Tennyson's Camelot: The Idylls of the King and its Medieval by David Staines

By David Staines

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As in the 'Day-Dream'), to give a reason for telling an old-world tale" (Memoir, 1,194); the statement does suggest that the prologue and the epilogue were not part of the poem's original conception. In A Bibliography of the Writings of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (London: privately printed, 1908), T. J. Wise noted: "The fifty-two Introductory Lines (styled The Epic), and also the thirty-one Supplementary Lines, do not appear in this, the first, version of the Morte d'Arthur. They were added when the Idyl was reprinted in the Poems of 1842" (1,77).

15 In Malory there are two knights who have the epithet "valyaunte," Vyllars and Synounde. Neither of these minor figures has any correspondence to the knight Vivien describes. 30 Tennyson's Camelot overcome by her beauty, he places himself in her power; in a pavilion the lady has set up, he becomes the victim of her enchantment and "preferred her love, and prayed her that she would be his love" (Part III, Chapter Ivii). After he agrees to be her "true servant, and to do nothing but that I shall command you," his sinful desire almost reaches its fulfillment: and then sir Percivale laid him down by her naked, and by adventure and grace he saw his sword lie upon the ground all naked, in whose pommel was a red cross, and the sign of the cross therein, and bethought him of his knighthood, and on his promise made beforehand unto the good man.

Bedivere's plight will become a mirror of the predicament of the nineteenth century: For now I see the true old times are dead, When every morning brought a noble chance, And every chance brought out a noble knight. Such times have been not since the light that led The holy Elders with the gift of myrrh. But now the whole ROUND TABLE is dissolved Which was an image of the mighty world; And I, the last, go forth companionless, And the days darken round me, and the years, Among new men, strange faces, other minds.

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