Le Morte D'Arthur
How we cite our quotes:
"Go thy way, Sir Bewmaynes, for as yet thou shalt nat have holy my love unto the tyme that thou me called one of the numbir of the worthy knyghtes – and therefore go and laboure in worshyp this twelvemonthe, and than ye shall hyre newe tydyngis."
"Alas, fayre lady!" seyde Sir Bewmaynes, "I have nat deserved that ye sholde shew me this straungeness. And I hadde wente I sholde have had ryght good chere with you – and unto my power I have deserved thanke; and well I am sure I have bought youre love with parte of the beste blood within my body." (202.14-23)
It's pretty common in medieval romance for a knight to have to prove his love for his lady by winning honor in the battlefield. But this whole set-up makes Beaumains (or Gareth) unhappy, and when he complains to his lady-love, he does so in a way that makes it perfectly clear what he's after. "Good chere" can be a double entendre for sex, and Gareth's reference to buying her love with his body suggests that he wants Lyonet to return the favor.
But as longe as Kynge Marke lyved, he loved never aftir Sir Trystrams. So aftir that, thoughe there were fayre speche, love was there none. (245.33-35)
The lack of love between Mark and Trystram is caused by their love for the same (already married) lady. Head spinning yet? Well then consider this: their love-lost is especially unfortunate because, as kinsman, these two owe one another extra love. So this episode provides yet another example of how the love between men and women can wreak havoc on the love between lords and vassals. Sheesh, when did it all get so complicated?
Then they lowghe and made good chere, and eyther dranke to other frely, and they thought never drynke that ever they dranke so swete nother so good to them. But by that drynke was in their bodyes, they loved aythir other so well that never hir love departed, for well nother for woo. And thus hit happed fyrst, the love betwyxte Sir Trystrames and La Beale Isode, the whyche love never departed dayes of their lyff. (257.2-8)
Trystram and Isode drink a potion that causes them to love one another forever. The flavor of the love potion is described in just the way love itself can also be described in medieval romance – as a sweet, intoxicating thing that is the best feeling the lovers have ever had, but which also entraps them forever. Okay, here's the real question: if they feel it because of a potion, is it really love?