Sir Thomas Malory (d. 1471). The Holy Grail. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
The Sixteenth Book
Of the Holy Communication of an Abbot to Sir Bors, and How the Abbot Counselled Him
AND that night was Sir Bors served richly; and on the morn early he heard mass, and the Abbot came to him, and bad him good morrow, and Bors to him again. And then he told him he was a fellow of the quest of the Sangreal, and how he had charge of the holy man to eat bread and water. Then said the Abbot: Our Lord Jesu Christ showed him unto you in the likeness of a soul that suffered great anguish for us, syne He was put upon the cross, and bled His heart blood for mankind: there was the token and the likeness of the Sangreal that appeared afore you, for the blood that the great fowl bled revived the chickens from death to life. And by the bare tree is betokened the world which is naked and without fruit but if it come to Our Lord. Also the lady for whom ye fought for, and King Aniause which was lord there tofore, betokeneth Jesu Christ which is the King of the world. And that ye fought with the champion for the lady, this it betokeneth: for when ye took the battle for the lady, by her shall ye understand the new law of Jesu Christ and Holy Church; and by the other lady ye shall understand the old law and the fiend, which all day warreth against Holy Church, therefore ye did your battle with right. For ye be Jesu Christs knights, therefore ye ought to be defenders of Holy Church. And by the black bird might ye understand Holy Church, which sayeth I am black, but he is fair. And by the white bird might men understand the fiend, and I shall tell you how the swan is white without forth, and black within: it is hypocrisy which is without yellow or pale, and seemeth without forth the servants of Jesu Christ, but they be within so horrible of filth and sin, and beguile the world evil. Also when the fiend appeared to thee in likeness of a man of religion, and blamed thee that thou left thy brother for a lady, so led thee where thou seemed thy brother was slain, but he is yet on live; and all was for to put thee in error, and bring thee unto wanhope and lechery, for he knew thou were tender hearted, and all was for thou shouldst not find the blessed adventure of the Sangreal. And the third fowl betokeneth the strong battle against the fair ladies which were all devils. Also the dry tree and the white lily: the dry tree betokeneth thy brother Lionel, which is dry without virtue, and therefore many men ought to call him the rotten tree, and the wormeaten tree, for he is a murderer and doth contrary to the order of knighthood. And the two white flowers signify two maidens, the one is a knight which was wounded the other day, and the other is the gentlewoman which ye rescued; and why the other flower drew nigh the other, that was the knight which would have befouled her and himself both. And Sir Bors, ye had been a great fool and in great peril for to have seen those two flowers perish for to succour the rotten tree, for and they had sinned together they had been damned; and for that ye rescued them both, men might call you a very knight and servant of Jesu Christ.