ARTHUR: ACT ONE—Remembrance

ARTHUR:

The purple grapes produce the red wine that the vial contains.

The minstrel plays the lute with tones of melancholy.

I drain the goblet of gold dry.

I finish the course of the golden food and the very nectar of the gods.

I sit on the royal cushion of my realm.

All are gone.

Those dreams of old are but a shadow at noon in the courtyard.

I could not kill the man I called brother and friend.

I hold the sword in my hand – the instrument that made me king.

The virtues and goals are but mist on the morn.

O, God, I failed Thee and her most of all.

I am but a frame of dust with Thy breath within.

These tears that run down my cheeks are but droplets of rain on the pool in Yorkshire.

I am the king, yet I could not forgive her for her act of betrayal.

Why does life demands more than we can give at times?

The glory is now well forgotten as the sands of the seas.

The dream is but a dream.

How can I live in this void of emptiness?

The castle did ring with her warbled voice.

Her eyes did sparkle like diamonds in the sun.

He would have died for me.

His friendship is solely missed.

Lord, forgive me and them.

The candles’ flames dance in the shadows of eve.

Will time reveal our story and what we tried to build on this  mould of earth?

This sword is a symbol

This table is a symbol also.

And what of the king called Arthur?

Camelot failed because I failed my duty to God.

He gave me this realm yet I did not use it wisely.

If there be a remembrance of Camelot, I pray it is this:

The high towers are no more.

They were beacons in the dark of night.

The stones lay in ruins upon the black shores of time.

Its glory is gone like a puff of dragon’s smoke.

The round table has no knights and ladies to tell of their exploits.

The regal stables are bare with no steed.

The drawbridge lies in the moat of time.

The walls of glory stand but in the mind.

Camelot is but a dream of yesterday.

Her chamber lies in silence like the barren glades of harvest.

Once there was a place called Camelot.

Camelot, where are you now?

It was but a dream built on a dream of honour.

It passed like the song of the nightingale on the spring of the day.

And what of that noble king called Arthur?

He was just a man with a dream as large as the world.

His legend will be told to generations to come.

NARRATOR:

Arthur sits now alone with his hands around Excalibur.

His brow is bent low.

MERLIN and ARTHUR:

“Arthur, do you need to brood?”

“Merlin, you have returned to Camelot.”

“It was as much my dream as yours.”

“Yea, it is so my dear old friend.”

“Words cannot express the agony of my heart.  Tears are the only means by which to tell one the torture of your soul, my son.

“Weep once for yourself and happy shall you be.  Take and drink this mixture.”

“Merlin, I am wise to your tricks of magic. I will not partake of the water of Lethe.”

“Arthur, memories are bitter as brine to the taste of mortal man.”

“Merlin, go back to where you came.”

“You know it is not in your heart to command me so.”

“Aye, you know me well, Merlin.”  Arthur rises and goes into the garden.

NARRATOR:

The azure belt above him is now sable with the passing day.  The stars of creation beam their aged light upon the terra firma.

The sweet smells of roses, tulips, lilies and daisies fill the atmosphere of the heavens.  The cool air of night spreads over the grounds so clear.

A golden ring of star dust play upon the meadows.  The diamonds and rubies of the night fail not the eye of mortal man.

Arthur walks to the ancient oak and places his hand on the trunk.  There craved upon the aged of time are the initials of the day of days.

ARTHUR:

“It was on this spot so long agone that we wrote these words.

Words are symbols that change as the breeze on a summer eve.”

“TO EACH OTHER WE GIVE THIS COVENANT OF LOVE FOREVERMORE…

                                                                           A AND G

 “As that point of light called Orion beams, so does my heart for you, Guinevere, my love.  I am lost without thee.”

NARRATOR:

The stars once sang with joy many years ago but tonight their songs are silent like the seas of time on rocks yet to be. The hills and meadows lie in the abode of the heavens unaffected by the touch of mortal hand.

In the courtyard some minstrel plays upon the psaltery.  The tune he produces recalls those bitter memories of Arthur.  As the pages of the chronicle swirls, Arthur once again stands on the field of blood with Sir Lancelot.

 ARTHUR, LANCELOT and GUINEVERE:

“I have every right to kill, unfaithful friend.  How many of my knights have fallen by your sword and especially, your dear friend, Gareth who was of my blood…he viewed you as a brother…”

“I know, my lord, and I cannot raise my blade against you, Sire.  My once noble sword has been stained with too much noble blood from too many souls who called me friend, who called me brother…”

Guinevere comes to Lancelot’s side and kneels before her king and her husband.  “If you kill him, I must die also, my king.”

“You once called me husband, woman,” Arthur’s tone is bitter.

“Arthur, forgive me for my unfaithfulness.”  With a touch of agony Arthur stands speechless.  “If you must take life, take mine.  The sin was my doing.”  Arthur looks at Lancelot.

The solar orb shines as the azure sky blends with the meadows and brooks of Brittany.  For a moment of time Arthur is lost in a sea of turmoil within his troubled soul.

“Guinevere,” he begins with tears,” I cannot forgive you for your act of iniquity.  Lancelot, I cannot forgive you, but yet I cannot kill the ones I have called wife and friend…” There is a long pause as Guinevere and Lancelot gaze at the face of Arthur which has aged with sorrow.

“Lancelot, I vanished you from these isles, return home, and Guinevere, your sentence is the harshest of all.  You are to be an exile from all love that a man can give to a woman.  To the nunnery…Why, my love, did you destroy me?”  Arthur asks with tears running down his face.

“Arthur, I know not the commands of my heart.  We cannot control that which is beyond our ability to do so.  I pledged myself to you; the act I committed was wrong, tragically wrong.  I love you still. I wish for death if I cannot be with you…”  She cries…

“And Lancelot, why is my question to you?”

“My Lord, I am without words.  What I did was wrong.  It was a violation of everything we believe in…”

“Our system may not have been what we thought it was,” Arthur states as his mind returned to the now of his life.

ARTHUR and MERLIN:

“Why, Merlin, could I have not forgiven them?  If I had, they would be my by side now in this desperate hour.”

“The system of chivalry, the justice of the realm, the ideal of Camelot allows no forgiveness for betrayal of the king…”

“Camelot,” Arthur utters solemnly.  “Was it more important than them?  Is an ideal to be cherished on a cold winter’s night?  Can chivalry touch one’s soul with friendship?  Justice – where is mercy?”  Arthur is bitter.

“Only you can answer those questions, my son.  The time of Merlin has come to its terminus ad quem.”

“So has the time of Arthur.  We both have reached the omega of existence.”

“A touch of star dust and a dot of rain have the magic tone to give you peace.”

“Peace, Merlin, my soul has not known peace for eons.”

“This is hot rum, my special recipe,” Merlin proffers the sanative chalice.

Arthur takes it and looks at Merlin.  He drains the cup.

His head begins to spin, and he falls into Merlin’s arms.

“There is a time to be happy and a time to be sad.  The time to be sad is near at hand, and you need not the distant memories of the past.”

NARRATOR:

Where is Camelot?

Where are the knights of old?

Where is the courage and valiancy of those men and women of ages past?

They lie within each of us.

It takes only a spark to kindle the flame…

G. D. Williams       © 2011

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