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Avalon from the Vita Merlini

1 Usually these three cities are translated as Brest, Chartiers, and Pavia. John J. Parry (The Vita Merlini, University of Illinois Studies in Language and Literature 10:3 [1925], p. 123) suggests that Papie could also be understood as Paris; Christine Bord and Jean-Charles Berthet (Vie de Merlin par Geoffrey de Monmouth, in Le devin maudit, [Grenoble: Ellug, 1999], p. 127) suggest that "Bristi" could be either Brest or Bristol.

Translated by Emily Rebekah Huber







Insula pomorum que Fortunata vocatur
ex re nomen habet quia per se singula profert.
Non opus est illis sulcantibus arva colonis,
omnis abest cultus nisi quem natura ministrat.
Ultro fecundas segetes producit et uvas
nataque poma suis pretonso gramine silvis.
Omnia gignit humus vice graminis ultro redudans,
annis centenis aut ultra vivitur illic.
Illic jura novem geniali lege sorores
dant his qui veniunt nostris ex partibus ad se,
quarum que prior est fit doctior arte medendi
exceditque suas forma prestante sorores.
Morgen ei nomen didicitque quid utilitatis
gramina cuncta ferant ut languida corpora curet.
Ars quoque nota sibi qua scit mutare figuram
et resecare novis quasi Dedalus aera pennis.
Cum vult, est Bristi, Carnoti sive Papie, 1
cum vult, in vestris ex aere labitur horis.
Hancque mathematicam dicunt didicisse sorores
Moronoe, Mazoe, Gliten, Glitonea, Gliton,
Tyronoe, Thiten cithara notissima Thiten.
Illuc post bellum Camblani vulnere lesum
duximus Arcturum nos conducente Barintho,
equora cui fuerant et celi sydera nota.
Hoc rectore ratis cum principe venimus illuc,
et nos quo decuit Morgen suscepit honore,
inque suis talamis posuit super aurea regem
fulcra manuque sibi detexit vulnus honesta
inspexitque diu, tandemque redire salutem
posse sibi dixit, si secum tempore longo
esset et ipsius vellet mendicamine fungi.
Gaudentes igitur regem commisimus illi
et dedimus ventis redeundo vela secundis.


The island of apples, which is called the Fortunate
island has its name because it produces all things
for itself. There is no work for the farmers in
plowing the fields, all cultivation is absent except
for what nature manages by herself. On its own the
island produces fertile crops and grapes and native
apples by means of its own trees in the cropped
pastures. On its own the overflowing soil puts forth
all things in addition to the grass, and in that place
one lives for one hundred years or more. There
nine sisters give pleasant laws to those who come
from our parts to them, and of those sisters, she who
is higher becomes a doctor in the art of healing and
exceeds her sisters in excellent form. Morgen is her
name, and she has learned what usefulness all the
herbs bear so that she may cure sick bodies. Also
that art is known to her by which she can change
shape and cut the air on new wings in the manner of
Dedalus. When she wishes, she is in Brist, Carnot,
or Papie; 1 when she wishes, she glides out of the air
onto your lands. They say that this lady has taught
mathematics to her sisters Moronoe, Mazoe, Gliten,
Glitonea, Gliton, Tyronoe, and Thiten the most
noteworthy on the cither. To that place after the
battle of Camblan we brought Arthur, hurt by
wounds, with Barinthus leading us, to whom the
waters and the stars of the sky were known. With
this guide for our raft we came to that place with
our leader, and with what was fitting Morgen did
honor to us, and in her rooms she placed the king
upon a golden couch and with her own honorable
hand she uncovered his wound and inspected it for
a long time, and at last she said that health could
return to him, if he were with her for a long time and
wished to undergo her treatment. Therefore rejoicing
we committed the king to her and returning gave sails
to the assisting winds.