8.4.13

Galahad


G is for "Galahad, the Good Knight"

"My good blade carves the casques of men,
   My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
   Because my heart is pure."

Sir Galahad
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Lines 1-4

Everyone knows the story of Arthur and his knights of the round table. Perhaps the most famous knight of the round table is Lancelot. But because today's letter is "G," this post will focus on Galahad, one of Arthur's other knights. Although he's not the most well-known knight, it's Galahad who epitomes the "good" knight.

According to Grail legend, Galahad descends from the line of King David of Israel (I.e. from the same line as Jesus Christ). His father is the more well-known knight, Lancelot. 

The memorable romance between Lancelot and King Arthur's wife, Queen Guinevere, is complicated when a sorceress gives Lancelot a potion which makes him believe the grail bearer, Elaine, is Guinevere. Lancelot beds Elaine and from their union, Galahad is born. After his birth, Elaine places Galahad in a nunnery to be raised. When Galahad grows up, he will become the knight who rescues the kingdom from a powerful, destructive enchantment.

When King Arthur's knights pass by a sword stuck in a rock, they learn of the legend that only the most pure knight can pull the sword from the stone. They seek out Galahad, who is pure enough to remove the sword. Later, it's revealed that Galahad has been chosen as one of the three knights who go on a quest to find the Holy Grail.

Galahad is seen as the "perfect knight." He is courageous, gentle, courteous, and chivalrous. In Tennyson's poem, Galahad begins by being pure knight, fighting for "sweet…looks" from ladies, and ends by being on a mission for the holy Grail. 

"The clouds are broken in the sky,
   And thro' the mountain-walls
A rolling organ-harmony
   Swells up, and shakes and falls.
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
   Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
"O just and faithful knight of God!
   Ride on! the prize is near."
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
   By bridge and ford, by park and pale,
All-arm'd I ride, whate'er betide,
   Until I find the holy Grail."

Sir Galahad
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Lines 73-84



~I. E.