2.23-GUINEVERE (Donovan)



Guinevere of the royal court of Arthur
Draped in white velvet, silk and lace.
The rustle of her gown on the marble staircase,
Sparkles on fingers, slender and pale.

        The jester he sleeps
        But the raven he peeps
        Through the dark foreboding skies
        Of the royal domain.

Maroon-colored wine from the vineyards of Charlemagne
Is sipped by the queen's lip and so gently.
Indigo eyes in the flickering candlelight--
Such is the silence o'er royal Camelot.



[Repeat first verse]


Except for the sound of sitar accompaniment, Guinevere would not sound so much a psychedelic song as a song of the court during the English Renaissance. In its antique delicacy, it shares something of the mood of Lady Jane by the Rolling Stones. The melody, and the graceful stops of Guinevere's movement evoke the period of the lyric. Yet, in the 1960s America and Britain were enamored with the Camelot story, and Donovan's gentle song delivery of his vision of a Lady, might be what evokes for Matthew Greenwald of allmusic reminiscence of the "newly-emerging flower power movement". There's a slightly psychedelic tendency to paint a picture with maroon and indigo, to give the Lady a white gown of "velvet, silk and lace" as she descends the marble staircase. It is perhaps also a tendency of psychedelia to give a detailed scene as a precursor of some undisclosed event (as in Dylan's later All Along the Watchtower or Van Dyke Park's work with the Beach Boys, Cabinessence). As beautiful a picture as Donovan paints, we know from the chorus that some "foreboding" thing is coming in the night, especially as Donovan's voice stresses each syllable of the word. If, as Mr. Greenwald suggests, the song expresses the "newly-emerging flower power movement", it seems that at the same time Donovan embraced the preciousness of an incipient movement he was aware (as in The Ferris Wheel) that the moment wouldn't last.