Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Light Queen of Dark

Light Queen of Dark is my own made up title to discuss Queen Guinevere. Guinevere is indeed a queen of light and yet she hails from the Dark Ages or a mysterious time of myth and legend. She may never have existed either. Shrouded in mists, it leaves her as still one of the most famous lgendary queen's of the ancient British shores.

Guinevere, or Queen Guinevere, is the wife of King Arthur. She plays a significant part in the Arthurian legend when she is the love of Arthur and yet after marrying him, she betrays him. She has a love affair with Lancelot, one of Arthur's knights. Did any of this happen? If not then does the magic behind the myth hold any significance? I'm not hear to discuss whether or not it's true but to talk about the queen as myth.

The name "Guinevere" comes from the Celtic Gwenhwyfar that means "the fair", "shining," "white cloud," "white phantom" and "white Shadow." The name is linked with the English name "Jennifer". There are different variations of Guinevere and it is possible that Queen Guinevere is linked to flowers and brides. She may have origins in Celtic myth lore and be a female spirit, goddess and huntress. She may be an aspect of the triple goddess and an earth goddess.

Arthurian Women
Arthurian Legend

Here is a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson about Lancelot and Guinevere: 

LIKE souls that balance joy and pain,
With tears and smiles from heaven again
The maiden Spring upon the plain
Came in a sun-lit fall of rain.
In crystal vapour everywhere
Blue isles of heaven laugh'd between,
And far, in forest-deeps unseen,
The topmost elm-tree gather'd green
From draughts of balmy air.

Sometimes the linnet piped his song:
Sometimes the throstle whistled strong:
Sometimes the sparhawk, wheel'd along,
Hush'd all the groves from fear of wrong:
By grassy capes with fuller sound
In curves the yellowing river ran,
And drooping chestnut-buds began
To spread into the perfect fan,
Above the teeming ground.

Then, in the boyhood of the year,
Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere
Rode thro' the coverts of the deer,
With blissful treble ringing clear.
She seem'd a part of joyous Spring:
A gown of grass-green silk she wore,
Buckled with golden clasps before;
A light-green tuft of plumes she bore
Closed in a golden ring.

Now on some twisted ivy-net,
Now by some tinkling rivulet,
In mosses mixt with violet
Her cream-white mule his pastern set:
And fleeter now she skimm'd the plains
Than she whose elfin prancer springs
By night to eery warblings,
When all the glimmering moorland rings
With jingling bridle-reins.

As she fled fast thro' sun and shade,
The happy winds upon her play'd,
Blowing the ringlet from the braid:
She look'd so lovely, as she sway'd
The rein with dainty finger-tips,
A man had given all other bliss,
And all his worldly worth for this,
To waste his whole heart in one kiss
Upon her perfect lips. 

Many poems like this can be found on various poetry websites. 

Gwynhwfar: the Cloud who Would be Queen

Many actresses have portrayed Guinevere in different unique ways. In the 2004 film King Arthur the Guinevere character was a fierce warrior woman, who was not easily broken. The beautiful 1980's film "Excalibur" has the queen Guinevere played by Cherie Lunghi, who comes across as selfish at first but sorrowful later on. In the BBC television series "Merlin" (with a boyish Merlin) the character Guinevere is portrayed as a black servant girl played by Angel Coulby. IMHO the show is awful and plastic as well as being too PC but that hasn't forever tainted the legend or Guinevere's meaning. There is going to be a new Arthurian legend TV series called "Camelot", starring Tamsin Egerton  who'll be playing Queen Guinevere. I'm looking forward to seeing this!

Le Morte d'Arthur

The above artwork is "Guinevere" by Manon

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