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Alternative Idylls

Hand-bound in perfect binding format, The Alternative Idylls of The King is a collection of five poems that explores the Arthurian legends in a humorous way - an alternative to the serious approach of most other writers, and a must-have for every Arthurian addict.

Starting with The Finding of The King, a new interpretation of ‘the sword in the stone’ episode which is printed in full below as an introduction to the collection, the book also includes -

A Cautionary Tale of Sir Lancelot du Lac: how he suffers an unexpected defeat during a royal tournament.

An Adventure of Sir Gawain and The Greenish Knight: another new interpretation, this time retelling the tale of Sir Gawain and The Green Knight.

The True Morte D’Arthur: a stunning new version of this most drammatic event.

and introduces The Sad, Sad Tale of Rose Parledieu: in which the promise of true love is never more sadly denied.

In all, the 83 pages of The Alternative Idylls of The King contain 5 poems, 218 verses, 1384 lines, and c17000 words.

Copies of The Alternative Idylls of The King can be ordered through most good bookshops or through the Bookshop page of this website.

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  • THE FINDING OF THE KING
  • With Uther dead, the question was, who should be chosen king?
  • Who should his mantle puteth on and wear his sovereign’s ring?
  • For days the privy council met and thinketh hard and long,
  • But who for some might seemeth right, for others seemeth wrong.
  • Nor mighty lord, nor valiant knight, prepareth to agree
  • That there should be a chosen one if that one was not he,
  • And so with no conclusion and with time becoming short,
  • They seeketh help from Merlin as a court of last resort.
  • The wily wizard seeeth quick the way the land doth lie,
  • And how the quest to find a king hath sadly gone awry.
  • He seeeth too, but sayeth naught, by how this state might bring
  • A golden opportunity for him to be the king!.
  • As long as he could think of it his place hath always been
  • Subservient to others, to the king and to the queen,
  • But here might be a moment when his fortunes could be changed,
  • His place within  the scheme of things astutely rearranged.
  • It seemeth fate hath seen his plight and knocketh on his door,
  • To bringeth him at last a chance to even up the score.
  • With luck and skill and guile he might ascendeth to the throne.
  • (And with his new found rank employ a wizard of his own!).
  • So he doth listen as the lords doth tell him of their plight,
  • And how they needeth help to get the matter puteth right.
  • “Ne’er mind, milords.” he speaketh out. “Just leave it all to me.
  • I’ll thinketh something up for sure. Come back at half past three.”
  • As soon as they disperseth, he doth set about a plot.
  • To maketh him the ruler of the court at Camelot.
  • ‘Twould have to be for all concerned a feat of strength and might,
  • But which by some contrivance only he could doeth right.
  • Then as the only one who hath been able to succeed,
  • He’d claim the right to be the king for having done the deed!
  • But what to choose? That was the snag .What challenge could it be
  • That all would fail in trying it excepting only he.
  • Physical feats were not his line, and jousting was out of course,
  • (The problem there, he’d never learned to sit upon a horse!)
  • Yet it would have to be some mightily knightly thing to do,
  • To get them to accepteth it and try to do it, too.
  • He scoureth through his magic books to find a likely ploy,
  • And findeth on page forty-two a scheme he could employ.
  • It told an ancient legend of a sword fixed in  a stone,
  • And how that he who pulled it out would taketh up the throne.
  • While that could be the very thing to puteth lords at ease,
  • ‘Twould leaveth no advantages per se that he could seize,
  • Unless, unless by some device, some stratagem, some ruse,
  • He fixeth it in such a way that all but he would lose.
  • It shouldn’t be so hard.” he thought. “to get a gadget made,
  • That fits inside a boulder to secure a weapon’s blade,
  • And holds it tight however much one pulleth at the thing,
  • Until it is releaseth by a secret, hidden spring!
  • I’ll have the blacksmith maketh one from bits of metal plate,
  • As though it were a kind of lock to fitteth on a gate,
  • But secretly, when none can see I’ll take it on my own,
  • And fix it with some mortar to a massive piece of stone,
  • Then place the sword within it, making sure it’s tightly sealed,
  • And, hey Presto! just like magic will the legend be revealed.
  • There will it stand in such a way that everyone will see
  • How none who tries can get the sword until it comes to me.”
  • That settled in his mind, he worketh quick to get things done,
  • And phoneth up the smith  before the clock hath striketh one,
  • “Good man,” he saith, “I have an urgent job for you to do.
  • I need a special kind of lock devised by half past two.
  • To keep my home protecteth from  the threat of burglaring
  • ‘Twill need to have its bolt secureth by a hidden spring
  • That only I can worketh, and the bolt that should be made
  • Is one that should be fashioned as a thin, flat metal blade
  • That holdeth tight when pusheth in and cannot pulleth out,
  • ‘Til pusheth in again to turn the hidden spring about.
  • Thus if it were unlocketh only when the spring uncoiled,
  • Would any threat of burglaring be absolutely foiled.”
  • I’ll have it done,” the smith replied, “just as Your Worship says,
  • But tell the truth, we’re seldom asked for locks alone these days.
  • Now ladies belts for chastity. We’ve several here for hire.
  • I’ll cometh round to fit one on if that’s what you desire.”
  • No, no. I have no need for that.” quoth Merlin in a haste.
  • “The lady wife already weareth one around her waist.
  • I had it fitted years ago, one day just after tea,
  • But cannot now remember where I puteth down the key.
  • No matter. What I really need is you to make that lock,
  • And have your lad deliver it by half past two o’clock,
  • And if you faileth in the task and it should not arrive,
  • I’ll sendeth round some demons who will boileth you alive.”
  • This threat afeared the blacksmith who immediately set to,
  • And worriedly, hurriedly maketh it before the clock struck two.
  • He calleth his apprentice in as soon as it was made,
  • To take it round to Merlin, and to wait ‘til he was paid.
  • The lad, a dimply, pimply sort, with hair done in a quiff,
  • Hath large protruding earlobes, and a tendency to sniff,
  • But being conscientious, as a smith’s apprentice should,
  • He promiseth to get it there as quickly as he could.
  • No sweat!” he saith, “I’ll get it there. I’m sure I won’t be late.
  • I’ll even help the old boy fix it on his garden gate.”
  • But as he soon discovereth, there was no gate to fix,
  • And Merlin by his manner seemeth up to several tricks.
  • He maketh no attempt to fix the lock to gate or door,
  • But puteth it upstanding in the middle of the floor,
  • Then taketh out the bolt, and with a move as quick as light,
  • He pusheth it back in until the key spring held it tight.
  • Although ’twas just the tip of it within the aperture,
  • The lad could see quite easily the bolt was held secure,
  • And while the wizard pulleth it, it budgeth not a bit,
  • But stayeth tight within the lock until he pusheth it.
  • As soon as Merlin pusheth it, the key spring slideth free,
  • And where the bolt was held before, it came out easily.
  • “By Jove it works.” the wizard saith. “I’m really rather pleased.”
  • “Perhaps then, Sir, you’ll pay for it.” the young apprentice teased.
  • His hopes of getting paid for it were sadly somewhat rash,
  • For Merlin was reluctant to be parted from his cash.
  • “Go back, Lad, to the smith,” he saith. “and tell him, without fail
  • He’ll getteth paid tomorrow for the cheque is in the mail.”
  • Dismisseth thus without the cash the lad was rightly vexed,
  • And thought he’d hang around a bit to see what doeth next.
  • Instead of going back to work, the young apprentice hid,
  • And watcheth from his hiding place to see what Merlin did.
  • Thinking that none observeth him, the wizard started soon,
  • And mixeth up some mortar in a bucket with a spoon,
  • Then as the mixture setteth firm, he taketh up the lock,
  • And fixeth it with mortar to a massive piece of rock.
  • Much sooner than it takes to tell, ‘twas quickly, trickily done,
  • The mortar and the massive rock appeareth to be one,
  • And bedded deep where none could see it of its own accord,
  • The lock was held and into it the wizard thrust a sword.
  • Just as the bolt hath been before, the sword was now held tight,
  • And stayeth put for all that Merlin pulled with all his might,
  • But when he stoppeth pulling it and gave the sword a push,
  • The key spring disengageth and it came out with a rush.
  • Now when the lords came back again he’d take them to the stone,
  • And say “Who pulleth out the sword shall rightly gain the throne.”
  • Well satisfied his ploy would work and none would win but he,
  • He stuck the sword back in again and went to have some tea.
  • Meanwhile, the smith’ apprentice from the place where he was hid,
  • Hath watcheth in amazement at the things that Merlin did
  • From what he saw and others said he thinketh it was true,
  • That Merlin was quite batty and non compos mentis too.
  • But with more things to think about and other things to do,
  • For time was surely passing (it was nearly ten past two),
  • The lad put further thoughts of Merlin quickly from his head,
  • And setteth off to get himself a bite of lunch instead.
  • At half-past three the lords came back to see what could be done,
  • And Merlin telleth them about the legend of the stone,
  • And how the king would be the one who pulled the sword out free, 
  • And there it was within the stone for all of them to see.
  • And more than that, he telleth, just to make the contest fair,
  • He’d have the stone moved overnight into the city square,
  • And for the next three days, where any one could pass it by,
  • The contest would be open to whoever chose to try.
  • The lords were tickled pink with this, it seemeth very fair,
  • That there should be an open contest in the city square,
  • And much was there discussion and many bets were laid,
  • On who would be the person who would free the weapon’s blade.
  • Merlin of course was very pleased that things hath turned out thus,
  • That what he hath suggested was accepted without fuss,
  • But when the moment cometh for the wizard to compete,
  • The starkly darkly truth of it was he was going to cheat.
  • However, he would taketh time and wait ‘til all the rest
  • Hath tried their strength upon the sword, but faileth in the test,
  • Then with no lord nor valiant knight remaining to compete,
  • He’d take his turn, and to their great surprise, achieve the feat.
  • He would, of course, appear astonished, too, that such as he
  • Should be the one in all the world to set the weapon free,
  • And that, he thought, would help convince the population there
  • That far from using magic, he hath done it fair and square.
  • Thus it appeareth by this plan, this stratagem complex,
  • He soon would be the new crowned king, the first Merlinus Rex,
  • And with this thought of royalty rotating through his head,
  • He tooketh leave of everyone and went straight home to bed.
  • Next day the talk was all about the sword fixed in the stone,
  • And who hath strength to undo it, and thus should get the throne.
  • But yet for every lord and knight who tryeth out his luck,
  • The wizard’s sword within the stone remaineth tightly stuck.
  • All through the night they came to try, and thro’ the next day, too,
  • Some even waited up to seven hours in a queue.
  • But heave and haul and pull and tug  however hard they might,
  • The wizard’s sword within the stone remaineth stuck there tight.
  • For Merlin, things were looking good. it seemeth none could win.
  • (For no one guessed the secret of the hidden locking pin.)
  • He hardly could containeth the excitement in his breast,
  • When he anticipateth his performance in the test.
  • But even as he thinketh what it felt to wear the crown,
  • The pimply smith’s apprentice and his friends came into town.
  • They had the gossip heareth of a contest for the knights,
  • And out of curiosity hath come to see the sights.
  • They watcheth in amusement as the knights tried one by one
  • To test themselves against the sword and pull it from the stone.
  • They cheereth right politely at the efforts thus entaileth
  • But jeereth loud each time a new contestant tried and faileth.
  • But as each effort faileth and the afternoon drew on,
  • And most of the contestants and their audience hath gone,
  • The lads becometh bored with witnessing more of the same,
  • In what to them appeareth to be just a silly game.
  • And home they would have goneth ‘til the young apprentice spoke,
  • He saith, ”You have to understand that this is just a joke.
  • ‘Tis just a trick that Merlin made, a harmless bit of fun,
  • And if you hangeth on a bit, I’ll show you how it’s done.”
  • Encouraged by his comrades and the fact that there were few
  • Who stayeth on around the stone to see what he might do,
  • He steppeth up and grasped the sword and giveth it a push,
  • And just as he expecteth, it releaseth with a swoosh.
  • His comrades cheereth heartily at what their friend hath done,
  • And he, still thinking it to be a harmless piece of fun,
  • For there was nothing different that he hath cause to hear,
  • Decided he would keep the sword to be a souvenir.
  • So with his friends and with his sword he walketh down the road,
  • To show his parents what he’d won, but soon the gossip flowed,
  • The place was soon abuzz with talk, and word went quickly  round,
  • That someone who could free the sword had finally been found.
  • Soon lords and knights were clamouring to find out who could be
  • The person who had cometh to the sword and set it free.
  • It was, as someone sayeth then, a most important thing,
  • For who it was hath doneth it was going to be the king!
  • Eventually the word got round and came to Merlin’s ears,
  • And he believeth none of it, but just to calm his fears,
  • He headeth for the city square and  quickly runneth on,
  • But when he cometh to the stone, the sword indeed was gone!
  • Nonplused the wizard stood aghast, his face as white as snow,
  • Knowing his plan to be the king hath seen a mortal blow.
  • His trickery hath failed to bring the chance he’d waited for,
  • Nor could he dare reveal himself as its executor.
  • His dreams of kingship shattered thus, the wizard stood dismayed,
  • Reflecting with a saddened heart the part that fate hath played
  • In turning round the clever trick that should have made him lord
  • To leave him with no title, with no throne, ...and with no sword!
  • Meanwhile a search was under way through every place in town,
  • To find whoever hath the sword  and thus should have the crown,
  • And great excitement filled the air, and great anticipation
  • That sometime in the next few days they’d have a coronation.
  • Eventually they found the sword and with it found the lad,
  • And ‘though surprised at who he was the councilors were glad
  • That finally with help from Merlin’s legend of the stone,
  • The search to find the next crowned king of Camelot was done.
  • The lad of course believeth that the whole thing was a hoax,
  • No more than just another of the batty wizard’s jokes,
  • But when he went to show the council how the trick was done,
  • The boulder was no longer there, the evidence was gone.
  • Merlin hath taken it away and shipeth it abroad,
  • As ballast in a trading ship to cover up his fraud,
  • And so, despite his talk about a secret hidden spring,
  • The lad hath no alternative but to become the king.
  • While most accepteth this result, a few tried to protest,
  • And one among the crowd spoke up, his voice above the rest,
  • “’E can’t be king. ‘E’s Arfur Smiff. ‘E ain’t no bloomin’ lord.”
  • But proof was irrefutable for Arthur held the sword!
  • Thus was it how King Arthur came to Camelot to reign,
  • While Merlin stayeth just another wizard for his pain,
  • And long King Arthur ruleth well, as every monarch should,
  • While Merlin in a huff retired to Broceliandé wood.
  • Thus endeth the tale of The Finding of The King.
  •  

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