In 1470, in the great City of London, the great French poet, François Villon, was in trouble. He had a talent for it. Carted off to Newgate prison, he is thrown into the company of that master of English crime and prose, Sir Thomas Malory.
This humorous medieval alternative history tale is told by Fremin—Villon’s put-upon secretary -- who has never had an adventure of his own. He tells the story of the meeting of these two masters of writing and crime, while looking back at their early criminal adventures. Both men’s lives curiously echo their literary work. It also becomes the story of Fremin himself, as he grows from being the servant of two great men, into his own manhood.
The legal and romantic situations go from bad to worse until there is only one man they can turn to, the old Knight in the prison.Knight Prisoner is a delightful tale of adventure through the dark alleys and filthy taverns of pre-Renaissance London, infused with a warmth and humor worthy of Chaucer himself. Mark J. Mitchell’s Knight Prisoner is an ageless comedy, filled with clever insight into humanity, whatever the century.
Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up Catholic in southern California. He studied writing and Medieval Literature at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock, Barbara Hull and Robert M. Durling. His poems have appeared in several hundred periodicals over the last thirty five years, as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places, Hunger Enough, and Line Drives. His poetry chapbook, Three Visitors won The Negative Capability Press International Chapbook Competition. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the film maker and documentarian, Joan Juster.
The Green Knight takes its title and its story from the Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
In The Green Knight Sir Gawain reminisces, looking back on his life from his point of view as an aging legend. He recalls his youth, when he was much greener, and his first adventure, the only one that has remained his through all the centuries.
One Christmas the knights of King Arthur are waiting for the Yuletide banquet. Arthur, as is his custom, will not start a meal on a great feast until some wonder has been seen or miracle performed. This Christmas he is rewarded by a huge, green giant riding into his castle on his green horse, carrying a huge green axe. The giant proposes a simple game, an exchange of blows. One knight gets to try to chop the giants head off with the green axe. In a year and a day that knight will seek out the Green Knight, offering his neck for a return stroke.
No one is eager to take up this challenge, and just when it looks like it will fall to Arthur, Gawain, and the kings nephew, volunteers. He takes the green axe and neatly and completely slices off the head of the green giant. The intruder walks over to where his head had fallen, picks it up and it announces that he is the knight of the Green Chapel and that is where Sir Gawain should seek him in a year and day to receive his return blow. He then remounts his horse and, carrying his head, rides away.
For the rest of the year Gawain dallies. He wants to ride out in search of the Green Knight, but Arthur keeps him close to court out of love. Spring become fall and Gawain finally sets out.
In the course of his journey he meets several different types of people: A peasant wife, a knight guarding a ford and a wild man of the woods. None of them have ever heard of a place called the Green Chapel. Finally, just before Christmas, he finds himself before a great castle. He is welcomed and made much of as a famous knight from a great court. He is told that the Green Chapel is very nearby.
His host proposes a game. Gawain should rest until New Years Day, when he must keep his appointment. In that time he would exchange whatever he won around the castle with the lord of the castle for whatever he got in the course of a days hunting.
Each morning for the next three days, when Gawain awakes, the lady of the castle is in his room. She throws herself at him, asking for lessons in love. Gawain is honorable, and does not give in. He does accept kisses from her. Meanwhile her husband is hunting, first deer, then a boar, then a fox. Each evening Gawain gives the host kisses in return for his hunting prizes.
On the final morning Gawain weakens. While he doesnt give in to the ladys demands for love he does accept a gift from her, a green belt, that she tells him will keep him from being wounded in any way. When that nights exchange takes place, Gawain doesnt mention this prize.
Finally, Gawain sets out for the Green Chapel. It is a cold and gray day. The page sent along to guide tries to scare him off, but Gawain goes on alone. He descends into the valley where the Green Chapel is said to be but doesnt see anything. Eventually he hears the sound of a sharpening wheel. Then the Green Knight makes himself known, vaulting down to the valley floor on the haft of a new axe.
Gawain, true to his word, opens his collar and offers his neck to the giant. The knight takes his swing, but Gawain flinches. The giant tries again, but it is a feint. Finally a third blow comes, which nicks Gawains neck, causing just a scratch. Gawain leaps back, ready to fight, but the Green Knight just stands laughing at him.
The Green Knight then reveals himself as the lord of the castle that had harbored Gawain. He had been changed into this form by Gawai