This short piece is based entirely upon the 2006 movie of Tristan & Isolde and makes no reference whatsoever to the legend. I make no apologies for the fact that my ball is fairly and squarely in the court of Lord Marke, as played by the all too gorgeous Rufus Sewell. I understand that not everyone will agree with my point of view, but it's just a piece of fiction!!!
The soundtrack is the haunting "Wedding Cortege" by Anne Dudley, the music that accompanies the wedding ceremony in the film, when Isolde floats down the river on the enchanting candle-lit boat to marry Marke.
Isolde's love for Marke was deep, intense, unshakeable. On their wedding night she had resisted him, believing herself to be in love with another, but he had been patient and gentle, and by morning she was unashamedly his. He had won her with his lips, his tongue, his body and the true goodness of his heart.
He fulfilled her in ways she could only have imagined and in the weeks that followed, her passion for him grew.
When they walked together in the marketplace, each touch of his hand filled her with an electricity that left her breathless. She longed to be away from the daylight and the crowds and the noise, alone in their bedchamber with him.
When he stood behind her on the parapet, his hand touching hers, his body warming hers and his hot breath on her neck, she struggled to stand. Her only thought was how it would feel when he took her that way later that night. And when he did, murmuring her name into the back of her neck, she knew there could be nothing and no one else for her.
As her love for him grew, she wanted only to please him as he could please her. She wanted nothing more than to touch him, to be above him, under him, on him. And when she ran her hands over his body, his eyes flashed black with the depth of his love.
His lust for her was intoxicating.
His love for her would break her heart.
Her love for Tristan was different. She had felt passion for him in those lonely days in Ireland, but now she just pitied him. On her wedding night, when she knew no better, she had whispered to him "I shall pretend it's you", but in the ensuing weeks, as her passion for Marke grew stronger, her feelings for Tristan faded.
She saw him watching, following her as she walked with Marke, she saw his closed off face, wooden, barely able to show any emotion, and her pity grew.
She finally agreed to meet with him when Marke & the warriors rode out, because she needed to explain to him how she felt. But her body betrayed her. She couldn't bear to be the cause of his pain and when he came to her, desperate and childish, she comforted him in the only way she knew how.
As this pattern continued, her guilt spiralled and she cried herself to sleep in Marke's arms because she wanted it to stop, wanted to stop betraying the man she loved.
Tristan's love was clumsy and inarticulate and needy. He was the very antithesis of everything that was Marke. She tried to tell him, but her words failed. All she could say was that Marke was a good man, and she could not hate him. She tried to gently point out to him that they could never have a normal life together, but he was deaf to her words.
So on the fateful night of the coronation when he burned the boathouse & called her to the river to tell her the affair had to stop, her heart leapt. This is what she had longed for, for Tristan to see that it could not continue, for him to set her free to be with the man who held her heart. Her eyes filled with tears for she could see Tristan's pain, but inside her heart sang with joy.
When Marke and the warriors came upon them in their final embrace, the worlds' of the three lovers came crashing down.
Each of them betrayed, each of them broken beyond repair.
And when Marke came to her room seeking the truth from her, she could not give it. Could not put him in the position of having to forgive the unforgivable, so she lied, told him only about Tristan, told him her heart had always belonged to Tristan.
The broken, desperate look in his eyes filled her with anguish, but she could not tell him the truth for he was the King and they could have no future if he was to keep the respect of his people. He took just a single breath, almost a sob, and left the room.
And with that, her world ended.
She was with Tristan when he died & was glad that he at least, never knew the truth. He believed in their love & took that belief with him to the grave. Before she disappeared, she planted two willows where he lay, to symbolise the love they had once shared, to remember his life.
But after she fled quietly back to Ireland to live out her life in anonymity on the windswept western shore, she planted a single oak to honour the man she truly loved, her one true desire, her Lord Marke.