Broceliande

Vivien and Merlin Enter the Woods

Broceliande

PlacesBackground Essay Author: Alan Lupack
Broceliande is the forest in which Chrétien’s Yvain begins his adventures by pouring water from a spring on a stone and thus causing a great storm which brings forth the knight Esclados le Ros to defend his land. In the Roman de Rou (begin in 1160), Wace speaks of a similar fountain in Broceliande, a place "about which the Bretons often tell stories." He says that hunters scoop water from the fountain of Barenton in Broceliande and moisten the top of an adjacent stone in order to cause rain to fall. He also says that people saw fairies and many other marvels there; but although he traveled to the forest in search of such marvels, he saw none. He adds that he went there as a fool and returned as a fool. (Cf. The Roman de Rou, trans. Glyn S. Burgess [St. Helier: Société Jersiaise, 2002], 237.)
            In various works, from the thirteenth-century Vulgate Estoire de Merlin to Tennyson’s "Merlin and Vivien" idyll (1859), Broceliande is the forest in which Vivien entraps Merlin. In Edwin Arlington Robinson’s Merlin (1917), Merlin lives willingly for a time with Vivien in Broceliande, which is described as an "elysian wilderness." In his short poem "Broceliande" (1916), American poet Alan Seeger (1888-1916) tries to capture the mood suggested by the forest of romance.
Bibliography

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Foulon, Charles. "Le nom de 'Brocéliande.'" In Mélanges de langue ad de litérature médiévales offerts à Pierre Le Gentil. Paris: S.E.D.E.S. et C.D.U. Réunis, 1973. P. 257-63.

Markale, Jean. "Brocéliande: Mythe et réalité." Marchye Romane 20.3-4 (1980): 185-92.

Saunders, Corinne J. The Forest of Medieval Romance: Avernus, Broceliande, Arden. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1993.

Thompson, W. R. "Broceliande: E. A. Robinson's Palace of Art." New England Quarterly 43.2 (1970): 231-40.