King's Cross

Old French Tales from Brittany

Marie de France: The Story of Guigemar

12th century, Old French: British Library, Bibliothèque Nationale Paris.

A bed was draped with silk and at the boat's prow were two candelabra with lighted candles. The lady climbed aboard, telling herself that it was in this place that Guigemar had drowned.

The lady whom Guigemar had found when his boat arrived at her harbour, who had healed him of his wound and whom he now loves, has been imprisoned in a tower of black marble. For two long years she has endured the most unimaginable grief at her forced separation from Guigemar, who has returned to the land he came from following her jealous husband's discovery of him.

'My love!' she cried, 'I would rather quickly die than languish here in this misery! If I could find a way of escaping I would go and drown myself in the harbour where you were forced to embark for your home.' And trying the door, she found that it was unlocked. It was all so easy. She walked down to the harbour and there was the boat, at the very place where she meant to throw herself into the water. In the boat was a bed draped with silk and at its prow were two candelabra with lighted candles. She climbed aboard, telling herself that it was in this place that Guigemar had drowned.

The boat was soon underway, although there was nobody aboard but her, and at length it came to a harbour beneath a castle in Brittany.

Story fragment retold from: Burgess, Glyn S., and Busby, Keith, 1986. The Lais of Marie de France. Translated from Old French with an introduction. Penguin Books Limited. Guigemar, pp 43–55.

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Breton Lai – Wikipedia

Marie de France - Wikipedia

Guigemar - Wikipedia

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