The official blog of Historical Fantasy Author, Mary Anne Yarde, and home to The Coffee Pot Book Club.
Come and join me on the hunt for everything mythological, as well as historical. Oh, and let's not forget the odd book or two! Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy...
Chrétien de Troyes ~ Yvain, the Knight of the Lion
As I have said many times before,
Arthur is not just an English story. He belongs to Wales, Scotland, and Brittany
The French poet, Chrétien de Troyes,
tells a very fascinating story in his epic poem, Yvain, the Knight of the Lion.
If you would like to read a translation of this poem then you can do so here.
The poem starts in Wales and travels to
Brittany. It follows the fortunes, and misfortunes, of Yvain – as per
normal, he is a noble knight. There's a beautiful lady who he instantly falls
in love with.
He forgets his promise to the said lady while he goes and seeks
his glory. He is then driven mad by remorse when she want's nothing more to do
"The king might take his body with
him but there was no way he could have the heart, because it clung so tightly
to the heart of her who remained behind that he had no power to take it with
him. Once the body is without the heart, it cannot possibly stay alive, and no
man had ever before seen a body live on without its heart.”
And then there's that whole business with the lion.
Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, has all
the usual magic and adventure associated with Arthurian tales. It is full of
noble deeds and wise words. This is one of my favourite quotes…
“The dungheap will always smell, wasps
will always sting and hornets buzz, and a cad will always slander and vex
Can you hazard a guess as to which
Knight of the Round Table, Calogrenant, Yvain’s cousin, is referring too?
Yes, you guessed it.
Sir Kay! The poor
Knight, he really takes a hammering in de Troyes work! He is a thoroughly unpleasant chap, but Yvain does not respond with his fist...
"…Indeed, my lady, I don’t pay any heed to
his insults. My lord Kay is so clever and able and worthy in all courts that he
will never be deaf or dumb. He knows how to answer insults with wisdom and
courtesy, and has never done otherwise. But I have no wish to quarrel or start
something foolish; because it isn’t the man who delivers the first blow who
starts the fight, but he who strikes back..."
But, in a world where
honour is everything, Yvain's words seem a little bit well - what's the word - philosophical?
man who insults his friend would gladly quarrel with a stranger. I don’t want
to behave like the mastiff who bristles and snarls when another dog shows its
But Yvain's bravery in unquestionable. He did rescue a lion from the mouth of a dragon, after all. The Lion shows his gratitude to Yvain by..
“...it stood up upon its hind paws, bowed
its head, joined its forepaws and extended them towards Yvain, in an act of
total submission. Then it knelt down and its whole face was bathed in
tears of humility...”
Yvain and the Lion
come to each others aid several times. The Lion is used as a metaphor -
if you look after nature then nature will look after you. Isn't it
amazing to think that there were people, all those years ago, who were
interested in protecting the environment ~ being "green" is not such a new thing as we first thought.
lion) is mine, and I am his…”
It sounds like a scene from Outlander!
De Troye certainly has a lot to say. He goes on to describe the injustice of the world.
stay awake much of the night and all day long to earn his profit, for he has
threatened us with torture if we rest…”
He goes on to talk about the 'rights' of women. Rights might be to strong a word, but they are certainly very influential.
I do find this all rather fascinating. Maybe the past , as L. P. Hartley once said, isn't such a foreign place after all.
Do check out the story, I think it will surprise you!