Friday, October 2, 2015

Reading Period 5: October 3 - 9: The Once and Future King

Coronation of King Arthur, from "Flores Historiarum,"
by Matthew Paris, c.1250-52.
Class meeting: October 9
Due date for assignments and quiz: October 8, 7pm

Long read:

The Once and Future King by T.H. White, Book One "The Sword in the Stone" chapters 13-24.


"I Syng of a Mayden", 15th Century Anonymous

This was one of the songs sung at Sir Ector's castle on Christmas night. Here it is in middle English and modern English:

Middle English

I syng of a mayden
That is makeles,
king of alle kinges
to here sone che chees.

He cam also stille
Ther his moder was
As dew in Aprylle,
That fallyt on the gras.

He cam also stille
To his modres bowr
As dew in Aprylle,
That falleth on the flowr.

He cam also stille
Ther his moder lay
As dew in Aprylle,
That falleth on the spray.

Moder & mayden
Was nevere noon but she:
Well may swich a lady
Godes moder be.

Modern English:

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless,
King of all kings
For her son she chose.

He came as still
Where his mother was
As dew in April
That falls on the grass.

He came as still
To his mother’s bower
As dew in April
That falls on the flower.

He came as still
Where his mother lay
As dew in April
That falls on the spray.

Mother and maiden
There was never, ever one but she;
Well may such a lady
God’s mother be.

Here are two different musical interpretations of this song:

Creative Assignment:

The geese have a lot of wonderful songs for singing in different situations. Write a new song, for any bird you like: pigeons, geese, owls, hawks, etc. You don't have to include music, but you could! Try to imagine what your chosen bird would sing about. For example, a woodpecker might sing to the delicious bugs hiding in a tree.


Illustrate the climactic scene in chapter 23 when Wart pulls the sword from the stone. Include as many details as you can, from the real scene and from Wart's imagination. I would love to see some of the advisors in your picture, the animals who help Wart with the task of pulling it out. Please use unlined paper so we can clearly see your work.

The Grey People
Writing Assignment:

Our story is set after the Norman Conquest of England. The nobility like Sir Ector and Uther Pendragon are Normans, while the regular people are Saxons. Read about the Norman Conquest here, then write a short essay (100 words) containing the following facts: When did it happen? Where were the Normans from? Who was their leader? Who was the leader of England? What was the battle that launched the invasion?


When Wart is sighing over his low station in life, Merlin said, "Only fools want to be great." In this case, "great" doesn't mean "extra good" but instead means "important" or "famous" or "powerful." Merlin seems to be saying that being an important powerful person like a knight or a king is not necessarily a good goal. What can this possibly mean? Doesn't everyone want to be famous? Write 100 words giving your opinion.


The quiz is over The Once and Future King, Book 1, chapters 13-24. The numbers reflect the chapters in which the questions can be found.

13. What are the only two adjectives in ant language?
14. In the letter from the king, what does Uther Pendragon say that Sir Ector must do?
15. At the feast, what do we learn about King Pellinore and Sir Grummore?
16. What has happened to the questing beast?
17. According to Merlin, where does the language of birds come from?
18. What object does Wart eat to transform into an owl?
19. What do the geese do while they are flying, to express themselves and pass the time?
20. What does Wart say he would pray for if he were to make a knightly vigil?
21. What are the two things the badger can teach Wart?
22. When King Pellinore says that Uther Pendragon had no heir, what does he mean?
23. What lie does Kay tell after Wart gives him the sword from the stone?
24. What secrets does Merlin reveal at last about Wart's birth?

BONUS: What is the thing that only ants and humans do?

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