his dream had come about

Geoffrey of Monmouth’s 12th century account of Arthur’s channel crossing from Sandwich to Barfleur:DSCN1311a

Round about midnight, as he sailed briskly on through the deep sea, surrounded by ships too numerous to count, and following his course closely with joy in his heart, Arthur fell into a deep sleep. . . . [and] considered that his dream had come about because of himself and the emperor.

Once the night had passed and the dawn began to glow red in the sky, they landed at the port of Barfleur. There they quickly pitched their tents and prepared to await the coming of the King of the Islands and the leaders of the neighboring provinces. (History of the Kings of Britain, Faletra, ed. p.237)

The dream, in Arthur’s mind, foretells the drama that will play out here on the continent. There is a sense of mounting expectation now that Arthur has made landfall here at Barfleur—the journey has begun in earnest. Conquest is in the air.


Back at the American Cemetery, maps shows the battle lines as American forces took control of this northerly coastal part of France known as the Cotentin peninsula, once part of the Amorica region of the Roman Empire.  Arthur’s arrival in Barfleur similarly signals a territorialization of this former Roman province, a literary enactment of what Denis Cosgrove terms a sense of an “imperial spatiality” (Apollo’s Eye: A Cartographic Geneology of the Earth in the Western Imagination, p. 46).  Arthur’s plans are hardly small.


For now, my plans, such as they are, are to follow only a part of Arthur’s itinerary, but the spirit of this geographic quest is infectious, becoming real.  The dreams come to me as well–in a week I will dream that my house is crashing down around me.  But for now, I head to a cafe to order a glass of wine and listen to the oddly global sounds of didgeridoo before following Arthur’s late-night odyssey to Mont Saint-Michel, an etheric quasi-island on the far side of the peninsula.

Roman map credit: Amorica: Wikipedia Creative Commons

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