Mar 24: The rules for hot fictional characters.

Today is William Morris's Defense of Guenevere, which seems like more of a subject for an essay than terza rima, but there you go. It is her self-defense -- against getting busted for sleeping with Launcelot, apparently (the poem doesn't tell us).

The first thing I thought of was that the Arthurian mumbo-jumbo used to be beloved of the highbrows (Malory's in the HC as well), but now it has migrated to geeks and Spinal Tap and such. So it's hard not to hear "Stone'enge" when you read this -- almost the exact opposite of what William Morris must have intended.

About the poem I won't say too much. I like terza rima as a form, because it keeps the momentum up, but I don't like it when it cuts away or has a long flashback, because I find it hard to keep everything straight. I think it's because of all the stanza breaks; I'm a little ashamed to confess that I'm that easily confused, but it's so. So when Guenevere goes into a long thing about Launcelot and some guy named Mellyagraunce, which actually seems like it should be the name of a town -- well, I started to scan down to see where we'd come back into present time.

Her defense? I think it's here:

While I was dizzied thus, old thoughts would crowd

“Belonging to the time ere I was bought
By Arthur’s great name and his little love;
Must I give up for ever then, I thought,

“That which I deemed would ever round me move,
Glorifying all things; for a little word,
Scarce ever meant at all, must I now prove

“Stone-cold for ever? Pray you, does the Lord
Will that all folks should be quite happy and good?
Basically, she needed a little fun in her life. They say Guenevere is Welsh, but I'm suspecting she's French. Oh, the second part of her defense is that she's hot:

....say no rash word
Against me, being so beautiful; my eyes
Wept all away to gray, may bring some sword

“To drown you in your blood; see my breast rise
Like waves of purple sea, as here I stand;
And how my arms are moved in wonderful wise,

“Yea also at my full heart’s strong command,
See through my long throat how the words go up
In ripples to my mouth; how in my hand

“The shadow lies like wine within a cup
Of marvellously color’d gold; yea now
This little wind is rising, look you up,

“And wonder how the light is falling so
Within my moving tresses: will you dare
When you have looked a little on my brow,

“To say this thing is vile? or will you care
For any plausible lies of cunning woof,
Where you can see my face with no lie there

“For ever? am I not a gracious proof?—

Well, it's not much of defense, but, like they say, a hot girl who defends herself has a hot girl for a client.

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