Wolfram von Eschenbach


Book XVI: The Grail King

Parzival - Book XVI

Golden Gate
From The Flower Book, Sir Edward Burne-Jones (English, 1833 – 1898)

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

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King Anfortas’ plight

ANFORTAS and his people still

Sorrowed deeply; it was his will

That they, from love and loyalty,

Despite that love, should leave him be.

He often sought that he might die,

And would have done so, by and by,

If, on finding him weakened, frail,

They’d failed to show their lord the Grail.

‘Since you are loyal, as I well know,

You should be moved by my deep woe,’

He told his knights, ‘how long must I

Live in this sad state, yet not die?’

If justice finds you, you’ll atone

Before God for this wrong; tis known,

That, from the day I first could fight,

I’ve wrought your wishes, as a knight.

I’ve paid in full for all my shame,

All that has tarnished my good name,

All that any here may have seen.

If you are loyal, and have so been,

Let me to death, in mercy, yield,

By our Order, of the helm and shield.

For, as you’ve kindly said before,

In deeds of chivalry such I bore,

Ranged o’er many a hill and dale,

Lance at the ready, and did prevail

In many a joust, and like sword-play,

Tiring my foes, though little it may

Have availed me, with any of you;

Nonetheless I have paid what’s due.

An exile from joy, as I am now,

At the Last Judgment, I avow,

I’ll charge you, one man against all.

If you’ll not grant me leave, withal,

And let me die, tis your damnation

Shall be declared on that occasion.

My pain should prompt your mercy,

You have seen how it overtook me.

What use am I now as your lord?

A sorry surprise it would afford

All of you, if your souls perished,

Because of some hope you cherished.

What strange path is this you follow?’

They would have released him so,

But for that hope, which Trevrizent

Had voiced before, the message sent

And seen, writ there, upon the Grail.

A second time, he might prevail,

The man whom they yet awaited

Whose joy was a first time fated

To elude him there, who yet might

Achieve that liberation, if aright

His lips could frame the question.

Oft, for four days in succession,

The King kept his eyes shut tight.

Then they all did bear the knight

To the Grail, whether he would

Or no, and with the rush of blood

Pain forced him to ope his eyes,

And so live on, despite his sighs.

This was how they’d treated him,

Till brave Parzival came riding in

To Munsalvaesche, with Feirefiz,

That strangely pied brother of his.

All things had waited on that hour,

When Jupiter, with regal power,

And angry Mars, together burned;

For to conjunction they’d returned,

Such that Anfortas was again

Abandoned to distress and pain,

Suffering such endless agony,

Knights and maidens sorrowfully

Forced to bear his frequent cries

Endured the gaze of his sad eyes,

Knowing his wound past all cure,

For they could offer nothing more;

Nonetheless the story doth say

Help was even now on its way.

They were drowned in heartfelt grief.

Yet they brought him slight relief,

For when the sharp and bitter pain

Tormented Anfortas again,

They sweetened the air to quench

The noisome odour, for the stench

Was subdued by spices that lay

Upon his carpet and gave play

To scents of musk and terebinth,

And fragrant herbs, about his plinth.

And, to purify, they had theriac,

And costly ambergris, to attack

Foul odours with their wholesomeness.

Wherever folk trod, more or less,

Cardamom, clove and nutmeg lay

Crushed beneath their feet to allay

The stench with their kind fragrance,

Whene’er they passed by, perchance,

Or even when they simply stood.

His fire was burning aloes wood,

As I have told you once before.

Vipers’ horns his bedposts bore.

And then, to grant relief again,

Sprinkled o’er his counterpane

Were spices, to a powder gone.

The cushions that he leant upon

Were of brocade of Nourient,

All quilted, comfort their intent,

Of palmat-silk his mattress made.

The bed, adorned and all inlaid

With precious gems none rarer,

Hung from cords of salamander.

Every luxury it did employ,

This bed of one devoid of joy.

Let none claim they’ve seen a finer,

Twas rich and elegant by nature

Of its gems, hear their names aright:

Red carbuncle and selenite,

Balax and gagathromeus,

Onyx, and then ceraunius,

Chalcedony, coral, bestion,

Heliotrope, and the union

Pearl, and next optallius,

Sagda and then pantherus,

Andodragma, hephaestitis,

Haematite and hieracitis,

Dionysias, prasius,

Agate and celidonius,

Sardonyx and chalcophonus,

Asbestos and tecolithus,

Jasper and cornelian

Aetites and lyncurion,

Iris, gagates, galactite,

Hyacinth, and brown orite,

Alamandine and enhydrus,

Chrysolectrum and apsyctus,

Hyaenia, emerald’s green fire,

Magnes, pyritis, and sapphire.

Also, in one place or another,

Were turquoise and liparea,

Ruby, balas, chrysolite,

Sard, diamond, malachite,

Peanites, diadochus,

Chrysoprase, and then medus,

Beryl and, topaz; some of these,

Possessed of healing properties,

Raised his spirits, cheered him anew,

Medicinal, and propitious too.

Those who were skilled in their use

Found they had powers and virtues,

Hidden within, that might sustain

Anfortas, their heart, and maintain

That source of their endless sorrow.

Parzival, Feirefiz and Cundrie reach Munsalvaesche

YET now we’ll hear how from woe

Anfortas rose to happiness;

For riding into Terre Salvaesche

From Joflanze, came Parzival,

His cares now vanished withal,

With him, his brother, and the maid

Cundrie. I know not, I’m afraid,

The distance that they rode; yet now

They’d have had fighting, I’ll avow,

Had she not saved them, their escort,

From a labour that neither sought.

They were approaching their goal,

When a troop of Templars, the whole

Force well-mounted, in full armour,

Galloped towards them; however

These knights saw, from their escort,

That joy was drawing near their court,

For, seeing the doves that did cover

Cundrie’s garment, their commander

Cried: ‘Here’s an end to our sorrow!

All we have longed for, since woe

Ensnared us, nears us, without fail,

Bearing the emblem of the Grail!

Great happiness is ours! Rein in!’

As he spoke, Feirefiz Angevin

Was rousing his brother Parzival

To the encounter, but his bridle

Cundrie seized, checking his steed,

Then turned to Parzival: ‘Take heed,

Their shields and their pennants, now

Do you not recognise; I’ll avow

These knights are a Grail company

Halted here, and more than ready

To serve and obey you in all.’

The Infidel turned to Parzival:

‘Then we’ll not fight!’ While the latter

Asked Cundrie to seal the matter

And ride towards that company.

This she did and, most courteously,

Speaking of joy now come to pass,

At which, descending to the grass,

Doffing their helms, one and all,

Hopeful now of what might befall,

They stood, to receive his greeting,

Which to them came as a blessing;

They welcomed Feirefiz the pied,

And then, with tears of joy, did ride,

Up to Munsalvaesche, and swiftly.

Parzival asks the question, and Anfortas is healed

THERE a crowd gathered, full many,

Fine old knights, pages, armed men;

That sad household knew joy again;

While Feirefiz, and Parzival,

Well-received on their arrival,

At the great flight of steps that led

Up to the palace, strode ahead.

There, in accord with custom, lay

A hundred round carpets every way,

And, on each, a cushion of down

And a samite quilt might be found.

They, with tact, somewhere or other,

Found a place to shed their armour;

And now a chamberlain drew near

With splendid robes, as I did hear;

Then the knights were seated, en masse,

And precious cups of gold (not glass)

Were set before them, and after this

Parzival went with Feirefiz,

To seek the sorrowful Anfortas,

Who seemed much as before, alas;

You, earlier, heard me speak of it,

Of how he reclined, could not sit,

Against a bed adorned full richly.

He welcomed them both joyfully,

And yet with signs of anguish too.

‘I wondered, wracked by hope, if you

Might come to restore my happiness.

That time before, failed of success,

You left me in such a manner

That. if yours is a generous nature,

You must show remorse. If you,

Are a man of honour, speak true;

Ask those that my life maintain,

To let me die, and end this pain;

If you are Parzival, tell these knights

And maidens here, for seven nights

And eight days, were I not to see

The Grail, all then were well with me!

I dare prompt you in no other way.

Happy your state, were folk to say

That you had aided me. Now, see,

Your companion, here before me,

He should not stand, such a guest;

Why then do you not let him rest?’

Parzival, weeping, asked which way

The Grail lay, saying: ‘If, this day,

God’s goodness shall triumph in me

This company shall know, and see!’

In that direction, he bowed the knee,

Three times, to honour the glory

Of the Trinity, the while he prayed,

That the ills of this man be stayed,

And then he rose to his full height,

And spoke again like a true knight,

Questioning, thus, that man of woe:

‘Dear uncle, what afflicts you so?’

He who, for Saint Sylvester’s sake,

Did a bull return to life and make

Lazarus stand, helped Anfortas

To become again the man he was,

Whole and sound, and flourishing,

His complexion of that glowing

Bloom the French call ‘fleuri’,

Nor indeed was Parzival’s beauty,

Or that of Absalom David’s son,

Or of Vergulaht of Ascalun,

Or of Gahmuret, on entering in

To Kanvoleiz, folk praising him,

Or all who were of handsome race,

Aught to speak of beside that face,

And all the beauty, that Anfortas

Revealed, as his agony did pass;

God’s power to act in this way,

With art, being undimmed today.

Parzival is acknowledged as the Grail King

THERE was made no other Election

Than of the man the Grail inscription

Had named to serve as their true lord.

Thus, to Parzival, all did afford

The title of their Sovereign King.

If I am the judge of anything

To do with wealth, I think nowhere

Would any find a noble pair,

As rich as Feirefiz and Parzival.

The Lord and Master of that hall,

And his guest, were well-served,

And honoured too as they deserved.

I have no means to know for sure,

How many leagues Condwiramurs

Had ridden towards Munsalvaesche,

Her heart now filled with happiness.

For she had earlier learnt the news,

(Great joy did then her heart infuse),

That their sad state of separation

Was over. Duke Kyot, thereupon,

With other lords, of the worthiest,

Had escorted her to Terre Salvaesche,

To that forest where Segramors

Met with a lance, and what is more

The blood and snow had evoked her.

From there Parzival would bring her,

A journey he might well endure!

A Templar came to render it sure;

A troop of lordly knights, had brought

The Queen there, with due care, he taught.

Parzival chose a small number

Of the Grail company; together

They rode out to find Trevrizent,

Whose heart was at last content

Hearing of Anfortas’ fresh lease

Of life, the question winning peace.

‘Many are God’s mysteries,’ he

Told Parzival. ‘Who of us may be

Of His council, or know His powers?

Not all the heavenly host He dowers,

Will ever fathom the depths of this,

So great the kingdom that is His.

God is Man, and His Father’s word,

Such is the truth that we have heard,

God is the Father and the Son,

His Spirit has power to bring each one

Help indeed; what greater wonder

Than that, despite all your anger,

And your error, you yet have won

From God this gift, as you have done,

That His eternal Trinity

Has granted your wish; now let me

Atone for my error, for I failed

To speak the truth, the lie prevailed,

For I sought to distract you then

From what concerns the Grail, when,

My lord and nephew, to whom I owe

Obedience on this earth below,

I told you the exiled angels there,

At the Grail, did fully share

God’s support till they might face

Him and be thus returned to grace.

But God is constant in such things.

He ever wars against those beings

I have named here as forgiven,

Who would His reward be given;

Fights against those angels, ever,

For they indeed are damned forever,

Since they chose their own perdition.

Forgive me your knightly mission;

Naught dictates that a man prevail

By battling to achieve the Grail;

I wished but to steer you away.

Now you pursue another way,

And your prize is all the greater.

Yet now lead your thoughts lower,

Guide them towards humility.’

‘That woman I would wish to see

Whom I saw last five years ago,’

Said Parzival, ‘For as you know,

Ere we two parted she was dear

To me, and still dear to me here,

Though I shall still seek your counsel

While we live, for it served me well

In the past, my need being great.

Now I would ride, though it be late,

For I have heard my wife is nigh

To the Plimizoel, and thither go I.’

He now asked Trevrizent’s blessing,

Who then, to God, commended him.

He meets Condwiramurs his wife, by the Plimizoel

SINCE his knights knew the forest,

They rode all night, without a rest,

And, at dawn, approached a place

Where many a tent filled the space

Nigh the river; twas most pleasing.

Many a fine pennant was fluttering,

Emblems of Brobarz planted there,

With the shields borne in this affair.

The princes of his land were present;

In a moment, Parzival had sent

To know where the Queen now lay,

Whether in her own ring, and they

Showed him where her tent arose,

Circled by others, in costly rows.

Now Duke Kyot of Katelangen,

Had risen early, Parzival’s men

Arrived while the sun’s first rays

Painted the sky in silver-greys,

Yet Duke Kyot was quick to see

The Grail emblems that company

Bore, for the doves now met his eye;

And the old man fetched a sigh,

On seeing them, for Schoysiane

Had brought great joy to that man

At Munsalvaesche, yet she had died

Bearing Sigune, sorrow’s bride.

Kyot now went towards Parzival,

Greeting him kindly, then them all.

To the Queen’s Marshal now he sent

To request he find good lodgement

For whatever knights rested there.

Parzival himself he led, with care,

To where the Queen’s wardrobe lay,

A buckram tent, half-hid away.

There they rid him of his armour.

Of all this the Queen, however,

Knew naught as yet, so in her tent,

Tall and spacious, where he now went,

He found countless ladies, fair,

Lying here, there, everywhere,

And his wife, with Loherangrin

And Kardeiz, still asleep within;

(Joy surely overwhelmed him there)

Kyot tapped the coverlet with care,

And told the Queen, thus, to awake,

And so, a draught of happiness take.

She saw her spouse as he oped her eyes,

And, in but her shift, in pure surprise,

She flung the coverlet around her,

Drew it close about her shoulder,

And sprang from the bed to the floor,

The shining-bright Condwiramurs!

As for Parzival, he clasped her,

And, I’m told, they kissed each other.

‘Fortune sends you to me,’ cried she,

In welcome, ‘my heart’s joy! Truly,

I should scold you, yet I cannot.

Hail to this hour, all cares forgot,

That has brought me this embrace!

My heart’s desire is in this place,

And all my woe is fled from me!’

He turned towards the bed, to see

The twin boys now awake within,

Kardeiz and Loherangrin.

They lay there naked; he did kiss

Both children warmly, after this

Kyot had the boys carried out,

Most tactfully, while those about

Her, the maids, he signed to depart,

And this they took with good heart,

Not one their glad welcome forgot

To their lord returning. Duke Kyot

Commended the Queen’s spouse to her

And did the young ladies gather

And led them away. It was as yet

Quite early; nor did he forget

To close the flaps ere he was gone.

Although on that prior occasion,

Deep in the silence of the day,

His wits had been snatched away

By seeing blood upon the snow,

(It was here, on this very meadow)

Condwiramurs now made amends

For that torment; thus, sorrow ends.

Never had he, from his mistress,

Love, sought aid for his distress

Elsewhere, though many a lady

Offered her love, many a beauty.

As far as I know, both he and she

Disported themselves, joyfully,

Until mid-morning, when the men

From Brobarz rode forth again,

Out from their camp, so as to gaze

At these Templars, who, in a phrase,

Were, to a man, ‘clothed in splendour’,

For every one was a man of honour,

Though dented, holed was every shield

From lance-thrusts on many a field,

And gashed too by many a sword.

Brocade or samite coats they wore,

They had doffed their armour, all

But the steel leg-pieces, as I recall.

There can be no more sleeping now!

Parzival’s son Kardeiz is crowned king over his lands

THE King and Queen rose, to allow

The priest to sing the Mass; that ring

Was a witness to much jostling

Among the gallant knights, indeed

All who had once fought King Clamide.

After the benediction, those knights

Who were vassals, with feudal rights,

Received Parzival most loyally,

Showing him honour, equally.

The side walls of their pavilion

Were removed, the flaps were gone.

‘Now, which son shall rule you all,

As lord of your lands?’ asked Parzival.

‘Of right, he’ll hold Wales and Norgals,

Kanvoleiz and Kingrivals,

And he’ll hold Bealzenan too

In our kingdom of Anjou,’

He proclaimed to the princes there;

‘When he reaches manhood, fare

To that place with him; a true knight

Was my father and, by true right,

That inheritance he left to me.

He was Gahmuret; now we see

That I, by happy dispensation,

Inherit the Grail, let the nation,

If you prove loyal, as I believe,

From my son, your fiefs receive!’

This they did with a right good will.

Many pennants the air did fill,

As each came forth, and a tiny hand

Granted them their power and land.

Kardeiz, the child, was crowned king,

And later he ruled o’er everything,

From Kanvoleiz, o’er all that was

Once Gahmuret’s, and kept its laws.

Benches were set, to form a ring

By the Plimizoel, the men did bring

Things for a hasty breakfast, there,

And, now the army must prepare

For the journey home, soon striking

Their camp, and riding with the king.

Ladies in waiting, and many another

Of the Queen’s friends, took leave of her

Openly expressing their sadness.

And then that picture of loveliness,

That fair mother of Loherangrin,

Gathered him up, all set to begin,

Midst the Templars, swift progress,

Towards the keep at Munsalvaesche.

Parzival and Condwiramurs discover the dead Sigune

‘ONCE, in this forest, I found a cell

Where a solitary maid did dwell,’

Parzival said, ‘and beside it ran

A swift, clear stream; if any man

Knows of it, let him lead us there.’

His company knew of the affair:

‘She is given up to lamentation,

Over her lover’s tomb, a woman

Of precious virtue; we shall go

A path nigh to that place of woe.’

‘We’ll visit her!’ the King replied,

And, willingly, his knights complied.

The troop rode on, at a brisk pace,

And, at evening, found the place.

There the Queen saw a mournful sight,

Sigune dead, on her knees, upright

In prayer. They broke apart the wall,

And Parzival on his men did call

To lift the stone slab o’er the tomb

And, for his cousin’s sake, make room

For her, nigh Schionatulander,

Who was revealed (twas a wonder),

As if embalmed, all undecayed.

Close beside him, her corpse they laid,

She, who alive her chaste love gave,

Then, reverently, sealed the grave.

Condwiramurs made great lament,

As I am told, for that innocent

Her cousin, and happiness lost;

Many a tear that sad shrine cost,

Since the dead maiden’s mother,

Schoysiane, who was the sister

Of Parzival’s mother Herzeloyde,

Had reared the Queen, and employed

Affection towards her, as a child,

Yet, here, from joy she was exiled.

If the Provençal’s words are true,

Kardeiz’ tutor, Duke Kyot, knew

Nothing of his daughter’s death,

(This tale, its every truthful breath,

Flies straight ahead, like an arrow,

Not curved in form, like the bow)

They did all required, then, by night,

Rode till Munsalvaesche was in sight,

Where Feirefiz was whiling away

The pleasant hours, as best one may,

Awaiting them. Many a candle

Was lit, placed in every angle;

The bright flickering rose higher,

As though a forest were on fire.

The Queen, escorted by a Templar

Of Patrigalt, clad in full armour,

Through the great courtyard, rode;

There many a brave company showed,

Drawn up to welcome their fair Queen,

Their lord, and his son; a noble scene

It made; now Loherangrin

Was carried to Feirefiz, his true kin,

But finding his uncle black and white,

Refused to kiss him, in sheer fright!

Noble children in our own day

Are said to be to such fears a prey.

The Infidel merely laughed at this,

That the child had refused to kiss.

Once the Queen had dismounted,

Those in the courtyard, an uncounted

Many, dispersed, with the thought

Of the happiness she had brought.

Now she was led amidst the ladies

Many of whom were glowing beauties.

Feirefiz and Anfortas stood nigh

On the steps, where met the eye

Florie of Lunel, Repanse de Schoye,

And she of Greenland, Garschiloye,

Bright-eyed, fair of skin, those three,

Glorious in their virginity.

Lithe as a wand, there stood Ampflise,

The daughter of Ryl’s Count Jernis,

Full of virtue, of comely stock,

With Clarischanze of Tenabroc,

A sweet girl, her looks unmarred;

Like an ant’s her waist, claims the bard.

Feirefiz stepped towards the Queen,

His lady, in courtly terms I mean,

Who then asked him for his kiss;

She then kissed Anfortas, with this

Expressing joy at his deliverance.

Feirefiz now, at her insistence,

Courteously led her, by the hand,

To where Repanse de Schoye did stand,

And much kissing they did share.

Her lips were red beyond compare,

Condwiramurs, yet now she must

Endure an ordeal of kisses; I trust

You’ll forgive me, if, for her sake,

I sigh, that I may not undertake

That labour for her, for she already

Was much wearied, from her journey.

Young ladies led their mistress away.

The Grail ceremony is repeated in a time of joy

THE Templars were at pains to stay

In the hall which was filled with light;

There many a candle shone bright.

Now solemn preparation was made

For the Grail. It was ne’er conveyed

Among them as mere spectacle

For that household, but visible

Only on certain rare occasions,

Joyful or woeful celebrations.

Formerly, when they did advance,

Carrying the blood-stained lance,

And in a desolate state, the Grail

Was borne in, that it might prevail,

For they needed aid, and thought

Consolation it might have brought;

Yet Parzival had swiftly left

Them to their woes, of hope bereft.

Now, since their sorrows are o’er,

In joy, it shall be seen once more.

Once the Queen had swiftly changed

He travelling clothes, and arranged

Her head-dress, she returned once more;

Feirefiz received her at the door.

Her appearance was full queenly,

None had seen a woman as lovely,

Nor heard, or spoken of a peer;

In cloth of gold she did appear,

Twas worked by a most skilful hand,

A fabric created by Sarant,

In Thasme, in subtle manner.

Shedding radiance about her,

Condwiramurs now entered in

Escorted by Feirefiz Angevin.

Three great fires of aloes wood

There, amidst the palace, stood.

And there were forty carpets laid

And many more the seats displayed

Than when deep sorrow did prevail,

And Parzival had viewed the Grail.

One seat was finer than the rest,

As the story doth here attest,

And this Feirefiz and Anfortas,

(Who could sit and walk at last)

Were to occupy beside the lord

Of the castle. Those, whose reward

Was now to serve the Grail, behaved

With discretion, for such they craved.

You have all heard the tale before

Of how the Grail crossed the floor,

Brought to Anfortas. Now, likewise,

The Grail was borne before the eyes

Of Gahmuret’s son and the daughter

Of Tampenteire. We wait no longer

For the maidens, for they are here

In seemly order they soon appear,

And their number? Five and twenty.

They who first did make their entry,

Hair falling loose, struck the Infidel

As fair indeed, but those did excel

Who followed, after, in costly dress,

Sweet faces, and lovely to excess;

And yet walking behind them there

Came a maiden and she most rare,

Repanse de Schoye; by her alone

The Grail would let itself be shown;

Great purity dwelt in her heart,

Her form without, free of all art,

A sheer blossoming of brightness.

If I were to speak of all the rest,

How many chamberlains began

To offer water for their hands;

How many tables were brought,

Beyond all those I did report

To your before; how vulgarity

Fled that palace; every trolley

They wheeled in, heavily laden,

With gold cups, a precious burden;

And how the seats were arranged

For the knights, the ladies ranged,

Then the tale would prove too long.

For brevity’s sake we’ll move along.

Food they received from the Grail;

With meats those diners it did regale,

Those of creatures wild and tame;

This man drank mead, this again

A pale wine, or dark mulberry,

Sweet sinopel, or claret, every

One to his custom or his taste;

Belrepeire was in different case

When Gahmuret first came there,

No wine sweetened that affair!

Feirefiz is smitten by love for Repanse de Schoye

HOW the gold cups at the Table

Re-filled, intrigued the Infidel,

A wonder that delighted him!

‘My lord,’ Anfortas addressed him,

Who shared his noble company,

‘The Grail is there; do you not see?’

‘I see naught but green Achmardi,’

Replied the pied Infidel, ‘the lady

Brought that cloth, she, of high renown,

Who stands nigh us and wears a crown;

The sight of her has pierced my heart.

I thought myself a man apart,

So strong no woman, wed or not,

Could now disturb my happy lot.

If I was ever one that received

A noble love, I was deceived,

For such is now odious to me.

Bad manners oust the good, you see,

In that I speak my pain to you.

What use my wealth, my jousting too

For ladies’ sakes, those gifts I gave,

If I must now be torment’s slave?

O mighty Jupiter, why send

Me here to meet with this sad end?’

Love’s power, low spirits, made him pale

Where his skin was white; he did ail.

Fair Condwiramurs had all but found

A rival there, his heart was bound

To the fair maid of dazzling beauty;

Repanse de Schoye was that lady,

In whose snare Feirefiz was caught,

The noble stranger; perchance he fought

Against it, yet his old attachment

Was lost despite his loyal intent,

All as naught, and to be forgot;

Secundille’s love availed her not,

Nor Tribalibot, nor all her lands.

His heart was in a maiden’s hands;

This son of Gahmuret thought but ill

Of the love of Clauditte, Secundille,

Olimpia, and others, elsewhere,

In every land, who’d praised him there,

For his service, through every nation,

And had furthered his reputation.

From the pallor, where he was white,

Anfortas recognised his plight,

And that his proud companion

Was in torment, his courage gone.

‘Sir, I regret that my fair sister

Should give you reason to suffer,

Such as none has, for her, before,’

Said Anfortas, ‘I am full sure

That no man has sought to serve her,

No knight has had reward of her.

She has been at my side in woe,

And her looks have suffered so

From her knowing little pleasure.

Her maternal nephew, your brother,

Perchance, can help in this affair.’

‘If this girl, that a crown doth wear,

Is your sister, advise me how

(For I depend upon you now)

Her true love I may seek to win,’

Answered Feirefiz Angevin,

‘My heart’s longing is for her;

Would that all the honour I e’er

Have won had been for her sake,

And I my true reward might take.

The five lance-strokes, at tourney,

I’ve displayed: that given firstly

Full ahead, charging en masse,

The second to the right doth pass,

The third awaits the other’s charge,

Choosing an adversary at large,

Then the straight tilt I’ve delivered

In regular joust, nor neglected

Thrusts in pursuit; of all the days

Since my proud shield I did raise,

This is my day of deepest woe.

At Agremuntin’s foot, my foe

A knight of fire, I thrust at him

And but for my thick covering.

My surcoat made of salamander,

My shield of the asbestos fibre,

I’d have been burned to a cinder!

Ah, if only your charming sister

Had been the one who sent me there

And, for that matter, everywhere

I’ve risked my limbs and my life,

I should be hers in every strife!

Jupiter’s harshness I’ll resent,

If that great god fails to relent,

And relieve me of my sorrow,

For I am burdened by this woe.’

Parzival proposes that Feirefiz be baptised

KING Frimutel was the father

Of Anfortas and his fair sister,

And Anfortas, seen beside her,

Was as she in form and feature.

The Infidel’s gaze sought her, and then,

Oft turned to Anfortas again,

And despite the food they brought

The Infidel’s lips touched naught,

Although his eyes were feasting.

Anfortas now addressed the King,

Parzival, ‘it doth seem to me,

My lord, your brother fails to see

The Grail.’ And Feirefiz replied

That such was not to be denied,

Indeed, he saw it not; while all

The knights about them in the hall

Considered this a mystery.

Aged Titurel was told, and he,

That bedridden man, did declare:

‘A heathen’s eyes may not share

In viewing the Grail; unless he

Receives baptism, he cannot be

One with the rest; a subtle screen

Hides the Grail from him, I ween.’

This message he sent to Parzival,

Where he was seated in the hall.

He and Anfortas asked Feirefiz

To note the source of all their bliss,

The nourishment that all received

And (twas a thing to be believed),

That every infidel was denied

Sight of the same; thus, they tried

To gain the Infidel’s agreement

To his baptism, since his consent

Would win him an eternal prize.

‘If, as you seek, I was baptised,

Would baptism help win true love?

All that, ere now, I sought to prove

By battle, where love was concerned,

Was as naught, and little it earned,’

Said Gahmuret’s son, ‘for I avow,

Never was I more struck than now

By Love’s dart. Good manners require

That I conceal my heart’s desire,

But my heart has no power to hide

The truth of it. I’ll forgo all pride.

‘Who might you love?’ asked Parzival,

‘Who else but that one above all

The young lady who is the sister

Of my companion here; help win her,

And I will give her wealth, and power

Over broad lands, that very hour.’

‘If you would be baptised,’ his host

Replied, ‘then indeed you might boast

Of such a love, dear man, my peer –

For are not my possessions here

Equal to yours, thanks to the Grail?’

‘Then help me brother, to prevail,’

Answered Feirefiz Angevin,

‘Your aunt’s friendship I would win.

If baptism’s gained in fair fight

Send me there, and as her knight

Allow me to deserve her favour.

The music I did ever savour

Of splintered lance, and ringing sword.’

His host laughed, and it did afford

Greater amusement to Anfortas.

‘If that be your path to it, alas,’

Said Parzival, ‘then I’ll ensure

You are baptised by knightly law!

You must then forgo your Jupiter;

And Secundille, relinquish her.

Tomorrow I’ll grant such advice

As will prove apt to your device.’

Before the time of his affliction,

Anfortas gained some reputation

In knightly deeds, for love’s cause,

And had won, thus, great applause,

His heart inclined to sweet mercy

Full generous in his chivalry;

So there sat, now, before the Grail,

Three of the best knights to avail

Themselves of sword, lance and shield,

Men ever undaunted in the field.

If you’ll agree, the meal is done.

Tables and linen, they are gone,

In line with service rendered, now,

All the young ladies made their bow.

When Feirefiz Angevin saw

Their move to go, his heart was sore,

For she who bore the Grail away

Had noosed his heart, as beauty may.

As to how Condwiramurs withdrew,

Or how they set about anew

Providing bedding for Parzival

Who because of love, as I recall,

Nonetheless lay uncomfortably,

(As many do, it seems to me)

Or how the Templars granted rest

To everyone who was their guest

After the hardships they’d endured,

Too long a tale that would afford.

Instead, I’ll tell you of the morn.

The baptism of Feirefiz

WITH the first gleaming light of dawn,

Parzival, and noble Anfortas,

Intent that all should come to pass,

Agreed to invite Love’s victim,

The Lord of Zazamanc, within

The Temple, there before the Grail,

While Parzival did himself prevail

Upon the wise Templars to attend.

Thus, men-at-arms and knights did lend

Their presence, when Feirefiz entered.

The font was a ruby, and was centred

Upon a round, stepped pedestal,

Carved of jasper, that Titurel

Had installed, in its magnificence,

All had been done at his insistence.

‘If you would win my mother’s sister,’

Parzival now told his brother,

‘All your gods you must forswear,

For her sake, and ever prepare

To fight the foes of Him on high,

And His commandments e’er live by.’

‘Whate’er may win for me the maid,

Shall be done, its commands obeyed,

Truly, faithfully, and right well,

In all,’ replied the Infidel.

Tilted toward the Grail, the font

Filled instantly, as it was wont

To do, the water, I am told,

Never too hot nor too cold.

An aged priest with silver hair

Was, solemnly, standing there,

For they had baptised, those hands,

Many a babe from heathen lands:

‘You shall believe in God alone,

Seated there on the highest throne,

And keep your soul from the Devil.

To God’s Trinity, all are equal,

All the world His rule doth span.

His Father’s word, and yet a Man,

God is thus both Father and Son,

Who are honoured, three-in-one,

With His Spirit, and all the three

Will, of this water, keep heathenry

From you. By the Trinity’s power,

He, from whom Adam, in dawn’s hour,

Took his likeness, entered the water

For His baptism. Now, know further,

That from water trees gain their sap,

Thus, water in their leaves they trap.

All things are made fecund by water,

All those things that we call “creature”.

By means of the eyes’ waters we see.

Water grants souls a majesty,

That with the Angels’ doth compare.’

‘If it will ease my pain, I swear

To believe every word you say,’

Said Feirefiz to the priest, ‘I pray

That she will reward me, if I fulfil

God’s commandments, of His will.

If she has God, my comrade’s sister,

I’ll believe in Him, and her, ever,

(For never was I in such dire need)

All my gods I forswear, indeed,

I have forsworn Secundille too,

With whatever honour did accrue

To her through her honouring me.

In God’s name, then, come, baptise me!’

So, they performed the Christian rite,

And baptismally blessed the knight,

And, as soon as he’d been baptised,

And the robing over, they supplied

All he desired, Frimutel’s daughter,

An event he had sought moreover

With an impatience cruel to bear.

And as to viewing the Grail there,

Till the water had covered his eyes

He’d been blind, but did realise,

Thereafter, the sight of the Grail,

Brought as if from behind a veil.

Now, after Feirefiz’ christening

Upon the Grail they saw writing,

Saying that any Templar granted

By God, to a distant land, drafted

There as their lord, then that same

Must forbid its folk to ask his name,

Or lineage, yet with his knights

Must help them to gain their rights.

If such a question be put to him,

No longer could they retain him.

Because the gentle Anfortas

Had for so long been in that pass

Where he endured bitter agony,

And where the question endlessly

Was withheld from him, all those

Of the Grail company oppose,

And are averse to, questioning,

Nor would wish to be asked a thing

Regarding themselves. Feirefiz,

The Christian, now asked if his

New brother-in-law Anfortas,

Would sail with him and so pass

Into his own country where he

Might share all his riches freely,

But Anfortas dissuaded him

From requesting any such thing.

Feirefiz, the Christian, departs

‘I would not wish my fervent thought,

To serve my God, to come to naught.

The Grail crown is of equal worth,

To any riches on this Earth.

Through arrogance I lost that crown,

But now humility I have found,’

Said Anfortas, ‘riches and love

From out my thoughts do remove.

You take with you a fine woman,

One who will love and serve her man

As all good women seek to do.

But, as for me, I shall prove true

To my Order, and thus shall ride

Many a joust, all wrongs defied,

In faithful service of the Grail.

Never again shall love prevail,

Such that I fight for any woman.

Bitter pain did she bring, that one,

To my heart, and yet I relinquish

All hatred of woman, with this.

They inspire man with proper zeal,

Whate’er the regrets I may feel.’

Feirefiz urged Anfortas again

To leave with him, to the gain

Of his sister too, but Anfortas

Declined, and let the moment pass.

Then Feirefiz thought Loherangrin

Might happily take ship with him,

But the boy’s fond mother said no.

Nor would Parzival see him go:

‘My son is destined for the Grail,

And if God above shall not fail

To grant him wisdom, on his part,

He shall serve with willing heart.’

So Feirefiz spent a pleasant time,

Waiting eleven days, by design,

And then on the twelfth departing.

When the great man asked the king

Leave to lead his wife to the army,

Parzival’s heart was pained sorely.

For the thought of Feirefiz leaving

Brought regret, and woeful feeling.

He decided, with his councillors,

To send out a mighty force,

To escort him through the forest;

Anfortas rode forth with the rest,

That fine and gentle warrior,

That he might show Feirefiz honour.

Many maidens let flow their tears.

From there they made, it appears

For Carcobra, where the Burgrave

Received the order Anfortas gave,

To honour his vassalage, and all

The gifts that he might well recall,

And guide his brother-in-law further,

And ‘his wife, my own dear sister,

Through the Forest of Laeprisin,

So that he might the haven win,

Wide and lonely, where his ships lie.’

Now came time for a brief goodbye,

For the Templars rode no further,

Cundrie was sent to bear the order,

And so the Templars took their leave

Of that courtly man, yet did grieve.

The Burgrave did as Cundrie required,

Feirefiz found all as he desired,

And was received with due courtesy.

With never a single hour left free,

They were soon guiding him further,

On his way, with a guard of honour.

How far they rode then, none do know,

Ere he came to Joflanze’s meadow,

Where, upon seeking for the army

All had left for their own country;

King Arthur was gone to Camelot,

And, thus, the man from Tribalibot

Was free to ride to join his men.

The latter lay in the haven, then

As before, lamenting his absence.

But many a knight, in his presence,

Found fresh spirit. Now the Burgrave

Was sent home with many a brave

Gift. Cundrie found that the army

(A messenger had pursued its journey)

Had received news, she thought not ill,

Death having claimed Queen Secundille,

For Repanse de Schoye, only now,

Felt that their journey might allow

Of her happiness. Some time, later,

She bore a fine son, John, in India;

Twas ‘Prester John’ that boy became,

Since him, their kings bear that name.

Feirefiz sent letters through the land,

So the Christian rule might command

A better hearing, for, till that day,

It had failed to prosper in its way,

(Tribalibot we call India here).

Feirefiz asked Cundrie to appear

In Munsalvaesche, to tell his brother

How he had fared, and give the other

News, that Queen Secundille had died,

For Anfortas could now take pride

In his sister’s being mistress there

Of many a realm, both broad and fair.

The tale of Loherangrin

THE genuine story you have now

Of Frimutel’s five children, how

They acted in good part. Two died,

The first Schoysiane, who did abide,

In God’s sight, with perfect loyalty;

Then Herzeloyde who drove falsity

Far from her; and, as for the living,

Trevrizent, bound to the winning

Of a lasting prize, had renounced

Sword and chivalry, and pronounced

Himself a servant of God’s sweet love.

The heart of Anfortas still did prove

A haven of courage and chastity;

And as his Order enjoined, so he

Rode many a joust, and did prevail,

Not for the ladies but the Grail.

Now Loherangrin grew to be man

Both courageous and strong of hand,

One in whom fear was never seen.

Once he was of age, and had been

Trained in the art of chivalry,

Then he bore himself, most nobly,

In the true service of the Grail.

Would you know more of him? Then, hail

A lady, who some time after all

You have heard, ruled, I recall,

Her lands with utter integrity;

Lineage, and great wealth, had she,

This latter hers by inheritance.

In every known circumstance

It was her nature ever to be

A creature of unfeigned modesty.

She was impervious to desire,

Though many a man of higher

Rank had sought her, kings it appears,

As well as princes, they her peers.

Yet she was so humble not a thought

Gave she to many a noble court.

Many a count in her own country

Made much of her perversity,

Asking why she proved so slow

In taking a husband, she might know

Many were fit to be her lord.

But their angry words she ignored,

Trusting herself to God wholly,

And, also, her innate modesty,

For she had given no offence,

Chastity was her true defence,

Yet, knowing their animosity,

She called her lords to an assembly.

Many an envoy from distant lands

(She was a princess in Brabant)

Had sought her out, but she abjured

All other men than that true lord,

Assigned by God, for he alone

Would she cherish, as her own.

He, for whom God had destined her,

From Munsalvaesche was sent to her,

Brought by a boat, drawn by a swan,

And, at Antwerp, landed upon

Its broad river’s nearest shore;

He proved all that she could wish for.

Here was a man of proper breeding,

Who, indeed, was thought outstanding,

For looks and bravery, in every land

Where news of him had come to hand;

A noble, tactful, and thoughtful man,

One who gave freely, you understand,

And sincerely, nor such gifts did rue,

Faultless in all respects, and true.

The lady welcomed him graciously.

Now hear what he had to say, for he

Spoke to both rich and poor lords, there,

Who stood here, there, full everywhere.

‘Duchess,’ he said, ‘if I’m to be

The lord of this pleasant country,

Well, I left no less wealth behind.

I beg of you to keep this in mind:

You must never ask who I am!

For then I may stay in this land,

But if you choose to question me,

You must lose my love, utterly.

If you fail to heed this warning,

God will surely recall His giving.’

A woman’s pledge she gave to him,

Later betrayed by her love for him,

That if God maintained her reason,

She would do naught, at any season,

Counter to his request, for she

Would do his bidding faithfully.

That night they rested hand in hand,

He was the Prince there in Brabant;

The wedding feast was a fine sight.

Many held fiefdoms of this knight,

And he judged fairly in that place,

And practised chivalry with grace,

And ever he claimed the victory.

Their children too were fair to see.

Many there are, in Brabant now,

Who recall the terms of her vow,

And how he came, and how he left,

And how a question left her bereft,

And how long he lingered so,

Being indeed full loth to go.

Yet his guide returned, the swan,

With its swan-boat. He stepped thereon;

He left a sword, a horn, a ring,

And so departed Loherangrin.

Lest he was Parzival’s son, I’d fail

To do true justice to this tale.

He travelled, o’er water and way,

Back to the Grail’s keeping, I say.

Why did the woman lose her lover?

When he came from the sea to her,

He had warned her not to question.

That knight, Erec, I might mention,

He needs say a word about this,

For he could rebuke, as well as kiss.

Wolfram’s Farewell

IF Chrétien of Troyes the story

Has marred, good cause to be angry

He has given Kyot, who sent

The true tale here, with clear intent.

The Provençal tells us, precisely,

How the son of Herzeloyde truly

Achieved the Grail, as ordained;

Anfortas had lost all he gained.

The true tale was sent complete

From Provence, to us, to greet

Its audience in German lands.

And found itself in my fair hands.

I, Wolfram of Eschenbach, declare

I’ll speak no more of this affair

Than what the bard himself has said,

And so, with honour crown his head.

I’ve named Parzival’s sons correctly,

And his high lineage too, directly,

And have brought him to that end

A glad dispensation did intend,

Despite the trouble he’s endured.

When a man’s life is so assured,

And God not robbed of his soul,

Through the body’s sins, his whole

Life one which gains the goodwill

Of his fellow men, and doth instil

Respect, and so serves his honour,

Then this I say is a worthy labour.

If any well-wishers are intent

On displaying their discernment,

Amidst good women, then I know

There I’ll be valued; the more so

For having told the tale to its end.

If twas done that I might amend

My errors and, indeed, give pleasure

To a certain lady, then, at her leisure,

I trust she will own that I have said

Many a sweet word, in what is read.

The End of the Tale of Parzival