirty kitchen. And if I’m gonna clean the kitchen, might as well do the entire house (minus flatmates’ bedrooms, that’s their problem). Unfortunately, before I do any of this I need to get some homework out of the way, so I will cut this short and go back to my complaining about the insane amount of alliteration in Morte Arthur (only 1000 lines to go!)

I hope you all have wonderful days and don’t get a stomach ache from too many pancakes!

The Maid on the Boat

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Red roses rest upon a windowsill,

Fading in the fake, flickering light.

Pale petals, washed out with age,

Scattered against the damask fabric.

My name is Elaine and this is my tale.

 

Red was the blood that fled from your side,

Fading the life with every hour’s strike.

Pale-faced you called to your Lady for mercy,

Scattered memories like discarded tokens.

My name is Elaine and I saved your life.

 

Red was my brother’s shield that you bore,

Fading my dreams, drowning in the river.

Pale sunlight, barely a gleam,

Scattered dewdrops as you rode away.

My name is Elaine and you betrayed me.

 

Red is the sky as I take to the river,

Fading my youth, “wasted”, they say.

Pale is the parchment that rests on my hands,

Scattered my song, trails in the air.

My name is Elaine, Elaine of Astolat, the Lilly Maid.

 

Heard a carol, mournful, holy,

Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,

Till her blood was frozen slowly,

And her eyes were darkened wholly,

Turn’d to towered Camelot.

For ere she reach’d upon the tide

The first house by the water-side,

Singing in her song she died,

The Lady of Shalott.