Some people did not like this ceremonious style. But after all when you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite. [Churchill ended his December 8, 1941 letter to the Japanese Ambassador, declaring that a state of war now existed between the United Kingdom and Japan, with the courtly flourish "I have the honour to be, with high consideration, Sir, Your obedient servant".]
Promising is the very air o' th' time; it opens the eyes of expectation. Performance is ever duller for his act; and, but in the plainer and simpler kind of people, the deed of saying is quite out of use. To promise is most courtly and fashionable; performance is a kind of will or testament which argues a great sickness in his judgment that makes it.
Forgive us, my lord, for you have us at a disadvantage. My sister is frankly deplorable at conducting courtly conversation. The only thing worse than her ability to make appropriate small talk with royalty is her attempt to let a man lead her on the dance floor. Your timely interruption has saved me from the chore of attending dance lessons with her. My feet thank you.
First impressions of mediaeval life are usually coloured by the courtly romances of Malory and his later refiners. Chaucer brings us down to reality, but his people belong to a prosperous middle-class world, on holiday and in holiday mood. Piers Plowman stands alone as a revelation of the ignorance and misery of the lower classes, whose multiplied grievances came to a head in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381.
In the Middle Ages, the troubadour poets invented the concept of courtly love--a fantasy love, a noble passion, which was also extra-marital and thus inevitably thwarted, illicit, adulterous. One of the medieval terms for it was amour honestus (honest love). I've always wondered why this passionate ideal--masochistic, spiritual-travelled with such wildfire throughout Europe. My poem, a ghazal, takes up the subject.
As we have seen, French culture and language interacted with native English culture for several generations after the Norman Conquest. A common word such as 'castle' is a French loan word, for example; and the whole romance tradition comes from the French. But this sensibility, culture, and language becomes integrated with native culture. As well as the beginnings of what came to be called a courtly love tradition, we can find in Early Middle English (around the time that Layamon was writing Brut) the growth of a local tradition of songs and ballads.
She [Mary Maclane] is almost always referred to as 'confessional.' She has been referred to, several times, as the first blogger. Whereas her writing does not confess much - it is much more spiritual memoir than anything, or perhaps something akin to a mystic's courtly love, directed at the self. I am wondering what distinguishes writing as confessional... I keep on feeling I prefer the latter-day MacLane, the diary she wrote while convalescing from scarlet fever back home in Butte, Montana, I, Mary MacLane, that Melville House is only publishing as an ebook. Mary MacLane melancholy, totally isolated. Feeling intense disquiet. Now in her early thirties, meditating on her whirlwind celebrity, in cities, feeling distanced from all that, but longing for it too. Obsessed with the Mary MacLane who stopped writing, or stopped publishing books, who was involved with the anarchist/bohemian crowd in Chicago, with the Dill Pickle, who died in poverty and obscurity on the South Side at the age of 48. I want to write about her, but I don't know how or why yet.
The Cat and the Moon The cat went here and there And the moon spun round like a top, And the nearest kin of the moon, The creeping cat, looked up. Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon, For, wander and wail as he would, The pure cold light in the sky Troubled his animal blood. Minnaloushe runs in the grass Lifting his delicate feet. Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance? When two close kindred meet, What better than call a dance? Maybe the moon may learn, Tired of that courtly fashion, A new dance turn. Minnaloushe creeps through the grass From moonlit place to place, The sacred moon overhead Has taken a new phase. Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils Will pass from change to change, And that from round to crescent, From crescent to round they range? Minnaloushe creeps through the grass Alone, important and wise, And lifts to the changing moon His changing eyes.
The moment I entered the bright, buzzing lobby of Men's House I was overcome by a sense of alienation and hostility ... The lobby was the meeting place for various groups still caught up in the illusions that had just been boomeranged out of my head: college boys working to return to school down South; older advocates of racial progress with utopian schemes for building black business empires; preachers ordained by no authority except their own, without church or congregation, without bread or wine, body or blood; the community 'leaders' without followers; old men of sixty or more still caught up in post-Civil War dreams of freedom within segregation; the pathetic ones who possessed noting beyond their dreams of being gentlemen, who held small jobs or drew small pensions, and all pretending to be engaged in some vast, though obscure, enterprise, who affected the pseudo-courtly manners of certain southern congressmen and bowed and nodded as they passed like senile old roosters in a barnyard; they younger crowd for whom I now felt a contempt such as only a disillusioned dreamer feels for those still unaware that they dream-the business students from southern colleges, for whom business was a vague, abstract game with rules as obsolete as Noah's Ark but who yet were drunk on finance.
I am an urchin, standing in the cold, elbowed aside by the glossy rich visitors in their fur coats and ostentatious jewellery, being fussed into the hotel by pompous-looking doormen. 'No problem. I'd better get home, actually Mr - Gustav. A drink is very tempting, but maybe not such a good idea after all.' I pat my pockets. 'And I'm skint.' 'Pavements not paved with gold yet, eh?' He moves on along the facade of the grand hotel to the corner, and waits. He's staring not back at me but down St James Street. I wage a little war with myself. He's a stranger, remember. The newspaper headlines, exaggerated by the time they reach the office of Jake's local rag: Country girl from the sticks raped and murdered in London by suave conman. Even Poppy would be wagging her metaphorical finger at me by now. Blaming herself for not being there, looking out for me. But we're out in public here. Lots of people around us. He's charming. He's incredibly attractive. He's got a lovely deep, well spoken voice. And he's an entrepreneur who must be bloody rich if he owns more than one house. What the hell else am I going to do with myself when everyone else is out having fun? One thing I won't tell him is that my pockets might be empty, but my bank account is full. 'One drink. Then I must get back.' He doesn't answer or protest, but with a courtly bow he crooks his elbow and escorts me down St James. We turn right and into the far more subtle splendour of Dukes Hotel. 'Dress code?' I ask nervously, wiping my feet obediently on the huge but welcoming doormat and drifting ahead of him into the smart interior where domed and glassed corridors lead here and there. The foyer smells of mulled wine and candles and entices you to succumb to its perfumed embrace.