Quotations by Malory, Thomas


And when matins and the first mass was done, there was seen in the churchyard, against the high altar, a great stone four square, like unto a marble stone; and in midst thereof was like an anvil of steel a foot on high, and therein stuck a fair sword naked by the point, and letters there were written in gold about the sword that said thus:—Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil, is rightwise king born of all England.

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 1, ch. 5 (1485)
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Added on 1-Sep-20 | Last updated 10-Feb-21
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So they rode till they came to a lake, the which was a fair water and broad, and in the midst of the lake Arthur was ware of an arm clothed in white samite, that held a fair sword in that hand.

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 1, ch. 25 (1485)
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Added on 15-Sep-20 | Last updated 10-Feb-21
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Always Sir Arthur lost so much blood that it was a marvel he stood on his feet, but he was so full of knighthood that knightly he endured the pain.

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 4, ch. 9 (1485)
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Added on 22-Sep-20 | Last updated 10-Feb-21
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For I have promised to do the battle to the uttermost, by faith of my body, while me lasteth the life, and therefore I had liefer to die with honour than to live with shame; and if it were possible for me to die an hundred times, I had liefer to die oft than yield me to thee; for though I lack weapon, I shall lack no worship, and if thou slay me weaponless that shall be thy shame.”

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 4, ch. 10 (1485)
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Then they laughed and made good cheer, and either drank to other freely, and they thought never drink that ever they drank to other was so sweet nor so good. But by that their drink was in their bodies, they loved either other so well that never their love departed, for weal neither for woe. And thus it happed the love first betwixt Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud, the which love never departed the days of their life.

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 8, ch. 24 (1485)
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Variant: "They both laughed and drank to each other; they had never tasted sweeter liquor in all their lives. And in that moment they fell so deeply in love that their hearts would never be divided. So the destiny of Tristram and Isolde was ordained." [ed. Ackroyd (2010)]
Added on 15-Dec-20 | Last updated 10-Feb-21
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The joy of love is too short, and the sorrow thereof, and what cometh thereof, dureth over long.

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 10, ch. 56 (1485)
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Added on 29-Sep-20 | Last updated 29-Sep-20
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“Why,” said La Belle Isode,”are ye a knight and are no lover? For sooth, it is a great shame to you; wherefore ye may not be called a good knight by reason but if ye make a quarrel for a lady.”

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 10, ch. 56 (1485)
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Often paraphrased, "The very purpose of a knight is to fight on behalf of a lady."
Added on 17-Nov-20 | Last updated 17-Nov-20
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Go we seek that we shall not find.

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 16, ch. 2 (1485)
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Ector to Lancelot (or vice versa) in Ector's dream. Often paraphrased/modernized to "We shall now seek that which we shall not find."
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I love not to be constrained to love; for love must only arise of the heart’s self, and not by no constraint.

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 18, ch. 20 (1485)
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Lancelot to Guinevere, of the Lady of Ascolat.
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And thus it passed on from Candlemass until after Easter, that the month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May ….

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 18, ch. 25 (1485)
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Added on 6-Oct-20 | Last updated 6-Oct-20
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But nowadays men can not love seven night but they must have all their desires: that love may not endure by reason; for where they be soon accorded and hasty, heat soon it cooleth. Right so fareth love nowadays, soon hot soon cold: this is no stability. But the old love was not so; men and women could love together seven years, and no lycours lusts were between them, and then was love, truth, and faithfulness: and lo, in likewise was used love in King Arthur’s days.

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 18, ch. 25 (1485)
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Added on 13-Oct-20 | Last updated 13-Oct-20
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Yet some men say in many parts of England that King Arthur is not dead, but had by the will of our Lord Jesu into another place; and men say that he shall come again, and he shall win the holy cross. I will not say it shall be so, but rather I will say, here in this world he changed his life. But many men say that there is written upon his tomb this verse: Hic jacet Arthurus Rex, quondam Rex que futurus.

[Here lies Arthur, the once and future king.]

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 21, ch. 7 (1485)
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Added on 8-Sep-20 | Last updated 10-Feb-21
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Thou Sir Launcelot, there thou liest, that thou were never matched of earthly knight’s hand. And thou were the courtiest knight that ever bare shield. And thou were the truest friend to thy lover that ever bestrad horse. And thou were the truest lover of a sinful man that ever loved woman. And thou were the kindest man that ever struck with sword. And thou were the goodliest person that ever came among press of knights. And thou were the meekest man and the gentlest that ever ate in hall among ladies. And thou were the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest.

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 21, ch. 13 (1485)
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Added on 20-Oct-20 | Last updated 20-Oct-20
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Enough is as good as a feast.

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Winchester Ed., Book 2 (1485)
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In the original, "Inowghe is as good as a feste." This is the earliest surviving reference to this phrase, which is later labeled proverbial. The text is in the Winchester edition, not the Caxton one (at the end of Book 5, ch. 12).
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Then the King established all the knights, and gave them riches and lands; and charged them never to do outrage nor murder, and always to flee treason, and to give mercy unto him that asketh mercy, upon pain of forfeiture of their worship and lordship of King Arthur for evermore; and always to do ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen and widows succour; strengthen them in their rights, and never to enforce them, upon pain of death. Also, that no man take no battles in a wrongful quarrel for no love, nor for no worldly goods. So unto this were all the knights sworn of the Table Round, both old and young. And every year so were they sworn at the high feast of Pentecost.

Thomas Malory (c. 1415-1471) English writer
Le Morte d’Arthur, Winchester Ed., Book 3, ch. 15 (1485)
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The Caxton version reads:

Then the king stablished all his knights, and them that were of lands not rich he gave them lands, and charged them never to do outrageousity nor murder, and always to flee treason; also, by no means to be cruel, but to give mercy unto him that asketh mercy, upon pain of forfeiture of their worship and lordship of King Arthur for evermore; and always to do ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen succour, upon pain of death. Also that no man take no battles in a wrongful quarrel for no law, nor for no world's goods. Unto this were all the knights sword of the Table Round, both old and young. And every year were they sworn at the high feast of Pentecost.

A spurious, modern version of this oath is frequently found attributed to Malory:

I will develop my life for the greater good. I will place character above riches, and concern for others above personal wealth, I will never boast, but cherish humility instead, I will speak the truth at all times, and forever keep my word, I will defend those who cannot defend themselves, I will honor and respect women, and refute sexism in all its guises, I will uphold justice by being fair to all, I will be faithful in love and loyal in friendship, I will abhor scandals and gossip -- neither partake nor delight in them, I will be generous to the poor and to those who need help, I will forgive when asked, that my own mistakes will be forgiven, I will live my life with courtesy and honor from this day forward.

Needless to say, Malory never wrote about refuting "sexism." This modern version may have originated with "The International Fellowship of Charity-Now," whose site quotes Malory above (as well as additional aspects of the oath that Tennyson included in Idylls of the King) and then lays out the modern oath broken out into twelve "trusts."
Added on 9-Feb-21 | Last updated 10-Feb-21
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