Friday, September 25, 2015

Reading Period 4: September 26 - October 2: The Once and Future King

Class meeting: October 2
Due date for assignments and quiz: October 1, 7pm

Long read:

The Once and Future King by T.H. White, Book 1, "The Sword and the Stone," chapters 1-12


"Sumer is Icumen In" by Anonymous.

This is a medieval poem from around the time the book is set. This is how people really would have talked in the 12th century! Here is the poem, in what we now call Middle English:

Svmer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu
Groweþ sed
and bloweþ med
and springþ þe wde nu
Sing cuccu

Awe bleteþ after lomb
lhouþ after calue cu
Bulluc sterteþ
bucke uerteþ

murie sing cuccu
Cuccu cuccu
Wel singes þu cuccu
ne swik þu nauer nu

Sing cuccu nu • Sing cuccu.
Sing cuccu • Sing cuccu nu

Take a look here for a side by side translation in modern English.

Here is a video of people singing it:

Here is some sheet music so you can try it yourself. The first four lines are the melody, and the bottom two lines are the counterpoint parts, to be sung or played at the same time, as a harmony.

Creative Assignment:

Choose one and post to the Google+ Community!

In the first twelve chapters, Wart becomes a fish and a bird. Write a short scene where Wart becomes a different animal. What lessons can Merlyn teach by turning his pupil into a giraffe? A butterfly? A honey badger?


Create an illustration of a scene from the story. You might choose one of the following:
1. A scene from Merlyn's house, like maybe an aerial view of Merlyn's table, featuring the famous mustard pot.
2. The different birds tethered or loose in the mews.
3. The griffon on his perch.
Or whatever else you like! Please choose unlined paper for your artwork.

The Castle of the Forest Sauvage?

The Castle of the Forest Sauvage?

Writing Assignment:

Choose one and post to the Google+ Community!

The education that Merlyn gives the Wart is hardly normal. Part of this is because in the twelfth century, they didn't have math workbooks -- in fact most people didn't even have books! So maybe this kind of thing worked for medieval times, but let's be honest: the Wart was missing out on grammar, drilling the multiplication table, learning historical facts, and writing short essays, for example. Write a short essay (100 words) in which you say whether you think Merlyn would be a good teacher today. Would you be able to get away with an "eddication" such as Merlyn provides? Would you want him as a teacher?


Let's talk about Robin Hood, who the Wart meets in chapter 10. Robin Hood in stories is an outlaw (or criminal) who lives in the forest and robs from the rich to give to the poor. His nemesis is the Sherriff of Nottingham who works for the bad King John. Was there a real Robin Hood? (Or Robin Wood?) Watch this video on The History Channel's web site, which is three minutes long, or if you are interested in a bit more depth, watch this longer video, an episode of Real or Fact. Then write a short essay (100 words) giving your opinion on whether Robin Hood was a real person or just a myth, and whether or not it matters.


When Wart enters the mews and becomes a bird, he gets an inside take on the medieval sport of falconry. Read more about falconry here. Write a short essay (100 words) and tell your reader whether you think falconry is a good sport or if it's cruel to animals. Use specific examples from the reading to support your position. Is this something that people should still be doing today?


The quiz is over chapters 1-12 of The Once and Future King

1. Who decided whether to fly Cully or not?
2. What does the Wart offer to King Pellinore, in exchange for his help?
3. What is special about the way time passes for Merlyn?
4. Why is Sir Ector proud of the Wart?
5. Who does Merlin summon, to turn the Wart into a fish, and tahw sdrow seod eh yas ot nommus siht nosrep?
6. What happened to the arrow Wart shot into the sky?
7. Give one piece of advice or instruction to someone who is going to try jousting.
8. Who is the leader of all the birds in the mews?
9. Why is Kay upset?
10. What skill must Kay and Wart demonstrate to Robin Wood, in order to prove they're worthy to come on the adventure?
11. Of what building material is the Castle Chariot made?
12. What does Kay take home from the adventure and what does Wart take home?

BONUS: Wart encounters the same unnerving situation in both the fish episode and the bird episode. What is it?

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