The Holy Grail was the vessel used by Jesus Christ to give wine to his disciples at the Last Supper. Regarded by Christians as one of the most sacred relics, the search for The Holy Grail has inspired a canon of literature and poetry, known as ‘Arthurian Legend’.
Hughes was fascinated by Arthurian legends. Sir Galahad was a knight of King Arthur's Round Table and one of the three ‘achievers’ of the Holy Grail – virtuous knights pre-destined to see the Grail. Inspired by the last verse of Alfred Tennyson’s poem ‘Sir Galahad’ (1842), the knight is shown riding through a mountainous terrain surrounded by angels who encourage him in his quest.
The clouds are broken in the sky,
And thro’ the mountain-walls
A rolling organ-harmony
Swells up, and shakes and falls.
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
‘O just and faithful knight of God!
Ride on! the prize is near.’
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
By bridge and ford, by park and pale,
All-arm’d I ride, whate’er betide,
Until I find the holy Grail.
'Sir Galahad – The Quest of the Holy Grail', was formerly in the collection of the Birkenhead banker and art collector George Rae (1817 - 1902).