Tristram and Iseult

The story of the Irishwoman Iseult and the Cornishman Tristram is an interesting one. One version is as follows: The hero Tristram fought and nearly died, a splinter of Q-Celtic blade deep in his side. Iseult the healer began to bring him back from death finding that sharp shard of iron and tugging it out and in the process wounding herself – her blood finding that of Tristram as if it were her own. And with that it began and neither knew what was to come Iseult least of all as she mourned and buried and swore to avenge her beloved brother – killed by the deceptive thrust of some uncouth foreigner. Afterwards she touched her brother’s sword cutting her finger on its broken edge, shocked to find the echo of that shard she had found edging Tristram’s heart; and her mind jarred and shattered as she weighed Tristram’s life against her own history. But she stayed her hand sensing that this was just the first unravelling and ravelling of all that she and he could and must ever be. Then in that confused clarity the hero woke to laughter and beauty and loved Iseult his foe and his saviour and despite herself and despite him she already loved him as herself but not herself. And time ran on ahead again inexorable as Iseult felt the hardest accuracy of despair for she knew that what little wisdom Tristram had was young and light – as the wisdom of men so often is – and that in his duty bound manner he would think it right to sacrifice his love for the good of a mere kingdom. The fool the fool the audience shouts out as if attending at a pantomime. You fool you fool you fool – and yet without Tristram’s quaint naivety there would be no plot no life no death, no Iseult as she transcends every space every time every thing and every one as finally she stands alone singing for the multitude honouring the death of Tristram her lover her friend her fate, her guest.

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