March 25, 2015

Wednesday with Words: Idylls of the King

We are nearing the end of this epic poem by Tennyson: Idylls of the King.  This is the story of Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and some knights of the Round Table.  I didn't know what to expect going into this (and wouldn't have even started if not for the Book Discussion area of the AO Forum!) and I'm still unsure of how I feel about this story.  I have long loved King Arthur and Camelot, and remember my parents watching the movie "Camelot" several times as I was growing up.  I loved The Once and Future King in 7th grade Lit class, and followed that up with Stephen Lawhead's books, The Pendragon series.  I absolutely gobbled them up in high school!  They swept me into their world and away.

So, maybe its the poetry that makes me concentrate harder that keeps me from feeling as swept away in the case of Idylls.  Maybe I'm just older and have less time to concentrate on pleasure reading, even if I do count it as teacher prep, since it will come around in AO's curriculum soon enough.  Or maybe it was the older grammar and phrasing used by Tennyson to tell the story.  Regardless of my feelings about the poetry, it is interesting, full of imagery and passion in its own right.  It has given me food for thought, and here are some of the quotes that struck me along the way.

The Coming of Arthur

'The King will follow Christ, and we the King
In whom high God hath breathed a secret thing.
Fall battleaxe, and flash brand! Let the King reign.'
  So sang the knighthood, moving to their hall.
Is anyone worthy of such devotion?
The old order changeth, yielding place to new;
And we that fight for our fair father Christ,
Seeing that ye be grown too weak and old
To drive the heathen from your Roman wall,
No tribute will we pay:' so those great lords
Drew back in wrath, and Arthur strove with Rome.
 I like that this gives a time and place for the story, and a reason for the wars.

Gareth and Lynette

Seer to Gareth, before he is knighted:
For an ye heard a music, like enow
They are building still, seeing the city is built
To music, therefore never built at all,
And therefore built for ever.'

Sir Kay to Lancelot, regarding Gareth:
Sir Fine-face, Sir Fair-hands? but see thou to it
That thine own fineness, Lancelot, some fine day
Undo thee not--and leave my man to me.'

Lord Baron to Gareth:
'Friend, whether thou be kitchen-knave, or not,
Or whether it be the maiden's fantasy,
And whether she be mad, or else the King,
Or both or neither, or thyself be mad,
I ask not: but thou strikes a strong stroke,
For strong thou art and goodly therewithal,
And saver of my life; and therefore now,
For here be mighty men to joust with, weigh
Whether thou wilt not with the damsel back
To crave again Sir Lancelot of the King.

The Marriage of Geraint

Geraint leaves to defend his own land...
Where, thinking, that if ever yet was wife
True to her lord, mine shall be so to me,
He compassed her with sweet observances
And worship, never leaving her, and grew
Forgetful of his promise to the King,
Forgetful of the falcon and the hunt,
Forgetful of the tilt and tournament,
Forgetful of his glory and his name,
Forgetful of his princedom and its cares.
And this forgetfulness was hateful to her.

Take note, men! Haha. There can be too much of a good thing.

I'll take up Geraint and Enid and the next few Idylls soon!  Enjoy your reading!


  1. I'm still nervous about facing this someday. At least it's a few years away.

    1. Its not that bad when you get in the swing of it!

  2. I like the excerpts you chose. It's always fun to see what strikes other people because it's not always the same as what impacts me when I read. This discussion has definitely been an interesting one hasn't it?

    1. Thanks! It is so much better reading it with AO moms.


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