Author's Note: This poem is a reshaping of Chaucer's Knight's Tale and was written in response to having to read it back in college. Being female what struck me most was the position of the unfortunate woman to have inspired the obsession of these two idiot knights. Never even knowing who they are, she ends up being a prize to whoever wins. There is very little of chivalry or courtly love in this tale, and to boot, I found it dead boring to read though it still managed to raise my ire. In any event this poem was the result composed in a flash of irritation. It's meant to be parody, and I hope it's amusing.
A Tale of Two Knights
(A Retelling of Chaucer's The Knight's Tale with a New Ending)
'Twas in the days of once upon a time,
When knights did contend for their ladies fine,
And Love at first sight was the rule, not the exception,
And damsels waited with passive receptions,
That two knights did fight for the love of a lady so fair
And stained the earth with their blood so rare.
But in order to tell this tale aright
I must return to the start of their plight
These two lords, Algy the Foolhardy and Pally the Unrattled
Were on the losing side of a hefty battle.
Nigh unto death, captured by the foe,
Into a dungeon they were thrown.
No hope of ransom lay before them
And so they passed the time in boredom
Until that terrible, fateful day
When the damsel chanced into their way.
Emmy, by name, the damsel little knew
That her walk in the garden would start such a brew.
For Pally did glance from his dungeon keep
And what he saw felled him in a heap
A sigh so great did fall from his lips
That Algy was afraid that his mind had slipped.
But Pally did describe a vision divine
That intoxicated him more than a barrel of wine.
Then Algy glanced, out to see Emmy the Fair
And gasped as if he were desperate for air.
With a green tinged eye did Pally turn to
And said "What on earth bothers you?"
Algy did cry of that woman so true
That his heart had stolen clear out of the blue.
Then Pally, in anger, did let out a yell
And said, "Why you traitorous blighter get thee to H-!
She's mine I tell you. I saw her first,
And if you think you can have her then you're thrice curst."
Then Algy did turn to calmly reply,
"Why you thick-headed beggar that's a blooming lie.
Sure you glanced out the window a vision to see,
But it was I who first noted the earthly reality.
In any case, you old toad, whatever you may think
Love's a wine which anyone may drink.
Besides, you dodger of victorious strife,
In case you've forgotten we're in here for life,
So it's not bloody likely when all's told
That she'll be for either of us at the end of the road."
"No matter, you blackguard and traitor in arms,
Just keep loving her and I'll rend you some harm."
"If that's how you like it," Algy did say,
"Then I'll combat any night or day."
So they did struggle in their cell so dim
Until the jailers did complain of the din.
Then their conqueror annoyed by their strife
Kicked Algy out at the point of a knife
And angrily said, "If I ever see you again
I'll have your head on a platter well doused with gin."
So Algy all mournful into the night did ride
All the while thinking he might as well have died.
Pally did sit in his cell in despair
Kind of half-wishing his friend were still there
Each envied the other's lot,
And sat about and mourned a lot.
Then one day Algy had enough
And decided to go back and escape his rut.
Besides he was lank and thin as a deer
And figured he might meet his lady dear.
So he rode back and went through the paces
And managed to get in the conqueror's good graces.
Meanwhile Pally had escaped for the wide-open spaces
And planned to return for the lady's good graces.
Until by coincidence so unruly
These two met in the forest-truly.
Hurling invectives viciously on both sides,
They did declare that someone would die.
Then as the blood began to flow,
The conqueror showed up and wanted a better show.
Since the lady had not known of the knights' little fancies,
They were getting nowhere with their inelegant dancing.
So the conqueror decreed a battle for the day
In which the winner would have full sway.
The lady heard and liked it not
And that's when she began to plot.
The knights did gather in their bright array
And on the tourney field began their sword play.
The battle was fierce; the blood was deep,
And when the dust cleared they were in a heap.
Algy the winner was declared
And he turned to claim the lady fair.
Yet his wounds were too much and he fainted away,
Too weak for a husband so Pally claimed the day.
But when he turned to claim his lady's hand,
Lo, it became clear she had fled from the land.
It seemed she'd been married for long on the sly,
And so she and her husband had decided to fly.
He being a jester and no fighter at heart
They thought it best to make a fresh start.
So Pally and Algy all bruised and forlorn
Did find themselves by love forsaken and forsworn.
So they decided to give up violent sword play
And bought a tavern where they are to this day.