Study Guide

The Defence of Guenevere Lines 196-213

By William Morris

Lines 196-213

"He struck his hands together o'er the beast,
Who fell down flat, and grovell'd at his feet,
And groan'd at being slain so young: 'At least,'

"My knight said, 'rise you, sir, who are so fleet
At catching ladies, half-arm'd will I fight,
My left side all uncovered!' then I weet,

"Up sprang Sir Mellyagraunce with great delight
Upon his knave's face; not until just then
Did I quite hate him, as I saw my knight

"Along the lists look to my stake and pen
With such a joyous smile, it made me sigh
From agony beneath my waist-chain, when

"The fight began, and to me they drew nigh;
Ever Sir Launcelot kept him on the right,
And traversed warily, and ever high

"And fast leapt caitiff's sword, until my knight
Sudden threw up his sword to his left hand,
Caught it, and swung it; that was all the fight,

  • Guenevere reminds her listeners that Mellyagraunce fell on the ground at Launcelot's feet and moaned and "groaned" about dying so young. He was convinced that Launcelot would kill him – what a coward.
  • Launcelot offers to fight him with only half his armor on – he'd leave his entire left side exposed.
  • At that point, Guenevere "weet[s]," (knows) that Mellyagraunce was "delight[ed]." He might have a chance of survival after all.
  • That's when Guenevere really started hating Mellyagraunce.
  • She says she saw "[her] knight" (Launcelot) walk into the "lists" (the closed-off area where jousts and other contests, like trial by combat, took place).
  • Launcelot looked to where she was all tied up to a stake and smiled at her.
  • His smile made her "sigh."
  • She had to watch the battle from the sidelines, tied up to a stake (so she could be burned ASAP if Launcelot lost the fight).
  • She says that when they came close ("nigh") to her, she saw that Launcelot carefully kept his opponent on his right, because he wasn't wearing any armor on his left side.
  • The "caitiff" (coward) kept trying to slash at Launcelot with his sword.
  • Then Launcelot swapped hands (kind of like in The Princess Bride), and quickly killed Mellyagraunce.