Now, whoever wants to hear the story,	
their lives, their death, their joy, their sorrow, 
has but to lend heart and ear—
you'll have the fill of your desires.
There was a lord of Parmenie,
although not yet a man in years.
(All this I've read in the true account
of what befell him in this life.)
By birth he ranked with any king,
in lands and property a prince,			250
a handsome fellow, sound of limb, 
loyal, generous, and bold.
This young master in his day 
shed happiness upon his land
as does the sun its brilliance.
A delight to all the world, 
to knighthood an example,
an honor to his race,
his country's trust and cornerstone.
He lacked of all the qualities
a lord should have but one:
prudence in adversity.
He let his heart's desires and whims
be the authors of his actions.
and thus in time he came to grief.
So has it ever been, and is:
surging youth and high ambition
conspire with wealth to bring disaster.
Forbearance, that many another man 
would know to use, when hard pressed, 
simply never occurred to him.
An eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, 
might against might, meet force with force—
that's the way he thought and lived.
But in the long run it doesn't pay
to counter every turn of fate
with iron visage and mailed fist.
God knows, it's give and take
by which alone a man escapes
some of the bruises life will deal.
Whoever won't accept bruises
may only bring them on himself.
It's a fatal error, easy to make.
That's the way bears are baited--
the creature deals out blow for blow
until it's overcome by them.

So it happened to this man also.
By dealing vengeance with a will
he brought it down upon himself.
That he came to ruin in the end
was not because of wickedness,
that all too common human failing,
but from the ungoverned temptations
of youth's exuberance.
It was just from youthful thoughtlessness,
as do young men first tasting power,
that he worked against his own fortune.
A childish spirit of adventure
with all the pride it brings
flourished in his heart.			300
He acted as boys so often do
who never try to look ahead
and throw all caution to the wind—
just live and live and live today.
When first his life dawned to living, 
like the rising of the daystar
laughing down on all the world,
he thought it would go on forever—
something that has yet to happen—
that life's sweetness would stay the same.
No.  Life's very beginning
was but short-lived for him.
Upon the morning sunlight
in his world of joy,
even as it first sparkled,
fell the sudden evening
he had not seen coming,
and turned his morning to night.

The history of his adventures
tells us what his name was;
legend tells us how it shone.
Riwalin was his proper name,
but he also was called Canelengres.
There are many who believe
he was a native of Lohnois,
and they, recounting his birth and deeds,
make him king of that land.
But Thomas, who has read the sources,
knows the truth, and leaves no doubt
that he was indeed of Parmenie
and held another land in fief
from a great Britunish lord 
and to him owed fealty, 
the noble and powerful Duke Morgan.
Now, when the young lord Riwalin
had practiced knighthood some three years,
much to his credit and renown,
and in his own country had acquired
every resource of that skill,
all the power of siege and warfare—
riches, land, and men were his—
moved by need or haughtiness,
one or the other, I know not which
(the story doesn't plainly say)—
accusing Morgan of some wrong,
he attacked his overlord.
Armed and mounted he invaded the land
and used his force to such effect 
that soon many a fortress
fell into his hands.				350
Towns and cities had to yield
and ransom back their goods and lives,
like it as they might, or not.
As he kept collecting plunder,
soon he had enough support
to multiply his mounted forces
into a mighty army,
so that now he moved at will.
Be it city, be it stronghold, 
nothing more could stand against him.
He had also suffered losses,
spent the lives of many men,
for Morgan wasn't caught off guard
and threw his forces into battle,
striking back with all his might.
Losses and gains are part and parcel
with warfare and knighthood.
That's the way wars go—
both lose and win—
that's what war is all about.
Morgan used the same tactics,
subduing fortresses and castles,
taking over goods and men
from the cities of his enemy,
doing what harm he could.
But little did it avail him,
since in return for every strike
Riwalin did equal damage
and counterattacked every time
until he had the upper hand.
Morgan found himself hard pressed
and nowhere safety or defense
outside his own castles,
the strongest and the best.
Riwalin besieged them all,
throwing attacks and skirmishes
against them so relentlessly
that soon he drove every defender
scurrying back behind the gates,
and right there before them
displayed his knights in tournaments.
While holding his foe under siege
he ravaged the entire country,
pillaging and burning,
until Morgan asked for parlance
and only after much entreaty
managed to gain an agreement
for a year's peace between them,
and both pledged security
with fortresses and formal oaths		400
as required by law and custom.

Riwalin, well satisfied,
took his men and started homeward.
He shared the spoil with a free hand
among them all, riches in plenty.
Then he dismissed them honorably.
Each took well-earned leave
to return to his own household.
Having reached his aims thus far,
Canel now thought of other things,
and very soon made up his mind
to start another expedition,
more for pleasure than for gain,
this time with rich display
suited to his new ambitions.
Equipage and finery,
everything to meet his needs,
enough to make a year's supply,
was put aboard a ship for him.
He had heard so many tell
how courtly and respected
the young King Marke was,
noble Lord of Curnewal,
whose star of fame was rising.
Already Marke held in sway
both Curnewal and Engelant,
Curnewal being his by birth.
Engelant was a different story:
he had ruled in that country
ever since the Sahsens drove
the Brituns from the land of Gales,
and made themselves masters there.
Once called Britanje for its people,
now the country was renamed
for those who had been driven out:
from Gales comes now En-gal-lant.
The while they occupied that realm,
and split it up among themselves,
each tried to be a petty king,
a lord acknowledging no master,
to no one's gain, to the loss of all.
Soon they were at each other's throats,
murdering, fighting viciously,
until they had to appeal to Marke
pledging to him their lands in peace.
In times since they served him well,
so respectfully and faithfully,
that never has another kingdom
followed any king so well.
We also learn from the histories		450
that in every neighboring land 
that recognized his name
no other king was honored more.
Just the court for Riwalin.
There he planned to stay
and pass the year with Marke,
bettering himself by that example,
learning further skills of knighthood,
and polishing his manners.
His noble heart told him to.
He saw the good in foreign ways
and learned from them to mend his own
to his own credit and renown.

With this in mind he started out,
having given land and people
into the keeping of his marshal,
a ranking lord born and bred there,
a man whose loyalty he trusted, 
named Rual li foitenant.
Then Riwalin set sail
to cross the sea with twelve companions.
He didn't need a bigger army—
they would be force enough.
Time and tides at length brought him
to the coasts and shores of Curnewal,
where, before he went on land,
he learned that the excellent Marke
had gone on to Tintajel,
and so, continuing his journey,
he sailed there, and found the king,
much to his satisfaction.
First he put on proper dress
and gave his men rich outfits.
So they made their way to court
and there Marke in his power
received him with proper ceremony
and with him all his men. 
The welcome given Riwalin,
the honor and reception,
were such as he had not been shown
anywhere at any time
so worthily as given him there.

Such elegance soon set him thinking
and attracted him to courtly manners.
He reflected, more than once:
"By heaven's name, God himself 
must have brought me to this people!
Good fortune has smiled on me.
All I've heard tell of Marke—
it's all true.  Here it is.			500
He lives well, in courtly style."
Then he revealed to Marke 
with what purpose he had come.
When Marke had listened to his story
and understood what he intended,
he spoke thus:  "My heartiest welcome!
My own person and possessions,
all are yours to command."
Canelengres was deeply pleased
and just as deeply pleased the court:
everyone, rich or poor,
immediately liked the young worthy
and were fonder of him than any guest.
Well he deserved such affection—
Riwalin in his excellence
was more than willing, and well able,
to serve the entire company
in the full spirit of comradeship,
both with riches and in person.
Thus worthily entertained,
and held in high esteem,
he quietly learned every day
more of courtly quality.

Now Marke declared his festival.
This was a celebration
that Marke had decreed by law 
as well as by invitation.
Whenever he proclaimed it,
all knighthood, from far and near,
in all the kingdom of Engelant,
made the journey every year
to come together at Curnewal.
They brought with them in company
retinues of lovely ladies
and many another example of beauty.
Now the festival was set, 
proclaimed and appointed,
for all the month of May,
from the sweetness of its entrance
to last until it takes its leave.
Right before Tintajel,
there the company came together
on the loveliest of meadows
any eye has ever seen
in any age, before or since.
Summer in her gentleness
with all her sweet industry
had smoothed the fields for idleness.
All the small woodland songbirds
whose purpose is to please the ear,		550
the blossoms, grass, greenery,
all that's restful to the eye
and fills receptive hearts with pleasure,
the summer field had them all.		
All was there that one could wish,
whatever riches May could offer.
Both sun and cooling shadow,
the linden by the water,
the easy, gentle breezes,
each in its own special way
gave pleasure to Marke's company.
From bedewed grasses
rose the blossoms' laughter.
The green meadow, May's companion,
wore her brightest summer vestment
newly woven out of flowers
to the gathering's great pleasure,
and glistened in their sight.
The fragrant bushes seemed to smile
on everyone so earnestly
that mind and heart, then the eyes,
were moved to inspiration,
and on both sides, nodding faces
traded smiles with sparkling glances.
The birds' gentle chorus,
so sweet, so beautiful,
as pleasant to the hearing
as refreshing to the mind,
echoed over hill and valley. 
Blessed be the nightingale,
that little champion of song,
may it ever sing so sweetly!
It warbled in the bushes
so enthusiastically
as to lift many a heart
in that high-spirited company.
Everywhere on the green grass
the company's pavilions were set up
for one and all to take their ease
according to their own desires.
Depending on how each sought pleasure,
every camp had its own flavor.
The wealthy showed their riches,
the elegant their taste.
Some reclined in silken shelters;
others lay among the flowers,
the linden being roof enough.
Still others made themselves cabins
of fresh, green branches.
Neither visitors nor retinue			600
had ever camped so delightfully
as on the lovely meadow there.
And there too was a wealth of plenty,
a perfect festival of things,
splendid food and dress,
such as each might wish
and had prepared for the occasion.
All of this Marke observed,
the finery and riches,
and saw that all were living well
in elegance, and were happy.
Thus the festival began.
Anything that might inspire
the observant man to high spirits—
here he had the chance to see it,
such sights as he might only wish.
Some strolled about to see the ladies,
others went to watch the dances,
some the shows of horsemanship,
others the noble sport of jousting.
Whatever a man's heart desired,
there he had more than enough, 
for everyone there
was in the prime of life,
vying with one another
in a festive contest of pleasures.
And the excellent Marke,
courtly and noble-minded,
in addition to the noted beauties
who had their place in his pavilion,
had brought one more:
a unique marvel,
his own sister, Blanscheflur,
a lovely girl, the equal of whom
was not found among women.
All the stories of her beauty
declare that no man alive
could ever give her more than a glance
and not be filled with desire
for all that's womanly and good.
This feast for the eyes,
spread on the meadow,
charged many a man with vigor
and many a heart with high spirits.
Everywhere on the lawn
there were other lovely women,
each and every one of whom
by beauty's rank might be a queen.
Merely by their presence there		
they inspired everyone				650
and made many a heart happy.

Now the teams for the tournament
were being formed, both hosts and guests,
and all the best and worthiest
rode in from all directions.
Marke himself was one of them,
with his companion Riwalin,
who had left his own men 
to see to it otherwise
that their attendance and performance
should attract due attention
and be a credit to all of them.
Everywhere, suddenly,
there was horse, in splendid trappings
decked out in rare fabrics,
snow-white or brilliant scarlet,
golden, violet, green, or blue.
Whichever way the eye might turn,
there were others, in woven silks,
and others still, particolored
with every kind of subtle detail,
a pageant of variety.
The mounted knights displayed dress
of wonderful sumptuousness,
intricate with cuts and pleats. 
Summer itself showed its wish
to be there with Marke in person,
to whom it paid wondrous tribute
with many a coronet of blossoms.
In this delight of summertime
they practiced knighthood's finest crafts:
rows of riders, troop on troop,
wove together, in and out, 
up across the field and back,
until they passed in review
before the place where Blanscheflur,
one of the world's true wonders,
and many another lovely woman
had gathered to see the show—
these men who rode with such skill,
so majestically,
that every eye was upon them.
But among the finest performers
it was the courtly Riwalin,
as though it had been so ordained,
who earned the prize that day,
and excelled before all others.
This wasn't lost on the ladies,
who declared that, of the company,		700
no one rode so expertly
as he, by the rules of horsemanship.
They praised everything he did.
"Look," went the cry, "that young man—
what a gift he has!
See how with every move
he shows himself among the best!
And what a handsome thing he is!
He's so well put together—
really formed splendidly!
And watch how he holds his shield—
you might think it was glued in place!
How well the lance fits his hand,
and isn't he dressed elegantly?
Look how he holds his head,
the way he sits, the way he moves—
oh, what a wonderful man!
And how lucky the woman will be 
who loses her heart for his sake!"	

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