The Joyous gard
With apologies to Malory, Tennyson, and Lewis
by Kristin Pender, Amelia Lehosit, and Esther Lawrence
Editor's note: the pieces in our Order and Chaos series were originally submitted to the Creative Writing competition as part of Interregnum XV at The King's College. The following piece won second place. It was submitted on behalf of the House of Truth.
The knight, he lay within the tomb,
His funeral shroud, wrapping gloom,
Self-banished to this wasting doom,
His only thought the crimson bloom,
That bled from Camelot.
Knight who chaired the Perilous Siege,
Who had pledged his life to his liege,
Betrayed the King, with his besiege,
For Queen of Camelot.
The missive read from his foe’s hand,
Bidding return to the king’s land
And aid rebuff of traitor’s stand
And return home no longer banned,
Begged the King of Camelot.
Believing it some foul deceit,
The knight would not attend with fleet
To fight with former foes and meet
The Usurper of Camelot.
The letters came and came again
Until the day they stopped and then
The Knight of France was made to ken
Of a dying King and his men
Betrayed by Camelot.
Hearing, the knight was stricken cold.
He’d thought the pleas were guile bold
Set at once, to aid liege of old
The King of Camelot.
Camelot was lost to the flame.
T’was Mordred set but Lance’s blame.
He rode until his steed was lame
Then continued on foot the same
To the ruins of Camelot
Bodies lay broken in the street.
Once proud towers trod under feet,
Uphended was the Arthur-seat
As if Troy were Camelot.
The flashing swords, pulled from their sheath,
The blood flowed like the River Lethe,
But there would be no laurel wreath
For those loyal knights on the heath,
A mortal blow to Camelot.
Though Arthur waned, he would not yield,
Until his foe before him kneeled,
Then was bourne upon his shield
But not to Camelot.
Lancelot knelt among the rows,
Weeping like the river flows,
Recalling that Sybillic prose,
Foretelling death and then he knows
T’was of Arthur and Camelot:
“The King would beg for the might
Of his belov’d brightest Knight
With whose sole aid he’d win the fight,
The Fight for Camelot.”
Smoke was billowing in the sky.
Gone the towers that once stood high
Seeking the Queen and giving cry
As he found her limp body by
The Splintered Throne of Camelot.
Lovely in death, pierced by a knife
He cradled her, he loved as wife.
They’d tasted love that cost her life,
The Love of Camelot.
He bore Guinevere to her grave
And prayed mass as if tomb were nave
And carved in stone with his glaive
“Here lies a King, noble and brave,
And his Queen of Camelot.”
He laughing wept in maddened craze
In despair of ill-deserved praise,
Knowing he caused the end of days,
The Death-Bringer Lancelot.
“Oh damn this cursed love you sent,”
Cried Knight to God and on he went.
“I loved the Queen and she nigh brent,
And on my hands was much blood spent,”
Wept a Knight for Camelot.
The Knight reflected on that bliss,
“Who am I and what is this?
Have I umade Eden for a kiss?”
Lamented the Paris of Camelot.
Lancelot was her own sworn knight,
He guarded her through dark and light,
And though he fought with all his might,
He fell in love that carnal night,
The Forbidden Love of Camelot.
But Guinevere was Arthur-wed,
Yet came willing still, to his bed,
They gave no thoughts to oaths they shed
The Trojan Lovers of Camelot.
Mordred had lain in secret wait
To catch them by the lovers’ gate,
Consumed with envy, driven by hate
He stalked them through the evening late
To rend the Tryst of Camelot.
He followed Lancelot to her door
As he had many times before
And listened to their lovers’ score
That Knight of Camelot.
He fled the door, he fled the hall
And met the King upon the wall.
Jealous Mordred, filled with gall,
Ignoring counsel, told him all
That fickle Knight of Camelot.
Hearing such was Arthur wroth
They, he loved most and pledged him troth
Was worked into a frenzied froth
The Cuckold King of Camelot.
He was a Knight, he was a friend,
Never knew how love could rend.
King and Kingdom would never mend
All for the Queen with whom he sinned
The Helen of Lancelot.
In this he had forsook his fate,
For lack of trust he came too late,
And found the severed thread of
Fate Of Arthur of Camelot.
All that’s left is ashes and dust,
And the stone-sheath sword left to rust
All to slake only one man’s lust
This man who had betrayed the trust
Of the King of Camelot.
Then Mordred did as he accused,
He bed the Queen and then he loosed
Such foul rebellion that refused
The King of Camelot.
Lancelot knelt. In the tomb wept,
Begging God but on they slept.
There he stayed as on darkness crept
Over liege and queen vigil kept
The Knight of Camelot.
He thought on things of legends told
As he lay grieving in the cold
And knew t’was he who tarnished gold
The Golden Age of Camelot.
Lancelot swore to guard their rest
As long as Life were in his chest
For days and weeks fulfilled his quest
Till came a stillness in his breast
Died Sir Lancelot.