“The maiden carried a handful of candles, and they first went to the stable and saw the knight’s horse, with wounds on its head, its neck, its chest, and its legs, it bones visible in several places, and lying before its manger in very bad shape. ‘It seems to me that the horse has had more hardship than rest, and yet this is not the horse that he took with him.’ They came to the room where the armor was, and they found the hauberk deformed and full of great holes at the shoulders and along the arms and in many other points of the body. And his shield was split and broken and cut to pieces by sword-blows on the sides and from the summit to the boss, so that little remained of it, and what did remain was so pierced by blows of lances that in many spots one could thrust one’s fist right through it. And his helmet was split and dented, the nasal was all cut to pieces, and the circlet hung down so that it could no longer be of use to him or to anyone else. Then they came to the door of the cell and found it open. she looked and saw that his face was all swollen and battered and bruised by his chainmail, his neck and nose skinned, his forehead swollen and his eyebrows grazed, his shoulders wounded and cut most dreadfully, his arms all black and blue from the blows he had borne, and his hands thick and swollen and full of blood.” (247)
Background: Two ladies observe Lancelot upon his return from the tournament where he carried away all the honor and the prize.
Thought: This is one of my favorite passages from that prose cycle. Have you ever had one of those days where work never ended and you felt like mountains were moved? Well, that should give you a sense of great accomplishment. This description is a rare occurrence where one can see what rough goings the knight had. Constant combat left a toll, and yet, for all that, he has earned the love of a lady who, after seeing his condition, anxiously hoped to grant him a kiss while he was asleep. “I’ll never have such a good opportunity to kiss him.” Yet, chivalry was about more than just doing deeds of prowess. It was also about having a good heart, for the body can preform great feats and the heart remain blacker than coal or mulberries.
Intention: Am I brave in facing my own battles? Do I leave it all on the field? Do I sweat and blood for my goals? How passionate am I or devoted am I towards my work? If I find myself at a loss, have a considered if what I’m doing is really what I love to be doing? Lancelot, even after taking rigorous beatings and undergoing imprisonment, was still in love with his profession. It was his true calling and he would have rather died than give it up…
“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.” St. Jerome