“How Sir Tristram and Isoud Drank the Love Drink” — Sir Thomas Malory

“How Sir Tristram demanded La Beale Isoud for King Mark, and how Sir Tristram and Isoud drank the love drink”

by Sir Thomas Malory

From L’Morte d’Arthur

THEN upon a day King Anguish asked Sir Tristram why he asked not his boon, for whatsomever he had promised him he should have it without fail. Sir, said Sir Tristram, now is it time; this is all that I will desire, that ye will give me La Beale Isoud, your daughter, not for myself, but for mine uncle, King Mark, that shall have her to wife, for so have I promised him. Alas, said the king, I had liefer than all the land that I have ye would wed her yourself. Sir, an I did then I were shamed for ever in this world, and false of my promise. Therefore, said Sir I Tristram, I pray you hold your promise that ye promised me; for this is my desire, that ye will give me La Beale Isoud to go with me into Cornwall for to be wedded to King Mark, mine uncle. As for that, said King Anguish, ye shall have her with you to do with her what it please you; that is for to say if that ye list to wed her yourself, that is me liefest, and if ye will give her unto King Mark, your uncle, that is in your choice. So, to make short conclusion, La Beale Isoud was made ready to go with Sir Tristram, and Dame Bragwaine went with her for her chief gentlewoman, with many other.

Then the queen, Isoud’s mother, gave to her and Dame Bragwaine, her daughter’s gentlewoman, and unto Gouvernail, a drink, and charged them that what day King Mark should wed, that same day they should give him that drink, so that King Mark should drink to La Beale Isoud, and then, said the queen, I undertake either shall love other the days of their life. So this drink was given unto Dame Bragwaine, and unto Gouvernail. And then anon Sir Tristram took the sea, and La Beale Isoud; and when they were in their cabin, it happed so that they were thirsty, and they saw a little flasket of gold stand by them, and it seemed by the colour and the taste that it was noble wine. Then Sir Tristram took the flasket in his hand, and said, Madam Isoud, here is the best drink that ever ye drank, that Dame Bragwaine, your maiden, and Gouvernail, my servant, have kept for themselves. Then they laughed and made good cheer, and either drank to other freely, and they thought never drink that ever they drank to other was so sweet nor so good. But by that their drink was in their bodies, they loved either other so well that never their love departed for weal neither for woe. And thus it happed the love first betwixt Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud, the which love never departed the days of their life.

So then they sailed till by fortune they came nigh a castle that hight Pluere, and thereby arrived for to repose them, weening to them to have had good harbourage. But anon as Sir Tristram was within the castle they were taken prisoners; for the custom of the castle was such; who that rode by that castle and brought any lady, he must needs fight with the lord, that hight Breunor. And if it were so that Breunor won the field, then should the knight stranger and his lady be put to death, what that ever they were; and if it were so that the strange knight won the field of Sir Breunor, then should he die and his lady both. This custom was used many winters, for it was called the Castle Pluere, that is to say the Weeping Castle.

 

“How Sir Launcelot departed to seek the Queen Guenever, and how he found her at Almesbury” — Sir Thomas Malory

“How Sir Launcelot departed to seek the Queen Guenever, and how he found her at Almesbury” by Sir Thomas Malory

Then came Sir Bors de Ganis, and said: My lord Sir Launcelot, what think ye for to do, now to ride in this realm? wit ye well ye shall find few friends. Be as be may, said Sir Launcelot, keep you still here, for I will forth on my journey, and no man nor child shall go with me. So it was no boot to strive, but he departed and rode westerly, and there he sought a seven or eight days; and at the last he came to a nunnery, and then was Queen Guenever ware of Sir Launcelot as he walked in the cloister. And when she saw him there she swooned thrice, that all the ladies and gentlewomen had work enough to hold the queen up. So when she might speak, she called ladies and gentlewomen to her, and said: Ye marvel, fair ladies, why I make this fare. Truly, she said, it is for the sight of yonder knight that yonder standeth; wherefore I pray you all call him to me.

When Sir Launcelot was brought to her, then she said to all the ladies: Through this man and me hath all this war been wrought, and the death of the most noblest knights of the world; for through our love that we have loved together is my most noble lord slain. Therefore, Sir Launcelot, wit thou well I am set in such a plight to get my soul-heal; and yet I trust through God’s grace that after my death to have a sight of the blessed face of Christ, and at domesday to sit on his right side, for as sinful as ever I was are saints in heaven. Therefore, Sir Launcelot, I require thee and beseech thee heartily, for all the love that ever was betwixt us, that thou never see me more in the visage; and I command thee, on God’s behalf, that thou forsake my company, and to thy kingdom thou turn again, and keep well thy realm from war and wrack; for as well as I have loved thee, mine heart will not serve me to see thee, for through thee and me is the flower of kings and knights destroyed; therefore, Sir Launcelot, go to thy realm, and there take thee a wife, and live with her with joy and bliss; and I pray thee heartily, pray for me to our Lord that I may amend my misliving. Now, sweet madam, said Sir Launcelot, would ye that I should now return again unto my country, and there to wed a lady? Nay, madam, wit you well that shall I never do, for I shall never be so false to you of that I have promised; but the same destiny that ye have taken you to, I will take me unto, for to please Jesu, and ever for you I cast me specially to pray. If thou wilt do so, said the queen, hold thy promise, but I may never believe but that thou wilt turn to the world again. Well, madam, said he, ye say as pleaseth you, yet wist you me never false of my promise, and God defend but I should forsake the world as ye have done. For in the quest of the Sangreal I had forsaken the vanities of the world had not your lord been. And if I had done so at that time, with my heart, will, and thought, I had passed all the knights that were in the Sangreal except Sir Galahad, my son. And therefore, lady, sithen ye have taken you to perfection, I must needs take me to perfection, of right. For I take record of God, in you I have had mine earthly joy; and if I had found you now so disposed, I had cast me to have had you into mine own realm.

David Byrne Recalls Going to Make-out Parties

Book Acquired, 1.12.2012

 

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In the post from the kind people at Picador, The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan (I want to type “Leviathan,” of course). Publisher’s description:

How does one talk about love? Is it even possible to describe something at once utterly mundane and wholly transcendent, that has the power to consume our lives completely, while making us feel part of something infinitely larger than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this age-old problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’sThe Lover’s Dictionary constructs the story of a relationship as a dictionary. Through these sharp entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of coupledom, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

Summer Reading List: Tales of Romance

Summer lovin’: have a blast. You don’t have to read harlequin schlock to get romantically fulfilled on the beach this year.

Why not start with an overlooked, under-read classic from American Renaissance master Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Blithedale Romance is a fictionalized account of Hawthorne’s time on Brooke Farm–here called Blithedale–an attempt at a utopian commune founded by artists and free-thinkers. Free lovin’, amorous passions, and, uh, farming. Great stuff–and romance is right in the title.

For lighter yet still substantial fare, check out Lara Vapnyar’s Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love, a delicious collection of snack-sized short stories (please, please, please forgive this awful extended metaphor). Sly, smart, and occasionally sexy, Vapnyar’s tales of dislocated immigrants continue to linger on the palate long after they’ve been digested (sorry!). The recipe section at the end is the sweetest dessert (ok, I swear I’m done now).

If you like your love stories rougher around the edges, check out Charles Bukowski’s only masterpiece, Women. This rambling novel follows alter-ego Henry Chinaski’s late-in-life successful turn with the ladies. Ugly, unforgiving, honest, and hilarious, Women is one of my favorite books. Also, unlike Henry Miller’s Tropic books, you’ll actually finish this one.

We finally read Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre last summer, and believe it or not, the book is pretty great. Truly a romantic classic, but also a fine comment on gender, class, and social mores in general. And if you like it, check out Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, which tackles the back-story of a certain crazy lady in the attic who didn’t exactly get a voice in Jane Eyre.

Finally, if you want to get very specific, don’t hesitate to search the Romantic Circles website. Plenty of resources and lots of electronic texts: your source for all things Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and more. Good stuff.