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Amashelle  Amashelle is offline
Join Date: 07 Feb 2009
Location: Alberta, Canada
Posts: 84

It's ironic that the book says this card can symbolize a 'harmonious domestic life,' when Tristram and Isolt had anything but.

Maybe I've been jaded by Parke Godwin's interpretation of this particular afair (see book: Firelord), but when I think of this story, 'romantic' is not the word that comes to my mind. Tristram and Isolt were a summer fling, for lack of a better phrase. They had a wonderful time on the boat, but after that, Isolt's life becomes hell.

Yes, she might still love him, but is she even old enough to know that? He was one of the first men she ever really knew, and he was kind to her. After her marriage to Tristram's uncle, young Isolt was thrust into a situation where she had two men demanding her affections. She would have been torn in half (metaphorically) by this --- there's a lovely speech about her feelings in Godwin's novel, culminating in her admiting how relieved she was that Tristram was banished because then, at last, she could finally sleep alone some nights, whereas Tristram wastes away, pining for her, drunk half the time and angry the rest. This is the pair that I see in this card, which detracts, I think, from the card's intended meaning. This is the Isolt that I can relate to and understand. An Isolt who never once had a chance at independance until she was freed from the influence of the men in her lives (Tristram's banishment coupled with her husband's aging), though it was the one thing she always wanted.

Isolt is young, and even as she lets Tristram hold her close to him, she stares at the bowl in her hand, maybe regretfully, maybe fearfully, because she knows they've made a mistake in drinking it, in allowing themselves to become as close as they are. Tristram's cloak is yellow, the colour of hope and youth, and it wrapps around her as he perhaps whispers words about how everything will be alright. He is caught up in the idealism of love, in the idea that love conquers all, but she still looks at the bowl.

Neither of them are smiling, though it is this brief time on the boat that both will always remember with bittersweet fondness.

Tristram's hope does not prove in vain, though, even in Godwin's story, for when Tristram dies, Isolt goes to him at last.

For me this card is the hope of new relationships, and the warning that, even if they do end poorly (as so many do) we can't waste away, pining for the might-have-been. Sometimes, things happen with the right people, in the right place, but at the wrong time, and forcing it to work prematurely will only bring misery to both parties.
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