the_maying_of_queen_guinevere_by_john_collier

Guenevere of the grey eyes, the Flower Daughter, awakens on Beltane and calls for her green gown. She calls for her horse to be dressed in green. She calls for her company and they set out a-Maying.

She picks flowers in the meadow and forests. Her company runs off in pairs. Their giggles and delighted cries arouse Melwas, the Summer King, from his winter sleep.

Melwas shakes off his brown cloak and dons the green. He stands, stretches, and his glazed green eyes fill with the vision of the queen. Guenevere, singing to herself, loads basket after basket with May blossoms.

Melwas is struck with love. He mounts his steed and gallops toward her. He swings Guenevere onto the saddle. She screams for her company. Her screams are muffled by the green cloak Melwas wraps around her. One couple spies them and rushes back to court.

Gawain, Champion of Women, is first to the site of the Summer King’s castle. He tries to cross the Bridge of Swords. He tumbles into the river.

Lancelot comes next and minces nimbly over the Bridge of Swords. He enters the castle. He searches every nook and cranny and finds only spiders, cobwebs, and dim-lit corridors leading to labyrinths.

Arthur arrives on his loam-black stallion. He, who has the blessing of the Lady of the Lake and wields her iron sword, Excalibur. He spurns the Bridge of Swords, spurs his horse and bounds the river. They gallop into the castle, narrowly missing the speared gate as it creaks closed. Arthur dismounts. A path opens, leading him far into the cavern of the Summer King. Arthur fences stalagmites and stalactites. He follows the peels of Guenevere’s cries. He reaches the green bower where Melwas has deposited her. The Summer King rears and puffs his chest. Where he stood, a white bull appears and charges.

Arthur carries Guenevere back to the upperworld. Green floods the Earth in the same measure as the bull’s blood billows and streams across the cavern floor.

Melwas rises from the blood of the white bull. The Summer King is resurrected.

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