I often speak of the importance of chivalry and courage as I truly do believe that, as a knight, there is no greater calling then to serve with honor. However, “The Preiching of the Swallow” brings up a very important matter that I feel obligated to address. I do admire those who march into battle bravely even when the odds appear to be against them, hanging on to the hopes of a slim chance at victory. However, there sometimes comes a point where such bravery becomes recklessness, as clearly evidenced by the naive birds in this tale. I understand that perhaps they thought that what they were doing would benefit their survival, as the flax seed was truly an enticing bait. And yet, they did not fully consider their situation. They never asked themselves if what they could gain was worth the immense risk. Furthermore, not only were these birds aware of the fowler’s looming presence, they were also alerted to the potential threat by the swallow herself. Now, I am aware that women have an apt for trickery, but it seems quite unwise to disregard a warning with such heavy implications so thoughtlessly. Their actions were not courageous, but reckless.
Quite frequently I have praised Sir Gawain for so fearlessly coming to face me in the Green Chapel. And you may find yourself wondering if this stance that I have taken seems a bit hypocritical. Why, Sir Gawain appeared to have but a slim chance of survival prior to our exchange. And so I must point out that there are key differences in these situations. Unlike these birds, Sir Gawain was a knight bound by duty, to his king and to his country. These birds, on the other hand, had no such obligation to approach such a trap. I do admit that they very well may have had some difficulty in find food elsewhere, but it stands to reason that this was not their only source of seed; it was only the most convenient. Ultimately, they did not need to risk, and consequently lose, their lives for the sake of this flax seed, suffering very dishonorable deaths. Putting oneself in unnecessary danger for nothing more than seeds is mere foolishness.