Tennyson would write numerous poems based on Arthurian legend, culminating in his vast blank-verse epic Idylls of the King, although his earlier, shorter (though still substantial) poem ‘Morte d’Arthur’ offers a great way into Tennyson’s Arthurian world and is a good point of departure for an analysis of Tennyson’s engagement with Arthuriana.
So all day long the noise of battle roll’d
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur’s table, man by man,
Had fallen in Lyonnesse about their Lord,
King Arthur: then, because his wound was deep,
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,
Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights,
And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land.
On one side lay the ocean, and on one
Lay a great water, and the moon was full.
Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere: Read the rest of this entry
‘The Flower’ is a little gem of a poem from Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92), who remains the longest-serving UK Poet Laureate (from 1850 until his death in 1892). During the six decades of his career as a poet, Tennyson had to endure criticism as well as enjoy praise and awards, and ‘The Flower’ seems to address the less pleasing side of being a public poet.
Once in a golden hour
I cast to earth a seed.
Up there came a flower,
The people said, a weed.
To and fro they went
Thro’ my garden-bower,
And muttering discontent
Curs’d me and my flower.
Then it grew so tall
It wore a crown of light,
But thieves from o’er the wall
Stole the seed by night. Read the rest of this entry
A poem about growing old, but written when Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92) was a young man in his early twenties, ‘Ulysses’ has been analysed as a response to the death of Tennyson’s close friend, Arthur Henry Hallam.
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. Read the rest of this entry