A different approach for our latest feature – Exile by Chris Pearson. His heroic – and touching – tale of Lord Arthur Peregrine Tregaskis-Gore is on YouTube. That’s Chris reading too.
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Exile is full of literary allusion and folklore. There are the obvious references to the medieval tales of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The False Knight on the Road. The structure has the simplicity and the regularity of a folk ballad ( – and is it just me? … I can’t keep Lewis Carroll’s You are old, Father William out of my head as I listen to it.) And then Chris’s choice of words summons memories of a time of legend and courtly love: where all women are ‘fair maids’ and ‘damsels’, where warriors fight in ‘dread battles’, and minstrels compose songs for their heroes.
But of course, there never was – and probably never will be – a real golden age. Not at the time. It’s just that memory likes to gilt the past, making the trivial significant, the accidental planned, the routine event an act of bravery. Chris brings us – and Lord Arthur – back to reality with a wonderfully light comic touch, as the trusty steed is revealed as a bike, the next engagement is tea, and the imminent danger is rain.
And yet, beneath the humor, what pathos as Lord Arthur struggles to remember the woman he’d loved ‘from the day they‘d first met,/ Till he lost her – along with his senses‘. Perhaps it’s a blessing that his illusory world can shelter him from a harsher and more painful reality.
How to publish this great poem? We envisage it as a wonderful gift for the den, or even better, the garden shed. But it’s long. So, for the first time, we’re publishing the poem as a scroll. As we worked on the design, a medieval manuscript suggested itself, and we’ve created a parchment or vellum effect. We also found the perfect illustration for the poem in an old manuscript – which we’ve adapted just a little, as you’ll see if you look carefully. (Hat-tip to Salvador Dali.)
But also, thinking ahead, we’d like to publish a multi-media anthology – an illustrated book with an audio track alongside … and Exile would be perfect for that. It just lends itself to live performance, don’t you think?
There’s a larger, full-width version of the poster here.
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