Thursday, July 5, 2012


They broached wine bountifully and drank it together,

Dukes, distinguished peers and newly dubbed knights;

ith the dancing of Germans and the din of piping

The vale reverberated and the valiant men waited.

Then Sir Lucius spoke aloud with lofty words:

‘Ponder the prowess of your proud forefathers,

Those Roman ravagers ruling through their lords,

Who overran the earth’s regnant powers,

Conquering all Christendom by craft of arms;

Every expedition was hailed a victory.

In seven seasons the Saracens were beaten

In all parts from Port Jaffa to Paradise Gates.

We little care if a land launches revolt:

It is reason and right that rebels be restrained!

So let us address that deed, delaying no longer,

Since doubtless the day shall be deemed ours!’

   With these words were said, the Welsh King himself

Was aware of this warrior who had made war on his knights,

    And valiantly in the vale he voiced his challenge:

‘Viscount of Valence, envious of deed,

That adventure at Viterbo shall be avenged today;

I shall never fly unvanquished from this field of battle!’

   Then the Viscount valiantly voiced a command,

And advanced from the vanguard, veering on his horse.

He held up his hateful shield edged with sable

On which a dragon ghastly to see with its gaping maw

Was devouring a dolphin of doleful aspect

As a sign our sovereign would be destroyed

And done out of his days with dread sword-strokes;

For death alone is due when the dragon is raised. 

From Morte Arthure (Alliterative), lines 2028-2057, King Arthur’s Death, London, Penguin Books, 1988, trans. Brian Stone

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