Arthur

Acts of King Arthur is coming along nicely. All of cantos I-III are done, and Canto V, VI, VII, VIII and IX of fifteen are done. But Canto IV, which introduces the reaction to Arthur, the Round Table, and Camelot, is still giving me headaches. really wants me to avoid making Morgan LeFay a villain, at least in part because of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon. Birthing the villain, perhaps, but not being the villain. As really the only strong woman in the Arthurian legend, I’m reluctant to make her the villain, as well. From a traditionalist’s point of view, though, it may be unavoidable.

Today is the Nones of April, and I’ll produce a sonnet for the occasion later today.

Today is also the first full day of the feast of Magna Mater: Great Mother Earth. This is the piece I wrote a year or so ago, to mark the occasion. It represents one of my first ‘official’ efforts into pagan hymnody. How well did it survive the year? Is it still relevant? You decide.

Hymn to Magna Mater
Hail, lady, Mother of mortal and god,
from whose fertile loam springs fruit and flower,
who brings forth grass and grain from sand and sod,
who taught trees to grow with grace and power.
At your order, bees toil in their hives,
ants store up food with mighty industry,
robins tug earthworms from urgent ground
tremored by eager seeds beneath dead leaves.
Your realm awakes with newborn verdancy,
and signs of your lusty spirit abound.

In your bones are all your children recalled,
and always do you challenge us to learn
bright choices in our D.N.A. coiled
so we evolve or die at every turn.
Each house and each frail heart on you relies,
and when you tremble and shake in anger
we shudder, and cower, and shie away.
You shield our nakedness with seas and skies
yet turn your face from us, and we hunger –
and when we die, we return to your clay.

Your dredlocked hair holds the great chain of life;
your breasts hold milk enough for every one;
and though your progeny find joy in strife,
slowly we wake to thoughts that we are one —
returning, returning and returning
to you the womb and cradle of all flesh,
who chooses life in all its abundance,
reusing, recycling and churning
every thing that lives in this fragile mesh,
this spider-web of interdependence.

That’s it for now.

11 comments

  1. I’m inclined to agree more with ‘s post on this. She is the traditional villain, or at least the mother of the villain, and removing her from the story to create someone else does an injustice to hundreds of years of storytelling. But figuring out how to make her a sympathetic character, rather than simply and unjustifiably evil… well, that’s the hard part, and why I’m stuck at Canto IV.

    Arthur is this golden guy in most of the storytelling until the 20th century, and then some cracks in the armor start to appear. Morgan becomes either his sister or half-sister, and Mordred moves from being his nephew to being his son out of wedlock. This suggests a lot of layers of ugliness, and I’m going to run with them in some fashion.

  2. That hits the nail on the head.

    Therein lies the crux of the problem, yes. Thanks for summing up so succinctly. Now I have to figure out what to do about it.

  3. Le Fay is one of those sympathetic villians where she’s got the power but gets no respect for it because she’s a woman, has to put out to Merlin just to get her magical GED and finally says “screw it, your knightly code of honor is for crap and I’m gonna bring the whole thing down on your head”?

    later
    Tom

  4. Le Fay is one of those sympathetic villians where she’s got the power but gets no respect for it because she’s a woman, has to put out to Merlin just to get her magical GED and finally says “screw it, your knightly code of honor is for crap and I’m gonna bring the whole thing down on your head”?

    later
    Tom

    • That hits the nail on the head.

      Therein lies the crux of the problem, yes. Thanks for summing up so succinctly. Now I have to figure out what to do about it.

  5. I’m on ‘s side about Morgan. No villain…its sort of like keeping Mary Magdelene a prostitute just because the traditionalists think so…no matter if they were correct :-p

  6. I’m on ‘s side about Morgan. No villain…its sort of like keeping Mary Magdelene a prostitute just because the traditionalists think so…no matter if they were correct :-p

    • I’m inclined to agree more with ‘s post on this. She is the traditional villain, or at least the mother of the villain, and removing her from the story to create someone else does an injustice to hundreds of years of storytelling. But figuring out how to make her a sympathetic character, rather than simply and unjustifiably evil… well, that’s the hard part, and why I’m stuck at Canto IV.

      Arthur is this golden guy in most of the storytelling until the 20th century, and then some cracks in the armor start to appear. Morgan becomes either his sister or half-sister, and Mordred moves from being his nephew to being his son out of wedlock. This suggests a lot of layers of ugliness, and I’m going to run with them in some fashion.

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