Definitions

Isolde

Isolde

[ih-sohld, ih-sohl-duh; Ger. ee-zawl-duh]
Isolde: see Tristram and Isolde.

Lovers in a medieval romance based on Celtic legend. The hero Tristan goes to Ireland to ask the hand of the princess Isolde for his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall. On their return the two mistakenly drink a love potion prepared for the king and fall deeply in love. After many adventures, they make peace with Mark, who marries Isolde. The distraught Tristan goes to Brittany, where he marries another noble Isolde. When he is wounded by a poisoned arrow, he sends for the first Isolde. His jealous wife tells him his true love has refused to come; he dies just before she arrives, and she dies in his arms. The original poem has not survived, but it exists in many later versions and even became part of Arthurian legend. Gottfried von Strassburg's 13th-century version, considered the masterpiece of medieval German poetry, was the basis for Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde (first performed in 1865).

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