May 06, 2009

The Return Of King Arthur (Again)

No, I'm not referring to the druid John Rothwell (goddess bless him) but to the original May King. I'm teaching a children's reading workshop on him at the Writeaway Conference Something Old Something New at the University of London on 22 May. King Arthur for the 21st century.. So Poem of the Month on the main website is The May King. This chimes pleasantly with my sight today, in a rare break from the PC, through a proper window, of my first swallow of the year. Add this to my first ear full of cuckoo a week ago and I think we can with cautious optimism begin to talk about the onset of summer. Let's hope it lasts a bit longer than it did last year. Meanwhile, here on the sister site blog, and staying with the original May King, or his Queen anyway, here's an old favourite of mine from Coming Home - Lady Guinevere.

Lady Guinevere (c. 13th century

Belle ami, si est de nous, ne vous sans moi, ni moi sans vous.

Let them play at boyish games round
A table. Though walled up, bound,
In an unpublished garden, stone
Tower with window, all alone,
This court still revolves around me.
I twist them all round my pretty
Little finger, a studded ring:
The champion knight, the poor king,
Modred, Gawain, my Lancelot.
It’s the only power I know.
He comes through enchanted forests,
Rough-horses, haunted castles, mists;
From slaying giants, big bad knights:
Barons with feudal appetites;
Impossible quests for Our Lady,
Sowing wild seeds Love meant for me;
Obsessed so with courtly sin and
Confession – Indulgence’s twin;
Greets Artos, old friend – clash of mail
(So grieved his crown still lacks a graal,
So tedious!) He comes to me
Who waits… and do not wait to see
The object of his worship pass,
Wasted, into this looking glass,
Wheat-hair, rose-lips, unsown, should he
Choose to deny himself – and me.

I have a heart, self-determined
Core of I Am, God-underpinned,
Won on the Cross, for me. It can
Choose a beloved, a ‘husband’
The church would make him. But marriage
On earth’s not as it is (a rich
Royal land transaction) as one
With my Lancelot – in heaven.

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