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Structural unity in tennyson's idylls of the king Harrs, Reynold August 1971

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STRUCTURAL UNITY IN TENNYSON'S IDYLLS OP THE KING by REYNOLD AUGUST HARRS B.A. (Sc.), T r i n i t y College, Dublin, 1961 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OP THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n the Department of E n g l i s h We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August 1971 I n p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f t h e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r a n a d v a n c e d d e g r e e a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e t h a t t h e L i b r a r y s h a l l m a k e i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e a n d s t u d y . I f u r t h e r a g r e e t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d by t h e H e a d o f my D e p a r t m e n t o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s u n d e r s t o o d t h a t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l n o t be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . D e p a r t m e n t o f ENGLISH T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a V a n c o u v e r 8. C a n a d a D a t e October 8, 1971 This t h e s i s , which i s a c l o s e t e x t u a l a n a l y s i s of Tennyson's The I d y l l s of the K i n g , attempts to e x p l i c a t e the poem i n terms of A r t h u r ' s Vow. The Vow i s seen as the thematic and s t r u c t u r a l centre of the poem. A c c o r d i n g l y , the t h e s i s f a l l s i n t o two s e c t i o n s . The f i r s t i s concerned w i t h a d i s c u s s i o n of the themes found i n the I d y l l s and how they r e l a t e to the Vow; the second i s concerned w i t h the s t r u c t u r a l u n i t y of the poem i n terms of i t s imagery, mood and m o t i f s . The t h e s i s attempts to e x p l a i n why i n a world c h a r a c t e r i z e d by the e t e r n a l c o n f l i c t between good and e v i l , between man and nat u r e , i t i s necessary f o r the kn i g h t s to obey A r t h u r ' s Vow. The k n i g h t s and l a d i e s are then d i s c u s s e d , i n p a r t i c u l a r t h e i r f a i l u r e to obey the Vow, and the consequences of t h e i r f a i l u r e . Since the a d u l t e r y between L a n c e l o t and Guinevere i s at the heart of the d i s s o l u t i o n of the Round Table, and i s never d e s c r i b e d e x p l i c i t l y , an attempt i s made to i n t e r p r e t t h e i r r e l a t i o n -s h i p i n terms of disobedience to the Vow. The t h e s i s a l s o examines the ways i n which Tennyson gi v e s u n i t y to what appears to be a c o l l e c t i o n of indepen-dent poems. U n i t y , i n p a r t i c u l a r i n mood, i s s u p p l i e d by the poet's m o r a l i s t i c v o i c e as w e l l as by the use of l y r i c s . I m a g i s t i c and v e r b a l m o t i f s are t r a c e d through, the poem, and are shown to have a cumulative e f f e c t corresponding to the n a r r a t i v e climax. F i n a l l y , the use of nature imagery i s shown to emphasize the s t r u g g l e between man and nature as w e l l as to sharpen the c o n t r a s t between the c i v i l i z a t i o n of Camelot and the ever-constant t h r e a t of anar c h i c n a t u r e , which threatens to erupt once the k n i g h t s f a i l to obey the Vow. Page INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER ONE. THE NEED FOR ARTHUR'S VOW 5 TWO. APPEARANCE AND REALITY 15 THREE. KNIGHTS AND LADIES 27 POUR. ARTHUR AND GUINEVERE 48 FIVE. THE ADULTERY: DISLOYALTY AND DISCOURTESY 57 SIX. THE STRUCTURE OF THE POEM: TIME, GOD AND THE POET'S VOICE 71 SEVEN. THE STRUCTURE OF THE POEM: LYRICAL AND IMAGISTIC ELEMENTS 82 EIGHT. THE STRUCTURE OF THE POEM: ANIMAL, BIRD AND FLOWER MOTIFS 102 CONCLUSION 125 NOTES TO CHAPTERS 136 APPENDIX. A SURVEY OF CRITICISM OF THE IDYLLS . 147 BIBLIOGRAPHY 173 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I wish to thank P r o f e s s o r W. Robbins and Pr o f e s s o r W. Fredeman f o r t h e i r c o n s t r u c t i v e c r i t i c i s m and p a t i e n c e ; Miss L i l Rodman and Dr. D. Stephens f o r t h e i r s o l i c i t a t i o n s ; Miss Inge Paulus and Messrs. J . White-horn and R. Edgar f o r t h e i r e d i t o r i a l h e l p ; and Mrs. Barbara P a r r y , who typed t h i s t h e s i s . INTRODUCTION The I d y l l s of the King r e c o r d s the war of time on the s o u l ' s a s p i r a t i o n s , and laments the l o s s i n A r t h u r and Camelot of an age of i d e a l i s m and i n n o c e n c e . 1 A major r e a s o n f o r the d i s s o l u t i o n of A r t h u r ' s Round Table i s the a d u l t e r y between L a n c e l o t and Guinevere, but t h e i r i l l i c i t l o v e must be seen as p a r t of a l a r g e r a c t i o n . The c o l l a p s e of Camelot i s due to a sequence of blows meted out by chance, by the e v e r - p r e s e n t f o r c e s o f e v i l , but most of a l l , by the i n e v i t a b l e f l a w s i n the c h a r a c t e r of the k n i g h t s themselves, which l e a d to t h e i r f a i l u r e t o obey A r t h u r ' s Vow. I t i s t h i s Vow which i s at the thematic and s t r u c -t u r a l c e n t r e of the poem, f o r i t g i v e s coherence and u n i t y t o the a p p a r e n t l y independent i d y l l s . Other elements which c o n t r i b u t e t o the s t r u c t u r e of the I d y l l s i n c l u d e such thematic l i n k s as the concept o f the i d e a l k n i g h t and l a d y and the s i g n i f i c a n c e of n a t u r e , and such s t r u c t u r a l l i n k s as Tennyson's cumulative use of t r a d i t i o n a l imagery. The poem examines the causes f o r the Round T a b l e ' s f a i l u r e . At the h e a r t of the problem i s man's i d e n t i t y , h i s k i n s h i p with n a t u r e , and the consequence of t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p . Nature, s.een as a pow e r f u l f o r c e which m a n i f e s t s i t s e l f through the p r o l i f e r a t i o n of v e g e t a t i o n and b e a s t , i s c o n s t a n t l y t h r e a t e n i n g the ordered e x i s t e n c e of c i v i l i z a t i o n . Within man, t h i s anarchic force of nature can also be found i n h i s passions, and i n p a r t i c u l a r i n h i s sexual desires. Thus man, part beast and part angel, must struggle to check h i s own passionate impulses before he can hope to achieve the soul's aspirations of a Higher l i f e . 3 S e l f - c o n t r o l i s imperative f o r the knights because forces of e v i l are determined to destroy the soul's work. Furthermore, they w i l l not hesitate to exploit any crack i n the knights' moral armor. In order to protect his knights, and so guarantee the success of h i s ambition to achieve a reign of long l a s t i n g peace, Arthur has propounded a Vow based on l o y a l t y , t r u s t and c h a s t i t y . Unfortunately, the problems of l i f e cannot be solved simply by adherence to a few moral tenets. Ultimately, the knights must f a i l i n t h e i r obedience to the King's Vow. The I d y l l s examines the reasons f o r the knights' f a i l u r e . On t h e i r own part, they are over-enthusiastic and vulnerable to deception and rumor.. Out of t h e i r c o n t r o l , but a f f e c t i n g them, i s chance. F i n a l l y , t h e i r leaders, who should be s e t t i n g an example, often reveal themselves to be the f r a i l e s t of mortals. When the moral centre collapses, l i t t l e hope can be held out to those who need guidance. An examination of the reasons f o r the knights' f a i l u r e necessitates a discussion of the whole phenomenon of knighthood. The question i s whether true knighthood i s determined by the trappings of courtesy and ga l l a n t r y , or by the i n t e g r i t y of a Gareth who serves as a touchstone against which a l l other knights are judged. For Gareth, as f o r Arthur, true courtesy i s revealed by l o y a l t y to the King. One r e a l i z e s that, as Arthur's Order represents an advance from the p r i m i t i v e warrior, so by the end of the poem, a band of s e l f i s h , pragmatic knights have now usurped the Order of Arthur. The problem of the i d e a l woman i s also r a i s e d , f o r love and marriage are ess e n t i a l i n Arthur's view to the well-being of h i s Order. Here, too, an i d e a l lady i s presented i n Enid, who i s the standard by which to judge a l l others, i n c l u d i n g Guinevere. Again, one can trace the s h i f t from the p r i m i t i v e women of E a r l Doorm to the l o y a l t y of Arthur's Order to the selfishness and d i s l o y a l t y of Tristram and I s o l t . One also notes that a l l the women i n the poem serve as antagonists to the knights' public duty, as i f public and private r o l e s are i n e v i t a b l y i n opposition. I f t h i s i s so, then Arthur's hope that, a happy marriage w i l l give h i s knights the required s t a b i l i t y to f u l f i l l t h e i r s o c i a l obligations must remain u n f u l f i l l e d . . It i s the unhappiness of u n f u l f i l l e d marriage which leads to the destruction of the moral centre of the court, f o r Guinevere, f i n d i n g Arthur too distant a person, turns f o r comfort to the more human Lancelot. Since she i s a be a u t i f u l woman, Lancelot finds himself caught between succumbing to her advances and acting discourteously by rejecting them. Vowing to worship her in chaste adoration, he i s ultimately trapped as much hy his vow to her as he is by his own desires. Thus, what the. Idylls describes is the conflict between the spiritual l i l y and the sensual rose, with the former slowly succumbing to the passion of the Mdeep-hued" flower. Yet, such is the delicacy with which Tennyson describes the adulterous love between the Chief Knight and the Queen that he succeeds in never f u l l y revealing the precise nature of their relationship... Such a treatment of the lovers i s a deliberate attempt to prevent the reader from forgetting that the lovers are guilty of betraying their King, friend and husband. It i s their disloyalty which hastens the destruc-tion of the Round Table, for their disobedience to the Vow allows others to rationalize their own disobedient behavior... Arthur i n the end is the victim, and i f one cannot identify with him, nevertheless, he deserves f u l l sympathy for his is the greatest loss. Shorn of everything—wife, kingdom, friends and l i f e ' s work—he must face the f i n a l question concerning the v a l i d i t y of his vision. Yet, in the end, no one stands condemned by the poet. Understanding and forgiveness, and a deeper commitment to prayer for God's help, i s the f i n a l plea which the poem makes. THE NEED FOR ARTHUR'S VOW And A r t h u r and h i s knighthood f o r a space Were a l l one w i l l , and through t h a t s t r e n g t h the K i n g Drew i n the p e t t y princedoms under him, Fought, and i n twelve g r e a t b a t t l e s overcame The heathen hordes, and made a r e a l m and reigned.. (Coming, 11.514-1&) The I d y l l s of the K i n g i s the s t o r y of man's p e r p e t u a l s t r u g g l e w i t h the f o r c e s of anarchy. The f i r s t s t e p i n t h i s s t r u g g l e f o r the k n i g h t s of the Round Table i s to l e a r n to c o n t r o l t h a t anarchy, as i t m a n i f e s t s i t s e l f both i n the p r o l i f e r a t i o n of n a t u r e 1 and i n the u n r u l i n e s s of t h e i r own p a s s i o n s . Nature i s seen as amoral, but i t s a m o r a l i t y i s not s p e c i f i c a l l y s t a t e d ; i t emerges through Tennyson's use of ambiguous nature imagery. Wolf, f o x and serpent are s e t a g a i n s t a s t a g w i t h golden horns. The " s p i r i t u a l l i l y " i s b alanced by the "garden rose / Deep-hued and many-folded!" ( B a l i n , 11.264-65). S i m i l a r l y , . the honey-suckle harmony f o r Gareth and L y n e t t e stands i n c o n t r a s t to that haven of s e n s u a l i t y — t h e f l o w e r y bower of T r i s t r a m and I s o l t . Examples of n a t u r e ' s t h r e a t to c i v i l i z a t i o n abound i n the poem: And thus the l a n d of Cameliard was waste, T h i c k w i t h wet woods, and many a beast t h e r e i n , And none or few to s c a r e or chase the beast; So t h a t w i l d dog, and wolf and boar and bear Came n i g h t and day, and r o o t e d i n the f i e l d s , And wallowed i n the gardens of the K i n g . (Coming, 11.20-25..) Y n i o l ' s c a s t l e i s succumbing l i k e w i s e to the c l u t c h e s of n a t u r e : Here stood a s h a t t e r e d archway plumed w i t h f e r n ; And here had f a l l e n a g r e a t p a r t o f a tower, Whole, l i k e a c r a g that tumbles from the c l i f f , And l i k e a c r a g was gay w i t h w i l d i n g f l o w e r s : And h i g h above a p i e c e of t u r r e t s t a i r , Worn by the f e e t t h a t now were s i l e n t , wound Bare t o the sun, and monstrous ivy-stems C l a s p t the gray w a l l s w i t h h a i r y - f i b r e d arms, And sucked the j o i n i n g of the s t o n e s , and looked A knot, beneath, of snakes, a l o f t , a grove. ( M a r r i a g e , 11.316-25.) Nature a l s o t h r e a t e n s Pellam's c a s t l e : The r u i n o u s donjon as a k n o l l o f moss, The battlement o v e r t o p t w i t h i v y t o d s , A home of b a t s , i n every tower an owl. ( B a l i n , 11.329-31.) F i n a l l y , T i n t a g i l , the c a s t l e of the e v i l Mark and of the s e n s u a l I s o l t , e p i t o m i z e s the s u r r e n d e r o f c i v i l i z a t i o n t o the f o r c e s of n a t u r e : " T i n t a g i l , h a l f i n sea, and h i g h on l a n d " ( l a s t Tournament, 1.504). Man, as a member of n a t u r e ' s f a m i l y , shows h i s k i n s h i p through h i s p a s s i o n s , p a r t i c u l a r l y h i s s e x u a l d e s i r e . In the I d y l l s , one f i n d s t h a t t h i s b e s t i a l s i d e 2 3 of man i s c o n s t a n t l y a t war w i t h h i s n o b l e r s e l f , and e v i l i s a n y t h i n g which r e j e c t s or attempts to d e s t r o y t h i s h i g h e r s e l f . Th'e e v i l - d o e r s are c h a r a c t e r i z e d by t h e i r s p r e a d i n g o f death wherever they go. ::Modred, whose s h i e l d i s "blank as death," i n s t i g a t e s the r e b e l l i o n which leads to the Last B a t t l e ; E a r l Doorm preys upon the weak and defenceless; and Mark and V i v i e n seek with b l i n d hatred to destroy the Round Table. V i v i e n , described as "an enemy that has l e f t / Death i n the l i v i n g waters/" (Merlin, 11.145-46), i s personally responsible for the death of B a l i n , Balan and Merlin. Symbolically, t h i s e v i l woman's b i r t h occurs on a f i e l d of death: My father died i n b a t t l e against the King, My mother on h i s corpse i n open f i e l d ; She bore me there, f o r born from death was I Among the dead and sown upon the wind. (Merlin, 11.42-45.) The ev i l - d o e r s ' kinship with nature i s stressed i n the poem. For example, both the d e s c r i p t i o n of E a r l Doorm and h i s behavior indicate a human beast of prey: Broad-faced with under-fringe of russet beard, Bound on a foray, r o l l i n g eyes of prey, Came r i d i n g with a hundred lances up. (Geraint, 11.537-39.) He feeds l i k e an animal: . . . and E a r l Doorm Struck with a knife's haft hard against the board, And c a l l e d for f l e s h and wine to feed h i s spears. And men brought i n whole hogs and quarter beeves, And a l l the h a l l was dim with s'team of f l e s h : And none spake word, but a l l sat down at once, And ate with tumult i n the naked h a l l , Feeding l i k e horses when you hear them feed. (Geraint, 11.598-605.) Vi v i e n i s seen as a b i r d of the woods whose singing sur-passes that of a l l other b i r d s : But now the wholesome music of the wood Was dumbed by one from out the h a l l of Mark, A damsel-errant, warbling, as she rode The woodland a l l e y s , V i v i e n , with her Squire. ( B a l i n , 11.430-33.) The song she s i n g s i s a paean to n a t u r e , to the l i f e -g i v i n g f o r c e of the sun: The f i r e of Heaven i s on the dusty ways. The wayside blossoms open to the b l a z e . The whole wood-world i s one f u l l p e a l of p r a i s e . The f i r e of Heaven i s not the flame of H e l l ! ( B a l i n , 1 1 . 4 4 2 - 4 5 . ) V i v i e n s i n g s out, "Starve not thou t h i s f i r e w i t h i n thy b l o o d ; " for. the f o r c e of n a t u r e , i t s r e p r o d u c t i v e power, touches a l l mankind. Ominously, she p r o p h e s i e s the v i c t o r y of t h i s a n a r c h i c power over the C h r i s t i a n c i v i l i z a -t i o n of Camelot: . . . T h i s f i r e of Heaven, T h i s o l d sun-worship, boy, w i l l r i s e a g a i n , And beat the c r o s s to e a r t h , and break the K i n g And a l l h i s T a b l e . ( B a l i n . 1 1 . 4 5 0 - 5 3 . ) L i k e V i v i e n , T r i s t r a m e x u l t s i n n a t u r e ' s potency and defends h i s u n f a i t h f u l n e s s to A r t h u r ' s Vow, which demands c h a s t i t y ^ on the grounds t h a t , . . . t h i s arm of m i n e — t h e t i d e w i t h i n Red w i t h f r e e chase and h e a t h e r - s c e n t e d a i r , P u l s i n g f u l l man; ( L a s t Tournament. 1 1 . 6 8 5 - 8 7 . ) . . . I am woodman of the woods, And hear the garnet-headed y a f f i n g a l e . ( L a s t Tournament, 1 1 . 6 9 4 - 6 5 . ) V i v i e n and T r i s t r a m d i f f e r , however, i n the way they e x p l o i t n a t u r e ' s d e s i r e i n man. Whereas T r i s t r a m i s a t r u e c h i l d of n a t u r e , n e i t h e r good nor e v i l , V i v i e n sees i n the " f i r e of Heaven" a,gambit by which she can d e s t r o y the harmony of the c o u r t . ^ I d e a l l y , a c i v i l i z a t i o n , such, as Camelot i s a s o c i e t y where man's h i g h e r n a t u r e , h i s s o u l and i n t e l l e c t , c o n t r o l s h i s d e s i r e s . Where t h i s o c c u r s , man r i s e s above the l e v e l of the b e a s t s , and o n l y then can he t u r n to c o n t r o l l i n g e x t e r n a l nature and e v i l . T h i s i s the moral G e r a i n t must l e a r n , and which A r t h u r preaches t o him: a k n i g h t must f i r s t " p i c k the v i c i o u s q u i t c h of b l o o d and custom" and " p l a n t h i m s e l f a f r e s h , " f o r t h i s i s "A t h o u s a n d - f o l d more g r e a t and wonderful / Than i f some k n i g h t of mine" should sweep the realm c l e a n of robbers ( G e r a i n t , 11.913-17). T h i s l e s s o n forms the p h i l o s o p h i c a l base on which the k n i g h t s must b u i l d t h e i r s o c i a l c o n s c i o u s n e s s , f o r u l t i -m ately the K i n g i s concerned w i t h the p r a c t i c a l problem of c o n t r o l l i n g e v i l — o f r e d r e s s i n g wrong and of overcoming the heathens who t h r e a t e n C h r i s t i a n i t y . Man cannot d e s t r o y e v i l , but through d i s c i p l i n e he can cheek the urges w i t h i n h i m s e l f . The k n i g h t s w i l l be s u c c e s s f u l i n v a n q u i s h i n g e v i l so l o n g as they have a moral c e n t r e which g i v e s them both guidance and i n s p i r a t i o n . ^ T h i s moral c e n t r e i s comprised of the " e l d e r s " — t h e K i n g and Queen, the C h i e f A d v i s e r , and the C h i e f E x e c u t i v e . In the poem, A r t h u r , Guinevere, M e r l i n and L a n c e l o t occupy these important p o s i t i o n s . S i n c e the l e a d e r s must s e t the example, t h e i r l i v e s must be above a l l s c a n d a l . Above a l l o t h e r s , they must c o n t r o l t h e i r p a s s i o n s , because i f the moral h e a l t h of the c o u r t i s i n f e c t e d , the e q u i l i b r i u m between good and e v i l w i l l be d e s t r o y e d . One type of p e r s o n who does c o n t r o l the p a s s i o n a t e s i d e of h i s n a t u r e i s the a s c e t i c — h e who has vanquished c o m p l e t e l y h i s d e s i r e s and can commit h i m s e l f to the p u r s u i t s of the i n t e l l e c t or of the s p i r i t . Both the m a g i c i a n — " A l i t t l e glassy-headed h a i r l e s s man" ( M e r l i n , 1.618)—and Galahad are examples of t h i s t y pe. But these are e x c e p t i o n s , f o r Tennyson i s more concerned w i t h flawed humanity, the average man, who s t r u g g l e s to a r r i v e a t some balance between the r a t i o n a l and i r r a t i o n a l s i d e s of h i s n a t u r e . To a c h i e v e t h i s b a l a n c e , the k n i g h t s must l e a r n s e l f - c o n t r o l and the a b i l i t y to d i s c r i m i n a t e between good 7 and e v i l , t r u t h and f a l s e h o o d , appearance and r e a l i t y . T h i s d i s c r i m i n a t i n g a b i l i t y they s a d l y l a c k . The only a l t e r n a t i v e f o r them i s to obey s t r i c t l y the commands l a i d down by A r t h u r ' s Vow. As the c o r n e r - s t o n e of peace a n d . s t a b i l i t y i n the realm, A r t h u r ' s Vow a r t i c u l a t e s the c o n d i t i o n n e c e s s a r y f o r c r e a t i n g the i d e a l C h r i s t i a n gentleman and f o r c r e a t i n g from a group of average people a band of d i s c i p l i n e d w a r r i o r s . But the Vow has overtones t h a t go beyond the l e t t e r of the law, which can be c a l l e d the s p i r i t of the Vow. Gareth, P e r c i v a l e and Galahad possess a b e a r i n g which i s not m a n i f e s t i n the r u b r i c s of the Vow. T h i s s p i r i t i s perhaps marked by a k n i g h t ' s sense of f a i r p l a y and g r a c i o u s n e s s . When Gareth unhorses ah enemy, he sends him o f f to beg pardon from the K i n g . G e r a i n t i n h i s saner moments t r e a t s E d r y n i n the same manner. H u m i l i t y and c o u r t e s y are the o t h e r elements which make up the u n s t a t e d s i d e of the Vow. Taunted by L y n e t t e , Gareth never responds v i o l e n t l y or r u d e l y . C o u r t e s y , something which emanates from the k n i g h t ' s i n n e r s e l f , i s what s e t s him a p a r t from the r e s t of the worl d . As the monk Ambrosius admits about P e r c i v a l e , "such a c o u r t e s y / Spake through the limbs and i n the v o i c e " ( G r a i l , 11 .22-23 ) . S i n c e c o u r t e s y i s i n d i c a t i v e of s p i r i t u a l harmony, then, not s u r p r i s i n g l y , "what i s t r u e c o u r t e s y " i s a major theme i n the poem, because the k n i g h t s must f i r s t be a t peace w i t h themselves b e f o r e they obey A r t h u r ' s Vow. The Vow i n i t s e n t i r e t y i s g i v e n i n Guinevere by the K i n g : I made them l a y t h e i r hands i n mine and swear To r e v e r e n c e the K i n g , as i f he were T h e i r c o n s c i e n c e , and t h e i r c o n s c i e n c e as t h e i r K i n g , To break the heathen and uphold the C h r i s t , To r i d e abroad r e d r e s s i n g human wrongs, To speak no s l a n d e r , no, nor l i s t e n t o i t , To honour h i s own word as i f h i s God's, To l e a d sweet l i v e s i n p u r e s t c h a s t i t y , To l o v e one maiden only . . . . (Guinevere. 11 .464-72. ) T h i s covers both the p e r s o n a l and s o c i a l o b l i g a t i o n s of the k n i g h t s . On the p e r s o n a l s i d e , what i s d e f i n i t e l y c o n t r a r y t o A r t h u r ' s Vow and i n t e n t i o n i s the concept of the chaste k n i g h t d e d i c a t e d t o an u n a t t a i n a b l e woman. What the K i n g advocates i s not c e l i b a c y but a chaste l o v e f o r one woman: To l o v e one maiden o n l y , c l e a v e t o h e r , And worship her by y e a r s o f noble deeds, U n t i l they won her; f o r indeed I knew" Of no more s u b t l e master under heaven Than i s the maiden p a s s i o n f o r a maid. (Guinevere. 11.464-72.) A r t h u r wants h i s k n i g h t s h a p p i l y m a r r i e d , f o r s t a b i l i t y of the h e a r t h l e a d s to s t a b i l i t y i n s o c i e t y . A happy marriage emancipates the k n i g h t e m o t i o n a l l y so t h a t he can d e d i c a t e h i m s e l f to r e d r e s s i n g wrong and t o u p h o l d i n g C h r i s t . "Free l o v e , so bound, were f r e e s t , " the K i n g t e l l s L a n c e l o t , and adds, . . . but now I would to God, Seeing the homeless t r o u b l e i n t h i n e eyes, Thou c o u l d s t have l o v e d t h i s maiden . . . Who might have brought thee, now a l o n e l y man W i f e l e s s and h e i r l e s s , noble i s s u e , sons. ( L a n c e l o t . 11.1353-60.) On the s o c i a l s i d e , A r t h u r ' s Vow d e a l s w i t h man's r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h man, because i t emphasizes t r u s t and l o y a l t y . A vow covers the s p i r i t u a l , s o c i a l and p e r s o n a l l e v e l s of l i f e , f o r a man's g i v e n word i s h i s oath which embraces a l l t h r e e meanings. I t i s a promise made b e f o r e God; i t g e n e r a l l y a f f e c t s one's nei g h b o r ; and i t i n v o l v e s o n e s e l f . A man who l i v e s by h i s word i s t r u s t e d , and t r u s t i s i n f a c t the cement which binds s o c i e t y t o g e t h e r . A s o c i e t y so bound l i v e s i n co n s t a n t communion w i t h God; when i t then d e d i c a t e s i t s e l f to an a c t i v e C h r i s t i a n l i f e by a t t empting to b e t t e r i t s e l f , i t i s p r a y i n g through a c t i o n s . The importance of t r u s t , of b e i n g t r u e to one's word, i s shown by A r t h u r r e p e a t i n g the phrase, "man's word i s God i n man." I t s e a l s the bond of f r i e n d s h i p "between A r t h u r and L a n c e l o t i n the Coming as i t s e a l s the "bond of marriage between A r t h u r and Guinevere. In B a l i n , the K i n g uses the phrase again, when Pellam d e f a u l t s i n the payment of h i s t r i b u t e . T h i s need f o r l o y a l t y and t r u s t on the p a r t of h i s k n i g h t s i s v i t a l because of A r t h u r ' s u n c e r t a i n h e r i t a g e . H i s r i g h t t o r e i g n i s grounded on the e f f e c t i v e n e s s and goodness of h i s r u l e . He i s shown as the i d e a l k i n g , heavenly supported, but l a c k i n g the l e g i t i m a c y n e c e s s a r y to s a t i s f y the barons. T h e r e f o r e , the k n i g h t s must make an a c t of f a i t h i n a c c e p t i n g him, and h a v i n g done so, remain l o y a l t o him. The importance of l o y a l t y i s f u r t h e r emphasized by the l y r i c which the triumphant k n i g h t s s i n g : "The King w i l l f o l l o w C h r i s t , and we the K i n g " (Coming, 1.499). So, t h e i r harmony i n song r e f l e c t i n g t h e i r harmony i n i d e a l s and i n t e n t i o n s , A r t h u r and h i s k n i g h t s c r e a t e t h i s c i t y - E d e n c a l l e d Camelot. And A r t h u r and h i s knighthood f o r a space Were a l l one w i l l , and through t h a t s t r e n g t h the K i n g Drew i n the p e t t y princedoms under him, Fought, and i n twelve g r e a t b a t t l e s overcame The heathen hordes, and made a realm and r e i g n e d . (Coming, 11.514-18.) I f the Round Table i s to succeed i n i t s w o r k , . i f a band of men of average humanity i s to e l e v a t e i t s e l f t o the n e c e s s a r y l e v e l of c i v i l i z a t i o n , then obedience to A r t h u r ' s Yow i s i m p e r a t i v e . But the commands, so simple i n statement, b r i n g up t h e i r own more complex i s s u e s . L o y a l t i e s can o f t e n c l a s h ; l o v e cannot be deci d e d r a t i o n a l l y ; and t r u s t can l e a d to g u l l i b i l i t y . A r t h u r has f a l l e n i n l o v e w i t h a woman so a l i e n i n c h a r a c t e r t h a t she w i l l b e t r a y him; the k n i g h t s are not a l l worthy men, and some have b u i l t t h e i r f a i t h i n A r t h u r more on enthusiasm than on moral c o n v i c t i o n . L a n c e l o t i s a v i c t i m o f h i s own courteous n a t u r e . U l t i m a t e l y , rumor and s l a n d e r w i l l g a i n an upper hand, f o r a g a i n s t these the k n i g h t s have no defence. A r t h u r ' s command, n e i t h e r t o speak nor hear s l a n d e r w i l l pass unheeded; s l o w l y , V i v i e n ' s slanderous rumors w i l l f i n d out the ch i n k s i n the moral armor and s t r i k e home at the h e a r t of ,the c o u r t . APPEARANCE AND REALITY I t i s the l i t t l e r i f t w i t h i n the l u t e , That by and by w i l l make the musie mute, And ever widening s l o w l y s i l e n c e a l l . ( M e r l i n , 11.388-90.) I f the Round Tab l e i s to s u r v i v e i n t a c t and to c o n t i n u e i t s f i g h t f o r j u s t i c e and f o r C h r i s t , the k n i g h t s must obey A r t h u r ' s Vow. They must p r a c t i c e c h a s t i t y , c o n t r o l t h e i r p a s s i o n s , honor t h e i r word, and n e i t h e r speak nor hear any s l a n d e r . But Camelot i s d e s t r o y e d , f o r time, as w e l l as chance and f o l l y , takes i t s t o l l of the s o u l ' s endeavor. The c e n t r a l f l a w i n the Round Table i s the a d u l t e r o u s l o v e between L a n c e l o t and Guinevere. The k n i g h t s , t o o , are f l a w e d . T h e i r c h i e f f a u l t s are t h e i r over-enthusiasm, t h e i r i n a b i l i t y t o d i s t i n g u i s h between appearance and r e a l i t y , or rumor and f a c t , and f o r some of them, the i n a b i l i t y t o c o n t r o l the p a s s i o n a t e s i d e of t h e i r n a t u r e . The k n i g h t s do not r e a l l y understand what they are j o i n i n g because, c a r r i e d away by the magic of the moment, f l u s h e d w i t h v i c t o r y , they clamor-.'to f o l l o w A r t h u r . 1 When he d i c t a t e s h i s Vow, they p a l e b e f o r e i t , even though i t s demands are founded on C h r i s t i a n p r i n c i p l e s : . . . Then the K i n g i n low deep tones, And simple words of g r e a t a u t h o r i t y , Bound them by so s t r a i t vows to h i s own s e l f , That when they r o s e , k n i g h t e d from k n e e l i n g , some Were p a l e as at the p a s s i n g of a ghost, -Some f l u s h e d , and o t h e r s dazed, as one who wakes H a l f - b l i n d e d a t the coming of a l i g h t . (Coming, 11.259-65.) They are to l e a r n t h a t the p r i c e of i d e a l s i s v e r y h i g h , e s p e c i a l l y when f o u l rumors are abroad and they can no l o n g e r r e l y on the example of t h e i r e l d e r s . The k n i g h t s ' e n t h u s i a s t i c d e s i r e to emulate l a n c e -l o t l e a d s them to f o l l o w him i n h i s swearing to worship •"no unmarried g i r l / But the g r e a t Queen h e r s e l f " ( M e r l i n , 11.12-13). C h a n n e l l i n g a l l t h e i r emotional energy i n t o the p u r s u i t of the i m p o s s i b l e , they r e a c t v i o l e n t l y when t h e i r i d o l s come c r a s h i n g to e a r t h . Both B a l i n and G e r a i n t o v e r - r e a c t to the r e a l i t y of the s i t u a t i o n , w h i l e P e l l e a s l i n k s h i s own c o n s t e r n a t i o n to P e r c i v a l e ' s s i l e n c e , so condemning out of hand L a n c e l o t and Guinevere. When the k n i g h t s f a i l t o c o n t r o l t h e i r p a s s i o n s , d i s a s t e r f o l l o w s . T h i s i s seen i n the tragedy of the b r o t h e r s B a l i n and B a l a n . The s i m i l a r i t y of t h e i r names and the t w i n - l i k e p o s t u r e which they assume when they f i r s t encounter A r t h u r suggest t h a t they have a symbolic meaning. Prom the r e s t of the i d y l l i t i s c l e a r the b r o t h e r s r e p r e - . 2 sent the p a s s i o n a t e and r a t i o n a l extremes of human n a t u r e . B a l i n ' s i r r a t i o n a l n a t u r e , h i s angry f r e n z y , l e a d s to the d e s t r u c t i o n of both b r o t h e r s . U n l e s s man c o n t r o l s h i s p a s s i o n a t e n a t u r e , he w i l l be reduced to a beast and d e s t r o y h i s n o b l e r s e l f . In B a l i n ' s d y i n g words, We two were born t o g e t h e r , and we d i e Together by one doom. ( B a l i n , 11.617-18.) The same s i d e of man's n a t u r e which reduced B a l i n t o the l e v e l of the be a s t s t h r e a t e n s P e l l e a s . As he him-s e l f admits c o n c e r n i n g h i s l o v e f o r E t t a r r e , "I never l o v e d h e r , I but l u s t e d f o r h e r " ( P e l l e a s , 1.475). When he does s u r r e n d e r t o the beast i n h i s n a t u r e , P e l l e a s r i d e s o f f r a n t i n g : L e t the f o x bark, l e t the wolf y e l l . Who y e l l s Here i n t h e _ s t i l l sweet summer n i g h t , but I , — I, the poor P e l l e a s whom she c a l l e d h er f o o l ? P o o l , b e a s t — h e , she, or I? . . . ( P e l l e a s . 11.463-66.) The p a s s i o n a t e way P e l l e a s , G e r a i n t and B a l i n r e a c t i s l i n k e d to the i n a b i l i t y of the k n i g h t s t o d i s c r i m i n a t e between t r u e and f a l s e , o r appearance and r e a l i t y . T h i s i n a b i l i t y i s u n a v o i d a b l e because the nature, o f good i s such that i t i s innoce n t of the d e c e p t i v e w i l e s of s u b t l e e v i l . I t i s because of t h i s i n c a p a c i t y t h a t A r t h u r demands that h i s k n i g h t s hear no s l a n d e r , nor speak any; onl y by t h i s t o t a l e x c l u s i o n can they hope to combat s u c c e s s f u l l y the s u b t l e r forms of e v i l which i n c l u d e the e x p l o i t a t i o n of rumor. Rumor makes i t s appearance i n the Goming when Leodogran i s p u z z l i n g over A r t h u r ' s r i g h t t o r u l e . B e d i -v e r e and B e l l i c e n t each o f f e r t h e i r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of A r t h u r ' s l i n e a g e . A c c o r d i n g to B e l l i c e n t , A r t h u r was swept i n "by a stormy sea; h i s o r i g i n was m a g i c a l and m y s t e r i o u s . In c o n t r a s t , B e d i v e r e ' s t a l e i s one of rape, or at l e a s t enforced,marriage between h i s p a r e n t s : . . . h e r men [Ygerne's] Seeing the mighty swarm about t h e i r w a l l s , L e f t h e r and f l e d , and Uther e n t e r e d i n , And t h e r e was none to c a l l t o but h i m s e l f . So, compassed by the power of the K i n g , E n f o r c e d she was to wed him i n h e r t e a r s , And w i t h a shameful s w i f t n e s s . (Coming, 11.198-204.) With such a s t o r y coming from B e d i v e r e , "the f i r s t of a l l h i s k n i g h t s / K n i g h t e d by A r t h u r at h i s crowning" (Coming, 11.173-74), i t i s no wonder t h a t some day q u e s t i o n s w i l l be r a i s e d about the King's r i g h t t o r u l e . Rumor spares no one. Gareth i s s u b j e c t e d to t e r r i f y i n g rumors by L y n e t t e , who d e s c r i b e s S i r Mors as a monster. Even M e r l i n i s v u l n e r a b l e . When he attempts to e x p l a i n the o r i g i n of Guinevere's l o v e f o r L a n c e l o t , M e r l i n r e a d i l y admits t h a t h i s t a l e i s a rumor, a c c o r d i n g to which she m i s t a k e n l y f e l l i n l o v e w i t h L a n c e l o t because she thought he was the K i n g . What M e r l i n i n n o c e n t l y t e l l s V i v i e n i s i n f a c t s l a n d e r o u s s i n c e i t impugns Guinevere's judgment and i n t e g r i t y . One l e a r n s l a t e r how i n c o r r e c t t h i s rumor i s when the Queen's r e m i n i s c e n c e s about her f i r s t meeting w i t h L a n c e l o t c o n t r a d i c t M e r l i n ' s t a l e . H i s s t o r y r e v e a l s to what extent he has f a l l e n away from A r t h u r ' s command not to speak s l a n d e r n o r t o hear of i t . Not only does M e r l i n r e p e a t a s l a n d e r ; indeed, he l i s t e n s , a l t h o u g h s c o r n f u l l y , as V i v i e n v i l i f i e s the k n i g h t s u n t i l "she l e f t / Not even L a n c e l o t brave, nor Galahad c l e a n " (Coming, 11.803-04). Apart from b e l i e v i n g i n rumors, the k n i g h t s are a l s o i n c a p a b l e of d i s t i n g u i s h i n g between t r u e and f a l s e , as the poet notes i n G e r a i n t : 0 p u r b l i n d r a c e of m i s e r a b l e men, How many among us a t t h i s v e r y hour Dp f o r g e a l i f e - l o n g t r o u b l e f o r o u r s e l v e s , By t a k i n g t r u e f o r f a l s e , or f a l s e f o r t r u e . ( G e r a i n t , 11.1-4.) G e r a i n t , the g r e a t w a r r i o r , not o n l y misjudges h i s w i f e , 3 but i s a l s o c o m p l e t e l y duped by Limours's d i s s i m u l a t i o n . On the d e s c r i p t i o n of t h i s debauchee, Tennyson l a v i s h e s a l l h i s i n d i g n a t i o n : And midmost of a r o u t of r o i s t e r e r s , F e m i n i n e l y f a i r and d i s s o l u t e l y p a l e , E n t e r e d the w i l d l o r d of the p l a c e , Limours. In the mid-warmth of welcome and g r a s p t hand, . Found E n i d w i t h the c o r n e r of h i s eye, And knew her s i t t i n g sad and s o l i t a r y . ( G e r a i n t , 11.274-82.) G e r a i n t i s i n good company, f o r L a n c e l o t and Guinevere are a l s o duped by V i v i e n , as i s B a l i n . L a n c e l o t makes h i s judgment on h e r outward c o u r t e s y : "'She i s too n o b l e , ' he s a i d 'to check at p i e s , / Nor w i l l she rake: t h e r e i s no baseness i n h e r ' " ( M e r l i n , 11.124-25). F i n a l l y , P e l l e a s w i l l succumb to the outward beauty o f E t t a r r e . I r o n i c a l l y , even the b e s t - i n t e n t i o n e d k n i g h t s , such as Gareth, can p r a c t i c e d e c e p t i o n . However, he i s c h a s t i s e d by the seer who p e n e t r a t e s h i s r u s e : "And now thou goest up t o mock the K i n g , / Who cannot brook the shadow of any l i e " ( G a r e t h , 1 1 . 2 8 6 - 8 7 ) . Although Gareth's l i e i s a t r i v i a l one, made wit h the b e s t of i n t e n t i o n s , no l i e i s welcomed, so the young k n i g h t i s suddenly awakened to the g l a r i n g r e a l i t y o f the h i g h , moral atmos-phere i n t o which he has j u s t e n t e r e d . Gareth's b a t t l e w i t h S i r Mors i s a dramatic p r e s e n -t a t i o n of t h i s theme of appearance and r e a l i t y . Here even S i r L a n c e l o t i s taken aback by the a p p a r i t i o n o f Death: H i g h on a n i g h t b l a c k h o r s e , i n n i g h t b l a c k arms, With white breast-bone, and b a r r e n r i b s of Death, And crowned w i t h f l e s h l e s s l a u g h t e r — S i r Gareth's head p r i c k l e d beneath h i s helm; And even S i r L a n c e l o t through h i s warm b l o o d f e l t Ice s t r i k e , and a l l t h a t marked him were aghast. ( G a r e t h , 11.1346-64.) Overcoming h i s i n i t i a l f e a r , Gareth overthrows Death to d i s c o v e r "the b r i g h t f a c e o f a blooming boy / F r e s h as a f l o w e r new-born" (G a r e t h , 1 1 . 1 3 7 3 - 7 4 ) . The appearance of death, or the thought of i t , i s more f r i g h t e n i n g than i t s r e a l i t y . The good C h r i s t i a n , l i k e Gareth, can d e f e a t Death, f o r i t cannot touch the s o u l . As Gareth d e s t r o y e d s y m b o l i c a l l y the p h y s i c a l p r o t a g o n i s t o f death, so those k n i g h t s who l i v e by A r t h u r ' s Vow, l i k e P e r c i v a l e and Galahad, d e s t r o y the form of death which t h r e a t e n s the s p i r i t of man, and g a i n the E t e r n a l C i t y . In the I d y l l s , death, i n the form o f time, destroys-. I t ravages the p h y s i c a l m a n i f e s t a t i o n s of man's endeavors. One sees t h i s i n the d e s c r i p t i o n of Camelot i n the G r a i l , where one i s l e f t w ith the i m p r e s s i o n of a v e r y r i p e f r u i t about t o b u r s t : 0 b r o t h e r , had you known our Camelot, B u i l t by o l d k i n g s , age a f t e r age, so o l d The K i n g h i m s e l f had f e a r s t h a t i t would f a l l , So s t r a n g e , and r i c h , and dim; f o r where the r o o f s T o t t e r e d toward each o t h e r i n the sky, Met foreheads a l l a l o n g the s t r e e t of those Who watched us pass; and lower, and where the l o n g R i c h g a l l e r i e s , l a d y - l a d e n , weighed the necks Of dragons c l i n g i n g to the c r a z y w a l l s , T h i c k e r than drops from thunder, showers of f l o w e r s F e l l as we p a s t . ( G r a i l , 11 .339-49 . ) A y e a r l a t e r , when P e r c i v a l e r e t u r n s , Camelot i s i n r u i n s . Time and chance, i n the nature o f a g a l e , have taken t h e i r t o l l : 0, when we reached The c i t y , our h o r s e s stumbling as they trode On heaps of r u i n , harmless u n i c o r n s , Cracked b a s i l i s k s , and s p l i n t e r e d c o c k a t r i c e s , And s h a t t e r e d t a l b o t s , which had l e f t the stones Raw, t h a t they f e l l from, brought us to the h a l l . ( G r a i l , 11 .712-17 . ) Of the many s t a t u e s damaged, t h a t of p a r t i c u l a r note i s "the s t a t u e M e r l i n moulded f o r us / H a l f wrenched on a gold e n wing" ( G r a i l . 1 1 . 7 2 9 - 3 0 ) , f o r s y m b o l i c a l l y t h i s d e s c r i p t i o n i s l i n k e d t o the A l l e g o r y of Time. In Gareth, time s t o p s — t h e r a v a g i n g f o r c e of time i s brought under c o n t r o l . S y m b o l i c a l l y , t h i s i s p r e s e n t e d on one of the gates of Camelot: And i n the space t o l e f t of h e r [Lady of the L a k e ] , and r i g h t , Were A r t h u r ' s wars i n wei r d d e v i c e s done, New t h i n g s and o l d c o - t w i s t e d , as i f Time Were n o t h i n g , so i n v e t e r a t e l y , t h a t men Were giddy g a z i n g t h e r e . (Gareth, 11 .220-24 . ) F o r the moment a l l i s w e l l , and the k n i g h t s r e p r e s e n t e d hy Gareth have succeeded i n conquering even Death ( S i r Mors). But u l t i m a t e l y , the k n i g h t s of time w i l l r i p the wings o f f the s o u l of man: 'PHOSPHORUS,' then 'MERIDIES»--«HESPERUS'--•NOX*—'MORS,' beneath f i v e f i g u r e s , armed men, Sla b a f t e r s l a b , t h e i r f a c e s forward a l l , And r u n n i n g down the S o u l , a Shape t h a t f l e d With broken wings, t o r n raiment and l o o s e h a i r , F o r h e l p and s h e l t e r t o the h e r m i t ' s cave. (Gareth, 11.1174-79.) The f i v e k n i g h t s r e p r e s e n t d i f f e r e n t k i n d s of tem p t a t i o n which t h r e a t e n mankind or the i d e a l k n i g h t , and Gareth's combats are symbolic s t r u g g l e s w i t h these d i f f e r e n t kinds of t e m p t a t i o n . . He i s v i c t o r i o u s because f o r the moment A r t h u r ' s i d e a l s are p r a c t i c e d and h i s Vow kep t , but the s o u l must remain c o n s t a n t l y on i t s guard, and e v e n t u a l l y , even Gareth w i l l f a l t e r . In the f i r s t c h a l l e n g e , the young k n i g h t must overcome S i r M o r n i n g - S t a r , who g l i t t e r s w i t h the glamor and e f f e t e l u x u r i e s which can seduce a young man from the t r u e purpose of knighthood. S i r Morning S t a r , who emerges from h i s s i l k p a v i l i o n , gay with g o l d , i s armed by h i s damsels: . . . from out the s i l k e n c u r t a i n - f o l d s B a r e - f o o t e d and bare-headed t h r e e f a i r g i r l s In g i l t and r o s y raiment came: t h e i r f e e t In dewy gr a s s e s g l i s t e n e d ; and the h a i r A l l over g l a n c e d w i t h dewdrop or w i t h gem L i k e s p a r k l e s i n the stone A v a n t u r i n e . (Gareth, 11.903-08.) One remembers Gawain's s h i e l d a l l "blazoned r i c h and b r i g h t " (Gareth, 1.408); P e r c i v a l e and h i s maidens "each f a i r as any f l o w e r " ( G r a i l , 1.575); Gawain and h i s s i l k p a v i l i o n and merry maidens; and P e l l e a s seduced by the s i g h t of "Damsels i n d i v e r s c o l o u r s l i k e the c l o u d / Of sunset and s u n r i s e " ( P e l l e a s , 11.51-52). Seduced by such glamor, the young k n i g h t s are l e d a s t r a y from the path of duty. When Gareth c l a i m s to be of l o f t i e r l i n e a g e than S i r M o r n i n g - S t a r , h i s c l a i m i s j u s t i f i e d not j u s t i n terms of a n c e s t r y , but a l s o i n terms of n o b i l i t y of c h a r a c t e r , f o r those k n i g h t s who d e d i c a t e themselves to the b e n e f i t of s o c i e t y are m o r a l l y l o f t i e r than those, l i k e T r i s t r a m , who f r i t t e r away t h e i r young energy i n pursuit' of l u x u r y and glamor. The second c h a l l e n g e r i s S i r Noon Day Sun, "Huge on a huge r e d h o r s e , and a l l i n m a i l / B u r n i s h e d to b l i n d i n g " (Gareth, 11.1000-01), the embodiment of the arrogance of p o w e r — h u b r i s . At t h i s s tage, man i s at the z e n i t h of h i s power, and S i r Noon Day i s overcome not by Gareth but by chance when h i s horse s l i p s . A g a i n s t chance, the a l l e g o r y i m p l i e s , s e n s u a l man i s powerless. The f i n a l t e m p t a t i o n i s the i n f l u e n c e of bad habit.. S i r Evening S t a r i s an o l d man wrapped i n hardened s k i n s which " f i t him l i k e h i s own" (Gareth, 1.1068) and h i s l a d y i s a " g r i z z l e d dame." T h e i r a s p e c t r e v e a l s the en-c r u s t a t i o n of e v i l h a b i t s which, l i k e the o l d man's s u i t of s k i n , covers the t r u e s e l f . The k n i g h t s are a l s o i n danger of a l l o w i n g t h e i r bad h a b i t s to develop weejd-like u n t i l they choke the f l o w e r of t h e i r c h i v a l r y . Thus, L a n c e l o t ' s a d u l t e r o u s d e s i r e s g r i p him more and more f i r m l y , u n t i l the n o b i l i t y o f h i s c h a r a c t e r i s s t i f l e d . H i s o n l y remedy i s to break away from h i s source o f i n f e c t i o n , as Gareth has had to h u r l S i r Evening S t a r i n t o the stream. T h i s a c t i v e d i s s o c i a t i o n and symbolic washing i s the only c u r e . As the bad h a b i t s develop, s l o w l y k i l l i n g the n o b i l i t y o f the s o u l — t h e p o i s o n k i l l i n g the "wholesome f l o w e r " — t h e b e h a v i o r of the v i c t i m changes. An example of t h i s i s S i r Evening S t a r ' s u n k n i g h t l y p r a c t i c e s i n combat. Gareth attempts to hack the s k i n o f f S i r Evening S t a r but to no a v a i l , u n t i l , f i n d i n g h i m s e l f about to be squeezed to death by t h i s champion of e v i l h a b i t s , Gareth makes one b i g e f f o r t and h u r l s him away, thus s y m b o l i c a l l y c a s t i n g away the moral p o i s o n which would otherwise have s u f f o c a t e d him. In att e m p t i n g to squeeze Gareth to death, S i r E v e n ing S t a r has o b v i o u s l y d i s c a r d e d the code of k n i g h t l y b e h a v i o r : And [Gareth] hewed g r e a t p i e c e s of h i s armour o f f him, But l a s h e d i n v a i n a g a i n s t the hardened s k i n , And c o u l d not w h o l l y b r i n g him under, . . . t i l l at l e n g t h S i r Gareth's brand Cl a s h e d h i s , and brake i t u t t e r l y to the h i l t . 'T have thee now;' but f o r t h t h a t o t h e r sprang, And, a l l u n k n i g h t l i k e , w r i t h e d h i s wi r y arms Around him, t i l l he f e l t , d e s p i t e h i s m a i l , S t r a n g l e d , but s t r a i n i n g even h i s utter m o s t C a s t , and so h u r l e d him headlong o'er the b r i d g e Down to the r i v e r , s i n k or swim, . . . (Gareth, 11.1114-26.) S i r Evening S t a r ' s u n k n i g h t l i k e b e h a v i o r i s widespread amongst the new k n i g h t s of the Round T a b l e , f o r i n them the n a t u r a l d e s i r e s h o l d sway as r e v e a l e d by t h e i r b a r b a r i c treatment of the f a l l e n Red Knight and h i s band. However, t h i s b e h a v i o r i s a l s o found amongst the o l d e r k n i g h t s of the Order, such as G e r a i n t , whose u x o r i o u s n e s s s l o w l y reduces him to the l e v e l of a p r i m i t i v e f i g h t e r . The A l l e g o r y of Time, then, as p o r t r a y e d by the s c u l p t u r e above the gates of Camelot, and a c t e d out by S i r Gareth's quest, t e l l s the t a l e about the v i c i s s i t u d e s which c o n f r o n t the s o u l and c h a l l e n g e the a s p i r a t i o n s of mankind. The temptations comprise the pomp and g l i t t e r of y o u t h f u l v a n i t y and l u x u r y , the arrogance of power, and the poisonous e f f e c t of bad h a b i t s which are d i f f i c u l t t o e l i m i n a t e . I f the Round Table i s the m a n i f e s t a t i o n of the best i n man, or of h i s p o t e n t i a l , then these i n f l u e n c e s are "running down the s o u l " u n t i l they have wrenched o f f h e r golden wings. As time e l a p s e s , one sees f i r s t the g l i t t e r of Gawain, the arrogance of T r i s t r a m , then the poisonous d e s i r e of i l l i c i t l o v e which s t i f l e s the i n -h erent n o b i l i t y i n L a n c e l o t . F i n a l l y , one must c o n f r o n t d e a t h — d e a t h t h a t t e r m i n a t e s a l l , body and s o u l , f o r the s o u l as w e l l as the body can d i e . The C h r i s t i a n k n i g h t who d i e s b e l i e v i n g i n h i s f a i t h knows p h y s i c a l but not s p i r i t u a l death; the k n i g h t who d i e s f i l l e d w i t h doubt d i e s t w i c e , f o r he has a l r e a d y d i e d s p i r i t u a l l y . A f t e r the l a s t b a t t l e , A r t h u r s u f f e r s a double deaabh. M o r t a l l y wounded, he sees a l l around him the carnage of b e t r a y a l . He has no P e t e r upon whom he can e r e c t h i s Camelot f o r f u t u r e g e n e r a t i o n s . Rather, B e d i v e r e i s a sad reminder, i f A r t h u r needs one, th a t Camelot and i t s i d e a l s must d i e because o f man's moral f r a i l t y . Y e t , a c c o r d i n g to the a l l e g o r y , man can overcome death. He who has the f a i t h and courage to g r a p p l e w i t h death w i l l triumph, f o r death's s t i n g cannot touch him. F o r him the awesome v i z o r o f death w i l l crumble to r e v e a l i t s i m p o t e n c e — t h e d e f e n c e l e s s f a c e of a boy. Thus, Galahad, armed w i t h h i s f a i t h , can seek w i t h con-v i c t i o n and f i n d w i thout f e a r the E t e r n a l C i t y . The K i n g , who had a v i s i o n of a b e t t e r w o r l d , who had persuaded h i s k n i g h t s to accept h i s v i s i o n by swearing to obey h i s "Vow, and who had fought f o r and seen h i s v i s i o n r e a l i z e d , now sees a l l i n r u i n . Even h i s l a s t r e maining k n i g h t i s c o n f r o n t e d w i t h the unhappy p r o s p e c t of s u r v i v a l i n an a l i e n and h o s t i l e w o r l d . S t i l l , A r t h u r ' s f a i t h i n h i s God, l i k e Galahad's, i s s t r o n g ; so s t r o n g t h a t he can h e l p B e d i v e r e f i n d courage t o overcome the s p i r i t u a l death which t h r e a t e n s him, and so c o n f r o n t the new yea r and new c y c l e w i t h the promise, however tenuous, of the King's r e t u r n some day. KNIGHTS AND LADIES . . . l i k e a blossom v e r m e i l - w h i t e , That l i g h t l y breaks a faded f l o w e r - s h e a t h , Moved the f a i r E n i d . . . . (Marriage of G e r a i n t , 11.364-66.) Si n c e A r t h u r ' s Vow c o n t a i n s the c o n d i t i o n s f o r knighthood which are b a s i c t o the s u r v i v a l of the Round Table as an a c t i v e moral f o r c e , the s u b j e c t s of k n i g h t -hood and womanhood—of good and bad k n i g h t s , and good and bad women—are of major importance. As a touchstone to judge the k n i g h t s , the poet p r e s e n t s the i d e a l i n Gareth. S i m i l a r l y , E n i d i s p r e s e n t e d as the i d e a l woman and w i f e . In terms of the e v o l u t i o n of m o r a l i t y , the Round Table r e p r e s e n t s a s t e p forward from the p r i m i t i v e band o f k n i g h t s , as the o l d order y i e l d s to A r t h u r ' s . Elements of t h i s p r i m i t i v e s t a t e are to be seen i n G e r a i n t ' s anger and i n such e v i l men as the Red K n i g h t , E a r l Do'orm and Mark, but perhaps the b e s t r e p r e s e n t a t i v e i s B a l i n , nick-named the Savage, who wants so d e s p e r a t e l y to f i t i n t o A r t h u r ' s Order. . . . now would s t r i c t l i e r s e t h i m s e l f To l e a r n what A r t h u r meant by c o u r t e s y , Manhood, and knighthood. ( B a l i n , 11.154-56.) B a l i n f i n d s the go i n g d i f f i c u l t : So B a l i n m a r v e l l i n g o f t How f a r beyond him L a n c e l o t seemed t o move, Groaned, and at times would mutter, 'There be g i f t s , Born w i t h the b l o o d , not l e a r n a b l e , d i v i n e , Beyond my r e a c h . ' ( B a l i n , 11.168-72.) A f t e r g r e a t e f f o r t s to keep the beast i n him tamed, B a l i n f o r l o r n l y admits, Too h i g h t h i s mount of Camelot f o r me: These h i g h - s e t c o u r t e s i e s are not f o r me. ( B a l i n , 11.221-22.) B a l i n i s w o r r i e d t h a t some day h i s w i l d nature w i l l erupt " f i e r i e r and s t o r m i e r from r e s t r a i n i n g " b e f o r e the Queen.' Indeed, i t does e r u p t , when he chances t o overhear the c o n v e r s a t i o n between L a n c e l o t and Guinevere. The young k n i g h t rushes out l i k e a madman, "now w i t h s l a c k r e i n and c a r e l e s s of h i m s e l f , / Now w i t h droopt brow down the l o n g g l a d e s he rode'.' ( B a l i n , 11.304-05). So the c y c l e c o n t i n u e s — f r o m p r i m i t i v e w a r r i o r t o A r t h u r ' s k n i g h t , and then to T r i s t r a m . The opening i d y l l i n t r o d u c e s the moral h e i g h t Camelot once reached, with Gareth r e p r e s e n t i n g the Good K n i g h t , t r u e to A r t h u r ' s Yow, whose eagerness t o f i g h t i s r o o t e d i n h i s awareness t h a t i t i s man's duty to combat e v i l : Man am I grown, a man's work must I do. F o l l o w the deer? f o l l o w the C h r i s t , the K i n g , L i v e pure, speak t r u e , r i g h t wrong, f o l l o w the K i n g — E l s e , wherefore born? (G a r e t h , 11.115-18.) When he compares h i m s e l f t o the c a t a r a c t he argues t h a t the l i v i n g b l o o d c r i e s out t o do i t s work i n f i g h t i n g e v i l : "And yet thou [cataract] art but swollen with cold snows / And mine i s l i v i n g blood" (Gareth, 11.9-10). In j u s t i f y -ing the necessity of his commitment on the grounds of his humanity, Gareth sets a touchstone against which others w i l l be judged. Not only i s Gareth aware of h i s moral duties as a young man, he i s also aware of h i s obligations to parent and King. He shows f i l i a l obedience: "Thy son am I, / And since thou art my mother, must obey" (Gareth, 11.163-64). In accepting Arthur as h i s legitimate King, he bases h i s argument on the grounds that Arthur has set the people of England free and therefore deserves t h e i r a l l e g i a n c e : "Who should be King save him who makes us free?" (Gareth, l.il37.) The young prince shows other moral q u a l i t i e s found i n the i d e a l knight. He i s earnest, and such i s h i s earnestness, he i s w i l l i n g to accept hardship and a humiliating p o s i t i o n i n order to win h i s spurs. Further-more Gareth w i l l not leave himself vulnerable as so many others do by l i s t e n i n g to slander, f o r he r e t a i n s h i s p u r i t y of thought: But i f t h e i r t a l k were f o u l , Then would he whistle rapid as any l a r k , Or c a r o l some old roundelay, and so loud That f i r s t they mocked, but, a f t e r , reverenced him. (Gareth, 11.494-97.) Gareth also shows himself true to the unstated side of the Vow: he "wrought / A l l kind of service with a noble ease / That graced the l o w l i e s t act i n doing i t " (Gareth, 11.479-80). He i s courteous when provoked by L y n e t t e ; magnanimous i n the treatment o f h i s d e f e a t e d enemies; and humble when unhorsed by S i r L a n c e l o t . Thus, he i s the i d e a l k n i g h t whose p a t t e r n of b e h a v i o r a l l must f o l l o w i f the Round Tab l e i s t o remain a v i t a l , moral f o r c e . Tennyson next t u r n s to the d e f i c i e n t members of A r t h u r ' s c o u r t . He p r e s e n t s a parody of knighthood i n the c o u n t r y - l a d who dons the armor g i v e n him by G e r a i n t i n r e t u r n f o r f o o d , then "thought h i m s e l f a k n i g h t " and, h o l d i n g h i s head h i g h , proceeded t o s t r u t l i k e one ( G e r a i n t , 1.242). T h i s parody r a i s e s t he s u b j e c t of k n i g h t h o o d — what makes a t r u e k n i g h t ? Is i t the l a d ' s b e h a v i o r , Gareth's c o u r t e s y and g e n e r o s i t y , or G e r a i n t ' s arrogance and u n k i n d l y b e h a v i o r ? As G e r a i n t i s goaded more and more by h i s j e a l o u s y , t h i s good p r i n c e appears to r e g r e s s t o a more p r i m i t i v e k i n d of w a r r i o r who m i s t r e a t s those s o c i a l l y i n f e r i o r to him, as when he l a s h e s out v e r b a l l y at the armorer who f a i l s t o s a t i s f y h i s q u e r i e s about the Sparrow Hawk. When the p r i n c e s t r i p s the armor from h i s d e f e a t e d f o e s , l a t e r p r e s e n t i n g i t to h i s f r i e n d s , he i s a c t i n g i n the o s t e n t a t i o u s l y generous manner of a Beowulf or an A c h i l l e s . U n l i k e G e r a i n t , Gawain s u f f e r s from no goadings of j e a l o u s y . H i s t r o u b l e i s t h a t he i s uncommitted and l a c k s the moral e a r n e s t n e s s of Gareth. L i k e the c o u r t l y seed p l a n t e d i n s h a l l o w s o i l , Gawain i s more concerned w i t h the trimmings of k n i g h t h o o d — s i n g i n g and d a n c i n g — than w i t h the s i g n i f i c a n c e of h i s b e h a v i o r , which r e f l e c t s the moral h e a l t h of the c o u r t . When f a c e d w i t h a d i f f i c u l t t a s k Gawain shrugs o f f h i s r e s p o n s i b i l i t y w i t h a g l i b statement. U n l i k e Gareth who e a g e r l y wants a quest, Gawain, when commanded by h i s K i n g t o seek out L a n c e l o t and to g i v e him the j e w e l , and to "cease not from your quest u n t i l ye f i n d [him]" ( L a n c e l o t , 1.546), obeys "with s m i l i n g f a c e and f r o w n i n g h e a r t " ( L a n c e l o t , 1.551), because he i s r e l u c t a n t to l e a v e "The banquet, and concourse of k n i g h t s and k i n g s " ( L a n c e l o t , 1.561). Eager t o r e t u r n t o Camelot, he hands over the diamond t o E l a i n e , and asks h e r to g i v e i t t o L a n c e l o t ; . . . and a l l awearied o f the quest Leapt on h i s h o r s e , and c a r o l l i n g as he went A t r u e - l o v e b a l l a d , l i g h t l y rode away. ( L a n c e l o t , 11.698-700.) The c a v a l i e r n e s s w i t h which he t r e a t s h i s m i s s i o n f o r A r t h u r i s a g a i n r e p e a t e d i n h i s quest f o r the g r a i l . In r e p l y t o A r t h u r ' s r a t h e r p o i n t e d q u e s t i o n , "Gawain, was t h i s quest f o r th e e ? " ( G r a i l , 1.737), he r e p l i e s t h a t he "found a s i l k p a v i l i o n i n a f i e l d , / And merry maidens i n i t " ( G r a i l , 11.742-43). As i f such an i r r e v e -r e n t statement were not enough, h i s comment at the end of the k n i g h t s ' account of t h e i r e x p e r i e n c e s l e a v e s no doubt about the shallowness o f h i s n a t u r e : But by mine eyes and by mine ears I swear, I w i l l be d e a f e r than the blue - e y e d c a t , And t h r i c e as b l i n d as any noonday owl, To h o l y v i r g i n s i n t h e i r e c s t a s i e s , Henceforward. ( G r a i l , 11.861-64.) In L a n c e l o t , Gawain's ambivalence, s m i l i n g f a c e and frowning h e a r t , i n d i c a t e s the moral ambivalence i n the c o u r t . One i s reminded by the poet t h a t he i s not o f t e n l o y a l t o h i s word, and when the c o l d b l a s t o f moral decay sweeps through the 'court, Gawain r e v e a l s h i s un-p l e a s a n t and u n k n i g h t l y t r a i t s . E x t e r n a l l y , Gawain i s s t i l l a k n i g h t i n P e l l e a s . He can s t i l l a p p r e c i a t e f a i r -p l a y , f o r h i s r e f l e x a c t i o n i s to t h i n k of honor: and Gawain p a s s i n g by Bound upon s o l i t a r y adventure, saw . . . A v i l l a i n y , t h r e e to one: and through h i s h e a r t The f i r e of honour and a l l noble deeds P l a s h e d . . . . ( P e l l e a s , 11.266-71.) Because he cannot understand the p r i n c i p l e s on which k n i g h t -hood i s founded, and as there i s now no one to guide him i n t h i s c o r r u p t e d c o u r t , A r t h u r b e i n g too d i s t a n t a f i g u r e -head, Gawain's a c t i o n s are p u r e l y r e f l e x o n e s — t h e a c t i o n s of an animal ready to pounce: So Gawain, l o o k i n g at the v i l l a i n y done, Porebore, but i n h i s heat and eagerness Trembled and q u i v e r e d , as the dog, w i t h h e l d A moment from the vermin that he sees Before him, s h i v e r s , ere he s p r i n g s and k i l l s . ( P e l l e a s . 11.274-78.) The u n p l e a s a n t n e s s and u n k n i g h t l y n a t u r e of t h i s d e s c r i p -t i o n prepare the way f o r Gawain's b r u t a l i f not d i s h o n o r -a b l e o u t b u r s t : But an she send her delegate to t h r a l l These f i g h t i n g hands of m i n e — C h r i s t k i l l me then But I w i l l s l i c e him handless by the wrist, And l e t my lady sear the stump f o r him, Howl as he may. (Pelleas, 11.328-32.) A l l the unpleasantness surrounding the character of Gawain throws a d i f f e r e n t l i g h t on the poet's apparently innocuous d e s c r i p t i o n of Gawain "Bound upon s o l i t a r y ad-venture" ( P e l l e a s . 1.267), f o r one now suspects that he i s not so much a knight r i d i n g out to redress wrong, but a man of arms out to s a t i s f y his own adventurous s p i r i t . Thus, the prince appears to have more i n common with the outlaw, E a r l Doorm, who rides about the countryside prey-ing on the unwary than with Gareth, the i d e a l knight. I r o n i c a l l y , Gawain admonishes Pelleas f o r having "so defamed / Thy brotherhood,in one and a l l the r e s t , /As l e t these c a i t i f f s on thee work t h e i r w i l l " ( P e l l e a s , I'lv313-15), f o r i t i s Gawain himself with h i s concept of knighthood who has defamed the Round Table. Another example of hi s abuse of Arthur's Vow i s revealed i n h i s at t i t u d e to women: 'Art thou not he whom men c a l l l i g h t - o f - l o v e ? ' 'Ay' said Gawain, 'for women be so l i g h t . ' ( P e l l e a s, 11.353-54.) However, even Pelleas i s suspect, f o r unlike Gareth he gained admission to the Round Table by the back door, and so both Gawain's behavior and Pe l l e a s ' admission epitomize a moral corruption at the court. Although he i s l i k e G areth a product of A r t h u r ' s Order, Gawain i s a p r e c u r s o r of the amoral modern k n i g h t , T r i s t r a m . Both are uncommitted and concerned o n l y w i t h t h e i r own p l e a s u r e , y e t Gawain can s t i l l respond to adven-t u r e i n the o l d terms of "noble deeds" a l t h o u g h the s i g -n i f i c a n c e of h i s a c t i o n s escapes him. In l i k e manner, he i s i g n o r a n t of the s i g n i f i c a n c e of the word c o u r t e s y , but i s n e v e r t h e l e s s noted f o r h i s c o u r t e s y , because he i s known as "Gawain, surnamed / The Courteous, f a i r and s t r o n g " ( L a n c e l o t , 1.553). However, h i s i s a t r e a c h e r o u s c o u r t e s y , f o r when he meets E l a i n e and h e r f a t h e r , he a c c e p t s the l a t t e r ' s o f f e r to b i d e w i t h them w i t h f a r from honorable i n t e n t i o n s : To t h i s the courteous P r i n c e Accorded w i t h h i s wonted c o u r t e s y , C o u r t e s y w i t h a touch of t r a i t o r i n i t , And s t a y e d ; and c a s t h i s eyes on f a i r E l a i n e . ( L a n c e l o t . 11.633-36.) Gawain attempts to p r a c t i c e h i s charming ways on t h i s simple country-maid o n l y t o be reprimanded: And o f t they met among the garden yews, And t h e r e he s e t h i m s e l f to p l a y upon h e r With s a l l y i n g w i t , f r e e f l a s h e s from a h e i g h t Above h e r , graces of the c o u r t , and songs, S i g h s , and slow s m i l e s , and g o l d e n eloquence And amorous a d u l a t i o n , t i l l the maid R e b e l l e d a g a i n s t i t , s a y i n g to him, ' P r i n c e , 0 l o y a l nephew o f our noble K i n g , Why ask you not to see the s h i e l d he l e f t , Whence you might l e a r n h i s name? Why s l i g h t your K i n g , And l o s e the quest he sent you on . . . . 1 ( L a n c e l o t , 11.641-51.) The p r i n c e t u r n s reprimand i n t o f l a t t e r y : 'Nay, by mine head,' s a i d he •I l o s e i t , as we l o s e the l a r k i n heaven, 0 damsel, i n the l i g h t of your bl u e eyes.' ( l a n e e l o t , 11.654-56.) The wheel has t u r n e d f u l l c y c l e , f o r Camelot, once the source of goodness and c o u r t e s y , must now t u r n to the p r o -v i n c e s to r e d i s c o v e r i t s l o s t p r i n c i p l e s . A g a i n s t the l o y a l t y and c o u r t e s y p r a c t i c e d by members of the A s t o l a t f a m i l y i s p l a c e d the d i s c o u r t e o u s and d i s l o y a l b e h a v i o r of one of A r t h u r ' s c h i e f k n i g h t s who, when he d i s c o v e r s t h a t the wounded, i n c o g n i t o k n i g h t i s L a n c e l o t , "smote h i s t h i g h , and mocked: / 'Right was the K i n g ! Our L a n c e l o t ! that t r u e man!'" ( L a n c e l o t , 1.661). The word c o u r t e s y , once used to sum up a l l t h a t was b e s t i n A r t h u r ' s c o u r t , such as Gareth's "noble ease" i n h i s l o w l y s e r v i c e s , once the outward m a n i f e s t a t i o n of an inward goodness, i s now reduced to the c y n i c a l l e v e l of i m p l y i n g an immoral be-h a v i o r which i s s o c i a l l y a c c e p t a b l e , as Gawain makes c l e a r : Y e t , i f he [ L a n c e l o t ] l o v e , and h i s l o v e h o l d , we two May meet at c o u r t h e r e a f t e r : t h e r e , I t h i n k , So ye w i l l l e a r n the c o u r t e s i e s of the c o u r t , We two s h a l l know each o t h e r . ( L a n c e l o t , 11.693-96.) The fundamental d i f f e r e n c e between Gawain and T r i s t r a m i s t h a t the former i s a moral l i g h t w e i g h t who attempts to embrace the Vow w i t h i t s emphasis on s o c i a l duty w h i l e T r i s t r a m r e j e c t s the Vow. He s e r v e s h i m s e l f without any p r e t e n c e of s o c i a l o b l i g a t i o n s . H i s p h i l o s o p h y i s geared to h i s own i n t e r e s t s ; h i s o n l y l o y a l t y i s t o h i m s e l f . He i s d i s l o y a l to e v e r y o n e — t o A r t h u r ; to h i s w i f e , I s o l t of F r a n c e , and to I s o l t of T i n t a g i l . T r i s t r a m i s a l s o d i s l o y a l t o the code of c h i v a l r y , because he does not embrace the code of honor, s e r v i c e and c o u r t e s y . Y e t , T r i s t r a m i s not o v e r t l y e v i l l i k e V i v i e n and :. iModred who a c t i v e l y hate; nor i s he immoral l i k e L a n c e l o t , 1 f o r the l a t t e r r e c o g n i z e s the d i s c r e p a n c y between h i s a c t i o n s and h i s i d e a l s . S i n c e i n t e g r i t y i s a q u e s t i o n of b e i n g t r u e to o n e s e l f , and T r i s t r a m , the modern k n i g h t , i s t r u e to h i m s e l f , i t must f o l l o w t h a t what i s at f a u l t i s h i s e t h i c a l framework, which d i f f e r s from t h a t of the King's Order, p and which i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by i t s a m o r a l i t y . F o r the poet, T r i s t r a m ' s s e l f i s h n e s s r e p r e s e n t s a p e r v e r s i o n o f the i n t e l l e c t , because by a c c e p t i n g t h i s p h i l o s o p h y , he i s championing the amoral f o r c e of nature... T r i s t r a m i s a k i n to E a r l Doorm, who i s out to s a t i s f y h i s own r a p a c i o u s n a t u r e , but Doorm i s a human " w i l d a n i m a l " who t e r r o r i z e s the c o u n t r y s i d e beyond the w a l l s of Camelot. The p r i n c e , on the o t h e r hand, i s accepted as p a r t of the system, of the s o c i a l f a b r i c , so h i s complete d i s r e g a r d f o r i t s r u l e s and i d e a l s i s a more p e r n i c i o u s t h r e a t , b e i n g an i n t e r n a l one, t o the f a b r i c of s o c i e t y . U n w i t t i n g -l y , the amoral, pragmatic k n i g h t s e r v e s the cause of e v i l . T r i s t r a m ' s pragmatic n a t u r e emerges at the t o u r n a -ment when, v i c t o r of the ruby c a r c a n e t , he i s expected to p l a c e i t at the f e e t of a damsel at the tournament. S i n c e I s o l t i s absent he -concludes t h a t he must be excused t h i s g e s t u r e of g a l l a n t r y , a l t h o u g h c o u r t e s y would have demanded t h a t he p l a c e i t at some other woman's f e e t . Hot to do i so i s to s l i g h t a l l the l a d i e s p r e s e n t : And T r i s t r a m round the g a l l e r y made h i s horse C a r a c o l e ; then bowed h i s homage, b l u n t l y s a y i n g , ' P a i r damsels, each to him who worships each So l e Queen of Beauty and of l o v e , behold T h i s day my Queen of Beauty i s not h e r e . ' ( L a s t Tournament, 11.205-09.) L a t e r , he u n g r a c i o u s l y t e l l s a weeping maiden to stop c r y i n g or she w i l l r u i n h e r f a c e , and h e r l o v e r w i l l " l o v e thee n o t . " H i s b l u n t n e s s w i l l provoke even I s o l t t o anger when he t e l l s h e r , "May God be w i t h thee, sweet, when o l d and gray, and p a s t d e s i r e ! " ( L a s t Tournament, 11.622-23). In t h i s same b l u n t manner, T r i s t r a m had e a r l i e r answered L a n c e l o t ' s i m p e r t i n e n t q u e s t i o n , "Hast thou won? / A r t thou p u r e s t , b r o t h e r ? " ( L a s t Tournament, 11. 191-92) by a n a l y z i n g h i s v i c t o r y : " S t r e n g t h of h e a r t , / And might of l i m b , but m a i n l y use and s k i l l " ( L a s t Tournament, 11. 197-98). Gone i s the concept of i n s p i r a t i o n , whether by l a d y or by God; i n s t e a d , s t r e n g t h , courage, but m o s t l y p r a c t i c e and cunning are the i n g r e d i e n t s as seen by the c o o l i n t e l l i g e n c e of t h i s modern, pragmatic k n i g h t . T r i s t r a m uses t h i s c o o l i n t e l l i g e n c e to analyze A r t h u r ' s r o l e , a c c o r d i n g to which the K i n g and M e r l i n are seen as M a c h i a v e l l i a n p o l i t i c i a n s f e e d i n g the populace w i t h pomp and mystery i n order t o e x c i t e them t o perform a c t i o n s otherwise beyond t h e i r a b i l i t y : Man, i s he man at a l l ? methought, when f i r s t I rode from our rough Lyonesse, and beheld That v i c t o r of the Pagan throned i n h a l l — H i s h a i r , a sun t h a t rayed from o f f a brow L i k e h i l l s n o w h i g h i n heaven, the s t e e l - b l u e eyes, The g o l d e n beard t h a t c l o t h e d h i s l i p s w i t h l i g h t — Moreover, t h a t w e i r d legend of h i s b i r t h , With M e r l i n ' s m y s t i c babble about h i s end Amazed me; then, h i s f o o t was on a s t o o l Shaped as a dragon; he seemed to me no man, But M i c h a e l t r a m p l i n g Satan; so I sware, Being amazed. ( L a s t Tournament, 11.658-69.) Da z z l e d by the splendor', the k n i g h t s swear a l l e g i a n c e to A r t h u r ' s Vow which "served t h e i r u s e , t h e i r time; f o r every k n i g h t / B e l i e v e d h i m s e l f a g r e a t e r than h i m s e l f , / And every f o l l o w e r eyed him as a God" ( L a s t Tournament, 11.671-73). Then the Queen's a d u l t e r o u s l o v e — " F i r s t m a i n l y through t h a t s u l l y i n g of our Queen" ( L a s t Tourna-ment , 1 . 6 7 7 )— l e d the k n i g h t s to q u e s t i o n A r t h u r ' s r i g h t to r u l e them and so b i n d them t o so s t r a i t a vow: Dropt down from heaven? washed up from out the deep? They f a i l e d t o t r a c e him through the f l e s h and b l o o d Of our o l d k i n g s : when then? a d o u b t f u l l o r d To b i n d them by i n v i o l a b l e vows, Which f l e s h and b l o o d p e r f o r c e would v i o l a t e . ( L a s t Tournament, 11.680-84.) As T r i s t r a m c o n t i n u e s , i t becomes e v i d e n t t h a t he i s a l s o a t t e m p t i n g t o r a t i o n a l i z e h i s own r e j e c t i o n of irksome vows: "For f e e l t h i s arm of m i n e — t h e t i d e w i t h i n / Red w i t h f r e e chase and h e a t h e r - s c e n t e d a i r , / P u l s i n g f u l l man; can A r t h u r make me pure / As any maiden c h i l d ? " ( L a s t Tournament, 11.685-88). Hot o n l y i s i t c o n t r a r y to the v e r y n a t u r e of man to be bound by the commands of A r t h u r ' s Vow: "We are not angels here / Nor s h a l l be" ( L a s t Tournament, 11.693-94). Yet Gareth, t o o , has argued i n terms of n a t u r e , of " l i v i n g b l o o d , " t h a t man must commit h i m s e l f t o r e d r e s s i n g wrong and to f o l l o w i n g the Ki n g , who has brought peace t o the c o u n t r y . What matters i s not whether L a n c e l o t and the Queen have proven f a l s e , but whether the k n i g h t s would succumb t o t h e i r own s e n s u a l d e s i r e s , as T r i s t r a m has o b v i o u s l y done. Such t h e n i s the e t h i c of the new k n i g h t s — o f pragmatic e m p i r i c i s m t h a t attempts to see t h i n g s as they a r e . However i n the v e r y b r i g h t n e s s of h i s c y n i c a l i n t e l l e c t , T r i s t r a m b l i n d s him-s e l f to h i s own s e l f i s h motives i n s e e k i n g to j u s t i f y h i s own ways, j u s t as he b l i n d s h i m s e l f t o the s p i r i t of no-b i l i t y , c o u r t e s y , and goodness which pervade A r t h u r ' s Order. F o r a l l h i s i n t e l l i g e n c e he has f a i l e d t o g i v e a comprehensive e x p l a n a t i o n f o r Camelot's decay, because he has omitted V i v i e n ' s r o l e as w e l l as the s i g n i f i c a n c e o f chance. ( i i ) The type of women n e c e s s a r y f o r the s u r v i v a l of Camelot as a moral c e n t r e i s another important theme. In E n i d , the p a t i e n t G r i s e l d a - t y p e , Tennyson s e t s a s t a n d a r d by which t o judge the oth e r women of the c o u r t . What wins through i n h e r t r i a l s i s her p a t i e n t l o y a l t y , symptomatic of h e r s i n c e r e l o v e f o r G e r a i n t . E n i d r e p r e s e n t s the wo r l d of C a m e l o t — o f m a r i t a l b l i s s , s o c i a l s t a b i l i t y and l o y a l t y — i d e a l l y f r e e from the excess o f p a s s i o n which l e a d s to anarchy and so to enslavement. Hers i s the freedom a c h i e v e d through a l o y a l t y v o l u n t a r i l y g i v e n , but the world i n -h a b i t e d by E a r l Doorm's women i s a world governed by f e a r and the bondage of p a s s i o n . None of the o t h e r women encountered match up t o E n i d . L y n e t t e i s proud and e a s i l y d e c e i v e d by appearances, f o r she mistakes G-areth's m e n i a l d i s g u i s e f o r the r e a l i t y , because n o b i l i t y f o r h e r i s very much a q u e s t i o n of l i n e a g e , f l o w e r s and song: What knowest thou of l o v e s o n g or of l o v e ? What knowest thou of f l o w e r s , except, b e l i k e , To g a r n i s h meats with? ( G a r e t h . 11.1037-44.) E v e n t u a l l y , L y n e t t e ' s h e a r t i s won over, and Gareth's t r u e l i n e a g e i s d e c l a r e d . I r o n i c a l l y , at t h i s v e r y moment, when she has made her peace w i t h the p r i n c e , L y n e t t e un-w i t t i n g l y l e a d s Gareth a s t r a y , f o r i n the f l u s h o f h i s new found h a p p i n e s s , he commits the i n d i s c r e t i o n of b o a s t i n g , And s e e i n g now thy words are f a i r , methinks There r i d e s no k n i g h t , not L a n c e l o t , h i s g r e a t s e l f , Hath f o r c e t o q u e l l me. (Gareth, 11.1152-54.) L a t e r , L y n e t t e ' s l o v e f o r him makes h e r t r y t o dissu a d e the young p r i n c e from f i g h t i n g S i r Mors. "I went f o r L a n c e l o t f i r s t , " she c r i e s , "the quest i s L a n c e l o t ' s " ( G a r e t h , 11.1309-10), but h e r p l e a f a l l s on deaf e a r s . D o u b t l e s s , h e r concern f o r Gareth's l i f e stems from a woman's l o v e f o r h e r b e l o v e d , but at stake i s the e q u i l i b -rium between s o c i a l commitment and p e r s o n a l , s e l f i s h h a p p i n e s s . I d e a l l y , k n i g h t and l a d y must i n t e g r a t e t h e i r p e r s o n a l happiness w i t h t h e i r s o c i a l commitments. T h i s i s the r e a l i z a t i o n o f A r t h u r ' s command t h a t h i s k n i g h t s " l o v e one maiden o n l y , c l e a v e t o h e r , / And worship h e r hy ye a r s of noble deeds / U n t i l they won h e r " (Guinevere, 11.472-74), f o r l o v e f o r one woman " l i b e r a t e s " the k n i g h t to commit h i m s e l f t o h i s work as the K i n g knows from h i s own e x p e r i e n c e w i t h Guinevere. When the k n i g h t ' s l o v e i s r e c i p r o c a t e d , and the woman committed t o her k n i g h t ' s work, as E n i d i s t o G e r a i n t ' s , then A r t h u r ' s v i s i o n of a b e t t e r world can be ac h i e v e d . Hence, the King's d e s i r e t h a t L a n c e l o t should wed, but now I would t o God, Seeing the homeless t r o u b l e i n t h i n e eyes, Thou c o u l d s t have l o v e d t h i s maiden, shaped, i t seems, By God f o r thee a l o n e , . . . Who might have brought thee, now a l o n e l y man W i f e l e s s and h e i r l e s s , n o b l e i s s u e , sons . . . . ( L a n c e l o t , 11.1353-60.) The s t o r y of Camelot may be seen as the f a i l u r e to a c h i e v e t h i s e q u i l i b r i u m between happiness and s o c i a l 4 duty. Even the l o y a l E n i d , f a u l t l e s s i n h e r d e d i c a t i o n to G e r a i n t , becomes, u n c o n s c i o u s l y , "the cause o f h i s un-ha p p i n e s s . G i v e n an exemplary w i f e , he s t i l l f a i l s t o l i v e up t o h i s duty, even b e f o r e he has heard any rumor about the Queen's misdemeanor, because h i s o b s e s s i v e n a t u r e l e a d s him to suspect h i s w i f e ' s l o y a l t y . A k n i g h t t r u e t o A r t h u r ' s Vow would not l i s t e n t o rumor, l e t alone i n d u l g e i n such a j e a l o u s o b s e s s i o n . L i k e L y n e t t e , E n i d s e r v e s as an a n t a g o n i s t of the k n i g h t l y r o l e . G e r a i n t Had m a r r i e d E n i d , Y n i o l ' s o n l y c h i l d , And l o v e d h e r , as he l o v e d the l i g h t of Heaven. And as the l i g h t of Heaven v a r i e s , now At s u n r i s e , now a t sunset, now by n i g h t With moon and t r e m b l i n g s t a r s , so l o v e d G e r a i n t To make her beauty v a r y day by day, In crimsons and i n p u r p l e s and i n gems. (M a r r i a g e , 11.4-10.) As the c o u r t ' s moral h e a l t h decays one encounters l e s s p l e a s a n t women. E t b a r r e , who makes her appearance a f t e r the quest f o r the G r a i l , e p i t o m i z e s t h i s new o r d e r of women. A woman l a c k i n g the t r a d i t i o n a l v a l u e s of E n i d and l y n e t t e , she i s d e s c r i b e d as "a t o y to t r i f l e w i t h " ( P e l l e a s , 1.72). The poet emphasizes h e r p h y s i c a l a t t r i -butes as he does P e l l e a s ' - misjudgment: "But w h i l e he gazed / The beauty of her f l e s h abashed the boy, / As though i t were the beauty of her s o u l " ( P e l l e a s , 11.73-75). A c h i l d of the f l e s h , she i s bored by h i s worship of h e r : H i s tenderness of manners, and chaste awe, H i s broken u t t e r a n c e s and b a s h f u l n e s s , Were a l l a b u r t h e n t o h e r , and i n h e r h e a r t She muttered, 'I have l i g h t e d on a f o o l . 1 ( P e l l e a s , 11.105-08.) "Chaste awe" and tenderness of manner are now to be scorned as f o o l i s h and s t a l e . I n s t e a d , the l o v e - p l a y of h a n d - p i n c h i n g and s l y g l a n c e s dominate, u n d e r s c o r e d by Gawain's t h e m e — " f o r women be so l i g h t . " S t i l l , E :ttar re has an element of goodness i n h e r , f o r she has the a b i l i t y to r e c o g n i z e the i n n a t e goodness i n P e l l e a s , a l t h o u g h by then she has l o s t him and so her h a p p i n e s s : ' L i a r , f o r thou h a s t not s l a i n T h i s P e l l e a s ! here he stood, and might have s l a i n Me and t h y s e l f . ' And he t h a t t e l l s the t a l e Says t h a t h e r e v e r - v e e r i n g f a n c y t u r n e d To P e l l e a s , as the one t r u e k n i g h t on e a r t h , And o n l y l o v e r ; and through her l o v e h e r l i f e Wasted and p i n e d , d e s i r i n g him i n v a i n . ( P e l l e a s . 11.480-86.) A f t e r the s h a l l o w nature and f r i v o l i t y of E.ttarre comes the moral decadence of the p a s s i o n a t e I s o l t who, t o g e t h e r w i t h the women at the f e a s t , r e p r e s e n t s the f i n a l stage i n the c o r r u p t i o n of womanhood. Here, p a s s i o n and s e n s u a l i t y a re u n r e s t r a i n e d . The l a d i e s now v i e w i t h Doorm's " t r i b e of women dr e s s e d i n many hues." At the banquet a f t e r the tournament, "dame and damsel c a s t the simple w h i t e " worn i n honor of the babe i n f a v o r of " a l l c o l o u r s , the l i v e g r a s s , / Rose campion" and many more ( L a s t Tournament, 11.232-34). T h e i r b e h a v i o r , t o o , i s scandalous, "with m i r t h so l o u d / Beyond a l l use," t h a t the Queen i n h o r r o r "Brake up t h e i r s p o r t s " ( L a s t Tournament, 1.238) and s l o w l y r e t r e a t s i n sorrow to h e r bower. Time has taken i t s t o l l on the s o u l of woman, and i d e a l s once f o l l o w e d are now scorned. Such women as E n i d have g i v e n way to a l e s s e r breed, once anathema t o the seat of c i v i -l i z a t i o n and home of cha s t e l o v e . I s o l t , as she admits h e r s e l f , i s no c h a s t e , p a l e -blooded c r e a t u r e . Thus, she complements her l o v e r , the red- b l o o d e d T r i s t r a m : "Mine i s the l a r g e r need [ t h a n I s o l t of P r a n c e ] , who am not meek, / P a l e - b l o o d e d , p r a y e r f u l " ( L a s t Tournament, 11.605-06). She e n t e r s p a s s i o n a t e l y i n t o her a d u l t e r o u s l o v e : And when she heard the f e e t of T r i s t r a m g r i n d The s p i r i n g stone t h a t s c a l e d about h e r tower, F l u s h e d , s t a r t e d , met him a t the doors, and t h e r e B e l t e d h i s body w i t h her white embrace, C r y i n g a l o u d , 'Not M a r k — n o t Mark, my s o u l ! * ( L a s t Tournament, 11.508-12.) A p a s s i o n a t e woman, I s o l t h a t e s as she l o v e s : "My God, the measure of my hate f o r Mark / Is as the measure of my l o v e f o r thee" ( L a s t Tournament, 11.535-37). U n r e s t r a i n e d , a n i m a l i s t i c p a s s i o n r u l e s ; c h a s t i t y and l o y a l t y are r e -j e c t e d . When T r i s t r a m broke "through the s c r u p l e of my [ i s o l t ' s ] bond" ( L a s t Tournament, 1.566), he r e l e a s e d the c h a o t i c f o r c e which t h r e a t e n s the s t a b i l i t y of the c i v i -l i z e d w o r l d . In t h i s human j u n g l e o f b e s t i a l p a s s i o n , t e r r o r s t a l k s and s t r i k e s i n "Mark's way." The p e r s o n who i s r e s p o n s i b l e f o r r e l e a s i n g the a n a r c h i c f o r c e of s e x u a l p a s s i o n i s V i v i e n . She i s brought up by Mark, and an i n c e s t u o u s r e l a t i o n s h i p e x i s t s between f o s t e r - f a t h e r and daughter. P e r v e r t e d from t r u t h and goodness at b i r t h by Mark's "maxims of the mud," V i v i e n cannot accept t h a t t r u t h and goodness e x i s t — e v e r y t h i n g f o r h e r i s t a i n t e d by h e r own c o r r u p t n a t u r e . She r e f u s e s to b e l i e v e that even A r t h u r can be pure, because "Great Nature through the f l e s h h e r s e l f h a t h made / Gives him the l i e ! " ( M e r l i n , 11.50-51). L i k e T r i s t r a m , V i v i e n champions the a n a r c h i c energy of n a t u r e . As the h i g h - p r i e s t e s s of n a t u r e , V i v i e n i s s e t i n o p p o s i t i o n to the Round T a b l e , the seat of c i v i l i z a t i o n . She s e t s out from Mark's c a s t l e f u l l o f h a t e — " S o Hate, i f Hate be p e r f e c t , c a s t s out f e a r " ( M e r l i n , 1.40)— determined to d e s t r o y the Round T a b l e : " I b r i n g thee back, when I have f e r r e t e d out t h e i r burrowings, / The h e a r t s of a l l t h i s Order i n my hand" ( M e r l i n , 11.54-56). F i r s t , she d e s t r o y s B a l i n w i t h l i e s ; next she g a i n s entrance to the c o u r t by d e c e p t i o n , p r e t e n d i n g to be a maiden f l e e i n g from Mark. Once i n the c o u r t , she proceeds to m i s i n t e r p r e t a l l she sees w i t h h e r p e r v e r t e d p e r s p e c t i v e . As a woman who g l o r i f i e s the f l e s h , she i s i n c a p a b l e of u n d e r s t a n d i n g a h i g h e r , s p i r i t u a l l i f e . L i f e f o r h e r , as she s i n g s i n her song, i s a matter of g r a t i f i c a t i o n of one's s e x u a l d e s i r e s . Nature i s h e r goddess. L a n c e l o t , a l t h o u g h goodly and c o u r t e o u s , i s gaunt, s u g g e s t i n g an absence of f l e s h c h a r a c t e r i z i n g the a s c e t i c . Yet he i s c o u r t e o u s , and c o u r t e s y f o r V i v i e n i s seen i n terms o f p o t e n t i a l s e x u a l i t y . She notes the way the C h i e f K n i g h t takes the Queen's hand, the way the l o v e r s l o o k at each o t h e r , "a c l i n g i n g k i s s " she c a l l s i t — o r "how hand l i n g e r s i n hand!" ( M e r l i n , 1.104). V i v i e n reduces e v e r y t h i n g to s e n s u a l terms, even L a n c e l o t ' s g a l l a n t worship. V i v i e n ' s gambit i s to e x p l o i t the l a t e n t s e n s u a l i t y i n t h e i r a f f e c t i o n by q u e s t i o n i n g the p u r i t y of L a n c e l o t ' s naked k n i g h t - l i k e a d o r a t i o n . She succeeds through rumors and s l a n d e r to d e s t r o y the innocence of the l o v e r s and of the c o u r t i e r s : to touch " f l a x w i t h flame." She a l s o attempts to s u l l y the image of the K i n g , but A r t h u r remains t r u e to h i s Vow. Annoyed at a rumor which i s s u e d from V i v i e n , and which had reached h i s e a r s , he c o n f r o n t s h e r , but she attempts to d i s s i m u l a t e "with r e v e r e n t eyes, mock-l o y a l , shaken v o i c e , / And f l u t t e r e d a d o r a t i o n " ( M e r l i n , 11.155-56). She a l s o drops"dark sweet h i n t s of some who p r i z e d him more / Than.who should p r i z e him most" ( M e r l i n , 11.157-58), but r e c e i v e s f o r her e f f o r t s a blank gaze. A g a i n s t such treatment e v i l i s impotent. U n f o r t u n a t e l y , not a l l t r e a t her advances i n l i k e manner, and one who should have known b e t t e r , namely M e r l i n , pays d e a r l y w i t h h i s l i f e f o r d i s o b e y i n g A r t h u r ' s command not to l i s t e n to s l a n d e r . In t u r n i n g h e r a t t e n t i o n to M e r l i n , V i v i e n a t t a c k s one of the e l d e r s of the Round T a b l e . She uses her most e f f e c t i v e w e a p o n — s e n s u a l i t y — a n d what f a i l e d a g a i n s t A r t h u r succeeds w i t h h i s mentor and sage. . . . c l u n g to him and hugged him c l o s e ; And c a l l e d him dear p r o t e c t o r i n her f r i g h t , Nor y e t f o r g o t h e r p r a c t i c e i n h e r f r i g h t , But wrought upon h i s mood and hugged him c l o s e . The p a l e b l o o d of the w i z a r d at h e r touch Took gayer c o l o u r s , l i k e an o p a l warmed. ( M e r l i n . 11.943-48.) The o l d M e r l i n succumbs and i s d e s t r o y e d . Amused by h e r tantrums, and d o u b t l e s s , f l a t t e r e d by her a t t e n t i o n , he breaks A r t h u r ' s Vow by l i s t e n i n g to her slanderous out-b u r s t s , and so "grew / T o l e r a n t of what he h a l f d i s d a i n e d " ( M e r l i n , 11.175-76). F i n a l l y , he i s d e f e a t e d as much by h e r charms as by her v e r b a l , a s s a u l t , "For M e r l i n , o v e r t a l k e d and overworn, / Hath y i e l d e d , t o l d her a l l the charm, and s l e p t " ( M e r l i n , 11.963-64). The p a t t e r n of the moral e v o l u t i o n which emerges f i n a l l y i n the I d y l l s i s c y c l i c a l . I t s t a r t s w i t h man i n h i s moral darkness, w i t h the l a n d overrun by b a r b a r i c " w o l f - l i k e " men, such as Doorm, served by women who are s l a v e s to f e a r and p a s s i o n . Then comes the es t a b l i s h m e n t of A r t h u r ' s Order symbolized by Gareth and E n i d — a n Order committed to the improvement of s o c i e t y . But u n f o r t u n a t e l y , peace breeds contempt of laws, moral s l a c k n e s s , and i n e v i -t a b l y s e l f i s h n e s s ; the r e s u l t i s the growth of a l e s s e r breed, e x e m p l i f i e d by T r i s t r a m and I s o l t . As the moral f a b r i c of the Order i s u n r a v e l l e d , the c i t y of i d e a l s i s g r a d u a l l y overcome by h y p o c r i t e s and b a r b a r i a n s , f o r ever-p r e s e n t e v i l , symbolized by Mordred and V i v i e n , i s w a i t i n g to s t r i k e . In the end, a l l i s i n r u i n s and one i s l e f t w i t h t h a t memento mori of h a l c y o n days, S i r B e d i v e r e , m u t t e r i n g h i s _ t a l e t o those "with whom he dwelt, new f a c e s , other minds" ( P a s s i n g , 1.5). Those t h a t come a f t e r T r i s -tram have v a l u e s v e r y d i f f e r e n t from the v a l u e s of K i n g A r t h u r and h i s k n i g h t s . The K i n g and magic are dead, as i s the concern f o r h e r o i c deeds and i d e a l s . However, the j c y c l e i s not y e t completed; the co u n t r y has not y e t r e v e r t e d to the b e a s t s ; t h e r e i s s t i l l hope, f o r B e d i v e r e i s at l e a s t a llowed t o t e l l h i s t a l e i n peace, even though h i s l i s t e n e r s have " d i f f e r e n t minds." ARTHUR AND GUINEVERE But were I j o i n e d w i t h h e r , Then might we l i v e t o g e t h e r as one l i f e , And r e i g n i n g w i t h one w i l l i n e v e r y t h i n g Have power on t h i s dark l a n d t o l i g h t e n i t , And power on t h i s dead world t o make i t l i v e . (Coming, 1 1 . 8 9 - 9 3 . ) As K i n g and Queen, A r t h u r and Guinevere stand at the v e r y c e n t r e of the poem's drama. Al t h o u g h not d e s c r i b e d i n such depth as L a n c e l o t , A r t h u r i s n o n e t h e l e s s humanized by the f a c t t h a t as K i n g and husband, h i s i s the g r e a t e s t l o s s . A p p r o p r i a t e l y , i n the l a s t i d y l l , one sees A r t h u r not i n the p u b l i c r o l e of K i n g , but as a d i s i l l u s i o n e d and confused m o r t a l . I f i n the p r e v i o u s i d y l l s , he has been no more than a d i s t a n t f i g u r e h e a d , one l e a r n s at l a s t that he too i s f l e s h and b l o o d . Even i f h i s v a l u e s are a l i e n to the r e a d e r , the l a t t e r can at l e a s t sympa-t h i z e w i t h the broken K i n g , as w e l l as r e s p e c t the i d e a l i s t . Guinevere, on the o t h e r hand, who i s the psycho-l o g i c a l complement t o L a n c e l o t , i s someone w i t h whom one can i d e n t i f y throughout. She i s the v i c t i m of s e n s u a l i t y , as she i s a l s o the v i c t i m of c i r c u m s t a n c e . A queen must show he r r o y a l t y by her b e h a v i o r : "0 l o y a l to the r o y a l i n t h y s e l f ; " but Guinevere, as she so p i t i f u l l y admits, p r e f e r s the warmer but humanly f r a i l L a n c e l o t to the " p a s s i o n a t e p e r f e c t i o n " t hat i s A r t h u r . As the m i n s t r e l foresaw, Camelot was doomed from the day A r t h u r took the f r a i l Guinevere f o r Queen, f o r moral f r a i l t y and "tru e r o y a l t y " are i n c o m p a t i b l e . F r a i l though she be, Guinevere i s no n e t h e l e s s the f l o w e r o f womanhood. On h e r f i r s t appearance she i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the month of May, and such i s her beauty t h a t the k n i g h t s "Gazed on a l l e a r t h ' s beauty i n t h e i r Queen" (Coming, 1.462). B e a u t i f u l y e t modest, Guinevere when she aceepts A r t h u r ' s hand i n marriage lowers her eyes: To whom the Queen r e p l i e d w i t h drooping eyes, "King and my l o r d , I l o v e thee to the death!" (Coming, 11.468-69.) From h i n d s i g h t , her drooping of h e r eyes ominously suggests the r e l u c t a n t r e s i g n a t i o n to her f a t e — t h e f l o w e r w i l t s at the thought of marriage to such an a u s t e r e husband. The next time one encounters Guinevere she i s seen l y i n g i n bed, " l a t e i n t o the morn, / L o s t i n sweet dreams, and dreaming of h e r l o v e f o r L a n c e l o t " ( M a r r i a g e , 11.157-58). The p o r t r a i t i s t h a t o f a sensuous woman i n d u l g i n g i n the p l e a s u r e o f her day-dreams, and the l o n g , s o f t vowels and assonance of the d e s c r i p t i o n make one l i n g e r over i t . B e a u t i f u l , modest, though sensuous, Guinevere i s a l s o noble and magnanimous, f o r when G e r a i n t r i d e s o f f on h i s quest, she adds to her f a r e w e l l , Be prosperous i n t h i s journey, as i n a l l ; And may you l i g h t on a l l t h i n g s t h a t you l o v e , And l i v e to wed w i t h her whom f i r s t you l o v e : But ere you wed w i t h any, b r i n g your b r i d e , And I , were she the daughter of a k i n g , Yea, though she were a beggar from the hedge, W i l l c l o t h e h e r f o r her b r i d a l s l i k e the sun. (Mar r i a g e , 11.225-31.) Though r e v e a l i n g Guinevere's n o b i l i t y and g e n e r o s i t y , t h i s speech a l s o r e v e a l s h e r sadness, because i n w i s h i n g G e r a i n t success i n m a r r y i n g h e r whom he f i r s t l o v e d , one wonders i f she i s not s u b c o n s c i o u s l y e x t e n d i n g to him h e r d e s i r e to have m a r r i e d the man whom she f i r s t l o v e d — L a n c e l o t of the Lake. As yet Guinevere o n l y day-dreams about her l o v e f o r L a n c e l o t . In B a l i n , her c o n f e s s i o n about her p r e f e r e n c e f o r the more " e a r t h l y " f l o w e r and her y e a r n i n g f o r the past days when L a n c e l o t was l e s s r e l u c t a n t to meet her r e v e a l Guinevere's need f o r emotional warmth, and are a h e a r t -f e l t c r y a g a i n s t the r e s t r i c t i o n s of h e r p o s i t i o n as Queen. She f i n d s the onus of queenship too heavy. Guinevere i s h a p p i e s t when, i f not dreaming of L a n c e l o t , she i s i n d u l g i n g i n c o u r t l y games. In G e r a i n t , she i s seen a t t e n d i n g a hunt; i n M e r l i n , when she i s seen "a-hawking with S i r L a n c e l o t , " she i s d e s c r i b e d i n the most r a d i a n t terms: the Queen sto o d A l l g l i t t e r i n g l i k e May sunshine on May l e a v e s In green and g o l d , and plumed w i t h green . . . . ( M e r l i n , 11.85-87.) Befo r e h e r r e t r e a t to Almesbury the o v e r a l l i m p r e s s i o n l e f t upon the r e a d e r i s th a t of a b e a u t i f u l Queen whose companions are May, sunshine and f l o w e r s . Up to L a n c e l o t , the u n t e s t e d Guinevere i s p r e s e n t e d as a b e a u t i f u l , noble and modest woman, who perhaps l a c k s the r e q u i s i t e s t r e n g t h of c h a r a c t e r to wear th e crown as A r t h u r ' s Queen s h o u l d . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , a l l the l o v e l y a t t r i b u t e s of f e m i n i n i t y i n h e r n a t u r e are i n s u f f i c i e n t f o r the r o l e of Queen. C o n t r o l of one's f e e l i n g s i s e s s e n t i a l . By L a n c e l o t , the p o i s o n of Guinevere's i l l i c i t l o v e has l e f t i t s mark, f o r her s c o r n and b i t t e r n e s s as she d e r i d e s her husband l e a v e an unpleasant i m p r e s s i o n of the s c o r n e r : She broke i n t o a l i t t l e s c o r n f u l l a u g h : 'Arthur, my l o r d , A r t h u r , the f a u l t l e s s K i n g , That p a s s i o n a t e p e r f e c t i o n , my good l o r d — But who can gaze upon the Sun i n heaven?' ( L a n c e l o t , 11.120-23.) Not content at d e r i d i n g h e r husband t o h i s l i e u t e n a n t , she i n s t r u c t s L a n c e l o t on how t o dupe the K i n g , and t r a n s l a t e s t h e i r i l l i c i t l o v e i n t o p h y s i c a l terms w i t h a k i s s . L a t e r , she w i l l l i e b r a z e n l y to A r t h u r about the k n i g h t ' s absence, as she w i l l about her n e c k l a c e , but her " f a l l " from grace i s best p o r t r a y e d by the o r i e l scene. From t e a r i n g o f f the v i n e l e a v e s i n a s t a t e of nervous t e n s i o n , she proceeds to l o s e her s e l f - c o n t r o l and her language becomes j e r k i e r and j e r k i e r , u n t i l she reaches a c l i m a x i n her j e a l o u s rage by t o s s i n g away her n e c k l a c e : . . . What are these? Diamonds f o r me! they had been t h r i c e t h e i r worth Being your g i f t , had you not l o s t your own. . . . Not f o r me! F o r h e r ! f o r your new f a n c y . Only t h i s , Grant me, I pray you . . . . . . . hers not m i n e — Nay, by the mother of our Lord h i m s e l f , Or h e r s or mine, mine now t o work my w i l l — She s h a l l not have them. ( L a n c e l o t . 11.1204-25.) In P e l l e a s , Guinevere i s no l o n g e r immune to i n -nuendoes, f o r the d i s l o y a l t y she has shown to her own r o y a l t y i s now emulated by the i n s o l e n c e shown to her by h e r s u b j e c t s . I f she r e f u s e s t o remain t r u e to the s t a n -dards demanded of a'Queen of Camelot, then she cannot expect others to show r e v e r e n c e . When she admonishes E t t a r r e f o r m i s t r e a t i n g h e r champion, the maiden r e p l i e s impudently, "Had ye not h e l d your L a n c e l o t i n your bower, / My Queen, he [ P e l l e a s ] had not won" ( P e l l e a s , 11.175-76). The next time, Guinevere w i l l have to f a c e the i n s u l t i n g b e h a v i o r of not one woman, but of a l l the l a d i e s of the c o u r t who, throwing a s i d e a l l p r e t e n c e of h u m i l i t y and c h a s t i t y , behave i n a manner which so shocks the Queen t h a t she stops the banquet ( P e l l e a s , 11.236-38). In Guinevere, she i s d e s c r i b e d as s i t t i n g between E n i d and V i v i e n — " b e t w i x t h e r be s t / E n i d , and lissome V i v i e n . . . the w i l i e s t and the worst" (Guinevere, 11.27-29). I f V i v i e n i s the p r o t a g o n i s t of s e n s u a l i t y , and E n i d i s the champion of the h e a r t h , t h e n the Queen f a l l s some-where between these extremes. I t i s tempting to s p e c u l a t e t h a t i f E n i d had been Queen, V i v i e n would not have had her day. F o r t h i s r e a s o n , the t a b l e a u of the th r e e women stands as a sad r e c o g n i t i o n t h a t Camelot c o u l d have s u r v i v e d i f only the r i g h t woman had worn the crown. From the t a b l e a u one a l s o r e c o g n i z e s t h a t Guinevere, l i k e the r e s t of the c o u r t , s u f f e r s from the i n a b i l i t y t o d i s t i n g u i s h between appearance and r e a l i t y — b e t w e e n the t r u l y good E n i d and the d i s l o y a l V i v i e n . L i k e L a n c e l o t , Guinevere becomes t o r t u r e d by her g u i l t . In "Modred's "foxy f a c e , " she sees the agent who w i l l t r a c k down h e r g u i l t and t u r n h e r name to s c o r n . I f E t a r r e ' s i m p e r t i n e n c e i n d i c a t e s what the Queen must -t o l e r a t e , then TModred's presence, which " r a r e l y c o u l d she f r o n t i n h a l l , " i s a constant reminder of the f a t e which w i l l soon overtake her. Her f e a r o f him e x e m p l i f i e s the p r i c e of apprehension a queen or any p u b l i c person must pay f o r m a i n t a i n i n g an i l l i c i t l o v e : Henceforward t o o , the Powers t h a t tBnd the s o u l , To h e l p i t frcm the death t h a t cannot d i e , And save i t even i n extremes, began To vex and plague h e r . (Guinevere, 11.64-67.) By showing Guinevere plagued by h e r c o n s c i e n c e , the poet succeeds i n e l i c i t i n g sympathy f o r her . She may be a s i n n e r , but the Queen i s a l s o a person of i n t e g r i t y , and except f o r her f l a w of s e n s u a l i t y , a person of noble c h a r a c t e r . However, c o n s c i e n c e cannot a l t e r h e r n a t u r e , so the Queen's s e n s u a l i t y s t i l l g r i p s h e r at Almesbury when she s l i p s back i n t o r e m i n i s c i n g on h a p p i e r days; the v e r s e c a p t u r e s i n i t s s i m p l i c i t y the tenderness of the moment: And even i n s a y i n g t h i s , Her memory from o l d h a b i t of the mind Went s l i p p i n g back upon the g o l d e n days In which she saw him f i r s t , when L a n c e l o t came, Reputed the b e s t k n i g h t and g o o d l i e s t man . . . . (Guinevere, 1 1 . 3 7 5 - 7 9 . ) U n t i l A r t h u r c o n f r o n t s h e r w i t h the consequences of her wrongdoing, she i s no c o n v e r t to the H i g h e r Cause. Her tragedy i s u n i v e r s a l : she i s f o r c e d to occupy a p o s i t i o n whose i d e a l s she can r e s p e c t and p r a c t i c e , but not to t h a t f i n e p e r f e c t i o n which A r t h u r demands. Thus, Tennyson has c r e a t e d i n Guinevere the best a n t a g o n i s t to A r t h u r ' s s p i r i t u a l l y s u p e r i o r world, and the b e s t champion of a humanity with which the modern w o r l d can i d e n t i f y ; 1 f o r a l t h o u g h i t i s A r t h u r ' s p a s s i o n a t e p e r f e c t i o n t h a t wins r e s p e c t , i t i s the warmth and humanity of Guinevere and L a n c e l o t which l e a v e t h e g r e a t e s t i m p r e s s i o n upon the r e a d e r . Yet Arthur, too, i s a p o r t r a i t drawn not without sympathy. Although seen as an a l o o f , judgment-pronouncing 2 K i n g , whose stubborn i n s i s t e n c e on b a s i c p r i n c i p l e s g i v e s 3 him the appearance of being almost smugly r i g h t e o u s , as i n h i s condemnation of Guinevere, i t i s A r t h u r who i n the end s u f f e r s the g r e a t e s t l o s s . ^ E v e r y t h i n g i s taken away from him. Some of h i s k n i g h t s , h i s " f a m i l y , " h i s b e s t f r i e n d and h i s w i f e have d e s e r t e d him. Even h i s o l d e s t s e r v i n g k n i g h t , who, when a l l e l s e i s l o s t , c o u l d at l e a s t have g i v e n the d y i n g King f a i t h i n humanity, b e t r a y s him. F i n a l l y , he sees the d e s t r u c t i o n of h i s l i f e ' s work: And a l l whereon I leaned i n wife and f r i e n d Is t r a i t o r to my peace, and a l l my realm Reels back into the beast, and i s no more. (Passing, 11.24-26.) Arthur has seen l i f e wholly and seen i t c l e a r . The problems of l i f e could be solved i f man would only pr a c t i c e those p r i n c i p l e s s t i p u l a t e d i n h i s Vow. He himself had l i v e d by these p r i n c i p l e s ; when others f a i l e d to do so, and so toppled h i s l i f e ' s work, the King i s l e f t s t a r i n g into the void of despair. He expresses h i s i n -a b i l i t y to comprehend G-od's ways with man: I found Him i n the shining of the s t a r s , I marked Him i n the flowering of His f i e l d s , But i n His ways with men I f i n d Him not. , (Passing, 11.9-11.) The King even questions G-od's handiwork: 0 me! f o r why i s a l l around us here As i-f some l e s s e r god had made the world, But had not force to shape i t as he would, T i l l the High God behold i t from beyond, And enter i t , and make i t beautiful? (Passing. 11.13-17.) Then changing tack, the King questions man's p o t e n t i a l , which brings him c l o s e r to the t r u t h : "Or else as i f the world were wholly f a i r , / But that these eyes of men are dense and dim" (Passing, 11.18-19). At t h i s point, Arthur concludes with the reason why Camelot f a i l e d to maintain i t s l e v e l of p r i s t i n e p u r i t y . Human nature being more complex than he bargained f o r , his s i m p l i s t i c creed of l o y a l t y and a c t i o n i s inadequate: "For I, being simple, thought to work His w i l l , / And have but s t r i c k e n with the sword i n vain" (Passing, 11.22-23). Although he must condemn her, Arthur s t i l l loves Guinevere. A man of t o t a l love and l o y a l t y , he has no-where to turn. P a l t e r i n g f o r a moment i n despair, "My God, Thou hast forgotten me i n my death," he arriv e s at his moment of f a i t h : "Nay—God my C h r i s t — I pass but s h a l l not die" (Passing. 11.27-28). What helps the King recognize that i t i s not God who has deserted man, but man who w i l l desert God, Is S i r Bedivere's d i s l o y a l t y . Greed and vanity have overwhelmed l o y a l t y : "Thou wouldst betray me f o r the precious h i l t ; / E i t h e r from l u s t of gold, or l i k e a g i r l / Valuing the giddy pleasure of the eyes" (Passing, 11.294-96). This i n a b i l i t y to discriminate between true and f a l s e values, between l o y a l t y to h i s King or desire f o r the King's sword, i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the f a i l i n g s of the Round Table. Except f o r .'"Modred, no knight i s wicked. Each has h i s i n t e l l e c t blinded by d e s i r e — f o r f l e s h or f o r jewels. The tragedy, as Dagonet has observed, i s not that Arthur f a i l e d , but that the knights f a i l e d to l i v e up to Arthur's i d e a l s , f o r human nature without divine help i s not capable of doing so. That f o r a time man could reach such a high l e v e l indicates his p o t e n t i a l ; that he should f a i l to remain there indicates h i s perverseness. On h i s own man i s he l p l e s s , but with God's help, another Camelot, another Arthurian reign, i s possible. CHAPTER PIVE THE ADULTERY: DISLOYALTY AND DISCOURTESY "Then came thy shameful s i n w i t h Lancelot." (Guinevere, 1.484.) Although important to the f a t e of Camelot, the r e l a t i o n s h i p between L a n c e l o t and the Queen i s never described e x p l i c i t l y . Moreover, i t need not be so when i t i s seen i n terms of a b e t r a y a l of A r t h u r ' s Vow, i n p a r t i c u l a r , as an act of d i s l o y a l t y and d i s c o u r t e s y . True cour t e s y , as Arthur t e l l s Gawain, i s obedience to the King and not charms behind which to hide one's d i s l o y a l t y . What A r t h u r i m p l i e s i s that obedience to h i s Yow i s the best form of courtesy. Without t h i s c e n t r a l moral core of the Vow, the courtesy of p o l i t e s o c i a l manners i s merely s o c i a l form. When L a n c e l o t , out of h i s l o v e f o r the Queen, l i e s to A r t h u r , he commits a s e r i o u s offence a g a i n s t the K i n g , who cannot even brook the shadow of a l i e . Then, when the Chief Knight r e t u r n s i n c o g n i t o to the tournament i n L a n c e l o t , h i s success on the f i e l d antagonizes h i s own l o y a l kinsmen, who set upon him as an u p s t a r t and c h a l l e n g e r to L a n c e l o t ' s fame. Thus, through h i s d i s l o y a l t y he has set kinsmen upon kinsman, foreshadowing what i s to come. Wounded., Lanc e l o t i s nursed by E l a i n e . A s t o l a t forms a re t r e a t f o r him at t h i s stage of h i s emotional and s p i r i t u a l c r i s i s , and offers to him h i s l a s t chance to regain h i s moral sanity. The s p i r i t u a l l i l y he dreamt about i s now embodied i n the f l e s h and blood of Elaine who o f f e r s , instead of d i s l o y a l t y , dishonesty and discour-tesy, the old values of l o y a l t y , honesty and honor. Lavaine's hero worship i s also a reminder that the Chief Knight i s no ordinary knight, but one whose reputation i s l i k e a l i g h t which shines out to the provinces to a t t r a c t the young, i d e a l i s t i c men. D i s l o y a l t y to Arthur w i l l smash for ever t h i s l i g h t and plunge the country into moral darkness. At A s t o l a t he meets the servant who l o s t h i s tongue out of l o y a l t y to h i s master: The heathen caught and r e f t him of his tongue. He learnt and warned me of t h e i r f i e r c e design Against my house, and him they caught and maimed. (Lancelot. 11.272-74.) Loyalty, as the servant demonstrates rather dramatically, i s not mere words but actions. While Lancelot w i l l t a l k about courtesy, t h i s dumb, s i l e n t servant w i l l stand as a mirror into which the knight need only look to discover the t r u t h : that l o y a l t y i s true courtesy. As Lancelot's adulterous love for Guinevere grows, he becomes inc r e a s i n g l y concerned with the appearances of courtesy. He i s b l i n d to his own discourteous action when he berates the Queen f o r her past behavior: "ye were not once so wise, / My Queen, that summer, when ye loved me f i r s t " (Lancelot, 11.103-04), but he i s over concerned with h i s courteous image i n p u b l i c , f o r when E l a i n e ' s f a t h e r t e l l s him, "too courteous are ye, f a i r l o r d L a n c e l o t , / I pray you, use some rough d i s c o u r t e s y / To b l u n t or break h e r p a s s i o n , " he r e p l i e s , "That were a g a i n s t me: what I can I w i l l " ( L a n c e l o t , 11.966-69). Trapped by h i s immoral l o v e f o r Guinevere, " f a l s e l y t r u e " to a d i s l o y a l vow, he i s f o r c e d to r e j e c t E l a i n e ' s p r o f f e r e d l o v e , and so i s f o r c e d to do what he hates m o s t — t o a c t d i s c o u r t e o u s l y — a lthough what he a c t u a l l y does i s too i n s i g n i f i c a n t to b r i n g E l a i n e back to- h e r senses: . . . he g l a n c e d not up [ a t h e r ] , nor waved h i s hand, Nor bad f a r e w e l l , but s a d l y rode away. T h i s was the one d i s c o u r t e s y t h a t he used. ( L a n c e l o t , 11.979-81.) In the L a s t Tournament, L a n c e l o t s i t s l i s t l e s s l y i n the umpire's c h a i r bemoaning t h a t a l l c o u r t e s y i s dead w h i l e a l l around him the whole concept of A r t h u r i a n k n i g h t -hood i s i n s u l t e d . H i s f i n a l a c t i o n r e v e a l s the ambivalence of h i s moral s t a t e , compounded d o u b t l e s s by what S i r Kay c a l l s . ; h i s " f i n e s s e . " Trapped w i t h the Queen i n h e r room, and so d i s g r a c e d , L a n c e l o t g a l l a n t l y o f f e r s to take h e r to h i s " s t r o n g c a s t l e o v e r s e a s , " which on l y exacerbates t h e i r d i s g r a c e . N e v e r t h e l e s s , the C h i e f K n i g h t i s g r a c i o u s enough not to r a i s e h i s arm a g a i n s t h i s K i n g when A r t h u r seeks s a t i s f a c t i o n : and he, That d i d not shun to smite me i n worse way, Had y e t that grace of c o u r t e s y i n him l e f t , He spared to l i f e h i s hand a g a i n s t the K i n g Who made him k n i g h t . (Guinevere, 11.431-35.) Such i s the delicacy with which Tennyson treats the lovers that one i s tempted to ask i f anything has r e a l l y occurred, or i f the poet has treated a wife's d i s -l o y a l t y i n misdirecting her a f f e c t i o n s as synonymous with a d u l t e r y . 1 One might accuse Guinevere of cerebral adultery, f o r i n s t a t i n g to Lancelot that "I am yours" she has i n f a c t committed an offence against her husband and King. I f adultery rather than an i l l i c i t desire held sway, then Lancelot's concern f o r the l i e which he t o l d Arthur i n Lancelot would be absurd. Admittedly, the Chief Knight has an overfine sense of courtesy, but to be vexed over the l i e he t o l d Arthur i n order to avoid f i g h t i n g i n the tournament, while remaining unperturbed by h i s adultery with Guinevere, would be i l l o g i c a l . One can only conclude that up to t h i s time, the r e l a t i o n s h i p between knight and Queen has not progressed beyond words. When the lovers are compared with others i n the poem, they emerge as extremely unphysical i n t h e i r r e l a -t i o n s h i p . Tristram and I s o l t throw themselves passionately into each other's arms; he fondles "her l i g h t hands," and l a t e r , a f t e r meats and wines, "satiated t h e i r h e a r t s — / Now t a l k i n g of t h e i r woodland paradise" (Last Tournament, 11.718-19), but the dash would imply that t h e i r blood was comforted by more than meats and sweet t a l k . C e r t a i n l y the word s a t i a t e has an association with the physical and sensual appetites. In Gawain andEttarre, Tennyson presents the f i n a l tableau of wantonness, Gawain andEttarre together i n bed. In c o n t r a s t t o E t t a r r e , who i s the v i c t i m of her own shallowness and v a n i t y , V i v i e n i n M e r l i n i s the se-ducer, the "daughter of Eve" who c o i l s h e r charms around the w i z a r d , and unashamedly o f f e r s h e r n a t u r a l f a v o r s : She paused, she tu r n e d away, she hung h e r head, The snake of g o l d s l i d from her h a i r , the b r a i d S l i p t and u n c o i l e d i t s e l f . . . . There w h i l e she s a t , h a l f - f a l l i n g from h i s knees, H a l f - n e s t l e d at h i s h e a r t . . . . ( M e r l i n , 11.885-903.) When compared t o thes e d e s c r i p t i o n s of p h y s i c a l love-making, the a f f a i r between L a n c e l o t and Guinevere appears almost i n n o c e n t . T h e i r most i n t i m a t e r e v e l a t i o n i s Guinevere's b u r s t of "I am y o u r s , / Hot A r t h u r ' s , as ye know, save by the bond" ( L a n c e l o t , 1 1 . 1 3 4 - 3 5 ) . T h e i r most p h y s i c a l i n t i m a c y i s the Queen's k i s s as she sends him o f f to f i g h t i n the tournament: "Win! by t h i s k i s s you w i l l " ( L a n c e l o t , 1 . 1 5 1 ) . When they see each other f o r the l a s t time, i t i s not the p a s s i o n a t e i n t e n s i t y of T r i s t r a m and I s o l t which c o l o r s the scene, but the pathos of two h e a r t - b r o k e n l o v e r s : P a s s i o n - p a l e they met And g r e e t e d . Hands i n hands, and eye to eye, Low on the bo r d e r of h e r couch they s a t Stammering and s t a r i n g . I t was t h e i r l a s t hour, A madness of f a r e w e l l s . (Guinevere, 11.98-102.) The way each seeks t o s h o u l d e r the blame, the way each o f f e r s to s a c r i f i c e h i m s e l f f o r the o t h e r , removes to some extent the s t i n g of' t h e i r d i s h o n o r , and so e l e v a t e s them i n the eyes of the r e a d e r . Not only i s the p h y s i c a l aspect of the l o v e r s ' r e l a t i o n s h i p minimized, but the t r u t h o f t h e i r encounter i s o f t e n d i s t o r t e d . The f i r s t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of t h e i r l o v e i s g i v e n by M e r l i n who r e p e a t s a rumor a c c o r d i n g to which, S i r L a n c e l o t went ambassador, a t f i r s t , To f e t c h h e r , and she watched him from her w a l l s . A rumour ru n s , she took him f o r the K i n g , So f i x t her f a n c y on him. ( M e r l i n , 1 1 . 7 7 2 - 7 5 . ) T h i s rumor seems to agree with what the poet says i n the Coming, t h a t Guinevere d i d not see A r t h u r pass because he wore n o t h i n g to mark out h i s " k i n g l i h o o d , " "But rode a simple k n i g h t among h i s k n i g h t s " (Coming, 1 . 5 1 ) . The t r u t h i s t o l d o n l y i n the l a s t i d y l l when Guinevere r e m i -n i s c e s on the time she f i r s t met L a n c e l o t : when he f i r s t came to e s c o r t her to A r t h u r t h e r e was "as y e t no s i n " i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . Only a f t e r she had met the K i n g and d i s c o v e r e d him to be a c o l d , p a s s i o n l e s s man, d i d she b e g i n to compare the two men, and f a l l i n l o v e w i t h the humanly warmer, but l e s s e r k n i g h t : Came to t h a t p o i n t where f i r s t she saw the K i n g Ride toward her from the C i t y , s i g h e d to f i n d Her journey done, g l a n c e d at him, thought him c o l d , High, s e l f - c o n t a i n e d , and p a s s i o n l e s s , not l i k e him, 'Not l i k e my L a n c e l o t ' . . . . (Guinevere, 1 1 . 4 0 0 - 0 4 . ) S i n c e i t was the Queen who t r a n s f e r r e d her a f f e c -t i o n s from K i n g t o C h i e f K n i g h t , L a n c e l o t ' s r e c o u r s e to chaste a d o r a t i o n i s a g a l l a n t way to ease h i m s e l f w i t h a l l h i s normal c o u r t e s y from an awkward s i t u a t i o n . To t h i s p o i n t h i s b e h a v i o r has been above r e p r o a c h . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , the younger k n i g h t s who emulate h i s vow f a i l t o understand the r a i s o n d ' e t r e f o r i t ; as a r e s u l t , a g r e a t s t r a i n i s p l a c e d on the moral w e l l - b e i n g of the c o u r t . The e q u i -l i b r i u m i s an uneasy one, whose d e s t r u c t i o n can only be understood from a study of t h e t i m e - p a t t e r n of the I d y l l s . In terms of sequences, the events i n the second G e r a i n t i d y l l c o u l d o n l y have o c c u r r e d a f t e r V i v i e n ' s entrance to the c o u r t i n M e r l i n , because i t i s V i v i e n who d i s r u p t s the g o l d e n peace of the c o u r t by s p r e a d i n g rumors: But V i v i e n h a l f - f o r g o t t e n of the Queen Among her damsels b r o i d e r i n g s a t , heard, watched And whispered: through the p e a c e f u l c o u r t she c r e p t And whispered: then as A r t h u r i n the h i g h e s t Leavened the w o r l d , so V i v i e n i n the lowest, A r r i v i n g at a time of g o l d e n r e s t , And sowing one i l l h i n t from ear to ear, . . . Leavened h i s h a l l . They heard and l e t her be. ( M e r l i n , 11.135-44.) V i v i e n ' s success i s r e f l e c t e d i n the t o r t u r e s G e r a i n t s u f f e r s when he hears t h a t "a rumour r o s e about the Queen, / Touching h e r g u i l t y l o v e f o r L a n c e l o t / Though y e t there l i v e d no p r o o f " ( M a r r i a g e , 11.24-26). When the Queen i s succumbing to-her s e n s u a l n a t u r e , when h e r " f e v e r " begins to take p o s s e s s i o n of h e r , V i v i e n ' s rumors are a l s o h i t t i n g t h e i r mark. Yet i n B a l i n , whose events occur p r i o r t o V i v i e n ' s admission to Camelot, t h i s d i s e a s e o f i l l i c i t emotion i s t a k i n g a g r i p on the l o v e r s . L a n c e l o t ' s s p i r i t u a l s i d e yearns f o r the s a n c t i t y symbolized by the l i l y , but h i s animal s i d e i s drawn to the deep-hued r o s e , the f l o w e r with, which Guinevere i d e n t i f i e s h e r p a s s i o n a t e d e s i r e s . Which s i d e w i l l win i s r e v e a l e d s y m b o l i c a l l y . As the embodiment of n a t u r e — G u i n e v e r e i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h M a y — she walks a l o n g the path w i t h "the morning i n her f a c e " ( B a l i n , 1.240). In c o n t r a s t , the c o n s c i e n c e - r i d d e n L a n c e l o t emerges from the shadows and, where the l i l y meets the r o s e , so the shadow and the morning sun, l a n c e -l o t and Guinevere, a l s o meet. The outcome i s t h a t the sun, the d r i v i n g f o r c e of n a t u r e , w i l l i l l u m i n a t e the shadowed ar e a s , w i l l overcome the weak defense of c o n s c i e n c e . As the l o v e r s d i s c u s s t h e i r f l o r a l p a r t i a l i t i e s , and by e x t e n s i o n t h e i r y e a r n i n g s , the t h i n c o v e r i n g of pretence which has v e i l e d t h e i r d e s i r e f o r each ot h e r i s removed. When Guinevere c h i d e s L a n c e l o t f o r b e i n g "so l i t t l e l o y a l to thy Queen," f o r n o t b i d d i n g "good morrow to they Queen," h i s answer, "Pain would I s t i l l be l o y a l to the Queen" ( B a l i n , 11.246-49), i s more profound than i t appears. Although the a r c h a i c meaning of s t i l l i s always, n e v e r t h e l e s s , c o n n o t a t i v e l y s t i l l would imply some s o r t of impediment to h i s l o y a l t y , namely h i s i l l i c i t l o v e f o r h e r . Having sworn t o worship the Queen, L a n c e l o t when he f a i l s to g r e e t h e r i s p r o v i n g d i s c o u r t e o u s and d i s l o y a l . Worse s t i l l , by f a l l i n g i n l o v e w i t h her, by wanting h e r , he has forsworn h i s vow t o worship her i n k n i g h t - l i k e p u r i t y . When he t e l l s h e r about h i s dream, the p r i n c e i s o b v i o u s l y e x p l a i n i n g i n d i r e c t l y t h a t he f i n d s the s p i r i t u a l l i l y , the chaste e x p e r i e n c e , much to h i s l i k i n g , and would be g r a t e f u l i f the Queen would curb h e r impetuous be-h a v i o r . Guinevere's answer l e a v e s one i n no doubt as to what she t h i n k s about h i s i d e a l i s t i c vows and dreams of chaste e x p e r i e n c e s ; then a b r u p t l y , she s h i f t s from f l o r a l a l l u s i o n s t o a d i r e c t a t t a c k on the p r i n c e . The " c o o l days" which she compares to "those f a i r e r days" r e v e a l t h a t L a n c e l o t has been a v o i d i n g h e r i n order t o remain l o y a l to h i s vow. She has f e l t h i s d i f f i d e n c e i n c r e a s i n g w i t h h i s growing awareness of h i s i n a b i l i t y t o c o n t r o l h i s p a s s i o n f o r h e r . When the Queen next asks him i f he i s s i c k or "angered at me," the s e c r e t , which up to now he has kept, i s r e v e a l e d by h i s l a r g e eyes which l o o k "Deep-tranced on h e r s " ( B a l i n , 1 . 2 7 3 ) . Thus, what B a l i n sees, as he c o r -r e c t l y r e c o g n i z e s , i s the e x i s t e n c e of an i l l i c i t l o v e between Queen and C h i e f K n i g h t . But what B a l i n f a i l s to take i n t o account i s t h a t c o n s c i e n c e , a sense of duty and co u r t e s y have h e l p e d L a n c e l o t t o keep h i s l o v e i n c o n t r o l . I t i s not u n t i l L a n c e l o t t h a t the P r i n c e and Guinevere are p r o f e s s e d l o v e r s , f o r what i s suggested i n M e r l i n i s r e a l l y a d i s t o r t i o n by V i v i e n . Indeed, i t i s t h e i r enemies who mould the r e a d e r ' s a t t i t u d e . F o r example, G a r l o n impugns Guinevere's p u r i t y — " F a i r e s t I gr a n t h e r : I have seen; but bes t / Be s t , p u r e s t ? thou from A r t h u r ' s h a l l , and y e t / So si m p l e ! " ( B a l i n , 1 1 . 3 5 1 -5 3 ) . By the time of the tournament, the two l o v e r s are f i g h t i n g a l o s i n g b a t t l e w i t h t h e i r maddening d e s i r e s . Both l i e to A r t h u r , and the Queen d e c l a r e s o u t r i g h t her l o v e f o r the k n i g h t . But even at t h i s stage Guinevere i s t o r n between he r duty as Queen and h e r d e s i r e s as a human b e i n g . When L a n c e l o t reads the l o o k i n her eyes as meaning, "st a y w i t h me, I am s i c k , " he l i e s to the K i n g , but i n s t e a d of r e c e i v i n g h e r g r a t i t u d e , the p r i n c e i s admonished: "To blame, my l o r d S i r L a n c e l o t , much to blame!" ( L a n c e l o t , 1.97). In a s k i n g Guinevere i f t h e r e has been any new development which c o u l d have l e d t o A r t h u r becoming sus-p i c i o u s — " i s t h e r e more? Has A r t h u r spoken aught?" (Lan-c e l o t , 1.116) L a n c e l o t i s r e v e a l i n g h i s genuine s u r p r i s e , f o r , as he sees i t , he has not t r a n s g r e s s e d the bonds of f r i e n d s h i p and a l l e g i a n c e to A r t h u r as y e t , a l t h o u g h the l o v e he bears Guinevere t h r e a t e n s to endanger t h i s f r a g i l e e q u i l i b r i u m between honor and d i s h o n o r . In h i s u n g r a c i o u s comment—"or would y o u r s e l f , / How weary of my s e r v i c e and d e v o i r , / H e n c e f o r t h be t r u e r to your f a u l t l e s s l o r d ? " ( L a n c e l o t , 11.116-19)—the k n i g h t i s behaving as the i n -j u r e d p a r t y , because he i s the one who s a c r i f i c e d so much i n " s e r v i c e and d e v o i r " i n order to p r e s e r v e the honor of the l o v e - s i c k Queen. Guinevere's admission of h e r l b v e f o r L a n c e l o t s e r v e s to c o n f i r m any doubts t h a t may have l i n g e r e d i n h i s mind, and t o p l a c e t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p on a d i f f e r e n t l e v e l , f o r her d e c l a r a t i o n has b u r i e d f o r ever any chance of c o n t i n u i n g the f a r c e of k n i g h t - l i k e worship and v i r g i n l o v e . T h i s d e c l a r a t i o n i s s e a l e d by h e r k i s s . The p r i n c e must now make h i s d e c i s i o n : h a v i n g f l i r t e d w i t h d i s g r a c e , t h e r e can be f o r him no h a l f measures. E i t h e r he r e p u d i a t e s her advances or he succumbs. From the way the Queen takes c o n t r o l of L a n c e l o t and manipulates him, one i s aware t h a t he w i l l never break the emotional s h a c k l e s which b i n d him, f o r "the s h a c k l e s of an o l d l o v e s t r a i t e n e d him" ( L a n c e l o t . 1.1870). When L a n c e l o t p r e s e n t s Guinevere with the diamonds, h i s a c t i o n s and words are th o s e of a p r a c t i t i o n e r of c o u r t l y l o v e . What i s emphasized i s t h e i r bond which, as L a n c e l o t i n d i c a t e s , i s not t h a t of man and w i f e , so "should have i n i t an a b s o l u t e r t r u s t " ( L a n c e l o t , 1.1185). He seems t o s t r e s s t h a t he has been f a i t h f u l to h i s o r i g i n a l vow t o the Queen, but what he does not admit i s that h i s i n t e n t i o n s are no l o n g e r as honorable as when he f i r s t made h i s vow. The Queen, as she has exposed her f e e l i n g s and committed h e r r e p u t a t i o n t o him, i s not s u r p r i s i n g l y annoyed, but stands on h e r p o s i t i o n as Queen: Only t h i s Grant me, I pray you: have your joys a p a r t . I doubt not t h a t however changed, you keep So much of what i s g r a c e f u l : and my s e l f Would shun to break those bounds o f c o u r t e s y In which as A r t h u r ' s Queen I move and r u l e : So cannot speak my mind. ( L a n c e l o t . 11.1209-15.) At a l l times c o u r t e s y i s pre-eminent i n t h e i r minds even w h i l e they a r e , i r o n i c a l l y , g u i l t y of the g r e a t e s t d i s -c o u r t e s y by b e i n g d i s l o y a l t o huaband, f r i e n d and K i n g . In h i s s t r u g g l e to remain l o y a l and courteous, L a n c e l o t i s o f f e r e d one more chance of s a l v a t i o n i n the form of E l a i n e , whom he r e j e c t s when he r e f u s e s to break from the Queen's a t t r a c t i o n : I needs must break These bonds t h a t so defame me: not without She w i l l s i t : would I, i f she w i l l e d i t ? nay, Who knows? ( L a n c e l o t , 11.1409-12.) The k n i g h t ' s moral s t a n d i n g can o n l y f a l l from t h i s moment onwards, and the next i d y l l r e v e a l s a Camelot where the " S i n a g a i n s t A r t h u r and the Table Round, / And the strange sound of an a d u l t e r o u s r a c e " ( G r a i l , 11.79-80) have reached even the i r o n g r a t i n g of the nun's c e l l . A d u l t e r y i s now rampant i n the c o u r t , and t h i s immoral atmosphere can only be p u r i f i e d by something t r a u m a t i c and s u p e r n a t u r a l . What i s r e q u i r e d i s an e v a n g e l i c a l movement w i t h a l l i t s emotional involvement which the g r a i l o f f e r s . When A r t h u r asks L a n c e l o t about h i s adventures d u r i n g the Quest, the k n i g h t ' s e x c l a m a t i o n r e v e a l s h i s s e l f - d i s g u s t , f o r he r e c o g n i z e s too w e l l that the s i n f u l -ness of h i s a d u l t e r o u s l o v e has undermined the m o r a l i t y which g i v e s substance to h i s good deeds: 0 K i n g ! . . . 0 K i n g , my f r i e n d , i f f r i e n d of t h i n e I be, H a ppier are those t h a t w e l t e r i n t h e i r s i n , Swine i n the mud, t h a t cannot see f o r s l i m e , Slime of the d i t c h ; but i n me l i v e d a s i n So s t r a n g e , of such a k i n d , t h a t a l l of pure, Noble and k n i g h t l y i n me twined and c l u n g Round that one s i n , u n t i l the wholesome f l o w e r And poisonous grew t o g e t h e r , each as each, Not to be p l u c k e d asunder. ( G r a i l , 11.764-74.) In P e l l e a s , k n i g h t and Queen now seem to be e s t a b l i s h e d l o v e r s . E t t a r r e ' s i m p e r t i n e n t r e p l y to Guine-vere about k e e p i n g L a n c e l o t i n her bower r e v e a l s L a n c e l o t ' s f a i l u r e t o pursue h i s k n i g h t l y d u t i e s , f o r he has a b d i c a t e d a l l f o r the sake of b e i n g w i t h Guinevere. When he l e a v e s Camelot, he i s d e s c r i b e d as "Warm w i t h a g r a c i o u s p a r t i n g from the Queen, / Peace at h i s h e a r t " ( P e l l e a s . 11.547-48), and such a d e s c r i p t i o n does not break the bounds of p r o -p r i e t y . T h e i r l o v e i s always p r e s e n t e d i n the terms of c o u r t l y l o v e , t h e i r " s i n s " a s i n of d e s i r e and d i s l o y a l t y . Only at the end of the i d y l l doe's the poet come out w i t h an i n d i c t m e n t : "The Queen / Looked hard upon her l o v e r . . ." ( P e l l e a s , 11.591-93, my i t a l i c s ) . There are s e v e r a l reasons why Tennyson avoided a more e x p l i c i t treatment of the l o v e r s . S i n c e he i n h e r i t e d the s t o r y and so the t r a d i t i o n , t h e r e would be no need to be e x p l i c i t . Secondly, any attempt to d e l v e too much i n t o t h e i r emotional and s e x u a l a f f a i r would r e s u l t i n c r e a t i n g two f u l l c h a r a c t e r s i n a poem of l i g h t l y sketched ones. T h e r e f o r e , i t was important f o r the l o v e r s to be kept a p a r t as d i s t a n t f i g u r e s , and f o r t h e i r a d u l t e r y to be shown i n a l a r g e r c o n t e x t of d i s c o u r t e s y and d i s l o y a l t y to A r t h u r ' s Vow. As i t i s , L a n c e l o t , not A r t h u r , c a p t u r e s most of 2 the r e a d e r ' s sympathy, f o r one can r e a d i l y sympathize w i t h the very human L a n c e l o t , g a l l a n t and co u r t e o u s , who, trapped as much by h i s own v i r t u e s as by h i s f a u l t s , s t r u g g l e s t o f r e e h i m s e l f , but who i s s l o w l y dragged deeper and deeper i n t o h i s a d u l t e r o u s l o v e , u n t i l i n the end, exhausted by the s t r u g g l e , he remains no more than a h o l l o w s h e l l of h i s former s e l f . Amongst a band o f men of noble c h a r a c t e r s , L a n c e l o t stands out above the r e s t , f o r he i s the epitome of knighthood. H i s noble n a t u r e i s , however, flawed by h i s s e n s u a l i t y , and the tragedy of the I d y l l s i s the tragedy o f L a n c e l o t ' s f a l l from a s t a t e of gr a c e . Yet one knows t h a t a t the end, l i k e a t r u e hero, he has refound h i s o l d s t a t u r e , because from A r t h u r one l e a r n s t h a t L a n c e l o t , w i t h an a c t r e m i n i s c e n t of h i s former s e l f , has g a l l a n t l y r e f u s e d to r a i s e an arm a g a i n s t the Kin g whom he had e a r l i e r b e t r a y e d . THE STRUCTURE OP THE POEM: TIME, GOD AND THE POET'S VOICE That s t o r y which the b o l d S i r B e d i v e r e F i r s t made and l a t e s t l e f t of a l l the k n i g h t s T o l d , when the man was no more than a v o i c e In the white w i n t e r of h i s age . . . . ( P a s s i n g , 11.1-4.) Each of the i d y l l s c o u l d e x i s t i n d e p e n d e n t l y of the r e s t , but such an e x i s t e n c e f a i l s to take i n t o account the thematic and s t r u c t u r a l t h r e a d s which u n i t e each i d y l l w i t h the o t h e r s . The thematic s t r a n d s , such as the con-cept of knighthood and the r o l e of chance have a l r e a d y been d i s c u s s e d . The most important i s , of course, the concept of A r t h u r ' s Vow, from which most of the o t h e r s stem. These are the need f o r c h a s t i t y ; the need f o r l o y a l t y and c o u r t e s y ; the need to d i s t i n g u i s h between appearance and r e a l i t y ; and the need to r e f r a i n from l i s t e n i n g to rumor and s l a n d e r . l i k e m o t i f s i n a S t r a u s s tone-poem, these themes run through the i d y l l s . On the s t r u c t u r a l s i d e , there are such u n i f y i n g elements as the use of the super-n a t u r a l , the use of l y r i c s and s e a s o n a l change, the omni-presence of a poet's v o i c e charged more w i t h sorrow.than w i t h i n d i g n a t i o n , and the use of c e r t a i n images which r e c u r w i t h i n c r e a s i n g s i g n i f i c a n c e . The h i s t o r y of A r t h u r and o f Camelot i s seen i n terms of the seasons as a c y c l e i n the many c y c l e s o f l i f e . 1 The b e g i n n i n g of A r t h u r ' s r e i g n , marked by h i s marriage to Guinevere, o c c u r s at the b e g i n n i n g of summer, which c e l e b r a t e s a p e r i o d of g o l d e n peace when the c o u r t i s b a s k i n g i n the g l o r y of i t s new-found moral h e a l t h : That morn was m a r r i e d , w h i l e i n s t a i n l e s s w h i t e , The f a i r b e g i n n e r s of a noble time, And g l o r y i n g i n t h e i r vows to him, h i s k n i g h t s Stood round him, and r e j o i c i n g i n h i s j o y . F a r shone those f i e l d s of May through open door, The s a c r e d a l t a r blossomed white w i t h May, The Sun of May descended on t h e i r K i n g . (C oming, 11.455-61.) T h i s summer of the c o u r t encompasses n e a r l y the whole of the poem, w h i l e the Coming and the P a s s i n g mark 2 o f f the l i m i t s of t h i s p e r i o d . B e f o r e A r t h u r ' s a r r i v a l , Leodogran's l a n d s are d e s c r i b e d as " T h i c k w i t h wet woods." The dark, dank gloom suggests a p e r i o d of autumn or w i n t e r and the a n t i t h e s i s of the s u n l i g h t and summer, which the Round Table w i l l b r i n g . A p p r o p r i a t e l y , i n the P a s s i n g one has r e t u r n e d to the w i n t e r and the gloom. The l a s t b a t t l e occurs on the l a s t day of the o l d y e a r , the sun i s b l o c k e d out by "a deathwhite m i s t , " and A r t h u r bemoans the f a c t t h a t " a l l my realm / Reels back to the b e a s t , and i s no more" ( P a s s i n g . 11.25-26). At h i s death, the sun emerges and a new day, a new c y c l e , commences. In such an a r c h e t y p a l p r e s e n t a t i o n of the e t e r n a l s t r u g g l e between Good and E v i l , the C i t y of Goodness and the Den o f E v i l , the Reason a g a i n s t the P a s s i o n s , one can expect such s i m p l i s t i c c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n s as found, i n Mordred, V i v i e n and A r t h u r , as one can a l s o expect M e r l i n ' s magic to e x i s t without s e l f - c o n s c i o u s n e s s . But the poet, perhaps embarrassed by the i n f l u e n c e of e m p i r i c a l s c i e n c e i n h i s age, appears to l a c k the c o n f i d e n c e to take such an ingenuous approach. To p r o t e c t h i m s e l f from a t t a c k , Tennyson s t r a d d l e s the a r t i s t i c problem by always q u a l i -f y i n g h i s use of the s u p e r n a t u r a l . The s u p e r n a t u r a l c o n f i r m s the e x i s t e n c e of a H i g h e r World: the g o l d e n s t a g can be i d e n t i f i e d w i t h an i d e a l world; the maid's account of the m a g i c a l events, which o c c u r r e d i n h e r f a t h e r ' s l i f e , r e f l e c t s the happy times under A r t h u r ' s r e i g h ; B l e y ' s account c o n f i r m s A r t h u r ' s s u p e r n a t u r a l o r i g i n , and t h e r e f o r e God's g i f t t o man; and the nun's account of the g r a i l c o n f i r m s the D i v i n e concern f o r depraved mankind. In each example, the super-n a t u r a l elements are m a n i f e s t a t i o n s o f a benevolent God, or a s i g n from Him of A r t h u r ' s r i g h t to r u l e . But by emphasizing the n a i v e t e of those who n a r r a t e the mys-t e r i o u s events ( f o r example, B e l l i c e n t , the maid of Almesbury, P e r c i v a l e and h i s f a n a t i c a l s i s t e r ) or by f a l l i n g back on hearsay or dreams,^ Tennyson defends h i m s e l f from any a t t a c k by the more s o p h i s t i c a t e d and s c e p t i c a l r e a d e r s of h i s century who, l i k e T r i s t r a m , would be l i k e l y t o see l i f e i n r a t i o n a l i s t i c terms. I f Tennyson's use of the s u p e r n a t u r a l i s ambivalent, there i s no ambiguity t o the speaker's tone, whose " v o i c e " i s m a j e s t i c and a p p r o p r i a t e t o a poem of e p i c dimensions. The i m p r e s s i o n g i v e n i s v e r y much t h a t of a poet l o o k i n g down from h i s Olympian h e i g h t , f i l l e d w i t h sorrow more than i n d i g n a t i o n as he laments the i n a b i l i t y o f f r a i l humanity to obey a few simple commandments. The t e n o r of the poem i s s e t by the s o n o r i t y o f the opening l i n e s o f the 0oming: l e o d o g r a n , the k i n g of C a m e l i a r d , Had one f a i r daughter, and none ot h e r c h i l d ; And she was f a i r e s t o f a l l f l e s h on e a r t h , Guinevere, and i n h e r h i s one d e l i g h t . (Coming, 11.1-4.) The next two s e c t i o n s d e s c r i b i n g the rape of the l a n d and Leodogran's s t r a i t gather momentum w i t h t h e i r preponderance of d e e p - t h r o a t e d sounds, pausing to savor such outrages as "wallowed i n the gardens of the K i n g " (Coming, 1.25), u n t i l they l i t e r a l l y explode w i t h s i b i l a n c e and e x p l e -t i v e s : l a s t a heathen horde, Reddening the sun w i t h s_moke and e a r t h w i t h b l o o d , And on the s p i k e t h a t _ s p l i t the mother's, h e a r t S p i t t i n g the c h i l d , brake on him, t i l l , amazed, He knew not w h i t h e r he should t u r n f o r a i d . (Coming, 11.36-40.) In The Ma r r i a g e of G e r a i n t , when the poet l i s t s the k n i g h t ' s f a i l i n g s by r e p e a t i n g f o r g e t f u l t o c r e a t e a crescendo e f f e c t f o r emphasis, the v o i c e of the moral poet i s heard a g a i n : F o r g e t f u l o f h i s promise to the K i n g , F o r g e t f u l of the f a l c o n and the hunt, F o r g e t f u l of the t i l t and tournament, F o r g e t f u l of h i s g l o r y and h i s name, F o r g e t f u l of h i s princedom and i t s causes. ( M a r r i a g e , 11.50-55.) In the second G e r a i n t i d y l l , when the poet laments the f a i l i n g s of man, i n p a r t i c u l a r h i s i n a b i l i t y t o d i s t i n -g u i s h between appearance and r e a l i t y , one h e a r s a g a i n the v o i c e of the s e e r who has seen a l l b e f o r e , who knows too w e l l man's l i m i t a t i o n s J 0 p u r b l i n d r a c e of m i s e r a b l e men, How many among us at t h i s v ery hour Do f o r g e a l i f e - l o n g t r o u b l e f o r o u r s e l v e s , By t a k i n g t r u e f o r f a l s e , or f a l s e f o r t r u e ; Here, through the f e e b l e t w i l i g h t of t h i s world Groping, how many, u n t i l we pass and r e a c h That o t h e r , where we see as we are seen! ( G e r a i n t , 11.1-7.) The s a r d o n i c v o i c e of the m o r a l i s t emerges i n h i s d e s c r i p -t i o n of Limours' comrades: So, s c a r e d but a t the motion of the man, F l e d a l l the boon companions of the E a r l , And l e f t him l y i n g i n the p u b l i c way; So v a n i s h f r i e n d s h i p s o n l y made i n wine. ( G e r a i n t , 11.476-79.) F i n a l l y , f o r a passage of p r o l o n g e d h o r r o r , moral i n d i g -n a t i o n , and sense of sorrow, one must t u r n to V i v i e n ' s s e d u c t i o n of M e r l i n : She blamed h e r s e l f f o r t e l l i n g h e a r s a y t a l e s : She shook from f e a r , and f o r h e r f a u l t she wept Of p e t u l a n c y ; she c a l l e d him l o r d and l i e g e , Her s e e r , her bard, her s i l v e r s t a r of eve, Her God, h e r M e r l i n , the one p a s s i o n a t e l o v e Of her whole l i f e ; and ever overhead Bellowed the tempest, and the r o t t e n branch: Snapt i n the r u s h i n g of the r i v e r - r a i n Above them; and i n change of g l a r e and gloom Her eyes and neck g l i t t e r i n g went and came, T i l l now the storm, i t s b u r s t of p a s s i o n spent, Moaning and c a l l i n g out of o t h e r l a n d s , Had l e f t the ravaged woodland y e t once more To peace; and what should not have been had been, For M e r l i n o v e r t a l k e d and overworn, Had y i e l d e d , t o l d her a l l the charm, and s l e p t . ( M e r l i n , 11.949-64.) The poet's i n d i g n a t i o n a t V i v i e n ' s d e c e i t f i n d s e x p r e s s i o n i n h i s d e s c r i p t i o n o f the storm, as i f i n such emotive words as b e l l o w , snapt and r o t t e n , he sees the imminent d e s t r u c t i o n of M e r l i n , the C h i e f A d v i s e r to K i n g A r t h u r . The r e p e t i t i o n of she and her c o n c e n t r a t e s a t t e n t i o n upon the h y p o c r i s y of V i v i e n ' s a c t i o n s as she a c t s out h e r p r o t e s t a t i o n s . The rhythm of the l i n e s i s such t h a t the e x p l o s i v e s i n p e t u l a n c y and p a s s i o n a t e l e a v e no doubt as to the speaker's d i s t a s t e , w i t h h i s h o r r o r r e a c h i n g a c l i m a x i n "what should not have been had been," a f t e r which, w i t h pathos, the poet's v o i c e t r a i l s o f f i n the sad news t h a t M e r l i n has s u r r e n d e r e d to V i v i e n ' s a t t a c k . The poet i s not the o n l y n a r r a t o r . F o r example, i n the G r a i l , P e r c i v a l e i s the n a r r a t o r , whose tone i s very much one of wonder, of n a i v e amazement at the m i r a c u -lous, e vents. D o u b t l e s s , t h i s h e l p s t o make a c c e p t a b l e a " m a g i c a l " s t o r y , but the e f f e c t of h a v i n g a c r e d u l o u s monk l i s t e n to a n a i v e k n i g h t i s u n s a t i s f a c t o r y , f o r what i s l o s t i s the v o i c e o f the m o r a l i s t s t a n d i n g on h i s Olympian h e i g h t r e c o r d i n g the f o l l i e s o f human natures 0 b r o t h e r , I have seen t h i s yew-tree smoke, S p r i n g a f t e r s p r i n g , f o r h a l f a hundred y e a r s : F o r never have I known the world w i t h o u t , Nor ever s t r a y e d beyond the p a l e . ( G r a i l , 11.18-21.) Another change of v i e w p o i n t which seems to be un-s u c c e s s f u l o c c u r s i n G-uinevere. Here, the m o r a l i s t i c tone of the poet i s c e r t a i n l y r e t a i n e d , but A r t h u r , a l t h o u g h K i n g , i s the wrong person t o l e c t u r e to the Queen. H i s r e p r o a c h f u l c r y , "0 Guinevere, / F o r I was ever v i r g i n save f o r thee" (Guinevere, 11.553-54), can o n l y aggravate the smugness of h i s pronouncements, such as " I cannot touch thy l i p s , they are not mine, / But L a n c e l o t ' s " (Guinevere, 11.548-49), o r , " I h o l d t h a t man the worst of p u b l i c f o e s /.Who e i t h e r f o r h i s own c h i l d r e n ' s sake, / To save h i s b l o o d from s c a n d a l , l e t s the w i f e / Whom he knows f a l s e , abide and r u l e the house" (Guinevere, 11.509-12). H i s b l e s s i n g g i v e n over the g r o v e l l i n g Queen i s too sanctimonious t o be a c c e p t a b l e . I f anywhere, t h i s i s s u r e l y the p l a c e f o r the poet t o m o r a l i z e on the Queen's a c t i o n s — t o d i s t a n c e and so t o u n i v e r s a l i z e them i n terms of man's f a i l u r e because of h i s d e f e c t i v e nature and the d e s t r u c t i v e i n f l u e n c e of time. In c o n t r a s t to the f a i l u r e i n Guinevere, one f i n d s t h a t A r t h u r ' s lament i n the P a s s i n g i s a s u c c e s s f u l change i n the p o i n t of view. One i s p r e s e n t e d w i t h a broken man, a man on the b r i n k of d e s p a i r , whose speech, " I found Him i n the s h i n i n g of the s t a r s " ( P a s s i n g , 1.9), or "My house hath been my doom" ( P a s s i n g , 1.154), c a p t u r e s the gloom of the poet's v o i c e and p a r t i c u l a r i z e s i t , f o r i t i s not j u s t the gloom of the poet l a m e n t i n g the l o s s of i d e a l s , but t h a t o f a man, A r t h u r , who sees a l l around him h i s dreams d e s t r o y e d . Here, the i n d i v i d u a l lament g i v e s substance to the p e r v a d i n g atmosphere of gloom. From an u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the poet's lament over the l o s s of i d e a l s and of h i s gloomy view o f man's i n e v i t a b l e f a t e , one can understand, i f n o t a p p r e c i a t e , the c h a u v i -n i s t i c n a t u r e of both the D e d i c a t i o n and of the f i n a l word, To the Queen. As the Poet L a u r e a t e , the v a t e s , Tennyson l e c t u r e s to h i s Queen on the importance o f b e i n g f a i t h f u l to h e r r o y a l b l o o d . He d e r i v e s h i s sermon from h i s poem. As the p u b l i c poet, he has a moral duty t o guide h i s country a l o n g the pa t h , and as Poet L a u r e a t e of an I m p e r i a l N a t i o n , h i s r e s p o n s i b i l i t y i s t o warn h i s countrymen a g a i n s t b e t r a y i n g t h e i r o b l i g a t i o n s t o the c o l o n i e s . L i k e A r t h u r ' s k n i g h t s , these g r e a t white k n i g h t s of the B r i t i s h Empire have a moral o b l i g a t i o n to t h e i r l e s s e r b r e t h r e n — b u t t o r u l e a c o u n t r y p r o p e r l y one must f i r s t r u l e o n e s e l f . Hence the importance o f A r t h u r ' s Vow. One must a l s o a v o i d f a l s e v a l u e s — f a l s e a r t , f o r e i g n ways' or l u s t f o r g o l d , as w e l l as f a l s e quests such as the source of l i f e f o r which no c o r r e c t answer i s p o s s i b l e to man; "The g o a l o f t h i s g r e a t w o r l d / L i e s beyond s i g h t " (To the Queen. 11.59-60). L i k e the Age of Reason, the V i c t o r i a n Age must govern i t s e l f by Common Sense: " i f our slowly-grown / And Crowned R e p u b l i c ' s crowning common-sense, / That saved h e r many times, not f a i l " (To the Queen. 11.60-62), then only w i l l the f a c e of darkness be overcome. The d e d i c a t o r y poem warns the Queen and England that a s u r r e n d e r to one's p a s s i o n w i l l l e a d to chaos and to d e s t r u c t i o n of the s o c i a l o r d e r . As Queen and Head of S t a t e , V i c t o r i a must s e t an example j u s t as her dead husband, that paragon of v i r t u e , was an i d e a l f o r o t h e r s to emulate. The poet, however, i s u n c e r t a i n of the Hew Order as r e p r e s e n t e d by h e r sons, because h i s wish f o r them to i n h e r i t some of A l b e r t ' s v i r t u e s seems t o be h i g h l y q u a l i f i e d : Or how s h o u l d England dreaming o f h i s sons Hope more f o r these than some i n h e r i t a n c e Of such a l i f e , a h e a r t , a mind as t h i n e , Thou noble F a t h e r of h e r k i n g s to be. ( D e d i c a t i o n , 11.30-33.) The poet sees the Queen as the l i n k between the o l d and new o r d e r — f r o m A l b e r t to h i s sons. I t i s a v e r y l o n e l y , and f o r a widow, a p a i n f u l p o s i t i o n , but i t i s i m p e r a t i v e t h a t she succeed because she i s a b a s t i o n a g a i n s t the d e p r a v i t y of modern, e v i l i n f l u e n c e s . The l e s s o n of G-uinevere i s t h e r e f o r e a p p r o p r i a t e : V i c t o r i a must t r a n -scend her woman's h e a r t and p l a y the r o l e f o r which she i s d e s t i n e d : Queen of an I m p e r i a l N a t i o n , "Break n o t , 0 woman's-heart, but s t i l l endure; Break n o t , f o r thou are R o y a l , but endure" ( D e d i c a t i o n , 11.43-44). As Monarch and Head of S t a t e , V i c t o r i a must s a c r i f i c e p e r s o n a l f e e l i n g s f o r the good of the c o u n t r y — she must endure the " l o n e l y s p l e n d o u r " of the Grown which, as the i d y l l s emphasize, i s the u n i f y i n g f o r c e i n the n a t i o n . In h e r l o n e l i n e s s she can f i n d s o l a c e i n "moral" l o v e , namely A l b e r t ' s from heaven, f i l i a l l o v e , her s u b j e c t s ' l o v e and God's l o v e : May a l l l o v e , H i s l o v e , unseen but f e l t , o'ershadow Th.ee, The l o v e of a l l Thy sons encompass Thee, The l o v e of a l l Thy daughters c h e r i s h Thee, The l o v e of a l l Thy people comfort Thee, T i l l God's l o v e s e t Thee at h i s s i d e a g a i n ! ( D e d i c a t i o n , 11.48-53.) V i c t o r i a i s a l l o w e d , then, a l l shades o f l o v e but man's l o v e . Thus, the s t o r y of Guinevere and her i n f l u e n c e on the Round Table has a s p e c i a l meaning f o r the Queen, f o r Guinevere r e c o g n i z e d A r t h u r ' s v i r t u e s , but p r e f e r r e d to s a t i s f y her own s e l f i s h d e s i r e by l o v i n g L a n c e l o t , the consequence of which was the e v e n t u a l doom of Camelot. Any such h i n t t h a t V i c t o r i a may prove another Guinevere i s r e a d i l y d i s p e l l e d i n the v e r s e , To the Queen, at the end of the I d y l l s . The poet c o n f i r m s the Queen's i n t e g r i t y — s h e i s t r u e to h e r s e l f as England i s t r u e to the Crown, f o r w i t n e s s t h a t day t h a t A l b e r t , " f e v e r worn," t r a v e l l e d down to London, and the " f u l l c i t y p e a l e d . " What does worry the poet, though, i s that c e r t a i n s t r a i n s of d i s l o y a l t y can be heard from the N o r t h , perhaps r e m i n i -scent of the ever c o n s t a n t N o r t h e r n t h r e a t to Camelot. These s t r a i n s of d i s l o y a l t y , of doubt and r e p u d i a t i o n of duty, coupled w i t h the s u r r e n d e r to the p o i s o n of e f f e t e f o r e i g n ways i n a r t and i n l i v i n g , w i l l d e s t r o y the g r e a t Empire and the Pax B r i t a n n i c a , as i t once d e s t r o y e d the Pax A r t h u r i a n a . Beneath the chauvinism of these v e r s e s , and through a knowledge of the I d y l l s , one can d e t e c t a c e r t a i n f e a r i n the poet a t the thought of impending chaos. He laments the l o s s of a good man at the helm of h i s country; he i s w o r r i e d about f i n d i n g only a woman i n charge at a time when t h e r e i s p r e v a l e n t i n s o c i e t y a growing l o s s of v a l u e s w i t h no promise of another A l b e r t to take the r e i n s . THE STRUCTURE OP THE POEM: LYRICAL AND IMAGISTIC ELEMENTS l i k e a man abroad at morn When f i r s t the l i q u i d note b e l o v e d of men Comes f l y i n g over many a windy wave To B r i t a i n . . . . (The M a r r i a g e of G e r a i n t , 11.335-38.) Except f o r the G r a i l and the P a s s i n g , where a v i s i o n and the w a i l i n g of the t h r e e Queens take the p l a c e r e s p e c t i v e l y of a song, each i d y l l has at l e a s t one l y r i c . These l y r i c s serve s e v e r a l f u n c t i o n s ; they c o n t r i b u t e t o the pageantry of the c o u r t as suggested by the poet's use of imagery, f o r c a r o l s and b a l l a d s are to be expected i n the c o u r t l y atmosphere of Camelot. T h i s "sweetness and l i g h t " c o n t r a s t s w i t h the world of E a r l Doorm, the Red K n i g h t , and w i t h Pellam's c a s t l e or Mark's, where f e a r , t r e a c h e r y and l i c e n t i o u s n e s s p r e v a i l . The l y r i c s a l s o ac t as a c h o r i c v o i c e which comments on and u n i f i e s the a c t i o n of the poem. The f i r s t l y r i c i n the Coming i s M e r l i n ' s r e p l y to B e l l i c e n t ' s query c o n c e r n i n g the v e r a c i t y of a s t o r y t o l d to h e r by the d y i n g B l e y s . A c c o r d i n g to h i s " r i d d l i n g t r i p l e t s of o l d time," o p p o s i t e s such as r a i n and sun can produce such a wonderful o b j e c t as a rainbow. A l s o , w h i l e a young man can grow w i s e r w i t h age, an o l d man who should be wise can grow f e e b l e i n w i t s . In o t h e r words, not e v e r y t h i n g i n t h i s world need f i t i n t o a l o g i c a l p a t t e r n . T r u t h i s r e l a t i v e , " i s t h i s to me, and t h a t to thee" (0oming, 1.406); a l l one knows i s the r e a l i t y of the o b j e c t , t h a t r a i n , sun and f r e e blossom e x i s t , j u s t as A r t h u r e x i s t s , or t h a t he came from an unknown r e g i o n and w i l l r e t u r n to an unknown r e g i o n . 1 To seek a f t e r A r t h u r ' s l i n e a g e i s as f o o l i s h as to chase a f t e r j a c k - o -l a n t e r n s or g r a i l s , f o r the goodness and j u s t i c e which c h a r a c t e r i z e A r t h u r ' s r e i g n j u s t i f y h i s r i g h t t o r u l e . Young Gareth r e c o g n i z e s t h i s , but not T r i s t r a m The second l y r i c i n the Coming c e l e b r a t e s A r t h u r ' s • c o r o n a t i o n and h e r a l d s the new dawn: "Blow trumpet f o r the world i s white w i t h May" (Coming, 1.481). In t h i s m i l i t a n t but joyous song, Camelot e s t a b l i s h e s h e r s e l f over the l o r d s of Rome, "The o l d o r d e r changeth, y i e l d i n g p l a c e to new" (Coming, 1.508). However, b o t h May and the r o l l i n g away of the l o n g n i g h t are o n l y temporary measures, f o r both w i n t e r and n i g h t w i l l r e t u r n . " l i v e the s t r e n g t h and d i e the l u s t " i s the c r y f o r the moment, but as T r i s t r a m w i l l remark, l u s t i s p a r t of man's n a t u r e , and i t too w i l l demand i t s due. The k n i g h t s swear to f i g h t f o r the K i n g because of a rumor they have heard, " t h a t God h a t h t o l d the King a s e c r e t word" (Coming, 1.488); i r o n i c a l l y , a rumor w i l l e v e n t u a l l y undo the Round T a b l e . F o r the moment, however, Camelot i s i n the s p r i n g of i t s e x i s t e n c e and L y n e t t e * s l y r i c i s a p s y c h o l o g i c a l l o v e - s o n g r e v e a l i n g her slow s u r r e n d e r to Gareth. In the f i r s t s t a n z a , she s i n g s of a "dream [ t h a t ] h a t h proven t r u e " ( G a r e t h , 1.975). Gareth has proven t r u e i n h i s f i r s t t r i a l , and L y n e t t e ' s s a v i o r w i l l prove to be a t r u e k n i g h t . As Gareth proves h i m s e l f , h e r song r e v e a l s the e q u i v a l e n t number of times her l o v e "hath s m i l e d on me." S u b c o n s c i o u s l y , her song r e v e a l s the t r u e s t a t e of h e r emotions. When man a c h i e v e s the h e i g h t of h i s f o r t u n e , t h e n he has no way to t u r n except downwards. The proud Sparrow Hawk w i l l be humbled, "Turn F o r t u n e , t u r n thy wheel and lower the proud" ( M a r r i a g e , 1.347), as w i l l G e r a i n t when he d i s c o v e r s how v i l e a husband he has been to E n i d . Edryn, d e f e a t e d by G e r a i n t i n b a t t l e , r i s e s from d e f e a t and a c h i e v e s a new-found s a n i t y and m o r a l i t y . The wheel has now t u r n e d f u l l c i r c l e , f o r E n i d must p l e a d w i t h him to spare her husband's l i f e . F o r t u n e , though cannot harm e i t h e r h e r or her f a t h e r , Y n i o l . P o s s e s s i o n s they may l o s e , but s p i r i t u a l l y t hey cannot be touched. G e r a i n t , on the o t h e r hand, goes mad at the s l i g h t e s t s u s p i c i o n of h i s w i f e ' s d i s l o y a l t y . The wheel of Fortune a l s o b e g i n s to t u r n f o r Came-l o t i n the next i d y l l w i t h the entrance of V i v i e n . Her song g l o r i f i e s the f l e s h , and echoes Guinevere's sentiment t h a t she i s too much a s e r v a n t of h e r f l e s h l y d e s i r e s to be capable of l i v i n g up to A r t h u r ' s s t a n d a r d . The " f i r e of heaven" has reached both Queen and L a n c e l o t ; both have f e l t n a t u r e , i n the form of t h e i r d e s i r e s , a t t e m p t i n g to a s s e r t i t s e l f , so are d r i v e n to each o t h e r i n the garden, and u l t i m a t e l y i n t o an a d u l t e r o u s l o v e . I f V i v i e n ' s song i n B a l i n i s a c h a l l e n g e to c i v i -l i z a t i o n , h e r song to M e r l i n foreshadows i t s i n e v i t a b l e d e f e a t , f o r "The l i t t l e r i f t w i t h i n the l o v e r ' s l u t e " ( M e r l i n , 1.391) a n t i c i p a t e s the r i f t i n the harmony at Camelot. The r i f t between Queen and K i n g w i l l soon s i l e n c e any song ever sung a t the t a b l e , u n t i l o n l y the c l a s h i n g of armor, and the w a i l i n g of mourning women w i l l break the s i l e n c e . V i v i e n ' s song i s a l s o a warning to M e r l i n , because she t e l l s him, a " l i t t l e p i t t e d speck i n garnered f r u i t , / That r o t t i n g inward s l o w l y moulders a l l . . . i s not worth the k e e p i n g : l e t i t go" ( M e r l i n , 11.392-94). M e r l i n ' s f a i l u r e t o a p p l y t h i s maxim to her a f t e r he has had ample p r o o f o f her v i l e n e s s proves h i s undoing, and opens the door to Camelot's r u i n . L a n c e l o t , t o o , cannot cut away the " p i t t e d speck" i n h i s n a t u r e , h i s immoral l o v e f o r Guinevere, which p r e v e n t s him from l o v i n g E l a i n e , and so b r i n g s about h e r death. Her song i s a c r i du coeur, "The Song of Love and Death," where the theme i s "sweet i s t r u e l o v e though g i v e n i n v a i n . . . And sweet i s death who puts an end to p a i n " ( L a n c e l o t , 11.1000-01). Both t h i s l y r i c and E l a i n e ' s death h e l p t o s h i f t the emotional i n t e n s i t y away from L a n c e l o t and Guinevere. Swept up i n the pathos of the maid's l y r i c , one i s empty of t e a r s f o r the Queen and P r i n c e , so can observe t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h s u f f i c i e n t p i t y , but w i t h detachment. In the Holy G r a i l , a v i s i o n takes the p l a c e o f a l y r i c a l i n t e r l u d e . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , the e f f e c t of t h i s v i s i o n w i l l be the p u r s u i t of f a l s e knowledge c u l m i n a t i n g i n the d e s t r u c t i o n of A r t h u r ' s Order, and the l y r i c s which w i l l f o l l o w w i l l t y p i f y the new k n i g h t s l i k e T r i s t r a m , announced by Gawain i n h i s song i n P e l l e a s . E n t i t l e d "A worm w i t h i n the r o s e , " i t not o n l y sums up P e l l e a s ' l o v e f o r E t t a r r e , but a l s o A r t h u r ' s and L a n c e l o t ' s f o r Guinevere. The ro s e and worm symbolize the sad s t o r y of Camelot, where l o v e i s d e s t r o y e d by the canker of s e n s u a l i t y . The worm f o r P e l l e a s i s h i s l u s t f o r the f r i v o l o u s and s e l f i s h E t t a r r e ; f o r A r t h u r i t i s Guinevere's s e n s u a l n a t u r e ; and f o r L a n c e l o t i t i s h i s i l l i c i t l o v e f o r the Queen. The l a s t l i n e of the f i r s t s t a n z a , "I cared not f o r the t h o r n s ; the thorns were t h e r e , " i s ambiguous, s i n c e i t c o u l d mean t h a t the s i n g e r i s i n d i f f e r e n t to the dangers r e v e a l e d by the d i f f i d e n c e w i t h which he mentions the presence of the t h o r n s ; or t h a t , a l t h o u g h he l o v e d the rose d e a r l y , the consequences or dangers are s u f f i c i e n t l y s t r o n g to keep him away from the r o s e . The f i r s t meaning a p p l i e s to k n i g h t s l i k e Gawain, and the second as a warning on the dangers of a f a l s e l o v e . In the second s t a n z a , the s i n g e r warns t h a t w h i l e t r u e l o v e can b r i n g h a p p i n e s s , e t e r n i t y f o r a moment, "a ro s e t h a t w i l l not d i e , " a f a l s e l o v e can b r i n g d e s t r u c t i o n , which i s what P e l l e a s and Guinevere w i l l b r i n g t o the Round T a b l e . I n the L a s t Tournament, Guinevere's f a l s e l o v e has c o r r u p t e d the c o u r t , and what V i v i e n , Camelot's a r c h -enemy, once p r a i s e d , now a k n i g h t of the Round Tab l e g l o r i f i e s . Gone i s the m o r a l i t y of A r t h u r ' s Vow; s e l f -s a c r i f i c e i s now superseded by s e l f - i n t e r e s t . Women are reduced t o n o t h i n g more than game w i t h the f i e l d f r e e t o the h u n t e r : "Free l o v e — f r e e f i e l d — w e l o v e but w h i l e we may" ( L a s t Tournament, 1.275). As the f i r e of heaven has k i l l e d the b a r r e n c o l d , so here "the days of yore are o'er." T r i s t r a m , k n i g h t of the Wood and Champion of a n a r c h i c n a t u r e , conquers a l l at the tournament. The o l d Order of A r t h u r has d i e d , "The woods are hushed, t h e i r music i s no more" ( L a s t Tournament, 1.276); now i t i s time f o r a d i f -f e r e n t theme, f o r T r i s t r a m ' s a m o r a l i t y and s e l f i s h n e s s t o t h r i v e , "New l e a f , new l i f e " ( L a s t Tournament, 1.278). Prom the time of V i v i e n ' s c h a l l e n g e w i t h her paean to the v i t a l , s e x u a l f o r c e of l i f e , one has moved from E l a i n e ' s pure, p a s s i o n a t e l o v e t o cankered l o v e , u n t i l i n the end, l o v e has been reduced to i t s most e l e m e n t a l — t o the l e v e l which nature p r a c t i c e s , namely the r e p r o d u c t i o n of beast and p l a n t . I t i s now l e f t o n l y f o r the v i c t i m of t h i s a n a r c h i c , s e x u a l f o r c e to hear of h e r e x i l e from the warmth of the f a m i l i a l h e a r t h which she has b e t r a y e d . I r o n i c a l l y , the l y r i c sung t o Guinevere has f o r i t s s u b j e c t the p a r a b l e of the f o o l i s h v i r g i n s who attended the wedding f e a s t w i t h i n s u f f i c i e n t l i g h t . Guinevere's be-t r a y a l has e x i l e d her f o r e v e r from A r t h u r , "the bridegroom," and shut h e r out from the sweetness and l i g h t which was once h e r s to r u l e over. In a l l u d i n g to the p a r a b l e of the f o o l i s h v i r g i n s , Tennyson i s a t t e m p t i n g a sympathetic p r e s e n t a t i o n of Guinevere. She i s not p r e s e n t e d as a wayward and a d u l -t e r o u s w i f e , but as a f o o l i s h v i r g i n who has r e j e c t e d h e r bridegroom, or has not come w e l l p repared w i t h d i v i n e l i g h t to a p p r e c i a t e h i s t r u e worth, and i s t h e r e f o r e b a r r e d from the s p i r i t u a l f e a s t . "No l i g h t . . . dark the n i g h t and c h i l l " (Guinevere, 1.166) i s the consequence of e x c l u s i o n from the Round T a b l e , and foreshadows the death of Camelot and the a l i e n a t i o n which the l a s t k n i g h t , B e d i v e r e , w i l l s u f f e r . Only a f t e r t h e i r c o n f r o n t a t i o n does Guinevere l e a r n t o a p p r e c i a t e A r t h u r and h i s works: Ah g r e a t and g e n t l e l o r d , Who wast, as i s the c o n s c i e n c e of a s a i n t Among h i s w a r r i n g senses, . . . (Guinevere, 11.633-35.) Hence, Guinevere, the woman who f a n c i e d not the s p i r i t u a l l i l y but the deep-hued rose, i s f i n a l l y g i v e n the n e c e s s a r y d i v i n e grace t o a c h i e v e the s p i r i t u a l l e v e l t o which the K i n g and those l i k e Galahad, Gareth and P e r c i v a l e belonged: through s u f f e r i n g and d i s g r a c e the Queen a c h i e v e s redemp-t i o n . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , p e r s o n a l redemption a t the s p i r i t u a l l e v e l does not mean p e r s o n a l happiness or s o c i a l redemp-t i o n . "Too l a t e , too l a t e " i s the f i n a l c h o r a l c r y , because A r t h u r , as the u p h o l d e r of j u s t i c e and m o r a l i t y , cannot compromise w i t h i m m o r a l i t y , f o r i f he a c c e p t e d Guinevere back, he w i l l s e t a precedent which e v i l tongues w i l l d i s t o r t . Hence, the door of happiness f o r these two and f o r Camelot i s shut, because A r t h u r cannot r u l e w i thout h e r . The f a t e of the Round Table i s s e a l e d ; c i v i l war d e s t r o y s both c i t y and c o u n t r y s i d e . In the end, when e v i l has been e x o r c i s e d a t the p r i c e of A r t h u r ' s l i f e , a hush f a l l s upon the b a t t e r e d l a n d s c a p e . As the King's body i s taken away, the chorus i s reduced to an i n a r t i c u l a t e w a i l : . . . and from them rose A c r y that s h i v e r e d to the t i n g l i n g s t a r s , And, as i t were one v o i c e , an agony Of l a m e n t a t i o n , l i k e a wind t h a t s h r i l l s A l l n i g h t i n a waste l a n d , where no one comes, Or h a t h come, s i n c e the making of the w o r l d . ( P a s s i n g , 11.366-71.) ( i i ) As w e l l as u s i n g l y r i c s , Tennyson a l s o attempts to u n i f y the i d y l l s through the r e c u r r e n t use of words, and o f images a r i s i n g from such t r a d i t i o n a l sources as c o l o r s and j e w e l r y . These are used i n n o c u o u s l y at f i r s t , but by r e p e t i t i o n g a t h e r s i g n i f i c a n c e . The two rhyming words, gloom and doom are good examples of t h i s c umulative s t y l e . When A r t h u r s e a l s h i s f a t e and the f a t e of h i s kingdom by h i s marriage to Guinevere i n the Coming, he announces, "Behold, thy doom i s mine" (Coming, 1.466, my i t a l i c s ) . Both doom and i t s rhymed p a r t n e r , gloom, r e c u r l i k e a t o l l i n g b e l l through the r e s t of the poem, and t h e i r s o n o r i t y and emotive a s s o c i a t i o n s h e l p to emphasize the e l e g i a c mood, u n t i l i n Guinevere they t o l l out t h e i r 3 f i n a l , f a t e f u l message. In Gareth, A r t h u r i s seen " d e l i v e r i n g doom" from h i s throne (my i t a l i c s ) . The c o n s c i e n c e - s t r i c k e n G a r e t h i s f r i g h t e n e d t h a t f o r h i s white l i e the Ki n g " w i l l doom me when I speak" (Gareth, 1.317, my i t a l i c s ) . In G e r a i n t , one reads o f the P r i n c e ' s " f a l s e doom" and of the "green gloom of the wood" ( G e r a i n t , 1.195, my i t a l i c s ) ; i n B a l i n , the k n i g h t s i g h s l i k e a boy "lame-born" l o o k i n g a t a h e i g h t "That glooms h i s v a l l e y " ( B a l i n , 1.162, my i t a l i c s ) , and h i s "gloom on gloom deepened" ( B a l i n , 1.281, my i t a l i c s ) as he vwatches L a n c e l o t and Guinevere i n t h e i r encounter, which w i l l e v e n t u a l l y l e a d to the f a t e f u l sentence on the t w i n s , "Dark my doom was he r e , and dark / I t w i l l be t h e r e " ( B a l i n , 11.612-13, my i t a l i c s ) . A q u i c k g l a n c e through the r e s t o f the poem r e v e a l s t h a t a t l e a s t one of these words occurs once i n each i d y l l : " p r e s a g e f u l doom" ( M e r l i n , 1.293) and " g l a r e and gloom" ( M e r l i n , 1.957) i n M e r l i n ; "and l o v e d him, w i t h t h a t l o v e which was h e r doom" (Lance-l o t , 1.957) and " s a l l o w - r i f t e d glooms / Of evening" (Lance-l o t , 11.995-96) i n L a n c e l o t ; " M e r l i n ' s doom" ( G r a i l , 1.177) and "a d r i v i n g gloom a c r o s s my mind" ( G r a i l , 1.370) i n the G r a i l ; f i n a l l y , "green-glooming t w i l i g h t " C P e l l e a s . 1.32) i n P e l l e a s and "autumn-dripping gloom" ( l a s t Tourna-ment , 1.750) i n the L a s t Tournament. ( A l l my i t a l i c s . ) In G-uinevere, one i s brought back to A r t h u r ' s f a t e f u l statement at h i s marriage when he d e c l a r e d , "thy doom i s mine," f o r h i s f a t e i s now s e a l e d t>y the Queen's b e t r a y a l . As the s t a b i l i t y which once belonged to Camelot d i s i n t e g r a t e s w i t h c i v i l war and i n v a s i o n by the heathens i n the North, L a n c e l o t d e c l a r e s t h a t he w i l l r e t r e a t to a sa n c t u a r y "And b i d e my doom" (Guinevere, 1.121, my i t a l i c s ) . The Queen p l e a d s w i t h the maid t o pray f o r L a n c e l o t t h a t "he scape the doom of f i r e , / And weep f o r h e r who drew him to h i s doom" (Guinevere, 11.345-46;.my i t a l i c s ) . Then A r t h u r c o n t i n u e s the theme w i t h "the doom of t r e a s o n " (Guinevere, 1.535, my i t a l i c s ) and h i s own sad s t a t e : "So f a r , t h a t my doom i s , I l o v e thee s t i l l " ( Guinevere, 1.556, my i t a l i c s ) . F i n a l l y , he t e l l s h e r t h a t he goes t o h i s "Death, or I know not what m y s t e r i o u s doom" (Guinevere, 1.573, my i t a l i c s ) . T h i s c o n s t a n t r e p e t i t i o n of the word i n the i d y l l i s l i k e a b e l l t o l l i n g the death of the s o u l ' s i d e a l s , and i t i s the poet's f i n a l lament as he l o o k s back on an age l o s t t o mankind. The gloomy view which he has ta k e n throughout the poem now e r u p t s i n h i s m o n o s y l l a b i c moan—"doom." The gloomy darkness o f Camelot's doom i s onl y one i m a g i s t i c s t r a n d * On the b r i g h t e r s i d e , t h e r e i s Tennyson's use o f the word l i g h t w i t h i t s c o n n o t a t i v e meaning of d i v i n e r e v e l a t i o n . When the K i n g f i r s t d e c l a r e s h i s i n t e n t i o n "to l i g h t e n " " t h i s dark l a n d " i n the Coming, he means both t o remove the burden of savagery and i g n o -ra n c e , and to s u b s t i t u t e through obedience t o h i s Vow, the e n l i g h t e n e d world o f re a s o n . The m a n i f e s t a t i o n of h i s s u ccess i s seen i n the seasons i n which the i d y l l s o c c u r, s p r i n g and summer, when l i f e i s f u l l of sweetness and l i g h t . Even i n the P a s s i n g , when w i n t e r i s once more upon the l a n d , the p h y s i c a l w o r l d , which i s a p r o j e c t i o n of the s p i r i t u a l and i n t e l l e c t u a l s t a t e o f human n a t u r e , i s r e a l l y i n a p e r i o d o f t w i l i g h t , of m i s t and moon, r a t h e r than i n a s t a t e of darkness. The r e l a t i o n s h i p between A r t h u r and d i v i n e grace i s made c l e a r by the d e s c r i p t i o n of him i n b a t t l e . When he f i g h t s a g a i n s t the k i n g s , "the Powers who walk the worl d / Made l i g h t n i n g s and g r e a t thunders over him" (Coming, 11.106-07, my i t a l i c s ) . L a n c e l o t acknowledges him K i n g because "the f i r e of Cod" descending upon A r t h u r i n b a t t l e i s ample warrant of h i s r i g h t t o the crown; When he-spoke t o h i s k n i g h t s , B e l l i c e n t d e s c r i b e s how "through the c r o s s / And those around i t and the C r u c i f i e d , / Down from the casement over A r t h u r , smote / F l a m e - c o l o u r , v e r t and azure, i n t h r e e r a y s . . ." (Coming, 11.271-74). With the l i g h t of d i v i n e grace a s s o c i a t e d w i t h A r t h u r , the d e s c r i p -t i o n of the shocked k n i g h t s , "dazed, as one who wakes / H a l f - b l i n d e d at the coming of a l i g h t " (Coming, 11.264-65, my i t a l i c s ) , connotes t h e i r dazzlement by more than j u s t p h y s i c a l l i g h t , but by the l i g h t of God and c i v i l i z a t i o n . With t h i s use of l i g h t as d i v i n e l i g h t , G e r a i n t ' s s i n of u x o r i o u s n e s s i s a l l the more emphasized by the comparison of h i s l o v e f o r E n i d to the " l i g h t of h e a v e n " — o s t e n s i b l y the sun, but a l s o s u g g e s t i n g God's g r a c e . The p r i n c e has t h e r e f o r e committed the s i n of i d o l a t r y by w o r s h i p p i n g E n i d as i f she were a goddess. S i m i l a r l y , when B a l i n c l a i m s t h a t the Queen's coat of arms on h i s s h i e l d w i l l be " l i g h t to me," he means i n s p i r a t i o n , but i t would appear that f o r the young k n i g h t the Queen i s a f o u n t of d i v i n e g r a c e . Because of t h i s n e a r - i d o l a t r o u s worship, when she does prove to be humanly f r a i l , the k n i g h t s are l e f t without t h e i r source of i n s p i r a t i o n and grace; the r e l i g i o u s f e r v o r w i t h which they worshipped h e r now e r u p t s as a v i o l e n t f o r c e . Too s t r o n g a l i g h t can a l s o b l i n d the u n i n i t i a t e d as the G r a i l demonstrates. The danger a r i s e s from a mis-u n d e r s t a n d i n g of one's c a l l i n g . When P e r c i v a l e c l a i m s t h a t "he saw the l i g h t , " he means i t l i t e r a l l y — t h e b r i g h t n e s s emanating from the g r a i l , and f o r him t h i s i s s u f f i c i e n t s t i m u l u s to make a vow to seek i t out. However, as A r t h u r i m p l i e s , the l i g h t from the g r a i l i s r e a l l y a c l o u d i n which the g r a i l can h i d e i t s e l f from the view of the unworthy. In C h r i s t i a n terms, o n l y Galahad has i n f a c t "seen the l i g h t , " because he alone has seen the v i s i o n . What P e r c i v a l e must l e a r n i s t h a t God s e l e c t s those He wants to serve Him. When the young k n i g h t s t a r t s o f f on h i s quest, he has hope and s e l f - c o n f i d e n c e "That I should l i g h t upon the Holy G r a i l " ( G r a i l , 1.367). Through h i s t r a v a i l s he begins to doubt, " t h i s Quest i s not f o r thee" ( G r a i l , 1.378), u n t i l e v e n t u a l l y , h i s doubts are confirmed by the hermit who t e l l s him, "0 son, thou h a s t not t r u e h u m i l i t y " ( G r a i l , 1.445). Only when, w i t h G a l a -had's a i d , he has l e a r n t t r u e h u m i l i t y i s he l e d to a v i s i o n of the g r a i l . P e r c i v a l e ' s s e l f - a s s u r a n c e t h a t he would l i g h t upon i t appears as an a b s o l u t e t r a v e s t y to the t r u t h of the matter, f o r no man can w i l l t o come upon the g r a i l . God must e l e c t him, g i v e him the l i g h t , and a l l man can do i s to prepare h i m s e l f — t o " l o s e h i m s e l f " as the "Siege P e r i l o u s " p r o c l a i m s — w h i c h i n C h r i s t i a n terms means a t o t a l s u b m i s s i o n to God. Once t h i s happens, the k n i g h t withdraws h i m s e l f from the b u s t l e of the world as P e r c i v a l e has done, f o r a l l e l s e must prove a d i s a p p o i n t -ment a f t e r communion w i t h God. Other r e c u r r i n g m o t i f s i n the poem are the c o l o r s , r e d , white and green.^ White i s used as a symbol of p u r i t y . By a s s o c i a t i n g white w i t h the Queen at h e r wedding, "The sacred a l t a r blossomed white w i t h May" (Coming, 1.460), the poet f o c u s s e s on the i n h e r e n t d i s -crepancy between the appearance of p u r i t y and c h a r i t y expected i n the Queen of the Round T a b l e , and the r e a l i t y of Guinevere's n a t u r e which i s f o r c e d i n t o a way of l i f e c o n t r a r y t o i t s promptings. At Almesbury, t h i s d i s c r e p -ancy i s p o i g n a n t l y suggested by the d e s c r i p t i o n of the p r o s t r a t e Queen c o v e r i n g h e r s e l f with h e r "mILkwhite arms" (Guinevere, 1.413). In the P a s s i n g , w i t h the country i n a s t a t e of moral d e g r a d a t i o n , and r i p p e d asunder by c i v i l s t r i f e , white becomes the c o l o r of death, which i s the onl y hope of p u r i t y l e f t : a "deathwhite mist s l e p t over sand and sea" ( P a s s i n g , 1.95). In t h i s m i s t , a l l the h o r r o r of war and r e b e l l i o n i s covered. Another important c o l o r i n the poem i s green,^ the c o l o r o f both s p i r i t u a l and v e g e t a t i v e growth, which the l i t t l e f r i a r uses to comment on s p i r i t u a l growth: " I t r u s t / We are green i n Heaven's eyes; but here too we moulder" ( g r a i l , 11.37-38, my i t a l i c s ) . S p i r i t u a l l y , man must c o n t i n u e to grow o r he w i l l moulder. More important, 7 though, i s the use of green t o symbolize v e g e t a t i v e growth, the a n a r c h i c v i t a l i t y of n a t u r e . The I d y l l s t r a c e s the i n c r e a s i n g l y s t r o n g g r i p which n a t u r e ' s r e p r o d u c t i v e f o r c e takes upon the c o u r t . In Guinevere, the Queen and her c o u r t have succumbed s y m b o l i c a l l y to a g l o r i f i c a t i o n of t h i s f o r c e , f o r a l l are dre s s e d i n green and have gone a - m a y i n g — a f e a s t which c e l e b r a t e s the r e p r o d u c t i v e v i t a l i t y o f n a t u r e : " a l l the c o u r t , / G r e e n - s u i t e d , . . . Had been, t h e i r wont, a-maying and r e t u r n e d " (Guinevere, 11.21-23). U n l i k e Guinevere who i s the v i c t i m o f Nature's r e p r o d u c t i v e d e s i r e s , T r i s t r a m i s i t s champion. He i s "armoured a l l i n f o r e s t green, whereon / There t r i p t a hundred t i n y s i l v e r deer" ( L a s t Tournament, 11.170-71), and has "but a h o l l y - s p r a y f o r c r e s t . " F i t t i n g l y f o r a champion of n a t u r e , h i s r e t r e a t i n which he and I s o l t i n d u l g e i n t h e i r s e n s u a l p l e a s u r e s i s not a c a s t l e , hut "A lodge of i n t e r t w i s t e d beechen-boughs / Furze crammed, and bracken-r o o f t " ( L a s t Tournament, 11.375-76). In t h i s temple to n a t u r e , I s o l t " l i v e d a moon i n t h a t low lodge w i t h him" ( L a s t Tournament, 1.380). Thus, T r i s t r a m , the green k n i g h t of the woods, comes to a m o r a l l y weakened Camelot w i t h h i s amoral, a n a r c h i c p h i l o s o p h y , and h e l p s to undermine c i v i l i z a t i o n by h i s "babble" about the K i n g ' s r i g h t t o r u l e and h i s r i g h t t o impose such r e s t r i c t i n g commands upon h i s k n i g h t s as obedience to the p r i n c i p l e of c h a s t i t y . S y m b o l i c a l l y , T r i s t r a m overcomes the s p i r i t u a l l y s i c k c o u r t at the tournament, and the p o r t e n t s f o r Camelot are gloomy, f o r n a t u r e now has the upper hand, because p a s s i o n and g v i o l e n c e w i l l r e i g h . Red i s the c o l o r of p a s s i o n and v i o l e n c e , and t h i s q c o l o r g a t h e r s importance as the poem p r o g r e s s e s . T y p i c a l -l y , r e d i s used f i r s t as an innocent, d e s c r i p t i v e d e t a i l . As "Red b e r r i e s charm the b i r d " ( Gareth, 1.84, my i t a l i c s ) , p l e a d s Gareth's mother, so he charms h e r . H i s counter i s t h a t shame i s l i k e a " r e d - f a c e d b r i d e who knew h e r s e l f so v i l e " ( G areth, 1.109, my i t a l i c s ) . Red i s used, then, both f o r something a t t r a c t i v e and something r e p u l s i v e , and the i n n o c e n t r e d b e r r i e s a n t i c i p a t e the f a t e f u l "red f r u i t " of the ruby c a r c a n e t i n the L a s t Tournament. In G e r a i n t , E n i d , overcome by her husband's h a r s h treatment of her, f a l l s a s l e e p and i n t o a nightmare i n which she dreams of h e r s e l f " s l i p p i n g down h o r r i b l e p r e c i -p i c e s , / And s t r o n g l y s t r i k i n g out h e r l i m b s " ( G e r a i n t , 11.379-80). She awakes t o what she t h i n k s i s the " w i l d E a r l " and h i s f o l l o w e r s who "sound on a d r e a d f u l trumpet, summoning h e r , " but which i s r e a l l y "the r e d cock s h o u t i n g to the l i g h t " ( G e r a i n t , 1.384, my i t a l i c s ) . The r e d cock f u s e s p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y the d i f f e r e n t t h r e a t s E n i d must f a c e . In h e r dreams she i s t h r e a t e n e d by Limours, but her f a l l from the p r e c i p i c e s w h i l e c l u t c h i n g "at a r o o t l e s s t h o r n " r e v e a l s h e r d e s p a i r at G e r a i n t ' s b e h a v i o r . Red i s the c o l o r of v i o l e n c e , and Limours has t h r e a t e n e d to k i l l G e r a i n t , w h i l e the P r i n c e h i m s e l f has m i s t r e a t e d h i s w i f e ; f u r t h e r m o r e , the r e d cock i s a symbol of v a n i t y and a r r o -gance which e p i t o m i z e s G e r a i n t . The C h a n t e c l e e r of h i s own r o o s t , G e r a i n t cannot b i d e the thought t h a t E n i d might be f a l s e t o him; h i s p r i d e and p o s s e s s i v e n e s s get the b e t -t e r of h i s r a t i o n a l n a t u r e , so r e d u c i n g him to an inhuman and b a r b a r i c w a r r i o r . The f i r s t v i c t i m t o be s a c r i f i c e d at the a l t a r of l o v e i s not E n i d but E l a i n e , who i s consumed by h e r own p a s s i o n . As she l a y on h e r death-bed, "the b l o o d - r e d l i g h t of dawn / F l a r e d on h e r f a c e " ( L a n c e l o t . 11.1018-19, my i t a l i c s ) . L i k e the phoenix she i s consumed by the f i r e of h e r l o v e which purges away the f l e s h , f o r here i s the i n t e n s i t y o f u n r e q u i t e d , t r u e l o v e , the l o v e which A r t h u r c a l l s f r e e , and which he so d e a r l y wants L a n c e l o t to r e c e i v e . G r e a t e r than man's l o v e i s God's, which a c c o r d i n g -l y m a n i f e s t s i t s e l f i n the c o l o r of s e c u l a r p a s s i o n : "And down the l o n g beam s t o l e the H o l y G r a i l , / Rose-red with b e a t i n g s i n i t , as i f a l i v e " ( G r a i l , 11.117-18'/, my i t a l i c s ) , and to P e r c i v a l e i t was "Redder than any r o s e . " I f God's l o v e i s so much more i n t e n s e than a human l o v e r ' s , so are H i s demands on man, as i n t i m a t e d to L a n c e l o t by the c r i m -son samite which bars the g r a i l from h i s eyes. Red i s a l s o the Church c o l o r f o r martyrdom, so u n l e s s L a n c e l o t " l o s e h i m s e l f " by e x o r c i s i n g h i s l o v e f o r Guinevere and embracing a more t o t a l commitment to God, t h e r e can be no t r u e communion f o r him. On a s e c u l a r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , i t i s p a s s i o n which d i s t o r t s h i s s o u l , so the c o l o r of p a s s i o n , crimson, d i s t o r t s h i s v i s i o n of the g r a i l , making i t appear v e i l e d t o him, and l e a v i n g him u n c e r t a i n as to whether he r e a l l y saw i t o r n o t . Red gathers i t s f u l l e f f e c t i n the L a s t Tournament where v i o l e n c e and p a s s i o n now h o l d the upper hand. A r t h u r i s c h a l l e n g e d by the Red K n i g h t who mocks the Round Table by c a l l i n g them l i a r s , and by c r e a t i n g h i s own Round Table i n the N o r t h w i t h h i s counter-vows: And whatsoever h i s own k n i g h t s have sworn My k n i g h t s have sworn the c o u n t e r t o i t — a n d say My tower i s f u l l of h a r l o t s , l i k e h i s c o u r t . . . . ( L a s t Tournament, 11.79-81.) The women f l a u n t t h e i r i m p r o p r i e t y by d r e s s i n g up i n a l l c o l o r s i n c l u d i n g r e d , and at Camelot, the jewels f o r which the k n i g h t s f i g h t a r e , a p p r o p r i a t e l y , not diamonds but a ruby c a r c a n e t which the Champion o f n a t u r e wins. The two themes of v i o l e n c e and l u s t merge i n T r i s t r a m ' s "red dream" and i n h i s murder when he embraces I s o l t . In h i s dream he sees I s o l t o f B r e t o n s t r u g g l i n g w i t h I s o l t of T i n t a g i l f o r the .ruby c a r c a n e t : and b o t h Began to s t r u g g l e f o r i t , t i l l h i s Queen Graspt i t so h a r d , t h a t a l l h e r hand was r e d . Then c r i e d the B r e t o n , 'Look, her hand i s r e d ! These be no r u b i e s , t h i s i s f r o z e n b l o o d . . . . ' ( L a s t Tournament, 11.408-11, my i t a l i c s . ) The dream warns T r i s t r a m o f what w i l l f o l l o w s h o u l d he pursue h i s i n t e n t i o n of meeting I s o l t o f T i n t a g i l , f o r the r e d r u b i e s w i l l be t r a n s f o r m e d i n t o T r i s t r a m ' s b l o o d which w i l l f l o w down h e r neck. T h i s ruby c a r c a n e t , or " r e d f r u i t , " sums up the moral decadence of the Round Table because i t symbolizes not o n l y l u s t but a l s o cowardice and v i o l e n c e : T r i s t r a m seeks i t f o r I s o l t , the k n i g h t s r e f u s e to f i g h t T r i s t r a m , and Mark s t r i k e s a f t e r the neck-l a c e i s p l a c e d around h i s w i f e ' s neck. A l l that i s l e f t f o r Camelot i s the outbreak of war and the f i n a l d e s o l a -t i o n , the "red r u i n " which must f o l l o w . As the ruby c h a i n symbolizes the v i c t o r y of l u s t and of v i o l e n c e — o f man's r e d b l o o d o v e r h i s s p i r i t u a l s e l f — s o the diamond n e c k l a c e which L a n c e l o t wins symbo-l i z e s , as w i t h the c o l o r white at Guinevere's wedding, pure l o v e . Both j e w e l s , g i v e n away as p r i z e s , r e f l e c t the w e a l t h and magnanimity of A r t h u r ' s c o u r t , where wealth i s not hoarded f o r i t s own sake, but used f o r the b e n e f i t of mankind, because by o f f e r i n g them as p r i z e s i n a j o u s t , the K i n g ensures t h a t h i s k n i g h t s are kept f i t f o r b a t t l e . Y e t , such i s the d e p r a v i t y of mankind, bo t h are won by k n i g h t s whose b e h a v i o r w i t h the t r o p h i e s i s unworthy of the donor's i n t e n t i o n . L a n c e l o t o f f e r s the diamonds to Guinevere as a t oken of h i s l o v e . In a dramatic scene, the Queen i s l i s t e n i n g to h e r l o v e r make h i s o f f e r w h i l e she s t r i p s the o r i e l of i t s v i n e l e a v e s . Surrounded by green l e a v e s , l i k e a f l o w e r , t h i s woman of p a s s i o n i n a f i t of j e a l o u s y throws the p r o f f e r e d t r o p h y out of the casement. The diamond n e c k l a c e f a l l i n g i n t o the r i v e r by the s i d e of the barge b r i n g i n g the body o f the dead E l a i n e symbolizes the death o f pure l o v e . From now on, the r e d r u b y — a l e s s e r j e w e l , as a l e s s e r k i n d o f l o v e — w i l l h o l d sway. The diamond and the ruby n e c k l a c e s are a l s o p a r t of the ornate r i c h n e s s i n jewels and c l o t h i n g one would expect i n such a m a g n i f i c e n t c o u r t as A r t h u r ' s . However, dre s s and jewels have a s p e c i a l s i g n i f i c a n c e i n the G e r a i n t i d y l l s , where the themes are appearance and r e a l i t y and the f i c k l e n e s s of F o r t u n e . G e r a i n t when f i r s t encoun-t e r e d i s dressed " l i k e a d r a g o n - f l y / In summer s u i t and s i l k s of h o l i d a y " ( M a r r i a g e , 11.172-73). Guinevere promises that she w i l l a r r a y h i s w i f e , whosoever she be, " l i k e the sun." E n i d i s . a c c o r d i n g l y transformed from a bedraggled maiden a l l i n v e r m e i l white to the P r i n c e ' s b r i d e , r o y a l l y d r e s s e d . The second G e r a i n t i d y l l r e c o u n t s how i n h i s j e a l o u s anger the P r i n c e s t r i p s from h i s w i f e a l l h e r f i n e r y u n t i l she i s once more dr e s s e d i n "faded s i l k . " The s t o r y of the G r i s e l d a - l i k e E n i d , who s u f f e r s p a t i e n t l y out of d e v o t i o n and love:'for h e r husband, uses c l o t h e s to express the d i f f e r e n c e between t r u e goodness which can w i t h s t a n d any change of f i c k l e F o r t u n e , and appearances which depend on e x t e r n a l s . F o r those i n d i -v i d u a l s , such as G e r a i n t , who are so e a s i l y duped by appearances and h a l f - t r u t h s , who cannot see beyond the glamor of f i n e c l o t h e s , any change i n f o r t u n e can l e a d to d i s a s t e r . G e r a i n t must l e a r n t o r e c o g n i z e t h a t h i s i d o l a t r o u s worship of h i s w i f e , expressed by h i s d e s i r e "To make her beauty v a r y day by day" ( M a r r i a g e , 1.9), i s f a l s e l o v e because he b l i n d s h i m s e l f t o her t r u e worth. True knighthood i s not dependent on such t r a p p i n g s as armor, f i n e r y , or the tournament, j u s t as t r u e beauty i s not dependent on the jewels g i v e n to one's b e l o v e d , or on the c l o t h e s she wears. E n i d , i n t h e s i m p l i c i t y o f her v e r m e i l - w h i t e d r e s s , was h a p p i e r than the E n i d bedecked by G e r a i n t , as she was h a p p i e r than the b e a u t i f u l l y d r e s s e d Queen who, l a n g u i s h i n g amid the s p l e n d o r of Camelot, s i g h s i n w a r d l y as she laments the burden of i l l i c i t l o v e p l a c e d on h e r h e a r t . J u s t as he was i n c a p a b l e o f u n d e r s t a n d i n g the t r u e meaning of l o v e when G e r a i n t s t r i p p e d E n i d of h e r f i n e r y , so when he s t r i p s the armor from h i s dead opponents he f a i l s to understand the t r u e meaning of knighthood. L i k e L e a r , he must l e a r n t o see not w i t h h i s eyes, but w i t h h i s mind's eyes. THE STRUCTURE OP THE POEM: ANIMAL, BIRD AND FLOWER MOTIFS Sweeter to me . . . t h i s garden rose Deep-hued and many-folded! sweeter s t i l l The wild-wood h y a c i n t h and the bloom of May. ( B a l i n , 11.264-66.) Tennyson's other source o f t r a d i t i o n a l imagery i s n a t u r e , which he uses to a c h i e v e s e v e r a l e f f e c t s . B i r d s and f l o w e r s c o n t r i b u t e to the s p r i n g and summer atmos-phere of A r t h u r ' s r e i g n , and l i k e the use of songs, jewels and c l o t h e s , form p a r t of the o r n a t e t a p e s t r y a g a i n s t which the human drama of A r t h u r ' s b e t r a y a l i s a c t e d out. The imagery from n a t u r e a l s o h e l p s to emphasize the uneasy e q u i l i b r i u m between the s o u l and the beast i n man, f o r e x t e r n a l n a t u r e and man's nature are gardens which c o n s t a n t -l y have t o be weeded. Only then can the f l o w e r of k n i g h t -hood bloom to g i v e good f r u i t . Women are a l s o seen as f l o w e r s , to be c u l t i v a t e d and handled d e l i c a t e l y , not ex-posed to v i o l e n t emotional storms, nor p l u c k e d f o r the k n i g h t s ' p l e a s u r e . As the c o u r t ' s moral h e a l t h degene-r a t e s , the change i n moral s t a t e i s r e f l e c t e d i n the appearance of more u n p l e a s a n t b i r d s and a n i m a l s , h e l p i n g to emphasize the t e n s i o n between the c i v i l i z a t i o n of the c i t y and the p r e d a t o r y animals who prowl the untended c o u n t r y s i d e , as w e l l as t o remind the r e a d e r of man's k i n s h i p w i t h n a t u r e , 1 and the ease of r e g r e s s i o n t o h i s b e s t i a l s t a t e . Images from nature are used to c h a r a c t e r i z e those o who are v i c t i m s of t h e i r p a s s i o n s , i n p a r t i c u l a r , Gawain, S i r E v e n ing S t a r , B a l i n , Guinevere and P e l l e a s . B a l i n i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the a l d e r t r e e — a t r e e i d e n t i f i e d w i t h b i t t e r n e s s — f o r he w i l l mar the l i f e of B a l a n , whose noble n a t u r e i s r e p r e s e n t e d by a p o p l a r t r e e . When B a l i n chops down a bough i n anger, he i s s t r i k i n g s y m b o l i c a l l y at the r o o t of a l l e v i l , namely t h a t t o u c h of " e a r t h " which c h a r a c t e r i z e s man and which u n i t e s him w i t h the r e s t of intemperate n a t u r e . A t r e e i s a l s o used to c h a r a c t e r i z e S i r E v e n i n g S t a r , who has a d r y i n g evergreen f o r h i s c r e s t . T h i s e vergreen symbolizes the deadening i n f l u e n c e the l i f e of i n d u l g e n c e can have on the s o u l . S i r E v e n i n g S t a r i s cased i n a h a r d s k i n which cannot be d e s t r o y e d by weapons, f o r the o n l y way t o e x c i s e bad h a b i t s i s to g r a p p l e w i t h them w i t h d e t e r m i n a t i o n and a f i r m d e s i r e to f r e e o n e s e l f . I f one f a i l s , the h a b i t hardens, as the evergreen hardens when i t d r i e s , u n t i l the s o u l i s p e r v e r t e d by the h a b i t , and the i n t e l l e c t ' s moral frame of r e f e r e n c e i s d i s t o r t e d . When t h i s o c c u r s , one has made the t r a n s i t i o n from A r t h u r ' s Order to the company of t h a t hardened, "evergreen" k n i g h t , S i r T r i s t r a m of the Woods. In the o r i e l scene i n L a n c e l o t , the two forms of nature meet: e x t e r n a l n a t u r e — t h e green l e a v e s which Guinevere p l u c k s and s c a t t e r s around h e r f e e t — a n d h e r u n c o n t r o l l a b l e p a s s i o n which one day w i l l empty Camelot of i t s k n i g h t s . Nature means untrammelled d e s i r e s , c h a r a c -t e r i s t i c o f P e l l e a s ' u p b r i n g i n g . He b r i n g s w i t h him "the sweet s m e l l of the f i e l d s / P a s t , and the sunshine came al o n g w i t h him" ( P e l l e a s , 11.5-6). One remembers too w e l l V i v i e n ' s song of the " f i r e of heaven" t o f o r g e t the a s s o -c i a t i o n of n a t u r e ' s r e p r o d u c t i v e energy w i t h the sun. P e l l e a s has o b v i o u s l y l i v e d a v e r y untrammelled l i f e — " l o r d of many a b a r r e n i s l e " — r e s u l t i n g i n a l a c k of the s e l f - d i s c i p l i n e n e c e s s a r y to one who a s p i r e s t o be a suc-c e s s f u l member of the Round T a b l e . A lthough r e a l l y a member of T r i s t r a m ' s camp because of h i s u p b r i n g i n g , P e l l e a s , u n l i k e T r i s t r a m , s t i l l has a sense of m o r a l i t y because he attempts t o f o l l o w A r t h u r ' s Vow. In terms of e v o l u t i o n a r y p r o g r e s s , t h i s boy of na t u r e precedes T r i s -tram , the man and champion of n a t u r e . When P e l l e a s l i e s down on the mound, the d e s c r i p -t i o n seems t o suggest t h a t a m y s t i c a l u n i o n between k n i g h t and n a t u r e has o c c u r r e d : . . . and as he l a y At random l o o k i n g over the brown e a r t h Through t h a t green-glooming t w i l i g h t of the grove, I t seemed to P e l l e a s t h a t the f e r n without Burnt as a l i v i n g f i r e of emeralds, So t h a t h i s eyes were d a z z l e d l o o k i n g at i t . ( P e l l e a s , 11.30-35.) I t seems t h a t n a t u r e , "the f i r e of heaven," has g r i p p e d him so t h a t he c r i e s out f o r what he c o n s i d e r s i s l o v e : "0 where? I l o v e thee though I know thee n o t " ( P e l l e a s , 1.41). In t h i s d a z z l e d s t a t e he meets E t t a r r e and con-f u s e s l u s t w i t h l o v e , a l e s s o n which he w i l l l e a r n the b i t t e r way: "I never l o v e d h e r , but I l u s t e d f o r h e r " ( P e l l e a s , 1.475). In g e n e r a l , animal imagery i n the I d y l l s empha-s i z e s the constant" t e n s i o n between c i v i l i z e d c i t y and w i l d c o u n t r y s i d e where p r e d a t o r s roam and v e g e t a t i o n grows u n c o n t r o l l e d . The animals serve to remind the r e a d e r how easy i t i s f o r man, the "bare f o r k e d a n i m a l , " to r e g r e s s to h i s savage s t a t e . E v o l u t i o n may have g i v e n him the a b i l i t y to r a i s e h i m s e l f above the s l i m e , but i f t h i s a b i l i t y i s not used, then he w i l l be dragged back, or o v e r - r u n by l e s s e r beings i n t h i s s t r u g g l e f o r s u r v i v a l , f o r a g a i n s t A r t h u r and h i s k n i g h t s are p i t t e d those w i l d animals, E a r l Doorm and the Red K n i g h t . In the background to the r i t u a l i s t i c pageantry of the c o u r t , w i t h i t s t o u r n a -ments, hunts, f e s t i v a l s and glamor l u r k s the c o u n t e r -3 melody of anarchy, savagery and p r e d a t i o n . B e f o r e the coming of A r t h u r , the c o u n t r y - s i d e i s r u l e d by b e a s t s . Men are a l s o w i l d , and t h e i r savagery i s e p i t o m i z e d by w o l f - l i k e men: And thus the l a n d of C a m e l i a r d was waste, T h i c k w i t h wet woods, and many a beast t h e r e i n , And none or few to s c a r e or chase the b e a s t ; So t h a t w i l d dog, and w o l f and boar and bear Came n i g h t and day, and r o o t e d i n the f i e l d s , And wallowed i n the gardens of the K i n g . And ever and anon the w o l f would s t e a l The c h i l d r e n and devour, but now and then, Her own brood l o s t or dead, l e n t h e r f i e r c e t e a t To human s u c k l i n g s ; and the c h i l d r e n , housed In h e r f o u l den, t h e r e at t h e i r meat would growl, And mock t h e i r f o s t e r - m o t h e r on f o u r f e e t , T i l l , s t r a i g h t e n e d , they grew up to w o l f - l i k e men, Worse than the wolves. (Coming, 11.20-33.) Caught between "man and b e a s t , " Leodogran summons A r t h u r who drove "the heathen . . . slew the b e a s t , and f e l l e d / The f o r e s t , l e t t i n g i n the sun',' (Coming, 11.59-60). By the time of P e l l e a s , the i d e a of humans s u c k l e d by wolves r e t u r n s , as i f the s p e c t r e o f those b a r b a r i c days has been r a i s e d a g a i n by the i m m o r a l i t y of A r t h u r ' s c o u r t : "Why then, l e t men couple at once w i t h wolves" ( P e l l e a s , 1.526). In the P a s s i n g , a l t h o u g h the w a l l s of c i v i l i z a t i o n are now d e s t r o y e d , r e c a l l e d by a "chapel n i g h the f i e l d , / A broken c h a n c e l w i t h a broken c r o s s , / That stood on a dark s t r a i t of b a r r e n l a n d " ( P a s s i n g . 11.176-78), the scene i s l e s s one of savagery than of d e s o l a t i o n and d i s -i l l u s i o n . Not wolves but sheep and goats are the animals s y m b o l i z i n g those who have been d e p r i v e d of A r t h u r ' s i n s p i r a t i o n and f a i t h i n h i s Vow, as the Ki n g says, "what are men b e t t e r than sheep or goats / That n o u r i s h a b l i n d l i f e w i t h i n the b r a i n , / I f , knowing God, they l i f t not hands of p r a y e r " ( P a s s i n g , 11.418-20.) Not a l l animals are used f o r d e r o g a t o r y a l l u s i o n s , f o r one animal a s s o c i a t e d w i t h Camelot's g l o r y i s the deer, e s p e c i a l l y the white h a r t . Gareth's mother when she p l e a d s w i t h him to s t a y at home, t e l l s him t h a t he sh o u l d busy h i m s e l f w i t h such d e l i g h t s as c h a s i n g the deer, because t h i s i s the pastime o f r o y a l t y . In The Mar r i a g e of G e r a i n t , the i d y l l opens w i t h a r o y a l hunt of the "milky-white" h a r t " t a l l e r than a l l h i s f e l l o w s " ( M a r r i a g e , 1.150). Not s u r p r i s i n g l y , the white h a r t i s used as a symbol of innocence and p u r i t y which the c o u r t i s c h a s i n g , but which^ Guinevere, l a n g u i s h i n g i n bed, "Lost i n sweet dreams, and dreaming of h e r l o v e / F o r L a n c e l o t " ( M a r r i a g e , 11.158-59), has a l r e a d y l o s t . G e r a i n t , on the other hand, w i l l c a pture h i s own h a r t i n the form of E n i d , dressed i n v e r m e i l - w h i t e , but as the c o u r t w i l l d e s t r o y the white h a r t , and Guine-ve r e has a l r e a d y l o s t her p u r i t y , so G e r a i n t because of V i v i e n ' s poisonous rumors w i l l come c l o s e t o d e s t r o y i n g h i s E n i d . The white deer r e t u r n s i n the L a s t Tournament as the white h i n d when the c o u r t i s beyond redemption. I s o l t , d i s c o v e r i n g T r i s t r a m ' s r u s e , accuses him of h a v i n g l i e d t o h e r i n o r d e r t o seduce h e r : f a l s e hunter and f a l s e h a r p e r , thou Who b r a k e s t through the s c r u p l e of my bond, C a l l i n g me thy white h i n d . . . . ( L a s t Tournament, 11.563-65.) Not o n l y does T r i s t r a m i n s u l t A r t h u r ' s concept of k n i g h t -hood by h i s b e h a v i o r a t the c o u r t and tournament by wear-i n g on h i s s h i e l d a " t i n y s i l v e r deer" he f l o u t s the chaste v a l u e s f o r which A r t h u r ' s c o u r t i s famous. As the white or s i l v e r deer symbolizes innocence and p u r i t y , so the deer w i t h g o l d e n horns symbolizes man's a s p i r a t i o n s . I t i s when A r t h u r and f r i e n d s were out hunt-i n g a " h a r t w i t h g o l d e n horns," t h a t the " q u e s t i o n r o s e / About the f o u n d i n g of the Table Round" ( M e r l i n , 11.408-09). As they d i s c u s s e d how t h i s band of k n i g h t s would be " f o r l o v e of God and men / And n oble deeds, the f l o w e r of a l l the world" ( M e r l i n , 11.410-11), a young k n i g h t became over-e n t h u s i a s t i c and f l a s h e d i n t o song, and "the beauteous beast / Scared by the n o i s e u p s t a r t e d at. our f e e t , / And l i k e a s i l v e r shadow s l i p t away / Through the dim l a n d " ( M e r l i n , 11.419-22). T h i s i s e x a c t l y what the k n i g h t s w i l l do, f o r they w i l l swear to emulate L a n c e l o t ' s vow as they w i l l swear to f o l l o w the g r a i l f o r a y e a r and a day, and because of t h e i r enthusiasm, w i l l f o r g e t t h e i r vow made to A r t h u r , and the g o l d e n peace l i k e the g o l d e n h a r t w i l l s l i p away from t h e i r grasp i n t o the "dim l a n d . " What e l e v a t e s a man from a beast of prey to a c i v i l i z e d k n i g h t i s the moral commitment behind the arm t h a t s t r i k e s , so t h a t when L a n c e l o t f a i l s t o - f o l l o w t h i s p r i n c i p l e , he ceases to be a t r u e k n i g h t . A p p r o p r i a t e l y , when he i s wounded, he l i e s on t h a t symbol of s a v a g e r y — a w o l f - s k i n — w h i l e E l a i n e attempts to r e s c u e him. F u r t h e r -more, as s o c i e t y bands t o g e t h e r a g a i n s t a wolf t h a t t h r e a t -ens the v i l l a g e , so L a n c e l o t ' s kinsmen band t o g e t h e r to d r i v e out t h i s unknown w a r r i o r who had t h r e a t e n e d t h e i r c o u s i n ' s r e p u t a t i o n at the tournament. Another, more m a j e s t i c animal a s s o c i a t e d w i t h L a n c e l o t i s the l i o n , famed f o r i t s n o b i l i t y , s t r e n g t h and courage. They appear on h i s s h i e l d : "Ramp, ye l a n c e -s p l i n t e r i n g l i o n s " ( Gareth, 1.1273), shouts Gareth i n the heat of h i s i n s p i r a t i o n as he b u c k l e s on the C h i e f K n i g h t ' s s h i e l d . L i o n s are a l s o the animals L a n c e l o t encounters on h i s quest f o r the g r a i l : t h e r e was none Stood near i t but a l i o n on each s i d e That kept the e n t r y , and the moon was f u l l . . . . With sudden f l a r i n g manes Those two g r e a t b e a s t s r o s e u p r i g h t l i k e a man Each g r i p t a s h o u l d e r . . . . ( G r a i l , 11.813 - 1 9 . ) The l i o n s r e s t r a i n him from e n t e r i n g the c a s t l e , but as he i s p o i s e d w i t h h i s sword t o s t r i k e them down, he hears a v o i c e which t e l l s him: Doubt n o t , go forward; i f thou doubt, the b e a s t s W i l l t e a r thee p i e c e m e a l . ( G r a i l , 11.821-22..) L a n c e l o t ' s g r e a t e s t enemy i s the p a s s i o n a t e s i d e of h i s n a t u r e , and t h i s cannot be d e s t r o y e d by sword, but by f a i t h and a d e s i r e t o save h i m s e l f . The l i o n s which f a c e the C h i e f K n i g h t r e p r e s e n t s y m b o l i c a l l y the f i g h t he must win a g a i n s t h i s own n a t u r e . N e i t h e r l i o n nor wolf proves as dangerous t o the w e l l - b e i n g of the Round Table as the s e r p e n t , and the sinuous p a t h i t weaves through the i d y l l s e r v e s as a s t r u c t u r a l l i n k . The snake f i r s t appears i n a f a i r l y t r a d i t i o n a l d e s c r i p t i o n of a s e r p e n t i n e r i v e r i n Gareth, where i t s appearance i n any oth e r form would be out of p l a c e . Next, Mark sends the " w i l y V i v i e n " to f e r r e t out the "snakes w i t h i n the g r a s s " i n Camelot, and from a f e r r e t e r of snakes, she becomes, f i r s t , a snake-woman who c l i n g s s e d u c t i v e l y to M e r l i n , and then when angered, a v i p e r ; And l i s s o m e V i v i e n , h o l d i n g by h i s h e e l , Writhed toward him, s l i d e d up h i s knee and s a t , Behind h i s ankle twined her h o l l o w f e e t Together, curved an arm about h i s neck, Clung l i k e a snake. ( M e r l i n , 11.236-40, my i t a l i c s . ) [ V i v i e n ] l e a p t from her s e s s i o n on h i s l a p , and stood S t i f f as a v i p e r f r o z e n . ( M e r l i n , 11.842-43.) The ser p e n t reappears i n the G r a i l where M e r l i n ' s s c r o l l carved on the Siege P e r i l o u s i s l i k e n e d t o a s e r -pent w i t h the l e t t e r s w r i t t e n i n a "tongue no man c o u l d r e a d " ( G r a i l , 1.171). One wonders i f the unreadable s c r o l l i s the magic i n c a n t a t i o n M e r l i n d i v u l g e d to V i v i e n , and the snake s i m i l e c e r t a i n l y b r i n g s to mind the snake-woman. Has M e r l i n , then, foreshadowed h i s death? When b e s i e g e d by women l i k e V i v i e n , man r e q u i r e s a l l h i s defences not to succumb t o h i s p a s s i o n s . P e r c i v a l e i n h i s t r i a l s has s l e p t amongst the snakes i n the g r a s s , but the snakes i n the g r a s s a re harmless compared t o the human snakes he w i l l meet i n the form of l o v e l y women who w i l l charm him from h i s quest, "and th e r e was I disarmed / By maidens each as f a i r as any f l o w e r " ( G r a i l . 11.574-75). The snakes a l s o r a i s e t h e i r heads i n G e r a i n t , B a l i n and ^ P e l l e a s . In G e r a i n t , V i v i e n ' s rumor undoes the k n i g h t ' s composure; i n B a l i n , h er l i e s d e s t r o y the two good k n i g h t s ; and i n P e l l e a s , the moral h e a l t h of the c o u r t has been so poisoned t h a t Gawain now b e t r a y s h i s b r o t h e r -k n i g h t : "Back as a hand t h a t pushes through the l e a f / To f i n d a n e s t and f e e l s a snake, he [ P e l l e a s ] drew" ( P e l l e a s , 11.427-28, my i t a l i c s ) . When Gawain, the " v i p e r , " " p o i s o n s " h i s b r o t h e r k n i g h t , the l a t t e r ex-plode s i n t o a savage anger which he l a t e r d i r e c t s a g a i n s t L a n c e l o t . The sun of Camelot has begun to s e t . The decay of A r t h u r ' s work i s p r e s e n t e d emblem-a t i c a l l y i n the L a s t Tournament by the d e s c r i p t i o n of L a n c e l o t ' s d i s c o v e r y of the babe, " N e s t l i n g , " i n the branches of a h a l f - d e a d t r e e whose r o o t s , " l i k e some b l a c k c o i l of c a r v e n snakes, / C l u t c h e d a t the c r a g " ( L a s t Tour-nament , 11.13-14, my i t a l i c s ) . The i n f a n t i n the e a g l e ' s n e s t i s the symbol of the c o n t i n u i t y of A r t h u r ' s work, f a t e d soon to d i e ; the r o y a l oak, symbol of Camelot, i s b e i n g choked by i t s own r o o t s which appear to a c t l i k e snakes. As the oak i s s i t u a t e d i n a poor environment, so too i s Camelot, and thus A r t h u r ' s i d e a l s . F o r a time both w i l l f l o u r i s h as the oak once d i d , but poor s o i l and the presence of "snakes" w i l l p o i s o n a l l . As the " s e r p e n t " r o o t s are p a r t of the t r e e , so the s e r p e n t s i n Camelot are p a r t of Camelot, f o r they c o n s i s t of such members as T r i s t r a m and Modred. The analogy of Modred w i t h a green c a t e r p i l l a r i n Guinevere i s the r e s u l t o f another s e r i e s of images based on the worm and the summer f l y , t h i s l a t t e r b e i n g used to d e s c r i b e V i v i e n . She a r r i v e s at Camelot at a time of g o l d e n peace when i n a c t i v i t y has l e d to a s l a c k e n i n g of the k n i g h t s ' moral defences. She i s "a g i l d e d summer f l y / Caught i n a g r e a t o l d t y r a n t s p i d e r ' s web" ( M e r l i n , 11.256-57), but a summer f l y a l s o c a r r i e s d i s e a s e and death as V i v i e n c a r r i e s s u s p i c i o n and rumor of Guinevere's i l l i c i t l o v e . Guinevere's i l l i c i t l o v e i s l i k e a worm, a canker, which w i l l d e s t r o y the r o s e . The worm and w i t h e r e d l e a f are f i r s t i n t r o d u c e d i n G e r a i n t , When Doorm o f f e r s E n i d h i s hand i n marriage, the shocked r e a c t i o n from the r e s t of h i s band i s d e s c r i b e d i n terms of worms and w i t h e r e d l e a v e s : While some, whose s o u l s the o l d serpen t l o n g had drawn Down, as the worm draws the w i t h e r e d l e a f And makes i t e a r t h , h i s s e d each a t o t h e r ' s ear . . . . ( G e r a i n t , 11.631-330 The worm r e t u r n s i n M e r l i n , when the m a g i c i a n poni ers on how h i g h purposes are broken by the worm: "The meanest h a v i n g power upon the h i g h e s t , / And the h i g h purpose broken by the worm" ( M e r l i n , 11^193-94, my i t a l i c s ) . The m o t i f of the worm and w i t h e r e d l e a f f i n d s f u l l e x p r e s s i o n i n Gawain's l y r i c s i n P e l l e a s , where i t i s o b v i o u s l y an a l l u s i o n t o Guinevere's a d u l t e r o u s l o v e , f o r she has i d e n -t i f i e d h e r s e l f w i t h the deep-hued r o s e : "He d i e s who l o v e s i t [the r o s e ] , — i f the worm be t h e r e " ( P e l l e a s , 1.400). When the r o s e i s cankered, i t w i l l d i e s p o i l e d ; t h i s a p p l i e s not onl y to the p u r i t y of l o v e , but a l s o t o the i d e a l s of the c o u r t , and to L a n c e l o t whose l o v e f o r a cankered rose b e t r a y s f o r e v e r h i s good name. I f Guinevere's a d u l t e r o u s l o v e i s a m e t a p h y s i c a l worm, a more n a t u r a l i s t i c one e x i s t s i n the shape of Modred. Worms are p a r t of n a t u r e , and from i t s v e r y c r e a t i o n , Camelot has c a r r i e d i t s own vermin. In the s p r i n g t i m e of the c o u r t , Modred's s h i e l d i s blank; he b i d e s h i s time; he too i s a canker which w i t h e r s the l e a f when the gardener ceases to a p p l y p r e v e n t i v e methods, f o r then the worm t h r i v e s . When the c o u r t grows l a x i n i t s m o r a l i t y , then Modred t h r i v e s . The l a s t image of the c o u r t which the poet l e a v e s w i t h the r e a d e r i s one where the c o u r t i e r s are d r e s s e d i n green and have been a-maying, w h i l e Modred, l i k e a green c a t e r p i l l a r , attempts to f e e d on the i l l i c i t l o v e which e x i s t s between L a n c e l o t and Guinevere: F o r thus i t chanced one morn when a l l the c o u r t , G r e e n - s u i t e d , but w i t h plumes t h a t mocked the may, Had been t h e i r wont, a-maying and r e t u r n e d , That Modred s t i l l i n green, a l l ear and eye, Climbed to the h i g h top of the g a r d e n - w a l l To spy some s e c r e t s c a n d a l i f he might . . . . (Guinevere, 11.21-26.) L a n c e l o t might p i c k him up and c a s t him out as one c a s t s away a c a t e r p i l l a r from a p r i z e f r u i t , and the l o v e r s might l a u g h , but the damage has been done as Guinevere r e c o g n i z e s : "Then shuddered, as the v i l l a g e w i f e who c r i e s / 'I shudder, some one steps a c r o s s my grave'" (Guinevere, 11.55-56). ( i i ) Another source of imagery f o r Tennyson i s h i s use of t r a d i t i o n a l b i r d s , i n c l u d i n g the normal complement of r o y a l hawks, eagles and n i g h t i n g a l e s . W i t h i n t h i s o r t h o -dox range of b i r d s the poet does succeed i n a c h i e v i n g s e v e r a l e f f e c t s : f i r s t , the p r o f u s i o n of b i r d imagery h e l p s to c r e a t e the i m p r e s s i o n t h a t the c o u r t of Camelot i s one f u l l of sunshine and summer, f o r a f t e r the Coming comes the s p r i n g of Gareth where the b i r d s are a l l s i n g i n g : The b i r d s Made melody on branch, and melody i n m i d - a i r . ( G a r e t h . 11.180-81.) Secondly, the i n t r o d u c t i o n of more un p l e a s a n t s p e c i e s r e f l e c t s the moral d e g e n e r a t i o n of the c o u r t , u n t i l i n the end, the raven commands the s k i e s . As w i t h the seasons, so here too the c h o i c e of b i r d s h e l p s to show the change from "sweetness and l i g h t " t o moral darkness. Up to M e r l i n , the emphasis has been on those b i r d s most a s s o c i a t e d with k n i g h t s and l a d i e s — e a g l e s , hawks, n i g h t i n g a l e s and f a l c o n s . At the worst, there has been a l e s s e r grade of hawk, S i r Sparrow Hawk, and V i v i e n ' s d e n i g r a t i n g name f o r h e r s q u i r e of S i r C h i c k . Now M e r l i n i n t r o d u c e s an ominous m o t i f — " t h a t f o u l b i r d of r a p i n e whose whole prey / Is man's good name" ( M e r l i n , 11.726-27). The c r e a t u r e w i l l darken the sky over Camelot, u n t i l i t d e s t r o y s the r e p u t a t i o n of L a n c e l o t and Guinevere, a f t e r which i t w i l l pounce on the k n i g h t s u n t i l e v e r y t h i n g Camelot stood f o r i s d e s t r o y e d . T h i s d e v a s t a t i o n i s foreshadowed i n L a n c e l o t , when the owls w a i l at the d y i n g maiden: Death, l i k e a f r i e n d ' s v o i c e from a d i s t a n t f i e l d Approaching through the darkness, c a l l e d ; the owls W a i l i n g had power upon her, and she mixt Her f a n c i e s with the s a l l o w - r i f t e d glooms Of evening, and the moanings of the wind. ( L a n c e l o t , 11.992-96, my i t a l i c s . ) The owl reappears i n the next i d y l l when Gawain i n h i s i r r e v e r e n t mood swears to be " t h r i c e as b l i n d as any noonday owl, / To h o l y v i r g i n s i n t h e i r e c s t a s i e s , / Henceforward" ( G r a i l , 11.863-65, my i t a l i c s ) . L i g h t -h e a r t e d and i r r e v e r e n t though he be, Gawain's a l l u s i o n to the owl b r i n g s back to the r e a d e r the e a r l i e r , more ominous w a i l i n g of the owls at E l a i n e ' s deathbed. Owls at noon might be p h y s i c a l l y b l i n d , but u n l i k e Gawain, t h e i r w a i l -i n g at the approach of death f o r E l a i n e would i n t i m a t e a p e r c e p t i o n of ^forthcoming d i s a s t e r which he c o u l d never a c h i e v e . The darkening of the sunny s k i e s over Camelot now g a t h e r s s t r e n g t h . The d e s c r i p t i o n of P e l l e a s h a v i n g seen "the shadow of a b i r d f l y i n g " i s innocuous, as the d e s c r i p -t i o n of h i s simple o r i g i n i s humorous: "Rough wives t h a t laughed and screamed a g a i n s t the g u l l s " ( P e l l e a s , 1.85). But at the end of the i d y l l , when the poet d e s c r i b e s the f e a r which g r i p s L a n c e l o t and Guinevere, the e a r l i e r r e f e r e n c e s take on a new, n i g h t m a r i s h p e r s p e c t i v e , as i f some l a r g e r b i r d of prey has c a s t i t s shadow over a grove of b i r d s : And each foresaw the d o l o r o u s day to be:v And a l l t a l k d i e d , as i n a grove a l l song Beneath the shadow of some b i r d of prey; Then a long silence came upon the h a l l . . . . (Pelleas, 11.593-96.) The birds of prey assert themselves i n the Last Tournament. Lancelot i s a v i c t i m of h i s conscience: "Lancelot, / Round whose sick head a l l night, l i k e birds of prey, / The words of Arthur f l y i n g shrieked, arose" (Last Tournament, 11.138-39). On the f i e l d , Tristram the knightly predator, whose attitude reveals no knightly i n s p i r a t i o n , defeats a l l challengers. But the ultimate b i r d of prey i s the crane-like Mark,^ who i s described as a coward with "long crane leg s . " Remembering the shadow of a b i r d of prey from the previous i d y l l , one i s now prepared f o r Mark's attack: Out of the dark, just as the l i p s had touched, Behind him [Tristram] rose a shadow and a s h r i e k — "Mark's way," said Mark, and clove him through the brain. (Last Tournament, 11.746-48.) When a l l i s l o s t , and the Queen has f l e d to Almes-bury, the raven makes i t s appearance: T i l l i n the cold wind that foreruns the morn, A blot i n heaven, the Raven, f l y i n g high, Croaked, and she thought, 'He spies a f i e l d of death' . . . . (Guinevere, 11.131-33, my i t a l i c s . ) The lovers and the l e s s e r knights have l e f t t h e i r b lot on heaven, because the purity of Arthur's work has been de-stroyed, the aspirations of h i s Vow rejected, and the raven now waits; c i v i l war and desolation follow hard on the Queen's footsteps. As Arthur r e e l s under these blows, the ghost of Gawain appears to q u e l l h i s doubts, and to assure him that beyond the great deep the birds of r o y a l nature are separated from the l e s s e r ones. There, the King w i l l receive his due reward, but Gawain and others l i k e him w i l l serve t h e i r Dantesque sentence: 'Hail, King! tomorrow thou shalt pass away. Farewell! there i s an i s l e of r e s t f o r thee. And I am blown along a wandering wind, And hollow, hollow, hollow a l l d e l i g h t . ' And f a i n t e r onward, l i k e wild birds that change Their season i n the night and wail t h e i r way From cloud to cloud, down the long wind the dream S h r i l l e d . . . . (Passing, 11.34-41, my i t a l i c s . ) ( i i i ) F l o r a l imagery i s the t h i r d type of nature imagery used i n the I d y l l s . The abundance of flowers helps to create the spring and summer e f f e c t of a happy, moral court as i n Gareth, where "the l i v e green had kindled into flowers, / For i t was past the time of Easterday" (Gareth, 11.182-83). The l y r i c i n the i d y l l celebrates the "dewy flowers that open to the sun" (Gareth, 1.1040), and lynette w i l l l a t e r remark on the fragrance of the honeysuckle. No matter how discourteous she has been to Gareth, i n three l i n e s the poet succeeds i n transforming her very nature. The reader can sense the heightened s e n s i b i l i t y which lynette has acquired through her new-found love f o r Gareth; i n her, sense and emotion commingle: Good l o r d , how sweetly smells the honeysuckle In the hushed night, as i f the world were one Of u t t e r peace, and love, and gentleness! (Gareth, 11.1255-57.) The presence of flowers and weeds i n the two Geraint i d y l l s i n d icate the f i r s t steps taken i n t h i s d r i f t from moral springtime to the barren winter of s p i r i t u a l death. Yniol's castle i s i n ruins and i s covered by "monstrous ivy-stems [which] / Claspt the gray walls with hairy f i b r e d arms, / And sucked the j o i n i n g of the stones, and looked / A knot, beneath, of snakes, a l o f t , a grove" (Marriage, 11.322-25). The flowers are wilding flowers, f o r they grow unchecked. A p a r a l l e l i s found i n human nature, f o r the Sparrow Hawk and the jealous Geraint can torment unchecked the b e a u t i f u l Enid. Enid i s described as a b e a u t i f u l white flower, " l i k e a blossom vermeil white, / That l i g h t l y breaks a faded flower-sheath" (Marriage, 11.364-65). Soon she w i l l be b l i s t e r e d by her husband's jealousy which stems from h i s own unweeded s e l f , as well as from the i n c i p i e n t moral weeds which have taken root i n Camelot. She i s both p h y s i c a l l y and emotionally punished by her husband, f o r i n an act of love, she tears o f f "her v e i l of faded s i l k . . . [and] bared her forehead to the b l i s t e r i n g sun" (Geraint, 11.514-15)* i n order to bind her husband's wound. Thus, flowers are threatened when weeds are l e f t unchecked, but l u c k i l y f o r the prince, beneath the d e l i c a t e , flower-l i k e beauty of Enid, l i e s a moral f i b r e which can withstand h i s unknightly lapse. The i d y l l ends with an example of a knight, namely Edryn the ex-Sparrow Hawk, who has extricated the moral weeds from h i s nature. In a t a c t f u l reprimand to the haughty G e r a i n t , A r t h u r t e l l s him, with respect to Edryn, P u l l seldom doth a man repent, or use Both grace and w i l l to p i c k the v i c i o u s q u i t c h Of blood and custom w h o l l y out of him, And make a l l c l e a n , and p l a n t h i m s e l f a f r e s h . Edryn has done i t , weeding a l l h i s heart As I w i l l weed t h i s l a n d before I go. ( G e r a i n t . 11.901-06.) The chastened Geraint r e t u r n s to E n i d to prove a model knight and husband; true t o the King's Vow, he keeps both h i s l a nd and h i s s o u l w e l l weeded. But constant care i s needed l e s t the weed s p r i n g up again.' When B a l i n r e t u r n s to Camelot he i s a w e l l chastened k n i g h t ; "those three k i n g l e s s years / Have p a s t — were wormwood-bitter to me" ( B a l i n , 11.61-62). When he r e t u r n s t o the c o u r t , the joy of the court at r e c e i v i n g him back i s expressed by, amongst other t h i n g s , f l o w e r s : The l o s t one Pound was greeted as i n Heaven With joy t h a t b l a z e d i t s e l f i n woodland wealth Of l e a f , and gayest garlandage of f l o w e r s . . . . ( B a l i n , 11.78-80.) U n f o r t u n a t e l y , B a l i n ' s self-weeding proves only temporari-l y s u c c e s s f u l , because when he misjudges the meeting be-tween Lan c e l o t and Guinevere, h i s much s t r a i n e d defense c o l l a p s e s ; he l o s e s a l l s e l f - c o n t r o l , and r e v e r t s to h i s more p r i m i t i v e s e l f . Plowers are also used to c e l e b r a t e the l e a v e -t a k i n g of the k n i g h t s as they r i d e o f f i n search of the g r a i l : "Thicker than drops from thunder, showers of flowers / P e l l as we past" ( G r a i l . 11.348-49). This showering of flowers upon the head of the passing knights, assisted hy the omen of thunder, also presages, unfortu-nately, the f a l l of t h i s crop of knighthood, f o r few w i l l return from the quest, and the next crop of flowers w i l l prove a poorer species. I f the Coming announces the advent of a spring-time of morality, and Gareth celebrates the f u l l bloom of the court, then by the time one reaches the G r a i l , one has reached the l a s t days of summer. Very soon a l l these flowers of manhood w i l l be dead, k i l l e d by V i v i e n rumors which disseminate the poison of i l l i c i t love. For V i v i e n and Gawain, women are seen as flowers to be plucked. Struck by Balin's and Balan's good looks, she comments to her squire, "They might have cropt the myriad flower of May" ( B a l i n , 1.567). I r o n i c a l l y , May i s the month i d e n t i f i e d with Guinevere, the myriad flower of womanhood. In another example, Vivi e n when l i s t i n g to Mer l i n the inadequacies of the knights, accuses S i r Sagra-more of deflowering h i s beloved "before the hour": What say ye to sweet S i r Sagramore, That ardent man? "to pluck the flower i n season," . . . 0 Master, s h a l l we c a l l him overquiek To crop h i s own sweet rose before the hour? (Merlin, 11.719-23.) For Gawain, E l a i n e , the l i l y maid of A s t o l a t , i s seen as a "wild flower f o r me" (Lancelot. 1.640), as Et t a r r e i s iden-t i f i e d with the rose i n h i s song, "a rose but one." In contrast to t h i s predatory attitude i s Lancelot' courteous r e f u s a l of Elaine's love, when he advises her to " y i e l d your flower of l i f e / To one more f i t l y yours, not t h r i c e your age" (Lancelot, 11.947-48). Although Elaine i s both p h y s i c a l l y and s p i r i t u a l l y b e a u t i f u l , not a l l women are l i k e herr, as Pelleas and Percivale discover. E t t a r r e ' s character i s shallow, and the women who enter-, t a i n P e r c i v a l e are " f a i r as any flower," but s e l f i s h enough to want to shake him from h i s quest and Vow. The true flower of womanhood i s Guinevere, as Lancelot i s the true flower of knighthood. Lancelot returns with her "among the flowers i n May" (Coming, I. 451). Although f i r s t associated with May and white, Guinevere i s always described i n the colors of other flowers. In so doing, the poet succeeds i n contrasting the public image of the Queen with her p r i v a t e , more f r a i l , p e r sonality. In B a l i n , she i d e n t i f i e s h e r s e l f with the garden rose and the hyacinth: "Sweeter to me . . . t h i s garden rose / Deep-hued and many-folded! sweeter s t i l l / The wild-wood hyacinth and the bloom of May" (Ba l i n , I I . 264-66). The deep-hued rose i s a well-known symbol fo r passionate love, and the wild-wood hyacinth suggests a kinship with nature and i t s anarchic, amoral, reproductive force. When V i v i e n appeals to Guinevere f o r admission to the court, the Queen i s again described i n May terms, but here too she i s associated with nature by the color green, the color of vegetation: . . . the Queen who stood A l l g l i t t e r i n g l i k e May sunshine on May l e a v e s In green and g o l d , and plumed w i t h green . . . . ( M e r l i n , 11.85-87.) At the o r i e l she i s a g a i n a s s o c i a t e d w i t h green which s u r -rounds her f e e t as she p l u c k s i n a g i t a t i o n the l e a v e s from the v i n e : . . . the Queen Brake from the v a s t oriel-embowering v i n e l e a f a f t e r l e a f , and t o r e , and c a s t them o f f T i l l a l l the p l a c e whereon she stood was green . . . . ( L a n c e l o t , 11.1190-93.) From s t a n d i n g l i k e the May-Queen w i t h green l e a v e s at h e r f e e t and a diamond n e c k l a c e i n h e r hand, she becomes i n Guinevere a v o t i v e of n a t u r e , f o r she and her c o u r t have embraced n a t u r e ' s ways i n t h a t they have a l l dressed i n green and have gone a-maying. F i n a l l y , w h i l e t a k i n g r e f u g e at Almesbury, when she sho u l d be chastened by her misdeeds, and should be concerned w i t h p r a y e r s and repentance, h e r f r a i l n a ture s t i l l g e t s the b e t t e r of h e r i n t e n t i o n s , and she f a l l s back to r e m i n i s c i n g on those h a p p i e r days when nature was i n f u l l bloom as she rode w i t h L a n c e l o t t o meet A r t h u r : ( f o r the time Was maytime, and as y e t no s i n was dreamed) Rode under groves t h a t looked a p a r a d i s e Of blossom, over sheets of h y a c i n t h That seemed the heavens upbreaking through the e a r t h . . (Guinevere. 11.384-88.) The k n i g h t s are a l s o p o r t r a y e d i n f l o r a l terms, f o r they are the f l o w e r o f manhood. A r t h u r t e l l s h i s new k n i g h t s , "My younger k n i g h t s , new-made, i n whom your f l o w e r Waits to be s o l i d f r u i t of gol d e n deeds" ( L a s t Tournament, 11.99-100, my i t a l i c s ) , t o f o l l o w him i n b a t t l e a g a i n s t the Red K n i g h t . At Almesbury, the Ki n g t e l l s Guinevere how he had gathered around him "A g l o r i o u s company, the f l o w e r of men, / To serve as model f o r the mighty w o r l d " (Guinevere, 11.461-62, my i t a l i c s ) , and i t was t h i s g r e a t company, this Round T a b l e , which Guinevere's "shameful s i n wi t h L a n c e l o t " h e l p e d undo. Yet, p r i o r t o h i s s i n , Lance-l o t was "the f l o w e r of a l l t h e i r v e s t a l knighthood" ( B a l i n , 1.501). As t h i s k n i g h t s i n k s deeper and deeper i n t o the morass of h i s a d u l t e r o u s l o v e , he does r e c o g n i z e the e f f e c t t h a t h i s s i n i s h a v i n g upon him as when he e x p l a i n s to A r t h u r : • i n me l i v e d a s i n So s t r a n g e , of suc h a k i n d , t h a t a l l of pure Noble, and k n i g h t l y i n me twined and c l u n g Round t h a t one s i n , u n t i l the wholesome f l o w e r and poisonous grew t o g e t h e r , each as each, Not t o be pl u c k e d asunder . . . . ( G r a i l , 11.769-74, my i t a l i c s . ) When the sap of the f l o w e r i s poisoned, the f l o w e r d i e s , and L a n c e l o t ' s enervated s t a t e i n the L a s t Tournament r e -v e a l s h i s s t a t e of moral decay. A cankered f l o w e r produces no f r u i t , or at l e a s t , no good f r u i t . At Almesbury, when the maid asks Guinevere which of the two, A r t h u r or Lance-l o t , i s the n o b l e r , the Queen r e p l i e s t h a t "manners are not i d l e , but the f r u i t / Of l o y a l n a t u r e , and of noble mind" (Guinevere, 11.333-34, my i t a l i c s ) . To t h i s m o r a l i z i n g , the innocent maid d r i v e s the f i n a l n a i l i n t o the c o f f i n of L a n c e l o t ' s r e p u t a t i o n : "be manners such ( f a i r f r u i t ? / Then L a n c e l o t ' s needs must be a t h o u s a n d f o l d / Less n o b l e " (Guinevere, 11.335-37). F i n a l l y , even though the r e p u t a -t i o n of t h i s f l o w e r of c o u r t e s y i s b l i g h t e d f o r ever, h i s c o u r t e s y and n o b i l i t y t o prove f o r e v e r f r u i t l e s s , Guinevere, chastened by her misdeeds y e t s t i l l c apable of t e n d e r n e s s , p l e a d s h i s and her own e p i t a p h : I f ever L a n c e l o t , t h a t most noble k n i g h t Were f o r one hour l e s s noble than h i m s e l f , Pray f o r him t h a t he scape the doom of f i r e And weep f o r her who drew him to h i s doom. (Guinevere, 11.343-46.) CONCLUSION In a s e r i e s of t a l e s o f t e n unconnected, but which are , i n f a c t , bound t o g e t h e r e i t h e r t h e m a t i c a l l y or by the use of images t h a t f u n c t i o n as m o t i f s because of t h e i r r e c u r r i n g and o f t e n cumulative e f f e c t , Tennyson w r i t e s an ele g y f o r the d i s s o l u t i o n of t h a t i d y l l i c c i t y , Camelot, where i d e a l s f l o u r i s h e d i n a time of golden peace. The poet, as s e e r and h i s t o r i a n , e x p l a i n s i n a tone of lamenta-t i o n the causes f o r the d i s s o l u t i o n of the Round T a b l e : f a t e , f o l l y and c r a f t have a l l combined to wear down the a s p i r a t i o n s o f the s o u l . Over a p e r i o d o f time, chance has i n e v i t a b l y drawn i n i t s l o t t e r y events which have weakened Camelot. These range from a time before the f o u n d a t i o n o f the Round T a b l e , when A r t h u r as a young man f i r s t n o t i c e s Guinevere, to a l a t e p e r i o d i n h i s r e i g n when the g r a i l appears to h i s k n i g h t s . In a t a l e of love a t f i r s t s i g h t , d o u b t l e s s Guinevere's f a i l u r e to observe h e r f u t u r e husband, and her subsequent f r i e n d s h i p w i t h L a n c e l o t b e f o r e e n c o u n t e r i n g the K i n g , serve the f i r s t blows to the harmony of the Round T a b l e . Then A r t h u r ' s absence from Camelot at the time of the a p p a r i t i o n o f the g r a i l l e a d s to the k n i g h t s swearing to r i d e f o r a y e a r and a day i n a quest which, because i t was not made f o r them, w i l l prove a d i s a s t e r to h i s p o l i c y of s o c i a l r e d r e s s as l a i d down i n h i s Vow. The f o o l i s h n e s s of the k n i g h t s ' vow t o chase the g r a i l emphasizes a b a s i c f l a w i n t h e i r n a t u r e . They are capable of e n c o u n t e r i n g and d e f e a t i n g o v e r t forms of e v i l , but t h e i r over-enthusiasm and v u l n e r a b i l i t y t o d e c e p t i o n prove t h e i r undoing. When e v i l dons the appearance of l i s s o m e V i v i e n , or when i t comes to d i s t i n g u i s h i n g between t r u e and f a l s e c o u r t e s y , the k n i g h t s are s a d l y l a c k i n g i n d i s c r i m i n a t i o n . Hence, B a l i n i s e a s i l y duped by V i v i e n , as G e r a i n t i s m i s l e d by Limours. U n f o r t u n a t e l y , because of the n a t u r e of good, i t can never r e c o g n i z e e v i l except i n i t s more o v e r t forms. E v i l , what i s more, i s ever p r e s e n t , as e p i t o m i z e d by Modred's presence from the c r e a t i o n of the Round Table and h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p to A r t h u r ' s f o s t e r f a m i l y , l o r can e v i l be e l i m i n a t e d , f o r a t the end, V i v i e n and Mark s t i l l l i v e . I t s i n f l u e n c e can Tbe. o n l y t e m p o r a r i l y kept i n check. An e q u i l i b r i u m t h e r e f o r e e x i s t s between the f o r c e s of good and the f o r c e s of e v i l ; such a s t a t e demands cons t a n t a l e r t n e s s and a s t r i c t obedience to the Vow. Once t h i s a l e r t n e s s i s l o s t , the moral atmosphere w i l l l e n d i t s e l f to rumors and s l a n d e r , an admission of which, i n time, w i l l prove the undoing of s o c i e t y , f o r w i l d nature w i l l e r u p t . Nature i s n e u t r a l or amoral, f o r God does not a c t i v e l y work the u n i v e r s e , but l e a v e s i t alone f o r man to c o n t r o l , whether by the hunt or through m a g i c a l i n c a n t a t i o n — b y arm or by mind. The s t r u g g l e i s c o n s t a n t , because nature i s always t h r e a t e n i n g t o swamp mankind. The D i v i n e g i f t i s on a D i v i n e s c a l e w i t h which m o r t a l man must attempt t o cope. A p l e t h o r a of animals and v e g e t a t i o n t h r e a t e n s to swamp the w a l l s of the c i t y u n l e s s kept i n check, but b e f o r e man can c o n t r o l n ature he must f i r s t l e a r n t o c o n t r o l h i m s e l f , f o r man i s p a r t o f nature too; he i s h i m s e l f p a r t a n i m a l . The two important c h i l d r e n o f n a t u r e i n the poem, who are more " f l e s h " than s p i r i t , are T r i s t r a m and Guine-v e r e . By a s s o c i a t i n g the month of May w i t h the Queen, h e r f r a i l t y i s seen i n a l a r g e r c o n t e x t , because she i s not j u s t Queen of Camelot, the home of c i v i l i z a t i o n , but a l s o the May Queen, the Queen of n a t u r e . I r o n i c a l l y , h e r "champion" should not be L a n c e l o t or A r t h u r , but T r i s t r a m , the Champion of n a t u r e . H i s p h i l o s o p h y of amoral e x i s t e n c e , i n which the a n a r c h i c and s e l f i s h d e s i r e s are f r e e , animal preys upon animal, and the d e s i r e f o r s e n s u a l g r a t i f i c a -t i o n can be j u s t i f i e d on the grounds of n a t u r a l need, c h a r a c t e r i z e the way of nat u r e and those who are her c h i l d r e n . The r e p r o d u c t i v e f o r c e i n n a t u r e , seen as man's d e s i r e f o r woman i n human n a t u r e , i s a n a t u r a l but i m p r i s o n -i n g need. A r t h u r c o n f e s s e s h i s l o v e - s i c k n e s s i n the Coming; L a n c e l o t i s trapped and cannot escape from Guinevere's charms; E l a i n e d i e s from u n r e q u i t e d l o v e ; T r i s t r a m i s drawn to h i s death by h i s d e s i r e f o r I s o l t ; P e l l e a s i s snared by E t t a r r e ; and even the aged M e r l i n succumbs to V i v i e n . R e c o g n i z i n g the t h r e a t which u n r e q u i t e d or i l l i c i t l o v e can prove t o h i s g r e a t d e s i g n , A r t h u r demands t h a t h i s k n i g h t s remain l o y a l i n a chaste l o v e t o one woman. He even wishes t h a t h i s C h i e f K n i g h t would marry, hut l a n c e -l o t c o u n t e r s w i t h the opposing t r u t h t h a t w h i l e the i n t e l -l e c t can r e c o g n i z e the importance of a s t a b l e home, the d e s i r e f o r a s p e c i f i c woman i s not always f o r t h c o m i n g . I r o n i c a l l y , i t i s Guinevere who i s trapped by h e r marriage; i n t e l l e c t u a l l y , she might worship A r t h u r ' s goodness, but her own sensuous n a t u r e demands a l e s s a s c e t i c spouse, and as a r e s u l t of h e r mismatch, the Round T a b l e i s d e s t r o y e d . Caught i n t h e i r e m o tional t r a p , L a n c e l o t and Guine-vere e v e n t u a l l y s u r r e n d e r to t h e i r p a s s i o n a t e n a t u r e s , but such i s the poet's p r e s e n t a t i o n of these l o v e r s , t h a t he succeeds i n r e t a i n i n g the r e a d e r ' s sympathy f o r them w i t h -out l e s s e n i n g the d e b i l i t a t i n g e f f e c t such an i l l i c i t l o v e has on t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e psyches. Guinevere i s p r e s e n t e d as a g r a c i o u s and b e a u t i f u l but sensuous woman. Her a d u l t e r o u s l o v e takes i t s t o l l on her equanimity, p r o d u c i n g as a r e s u l t a c e r t a i n harshness i n h e r b e h a v i o r . L a n c e l o t becomes a prey t o h i s c o n s c i e n c e ; the i n t e r n a l t u r m o i l weakens the once g r e a t k n i g h t , u n t i l i n the end, he i s onl y a s h e l l of h i s former s e l f . L a n c e l o t , the f l o w e r of cour -t e s y , undermines h i s own r a i s o n d ' e t r e by p r o v i n g d i s -courteous and d i s l o y a l t o h i s K i n g and f r i e n d . A l t h o u g h Guinevere's mismatch w i t h A r t h u r i s o b v i o u s l y one of the c e n t r a l f l a w s i n the c r e a t i o n of the Round T a b l e , and her a d u l t e r o u s l o v e f o r L a n c e l o t i s t h e r e f o r e c e n t r a l to the poem, i t i s n o n e t h e l e s s not e n t i r e l y c o r r e c t to conclude t h a t her i l l i c i t l o v e s e t s the p a t t e r n f o r the o t h e r s to f o l l o w . Both T r i s t r a m and A r t h u r w i l l c l a i m t h i s , but both are bound by t h e i r own l i m i t e d p e r s p e c t i v e : T r i s t r a m i s a t t e m p t i n g to r a t i o n a l i z e h i s own d e f i c i e n c i e s , and A r t h u r has seen h i s l i f e ' s work crumble b e f o r e h i s eyes. What does emerge from a r e a d i n g of the poem i s t h a t a c e r t a i n antagonism e x i s t s between k n i g h t and l a d y . Even L y n e t t e a c t s u n w i t t i n g l y as a temptress t o h e r k n i g h t a f t e r they have been r e c o n c i l e d , and G e r a i n t reneges from h i s k n i g h t l y o b l i g a t i o n s out of u x o r i o u s n e s s f o r E n i d b e f o r e he has heard of any rumors of the Queen's f a l s e n e s s . The most important example, because of the i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r the Round.Table, who does not use Guinevere's d i s l o y a l t y as a p a t t e r n f o r h i s own b e h a v i o r , but who, n o n e t h e l e s s , out of l o n e l i n e s s breaks A r t h u r ' s Vow by l i s t e n i n g t o V i v i e n and so to s l a n d e r , i s d e s t r o y e d by the serpent-woman's c r a f t . Thus, i t appears t h a t o t h e r members of the Round Tab l e a r e , l i k e Guinevere and L a n c e l o t , v u l n e r a b l e to the temptations of the f l e s h . I t was to p r o t e c t h i s k n i g h t s ' v u l n e r a b i l i t y i n order to r e a l i z e h i s d e s i g n , that the K i n g had propounded h i s Vow. The Vow emphasized the moral p u r i t y i n one's p e r s o n a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s , summed up by f i d e l i t y and c h a s t i t y i n l o v e and moral r e c t i t u d e i n one's s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p , expressed by the command n e i t h e r t o speak nor hear s l a n d e r , and t o honor one's word. However, even these simple com-mands can have d i s t u r b i n g r a m i f i c a t i o n s , as w i t n e s s the k n i g h t s ' f o o l i s h vow to pursue the g r a i l f o r a y e a r and a day, or L a n c e l o t ' s vow of v i r g i n l o v e f o r Guinevere, f o r when the P r i n c e awakens to r e a l i z e t h a t h i s a d o r a t i o n of the Queen i s f a r from v i r g i n a l , he i s as much tr a p p e d by h i s vow of a l l e g i a n c e t o h e r as he i s by h e r charms. In the end, A r t h u r ' s Vow proves i m p r a c t i c a b l e , f o r those who f a i l to obey i t range from young G e r a i n t to o l d M e r l i n , and the consequence i s that the Round Tab l e d i s -s o l v e s i n the m i s t o f the L a s t B a t t l e . A l l t h a t i s l e f t o f A r t h u r ' s Order, of d e v o t i o n , c o u r t e s y and i d e a l i s m , i s a l o n e l y and f r a i l k n i g h t who i s as much a r e l i c of a l o s t , g o l d e n age as he i s a sad reminder of the reasons f o r i t s l o s s , because t h i s o l d e s t and t r u s t e d k n i g h t i s seduced by the g l i t t e r o f a sword h i l t and proves u n f a i t h -f u l to h i s d y i n g K i n g . As Dagonet had so c o r r e c t l y ob-ser v e d , f i g s cannot be made from t h i s t l e s , nor men from b e a s t s , and,the members of the Round Table prove on the whole t o be j u s t f r a i l , f o o l i s h m o r t a l s i n c a p a b l e of main-t a i n i n g A r t h u r ' s h i g h s t a n d a r d of b e h a v i o r . The d e s t r u c t i o n of Camelot r e v e a l s Tennyson's sad r e c o g n i t i o n of the i n e v i t a b i l i t y of man's f a i l u r e i n h i s endeavors. A l l t h i n g s good are t r a n s i e n t and can onl y have a b r i e f l i f e b e f o r e b e i n g t a r n i s h e d , i f not d e s t r o y e d . I n i t i a l l y , the d r i v i n g f o r c e o f an i n s p i r a t i o n c a p t u r e s the i m a g i n a t i o n , and men, not always comprehending the dream, w i l l march out i n u u n i s o n t o pave the way to a "golden age." However, once the summit has been reached, and a "golden peace" e s t a b l i s h e d , one's moral armor i s hung up, and d u t i e s are no l o n g e r done as they should be; vows are not q u i t e kept t o the l e t t e r of the s p i r i t ; and flaw s always p r e s e n t but once kept i n check now break out u n t i l a l l crumbles b e f o r e the f o r c e s of e v i l . I f the poem f l i r t s w i t h d e s p a i r , i t n e v e r t h e l e s s ends on an o p t i m i s t i c n o t e , f o r i f A r t h u r ' s Order has d i e d and the new y e a r h e r a l d s a new g e n e r a t i o n of l e s s e r moral s t a t u r e , t h e r e i s a t l e a s t the promise, i n h e r e n t i n the c y c l i c s t r u c t u r e of the poem, both i n terms of s e a s o n a l time and imagery, t h a t a new c y c i e sometime i n the f u t u r e w i l l r e - e s t a b l i s h the "golden peace." Furthermore, when the sun h e r a l d s the new y e a r a f t e r the f i n a l b a t t l e , one i s l e f t w i t h a cosmic calm as a f t e r a Shakespearean tragedy; i f the K i n g of goodness l i e s d y i n g , then the e v i l arch-enemy, Modred, l i e s s l a i n . The l a s t b a t t l e i s the f i n a l f e v e r i s h exorcism of e v i l i n A r t h u r ' s r e i g n , and the s t i l l calmness of the waste l a n d which the -next g e n e r a t i o n i n h e r i t s i s at l e a s t h a l f a not c h b e t t e r than the o r i g i n a l l a n d of Ca m e l i a r d , " t h i c k w i t h wet woods" and f i l l e d w i t h b e a s t s . One i s a l s o l e f t w i t h a very t h i n r a y of hope i n M e r l i n ' s prophecy t h a t A r t h u r w i l l r e t u r n a g a i n some day, and i f t h i s hope i s i n s u f f i c i e n t , t h e r e i s the f i n a l r e t r e a t from the edge of the p r e c i p i c e of d e s p a i r to the s e c u r i t y of r e l i g i o u s c o n c i l i a t i o n which A r t h u r a r r i v e s a t : i f the break-up of the Round Table and the b e t r a y a l by some of; h i s k n i g h t s and c l o s e s t f r i e n d s d r i v e him to the verge of d e s p a i r , and t o q u e s t i o n God's i n s c r u t a b l e ways w i t h man, the K i n g at the end submits t o the g r e a t e r , i f not u n d e r s t a n d a b l e , wisdom of h i s Maker. S u f f i c i e n t f o r man t h a t he d i d h i s duty f a i t h f u l l y , f o r "God f u l f i l s H i m s e l f i n many ways." A f a i t h i n God, submission t o H i s i n s c r u -t a b l e ways, and p r a y e r s are the i n g r e d i e n t s which can b r i n g about another Camelot. I t i s i r o n i c t h a t A r t h u r ' s l a s t a d v i c e t o B e d i v e r e should be to pray, f o r the King's a d v i c e r e v e a l s a change i n a t t i t u d e . Indeed, e a r l i e r he admitted t h a t h i s emphasis on a c t i v e C h r i s t i a n i t y was perhaps n a i v e : A r t h u r had thought to work H i s w i l l , but had onl y s t r u c k i n v a i n w i t h the sword. The K i n g has had to l e a r n to h i s c h a g r i n t h a t peace on e a r t h cannot be a c h i e v e d , or a t l e a s t s u s t a i n e d , by man a l o n e . A l l man's e f f o r t s are i n v a i n without God's h e l p . A r t h u r ' s f i n a l r e c o g n i t i o n of the e f f i c a c y and n e c e s s i t y of p r a y e r stands i n c o n t r a s t to the way Tennyson p r e s e n t s r e l i g i o n i n the poem. What i s p r a i s e d i s not the p a s s i v e , c l o i s t e r e d l i f e , but the a c t i v e C h r i s t i a n who p r a c t i c e s h i s p r i n c i p l e s i n e r a d i c a t i n g e v i l and i n main-t a i n i n g j u s t i c e i n s o c i e t y . When A r t h u r c h i d e s h i s k n i g h t s f o r vowing to pursue the g r a i l , he p o i n t s out t h a t t h e i r s i s not a l i f e of m e d i t a t i o n , of c l o i s t e r e d s e c l u s i o n , but a l i f e of a c t i o n . Those who should d e d i c a t e t h e i r l i f e to p r a y e r , such as Galahad, are c a l l e d to t h e i r v o c a t i o n , and w i l l a c h i e v e the E t e r n a l C i t y . Others, such as P e r c i -v a l e , who f o r c e the i s s u e , w i l l only a c h i e v e an u n s a t i s -f a c t o r y s o l u t i o n which w i l l r e n d e r them u s e l e s s f o r t h e i r t r u e purpose of r e d r e s s i n g wrong i n s o c i e t y . The r e l i g i o u s l i f e i n the I d y l l s i s f u r t h e r under-mined hy the type of people found i n the c l o i s t e r s . These i n c l u d e the n a i v e maid of Almesbury, the simple Amhrosius, and P e r c i v a l e ' s j i l t e d s i s t e r . L a n c e l o t and Guinevere w i l l end t h e i r l i v e s i n m o n a s t e r i e s — t h e r e t o repent f o r past deeds, a l t h o u g h i t i s obvious t h a t the Queen would be f a r h a p p i e r roaming through the w i l d h y a c i n t h s . F i n a l l y , P e l l a m , "once a C h r i s t i a n f o e " and now a devoted i f not devout r e c l u s e , has become a member of the c l o i s t e r e d com-munity. I t i s not j u s t the r e l i g i o u s l i f e , but the m i r a c u -l o u s s i d e of r e l i g i o n which i s a l s o undermined. By a t t r i b u t i n g s t o r i e s of such phenomena to n a i v e people l i k e the maid at Almesbury, or to B e l l i c e n t or Ambrosius, who presumably r e t e l l s P e r c i v a l e ' s t a l e , the poet succeeds i n undermining t h e i r importance w h i l e making them more p a l a t a b l e to n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y r e a d e r s . What i s p r e s e n t e d are two a p p a r e n t l y e x c l u s i v e w o r l d s : the worl d of the s o c i a l l y a c t i v e C h r i s t i a n , whose p r a y e r i s a c t i v e commit-ment, and the world of the r e c l u s e and of the n a i v e l y r e l i g i o u s , t o whom the m i r a c u l o u s i s a s t r o n g e r r e a l i t y than i t i s to the a c t i v i s t . At the end, A r t h u r r e a l i z e s t h a t the two worlds are not e x c l u s i v e — t h a t a l l the good works w i l l not b r i n g p a r a d i s e to e a r t h u n l e s s God d i v i n e l y i n t e r v e n e s . Hence the need f o r p r a y e r as w e l l as a c t i o n . The apparent moral of the I d y l l s , t hen, i s t h a t u n l e s s s o c i e t y g i r d s i t s e l f w i t h s e l f - d i s c i p l i n e , a s o c i a l c o n s c i e n c e , and l o y a l t y t o the -Crown, b a r b a r i s m w i l l sweep a l l away. The d e s t r u c t i o n of Camelot i s a warning f o r V i c t o r i a n England. Prom A r t h u r ' s p o i n t of view, the d e s t r u c -t i o n of Camelot r a i s e s the q u e s t i o n of d i v i n e j u s t i c e and man's s p i r i t u a l p o t e n t i a l . B e t r a y e d by w i f e and f r i e n d s , b a t t e r e d by chance and e v i l , no h e l p f o r t h c o m i n g from God, A r t h u r , not u n r e a s o n a b l y , q u e s t i o n s the D i v i n e e x i s -tence and p l a n : he has found Him i n the s t a r s and i n the f i e l d s , but not i n h i s ways w i t h men. Tennyson has pur-sued the s e a r c h to i t s l i m i t . Beyond l i e s the f r i g h t e n i n g and l o n e l y world of n o t h i n g n e s s — t h e g o d l e s s v o i d which the t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y knows too w e l l . F o r a moment A r t h u r l o o k s down i n t o t h i s v o i d and a l l i s c o n f u s i o n : he knows not what he i s , from where he came, or i f he i s even K i n g . A r t h u r i s Everyman q u e s t i o n i n g h i s e x i s t e n c e . I f f o r a moment A r t h u r has t e n t a t i v e l y s t r e t c h e d out h i s hand i n t o the e x i s t e n t i a l v o i d , the next moment he has f i r m l y r e t r a c t e d i t , and once more stands s e c u r e l y i n the c o m f o r t i n g b e l i e f i n God and H i s m y s t e r i o u s ways. When the K i n g a d v i s e s B e d i v e r e to pray, he can now g i v e t h i s a d v i c e w i t h f u l l s i n c e r i t y , because he has known d e s p a i r . A r t h u r ' s i l l u m i n a t i o n i s p r o b a b l y Tennyson's too. A g a i n s t the i n e v i t a b l e decay of i d e a l s and the f r i g h t -e n ing c o n c l u s i o n t h a t e v e r y t h i n g must d i e , so r e n d e r i n g man's l i f e and a c t i o n s absurd, Tennyson l i k e h i s hero embraces e m p h a t i c a l l y the C h r i s t i a n way of l i f e which he i d e n t i f i e s w i t h the modus v i v e n d i i n England under i d e a l c o n d i t i o n s . As Poet Laureate he has a moral duty to guide h i s c o u n t r y a l o n g the r i g h t path; as an i n d i v i d u a l he has known the menace of s p i r i t u a l emptiness which t h r e a t e n s the doubter. T h e r e f o r e , f r i g h t e n e d t h a t England would s u r r e n -der i t s i d e a l s because of a moral l a x n e s s , he thunders a g a i n s t the moral d i s e a s e which t h r e a t e n s the body p o l i t i c : f o r some are s c a r e d , who mark Or w i s e l y or u n w i s e l y , s i g n s o f storm, Waverings of every vane w i t h every wind, And wordy t r u c k l i n g s t o the t r a n s i e n t hour, And f i e r c e or c a r e l e s s l o o s e n e r s of the f a i t h , And s o f t n e s s b r e e d i n g s c o r n of simple l i f e , Or Cowardice, the c h i l d of l u s t f o r g o l d , Or Labour w i t h a groan and not a v o i c e , Or A r t w i t h poisonous honey s t o l e n from Prance, And t h a t which knows, but c a r e f u l f o r i t s e l f , And t h a t which knows no t , r u l i n g t h a t which knows To i t s own harm . . . . (To the Queen. 11.48-59.) INTRODUCTION " H B. S. B u r c h e l l , "Tennyson's A l l e g o r y i n the Di s t a n c e , " PMLA, LXVIII (1953), 418-24. Acco r d i n g to B u r c h e l l , "The poem i s the biography of a wasted c i v i l i z a -t i o n , the r e g r e t f o r an i d e a l that cannot be a t t a i n e d a g a i n . " See a l s o R. A d i c k s , " S t r u c t u r e and Meaning i n Tennyson's I d y l l s of the K i n g , " D i s s e r t a t i o n A b s t r a c t s , XXVII (1966), 764A (Tulane). "The I d y l l s of the K i n g , then, i s the s t o r y of the death of a grand dream of s o c i a l p r o g r e s s , and as such i t i s a treatment of the problem of widespread s o c i a l and moral d i s i n t e g r a t i o n t h a t Tennyson saw t a k i n g place i n the modern world." 2 J . Solomine, "The Burkean Idea of the State i n Tennyson's Poetry: The V i s i o n i n C r i s i s , " Huntingdon  L i b r a r y Q u a r t e r l y , XXX (1966-67), 147-65. This s t r u g g l e i n the I d y l l s between man and beast, between c i v i l i z a t i o n and anarchic nature can be t r a c e d back to Burke: "man cannot e x i s t i n i s o l a t i o n ; he cannot be considered an i s o l a t e d p a r t i n a l i f e l e s s machine. God had ordained the s t a t e to be man's ' n a t u r a l ' environment, and e i t h e r to destroy i t , or to i s o l a t e o n e s e l f from i t s s a v i n g graces i s to speed man s w i f t l y t o the beast." 3 •'L. Dhaleine, A Study on Tennyson's I d y l l s of  the King ( B a r - l e Due: Comte-Jaquet, Fac d u e l , 1905), p. 87. For Dhaleine, the "Soul . . . s i g n i f i e s the Power of the Laws, and of a wise, e n l i g h t e n e d r u l e r who knows how to ma i n t a i n order i n h i s kingdom, w h i l e he u n c e a s i n g l y , but c a u t i o u s l y , widens the bounds of the l i b e r t y of h i s sub-j e c t s . " On the other hand, "Sense . . . means Lust under a l l i t s shapes: which a l l o w s us to enjoy the pleasures of l i f e without t h i n k i n g of those who s u f f e r ; a t a s t e f o r the poisoned honey of ignoble a r t . . . the love of b r u t i s h f o r c e . . . ." 1 L . Poston, " P e l l e a s and E t t a r r e : Tennyson's T r o i l u s , " V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , IV (1966J, 199-204. "Nature i s ungoverned, o v e r - b o u n t i f u l , r u n w i l d . The v e r y f e r -t i l i t y of the scene p a r a d o x i c a l l y suggests waste and squandered beauty . . . ." 2 S. J . Solomon, "Tennyson's P a r a d o x i c a l K i n g , " V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , I (1963), 258-71. "Tennyson, then, demonstrates t h a t c i v i l i z a t i o n i s determined by the a b i l i t y -of men to impose a r t i f i c i a l ( i . e . u n n a t u r a l ) standards on p o l i t i c a l and s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s . The i n t e n t i n promul-g a t i n g these s t a n d a r d s , i n l a r g e p a r t , i s to subdue the n a t u r a l (the beast) i n man. The n a t u r a l man i s not the C h r i s t i a n k n i g h t but the heathen or the outlaw E a r l Doorm or the r e b e l Red K n i g h t . A s s o c i a t i n g the n a t u r a l w i t h w i l d n e s s and l a c k of r e s t r a i n t , A r t h u r sees c o n f u s i o n and paradox i n human na t u r e l e a d i n g to the t o t a l d e s t r u c t i o n of the o r d e r . " 3 C . B. P a l l e n , The Meaning of the I d y l l s of the  K i n g (New York: American Book Co., 1904), p. 19. "The main p u r p o r t of the I d y l l s i s to show f o r t h the k i n g s h i p of the s o u l , and how o n l y through t h a t k i n g s h i p the b east i n man i s subdued. T h e i r message i s a rebuke to the p r i d e of the f l e s h , the crime of sense become the crime of m a l i c e , the a n c i e n t r e b e l l i o n a g a i n s t the s p i r i t u a l and God." ^P. E. I . P r i e s t l e y , "Tennyson's I d y l l s , " U n i v e r -s i t y of Toronto Q u a r t e r l y , XIX (1949-50), 35-49. " V i v i e n has always r e c o g n i z e d the v a l u e of what she i s a t t a c k i n g ; she knows t h a t A r t h u r i s r i g h t , and t h a t her own l i f e i s wrong and e v i l . But T r i s t r a m i s p repared to defend by argument h i s own r e j e c t i o n of the vows." 5 / H. Van Dyke, S t u d i e s i n Tennyson (New York: C. S c r i b n e r & Sons, 1920), p. 164. "Tennyson teaches t h a t the s o u l of man has power to r e s i s t and conquer s i n w i t h i n i t s own domain, to triumph over sense by s t e a d f a s t l o y a l t y to the h i g h e r n a t u r e , and thus to a c h i e v e peace and f i n a l g l o r y . " c Solomon, p. 270. "Tennyson f e l t , o b v i o u s l y , t h a t g r e a t men s h o u l d by t h e i r own moral examples t r y t o e s t a b -l i s h t h e i r v a l u e s (which are t r u t h s ) i n s o c i e t y . I n d i v i d u a l moral r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , f o r Tennyson, i s m e a n i n g f u l l a r g e l y i n r e l a t i o n to the r e l i g i o u s , e t h i c a l , and s o c i a l v a l u e s h e l d by the s o c i e t y . Without a moral c e n t r e , moral chaos e x i s t s , which was the s i t u a t i o n b e f o r e and a f t e r Arthur' 1 s r e i g n . " 7 N. M. E n g b r e t s e n , "The Thematic E v o l u t i o n of the I d y l l s o f the K i n g , " V i c t o r i a n N e w s l e t t e r , XXVI (1964), 1-5. The d i s c r e p a n c y between appearance and r e a l i t y " c o n s t i t u t e s t h a t work's most encompassing c o n c e p t u a l f e a -t u r e as w e l l as perhaps the most fundamental Tennysonian f i e l d of i n v e s t i g a t i o n . " o Van Dyke, p. 163. "Love i s the motive f o r c e of the poem . . . . But l o v e a l s o must move w i t h i n the bounds of law, must be t r u e to i t s vow. Not even the s t r o n g e s t and most b e a u t i f u l s o u l may f o l l o w the guidance of p a s s i o n without r e s t r a i n t ; f o r the g r e a t e r the g e n i u s , the beauty, the power, of those who t r a n s g r e s s , the more f a t a l w i l l be the i n f l u e n c e o f t h e i r s i n upon o t h e r l i v e s . " W. H. Vann, "A Prototype of Tennyson's Arthur," Sewanee Review, LXXI (1963), 98-103. "Even h i s [Arthur's] own followers understood him imperfectly. They c a r r i e d out h i s commands, yet f a i l e d to grasp the s p i r i t u a l s i g -n i f i c a n c e of the task, and comprehended h i s i d e a l s but vaguely." 2N. M. Engbretsen, "The Thematic Evolution of The  I d y l l s of the King." V i c t o r i a n Newsletter, XXVI (1964), 1-5. The "motif of s p i r i t u a l c o n f l i c t i n the I d y l l s assumes such varied shapes, as on the one hand, the q u a l i f i e d actual halving of personality i n the Doppel-ganger brothers B a l i n and Balan . . . ." See also J. M.' Gray, "Pact, Form and F i c t i o n i n Tennyson's B a l i n and Balan," Renaissance and Modern Studies, XII (1968), 90-107. "Balin and Balan are the p o l a r i s a t i o n of the s e l f into i t s c o n f l i c t i n g yet complementary elements." 3 J . P. Eggers, "The Weeding of the Garden: Ten-nyson's Geraint I d y l l s and the Mabinogion," V i c t o r i a n  Poetry, IV 91966), 45-51. The theme of the Geraint i d y l l s i s revealed by Geraint "who takes true f o r f a l s e by reach-ing impulsive conclusions on the basis of outward appear-ances. " 4R. B. Wilkenfeld, "Tennyson's Camelot: The King-dom of F o l l y , " U n i v e r s i t y of Toronto Quarterly, XXXVII (1967-68), 281-94. "From the beginning i t i s c l e a r that Arthur w i l l be 'time's f o o l . ' " "^ H. E l s d a l e , Studies i n the I d y l l s (London: H. S. King & Co., 1907), p. 91. Elsdale holds a d i f f e r e n t opin-ion of Tristram: "He i s a pleasure-seeking man who i s inwardly conscious that he i s working below h i s own moral standard, and seeks to drown these unpleasant inward whispers of h i s own better s e l f , by taking refuge i n a careless Epicureanism, h a l f affected and h a l f r e a l . He has evidently a deeper moral and philosophic i n s i g h t into h i s own character and p o s i t i o n than any f o r which on a hasty view, we might have given him c r e d i t . " 2 S. J . Solomon, "Tennyson's Paradoxical King," V i c t o r i a n Poetry, I (1963), 258-71. "The r e a l i s t ' s approach i s Gawain's or Tristramps, a c y n i c a l attitude with low goals, i n d i f f e r e n t to a l l external v e r i t i e s , and dedicated only to Ruskin's Goddess of Getting-on." W^. R. Brashear, "Tennyson's Tragic V i t a l i s m : I d y l l s of the King." V i c t o r i a n Poetry, VI (1968), 29-49. Brashear i n t e r p r e t s Tristram's analysis of Arthur's Vow d i f f e r e n t l y . According to him, "Tristram's denunciation of Arthur and the vows i s based e s s e n t i a l l y on his percep-t i o n that they are unnatural and have no d e f i n i t e sanctions i n a r e a l world of things." ^[Anon.], "Tennyson and the S i n f u l Queen," Twen-t i e t h Century, CLVIII (1955), 355-63. According to t h i s a r t i c l e , Tennyson was highly influenced by Milton's Sam-son Agonistes i n h i s a t t i t u d e to the "dual nature of women: M i l t o n i c woman, 'at f i r s t a l l heavenly under v i r g i n v e i l ' and presently a 'cleaving m i s c h i e f as well as a major source of danger to the man she marries." Furthermore, "at no time was a man i n greater jeopardy than at the moment of sexual union with the woman of his choice." L. Dhaleine, A Study on Tennyson's I d y l l s of the  King (Bar-le-Duc: Comte-Jaquet, Facduel, 1905), p. 69. "Thus she [Vivien] sings with wild energy the hidden i r r e s i s t i b l e forces which drive towards some unknown goal a l l Nature, r e b e l l i o u s to the w i l l of Man, to the laws that, i n h i s v a i n conception of a f a n c i f u l world, he would impose upon i t ; — a n d that woman, who r e v o l t s against a l l human laws, even as Nature, her true mother, r e v o l t s against Man, takes from the wild passions which burn i n her heart a kind of unique grandeur and sublimity." "4?. Baum, Tennyson: S i x t y Years A f t e r (Chapel H i l l : U n i v e r s i t y of N o r t h C a r o l i n a , 1948), p. 211. Baum has a much h a r s h e r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of Guinevere: "as a c h a r a c t e r she i s f l a t , w ithout the excuse a l l e g e d f o r A r t h u r , t h a t of b e i n g a symbol . . . . In s p i t e of the f a c t t h a t she i s , on the poet's t e s t i m o n y , the prime cause of the k i n g ' s d o w n f a l l , she i s l e f t i n the background and seldom a l l o w e d a p a r t i n the dramatic a c t i o n ; she i s a l a y f i g u r e , not an a c t o r , i n her own t r a g e d y . " 2 B. L i t z i n g e r , "The S t r u c t u r e of Tennyson's The  L a s t Tournament," V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , I (1963), 53-60. "There i s no p e r s o n a l f l a w i n A r t h u r , except perhaps t h a t he has b e l i e v e d too t h o r o u g h l y i n the p e r f e c t a b i l i t y of human n a t u r e . " See a l s o an e a r l y a r t i c l e , "The E p i c of A r t h u r , " E d i n b u r g h Review, CXXXI (1870), 502-39. " I t i s d i f f i c u l t to do more than d e s c r i b e and adore the p e r f e c t man; i n h i s very essence he i s p a s s i v e . There are no w a r r i n g p a s s i o n s about him, no f i e r c e a m b i t i o n s , no undermining meanness of d i s t r u s t . U n t i l the moment comes when he i s crushed under the sudden a n g u i s h of sorrow and shame, A r t h u r cannot be an a c t i v e a c t o r on the scene." See a l s o , H. Van Dyke, S t u d i e s i n Tennyson (New York: C. S c r i b n e r & Sons, 1920), p. 161. 3 P. E. L. P r i e s t l e y , "Tennyson's I d y l l s , " U n i v e r s i t y  of Toronto Q u a r t e r l y . XIX (1949-50), 35-49. "Art h u r as s o u l i s a symbol of these s p i r i t u a l v a l u e s , i d e a l s , a s p i r a t i o n s , and i s consequently f o r Tennyson i d e n t i f i e d w i t h the r e -l i g i o u s f a i t h which must animate man, s o c i e t y , and n a t i o n . " W^. R. B r a s h e r , "Tennyson's T r a g i c V i t a l i s m : I d y l l s  of the K i n g . " V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , VI (1968), 29-49. The "Master-Irony" i s c e n t r e d around the K i n g and " i n v o l v e s the d i s c r e p a n c y between what the K i n g appears to o t h e r s — or what he a p p a r e n t l y stands f o r , on the one hand, and, on the o t h e r , the K i n g as he i s , human and d e s p a i r i n g . " "^J. R i c h a r d s o n , The Pre-Eminent V i c t o r i a n : A Study  of Tennyson (London: Jonathan Cape, 1962), pp.'114-15• "'The warmth of double l i f e ' does not seem warm t o Tenny-son; and, but f o r one b r i e f passage i n Guinevere, the f i n a l meeting of Guinevere and L a n c e l o t , t h e r e i s no h i n t of p a s s i o n throughout the twelve books." 2 [ A n o n . ] , "Tennyson," Blackwood's Magazine, GLII ( J u l y - D e c . 1892), 748-66. " . . . f o r indeed the f i g u r e of L a n c e l o t i s t h a t to which we t u r n w i t h the ache of sympa-t h e t i c p a i n . No one can know so w e l l as he a l l t h a t i s i n v o l v e d i n h i s s i n ; no one can hate i t more than he, whose whole purpose and g l o r y o f l i f e i s d i s t r a c t e d and r u i n e d by as w e l l as t h a t of A r t h u r . . . ." See a l s o P. Baum, Tennyson: S i x t y Years A f t e r (Chapel H i l l : U n i -v e r s i t y of N o r t h C a r o l i n a , 1948), p. 209. " L a n c e l o t i s the g r e a t n e g l e c t e d c h a r a c t e r of the poem and should have been the hero i f Tennyson's a l l e g o r i c a l 'scheme' had not prevented him from doing L a n c e l o t j u s t i c e . " See a l s o [Anon.], "The E p i c of A r t h u r , " Edinburgh Review, CXXXI (1870), 502-39. "• • • o n l y a g r e a t poet c o u l d have drawn so noble a c o n c e p t i o n as t h a t of L a n c e l o t from the homely i n d i c a t i o n of the romances . . . . No medieval m i n s t r e l ever dreamt of a s o u l so complex, y e t so simple, of the n o b l e n e s s so mixed w i t h the g u i l t , and y e t so noble through i t . " CHAPTER SIX: THE STRUCTURE OP THE POEM: TIME, GOD AND THE POET'S VOICE "4i. K o z i c k i , "Tennyson's I d y l l s of the K i n g as T r a g i c Drama," V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , IV (1966), 15-20. A c c o r d -i n g to K o z i c k i , the " c y c l i c n a t u r e of the t r a g e d y " i s i n A r t h u r ' s words, "the o l d o r d e r changeth." See a l s o H. Tennyson, A l f r e d L o r d Tennyson: A Memoir, I I (London: M a c m i l l a h & Co., 1897J, p. 127. " B i r t h i s a mystery and death i s a mystery, and i n the midst l i e s the t a b l e l a n d of l i f e , and i t s s t r u g g l e s and performances. I t i s not the h i s t o r y of one man or of one g e n e r a t i o n but of a whole c y c l e of g e n e r a t i o n s . " 2 B. L i t z i n g e r , "The S t r u c t u r e o f Tennyson's The  L a s t Tournament," V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , I (1963), 53-60. "T h i s i s . t h e Autumn of the Table Round, a P a l l of muck and marsh, mud and f i l t h , not of t r e e s t u r n e d r e d brown and g o l d . No g o l d e n day's d e c l i n e , t h i s i s the p r e l u d e to a deadly Winter, the time of Modred's t r e a c h e r y and Arthur;'^ p a s s i n g . I f the i d e a l s of A r t h u r budded i n the S p r i n g and bloomed i n Summer, t h i s Autumn sees them blown, and Winter w i l l see them dead." 3 L. Poston, " P e l l e a s and E t t a r r e : Tennyson's T r o i l u s . " V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , IV (1966). 199-204. Fo r Poston, the f o r e s t i n the I d y l l s , " a s s o c i a t e d w i t h darkness and p r i m e v a l v i o l e n c e , poses a t h r e a t of some k i n d . " ^ S i r C. Tennyson, "The Dream i n Tennyson's P o e t r y , " The V i r g i n i a Q u a r t e r l y Review. LX (1964), 228-48. "The dream may be (not n e c e s s a r i l y always i s ) a t r u e v o i c e from the s p i r i t w o r l d . . . . The import of the dream i s m y s t i c , emphasizing the s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t y of the c r i s i s or emotion of the poem . . . . In a l l these examples the dream i s t r e a t e d r e a l i s t i c a l l y , n e v er as a s u p e r n a t u r a l phenomenon or as a d i v i n e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . . . ." CHAPTER SEVEN: STRUCTURE OP THE POEM: LYRICAL AND IMAGISTIC ELEMENTS "*"W. R. B r a s h e a r , "Tennyson's T r a g i c V i t a l i s m : I d y l l s o f the K i n g , " V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , VI (1968), 29-49. " M e r l i n expresses i n t h i s song ["Rain, r a i n and s u n ! 1 ] the r e l a t i v i t y of a l l o b j e c t i v e t r u t h , or knowledge about ' t h i n g s , 1 c o n c l u d i n g o n l y about the s e l f t h a t i t comes from and goes t o the g r e a t deep." 2 L. Poston, " P e l l e a s and E t t a r r e : Tennyson's T r o i l u s , " V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , IV (1966), 199-204. The l y r i c , "a worm w i t h i n the r o s e , " s e r v e s d r a m a t i c a l l y t o d e l a y "the a c t i o n w h i l e i t h e i g h t e n s the t e n s i o n . T h e m a t i c a l l y , i t r e f l e c t s Gawain's r o l e as the 'worm' i n P e l l e a s ' i l l u s o r y garden of a r t , and l i n k s t h a t i l l u s i o n w i t h the r e a l i t y . . . 3 B r a s h e a r , p. 39. "Tennyson's theme, i f we can c a l l i t a theme, i s doom, the King's doom, and from the o u t s e t an atmosphere of f o r e b o d i n g e n g u l f s the I d y l l s . " "^R. G r i d l e y , "Confusions of the Seasons i n Tenny-son's The L a s t Tournament," V i c t o r i a n N e w s l e t t e r , XXII (1962), 14-16. Tennyson uses c o l o r images, p a r t i c u l a r l y r e d t o suggest f o r T r i s t r a m and company "a change from w i n t e r t o s p r i n g . " F u r t h e r , " c o l o u r t o them i s a s i g n of the emergence of new l i f e r a t h e r than a s i g n of d i s i n t e -g r a t i o n and approaching death." 5 I b i d . , p. 14. "Whiteness, i n the l o g i c of Tenny-son's imagery, once suggested p u r i t y and innocence; but by the time of the l a s t tournament, i t has come to suggest s t e r i l i t y . " ^1. L. F a s s , "Green as a M o t i f of A l f r e d Tennyson," V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , I I I (1965), 139-41. "Tennyson uses green to p a i n t a l a n d t h a t l i v e s i n the r e a d e r ' s mind and s t i r s o l d memories . . . ." 7 ' I b i d . , p. 140. "Green r e p r e s e n t s n a t u r e , the s e t t i n g f o r l i f e . L i f e a t i t s h i g h e s t i s the making of g r e a t r e s o l u t i o n s . . . ." o G r i d l e y , p. 14. " T r i s t r a m d r e s s e d i n f o r e s t green and wearing h o l l y s p r i g s i n which r e d b e r r i e s are con-s p i c u o u s , wins the tournament i n which chaos overthrows o r d e r . When T r i s t r a m ' s hand i s d i s c o v e r e d to be r e d w i t h b l o o d , the green of the f o r e s t becomes a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the r e d of s e n s u a l p a s s i o n and b e s t i a l i t y . The g a l l e r i e s i n t e r p r e t T r i s t r a m ' s v i c t o r y as a s i g n t h a t the w i n t e r has been broken and s p r i n g has come." o I b i d . , p. 14. "Red suggests the s e n s u a l and c h a o t i c f o r c e s of n a t u r e . . . ." CHAPTER EIGHT: THE STRUCTURE OP THE POEM: ANIMAL, BIRD AND FLOWER MOTIFS A. Kern, "King Lear and P e l l e a s and E t t a r r e , " Modern Language Notes, XXXVII ( 1 9 2 2 ) , 1 5 3 - 5 7 . Tennyson had p r e s e n t e d ( a c c o r d i n g t o Kern) i n P e l l e a s and E t t a r r e and elsewhere i n h i s p o e t r y , "the e s s e n t i a l u n i t y of man and b e a s t , the e l e m e n t a l , u n i v e r s a l n a t u r e - o f the animal w o r l d . " See a l s o E. E n g e l b e r g , "The Beast Image i n Tenny-son's I d y l l s of the K i n g , " J o u r n a l of E n g l i s h L i t e r a r y  H i s t o r y , XXII ( 1 9 5 5 ) , 287-92T "To s t r e n g t h e n the moral e f f e c t s o f r e c o r d i n g man's demise and to fo c u s more s h a r p l y on the grim i m p l i c a t i o n s o f a humanity i n bondage to the P a s s i o n s , Tennyson f i l l s the I d y l l s w i t h a c o n s i s t e n t image — t h e image of the b e a s t . " 2 I b i d . , p. 287. "Throughout the poem the beast image appears, most o f t e n m e t a p h o r i c a l l y , t o p o i n t up the ol d m e d i e v a l and Renaissance view of man d i v i d e d a g a i n s t h i m s e l f by d i v i n e s t r i v i n g s and a b e s t i a l p r e d i s p o s i t i o n . " See a l s o Kern, p. 155. "In Tennyson's view, n o t h i n g so tended t o lower mankind t o the l e v e l of the beast as impure p a s s i o n ; n e a r l y every man or woman of impure l i f e i n the I d y l l s i s compared by e i t h e r metaphor or s i m i l e , u s u a l l y both, to one or more of the lower a n i m a l s . " 3 E n g e l b e r g , p. 287. The "beast image serve s to p i c t u r e g r a p h i c a l l y t h i s c i r c u l a r p r o g r e s s i o n " of beast-man-b e a s t . ^B. L i t z i n g e r , "The S t r u c t u r e of Tennyson's The  L a s t Tournament," V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , I ( 1 9 6 3 ) , 53-60. " T ". . i n l i g h t of the A r t h u r i a n dream, T r i s t r a m has ' r e e l e d back i n t o the b e a s t , ' and has, i r o n i c a l l y , to d i e at the hands of Mark, the s t i l l more savage b e a s t . " 5 ^ J . P. Eggers, "The Weeding of the Garden: Tennyson's G e r a i n t I d y l l s and the Mabinogion," V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , IV ( 1 9 6 6 ) , 4 5 - 5 1 . "The weeding of the garden i s thus the c o n t r o l l i n g image of the two G e r a i n t i d y l l s ; A r t h u r says he w i l l weed the l a n d b e f o r e he goes. But w h i l e he i s r i d d i n g h i s realm of i t s v i c i o u s q u i t c h , he f a i l s to see i t s f a i r e s t f l o w e r b e i n g p l u c k e d w h i l e h i s back i s t u r n e d . " A SURVEY OP CRITICISM OP THE IDYLLS A survey of the c r i t i c s ' comments on Tennyson's I d y l l s of the King r e v e a l s how u n t r a c t a b l e the poem has proven, f o r a t no time i n i t s e x i s t e n c e has i t r e c e i v e d e i t h e r unanimous a c c l a i m or unanimous r e j e c t i o n . P r a i s e has always been tempered w i t h r e s e r v a t i o n , blame m i t i g a t e d by p r a i s e . The poem's i n t r a c t a b i l i t y can be t r a c e d to s e v e r a l major causes: the problem of u n i t y ; the a l l e -g o r i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e ; the r o l e of K i n g A r t h u r ; and the q u e s t i o n of the poem's r e l a t i o n to e p i c . In t h i s survey, the commentaries have been d i v i d e d i n t o s e v e r a l groups: ( i ) g e n e r a l comments; ( i i ) comments on the u n i t y of the poem; ( i i i ) comments on the a l l e g o r y of the poem; ( i v ) comments on K i n g A r t h u r ; and (v) comments which might be termed m o d e r n i s t i c . C r i t i c s spanning a hundred y e a r s have expressed t h e i r censure of the I d y l l s . Bagehot i n 1859 complained t h a t "the I d y l l s are d e f e c t i v e i n dramatic power."''" Por him, Tennyson's i m a g i n a t i o n "seems to f i x i t s e l f on a p a r t i c u l a r p e r s o n i n a p a r t i c u l a r s i t u a t i o n ; and he pours out, w i t h ease and abundance, w i t h d e l i c a c y and exactness, a l l which i s s u i t a b l e t o that p e r s o n i n t h a t s i t u a t i o n ; " but "the power of w r i t i n g a s o l i l o q u y i s v e r y d i f f e r e n t from t h a t o f w r i t i n g a c o n v e r s a t i o n . " Three q u a r t e r s of a c e n t u r y l a t e r , E l i o t was t o w r i t e , " f o r n a r r a t i v e Ten-nyson has no g i f t at a l l . " Presumably, E l i o t must a l s o have had the L a u r e a t e ' s magnum opus i n mind. A l s o Blunden, i n h i s i n t r o d u c t i o n to The S e l e c t e d P o e t r y of Tennyson, s t a t e s t h a t "the I d y l l s , i t might be thought, f u r n i s h e d an example of i n s p i r a t i o n d y i n g when c o m p o s i t i o n begins . . . not much happens to h i s r e a d e r s now; h i s mighty men and a i r y - f a i r y women ' a i n ' t r e a l ' and t h a t i s the end of 4 i t . S t i l l , the m o r a l i t y was the t h i n g . " An a d j u n c t t o the c r i t i c i s m d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t the poet's i n a b i l i t y to t e l l a s t o r y w e l l , o r to draw f u l l -f l e s h e d c h a r a c t e r s , i s Swinburne's comment t h a t "Mr. Tenny-son has lowered the note and deformed the o u t l i n e of the A r t h u r i a n s t o r y , by r e d u c i n g A r t h u r t o the l e v e l of a w i t t o l , Guinevere to the l e v e l of a woman of i n t r i g u e , and 5 L a u n c e l o t to the l e v e l of a 'co-respondent.'" M e r l i n and  V i v i e n i s seen as "an e l a b o r a t e p o e m — d e s c r i b i n g the e r o t i c f l u c t u a t i o n s and v a c i l l a t i o n s of a do t a r d under the moral and p h y s i c a l m a n i p u l a t i o n of a p r o s t i t u t e . " ^ Swinburne i s not only a t t a c k i n g Tennyson's a b i l i t y t o c h a r a c t e r i z e , but a l s o h i s abuse o f the A r t h u r i a n l e g e n d i n a l l i t s m e d i e v a l g l o r y , something which A r n o l d was to echo i n h i s l e t t e r to h i s s i s t e r : "The f a u l t I f i n d w i t h Tennyson i n h i s I d y l l s of the Ki n g i s t h a t the p e c u l i a r charm and aroma of the M i d d l e Ages he does not g i v e i n them."' Hopkins a l s o accused the I d y l l s of b e i n g " u n r e a l i n motive and i n c o r r e c t , u n c a n o n i c a l so to say, i n d e t a i l and k e e p i n g . He should Q have c a l l e d them 'Charades f o r the M i d d l e Ages' . . . ." Where these gentlemen s t r a y e d was i n t h e i r demand f o r f i d e l i t y to an e r a which, one might add, was i t s e l f a v i c t i m of the n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y ' s romantic i n c l i n a t i o n s . In answer to those who have c r i t i c i z e d Tennyson's abuse of the m e d i e v a l s t o r y , Buckley has w r i t t e n : The o b j e c t i o n t h a t the sequence as a whole mis-r e p r e s e n t s medieval l i f e and manners i s h a r d l y p e r t i n e n t , f o r the c i t y b u i l t t o music belongs to no s o c i e t y i n time. The poet's method i s not the way of l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m . . . .9 . " ' F o r a l l t h e i r censure, the c r i t i c s have nonethe-l e s s r e c o g n i z e d the consummate workmanship of the poem. A c c o r d i n g t o C a r l y l e , "we r e a d , at f i r s t , Tennyson's I d y l l s , w i t h profound r e c o g n i t i o n of the f i n e l y e l a b o r a t e d execu-t i o n , and a l s o b'f the inward p e r f e c t i o n of v a c a n c y , — a n d , to say t r u t h , w i t h c o n s i d e r a b l e impatience at b e i n g t r e a t e d so v e r y l i k e i n f a n t s , though the l o l l i p o p s were so super-l a t i v e . " 1 ^ F o r Hopkins, "each scene i s a triumph of language and of b r i g h t p i c t u r e s q u e , " 1 1 but n o n e t h e l e s s a charade. N e i t h e r C a r l y l e ' s n o r Hopkins's censure, how-ever, was as pungent as t h a t of the London Q u a r t e r l y  Review of 1870, which accused the poem of h a v i n g no o v e r t c o n s c i o u s p l a n , of p o s s e s s i n g no v i t a l c h a r a c t e r s , of i s o l a t e d and o f t e n u n s u i t a b l e e p i s o d e s , and of p o s s e s s i n g 12 a l y r i c r a t h e r than a dramatic pathos. Most c r i t i c s have not been as h a r s h , and the g e n e r a l e s t i m a t i o n of the poem i s perhaps b e s t expressed by Boas who c o n s i d e r e d the 13 I d y l l s a flawed m a s t e r p i e c e . A s e r i o u s f l a w f o r some c r i t i c s i s the l a c k of u n i t y i n the poem. In l i n e w i t h the a r t i c l e i n the Q u a r t e r l y Review, Boas has a l s o commented t h a t "The I d y l l s  of the K i n g i s not an o r g a n i c whole; i t i s a medley w i t h a s t r a n g e l y f i t f u l i n s p i r a t i o n . " 1 ^ " With r e s p e c t to i n d i -v i d u a l i d y l l s , the L a s t Tournament has been shown t o possess a fragmented n a r r a t i v e where, "except f o r the framework p r o v i d e d by the Tristram-Dagonet c o n t r a s t , t h e r e i s no evidence i n the poem of any attempt at a compact 15 and c o o r d i n a t e d n a r r a t i v e s t r u c t u r e . " Not s u r p r i s i n g l y , then, a l a r g e number of c r i t i c a l essays are concerned w i t h the s t r u c t u r e of the poem. F o r one modern c r i t i c , the I d y l l s i s t r a g i c drama, w i t h the form of the drama seen i n terms of the myth under-l y i n g a l l Greek drama: b i r t h , death and r e b i r t h of the seasons; and A r t h u r i s seen as the b r i n g e r of Goodness l f i and as the s a c r i f i c i a l lamb. C e r t a i n l y , both the s t r u c t u r e of the poem wit h i t s use of s e a s o n a l imagery and A r t h u r ' s t r a g i c awareness t h a t the o l d o r d e r changes " y i e l d i n g , p l a c e to new" s u p p o r t s such an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n . K o z i c k i a l s o c i t e s G i l b e r t Murray on the myth of s e a s o n a l change: "Each y e a r a r r i v e s , waxes g r e a t , commits 17 the s i n of H u b r i s , and t h e n i s s l a i n . " ' The t r a g i c hero i s drawn i n t o the p a t t e r n o f u n i v e r s a l j u s t i c e , because he too i s g u i l t y of some s i n . Thus, Oedipus i s the p o l l u t e r of Thebes, and Hamlet i s sucked i n t o the r i t u a l of revenge by h i s r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the k i l l i n g of P o l o n i u s , Rosen-c r a n t z and G u i l d e n s t e r n . A r t h u r , as the poet c o n s t a n t l y s t r e s s e s , and as K o z i c k i has not e d , i s b l a m e l e s s . Nor i s he ever drawn i n t o t h e _ p a t t e r n o f u n i v e r s a l j u s t i c e u n t i l the end, when the world around him has c o l l a p s e d . The Ki n g i s more a v i c t i m — t o o much s a c r i f i c i a l lamb and too l i t t l e s i n n e r . One should add t h a t i t was p r e c i s e l y the a l t e r a t i o n o f Malory's A r t h u r i a n s t o r y , which c o n v e r t e d A r t h u r from a t r a g i c f i g u r e g u i l t y of a s i n he had un-w i t t i n g l y committed i n h i s yo u t h to a v a p i d s a i n t i n Tennyson's poem, t h a t Swinburne o b j e c t e d t o . Other forms by which c r i t i c s have sought t o ex-pr e s s the u n i t y of the I d y l l s i n c l u d e the "mimetic mode" and the s i g n i f i c a n c e of i n d i v i d u a l i d y l l s to the whole scheme. The k n i g h t s and l a d i e s a re seen as types or a n t i -1 R types of A r t h u r , L a n c e l o t or Guinevere. The i d y l l s of the "Round T a b l e " i l l u m i n a t e "the c e n t r a l t r i a n g l e i n a lower mimetic mode." I t i s not s u r p r i s i n g , i f A r t h u r i s i d e a l man, L a n c e l o t the epitome of g a l l a n t but d e f e c t i v e knighthood, and Guinevere b e a u t i f u l but f r a i l womanhood, t h a t a l l o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s w i l l be mimetic of these t h r e e . Another form o f mimesis i s the use of i n d i v i d u a l i d y l l s t o r e f l e c t the main themes of the poem. For example, the L a s t Tournament has been seen to " i l l u s t r a t e the common theme of the poem, the death o f c h i v a l r y , " 1 ^ 20 21 and both Eggers and Roston have p o i n t e d out t h a t the theme of the G e r a i n t i d y l l s — o f m i s t a k i n g outward appearance f o r i n n e r r e a l i t y — u n d e r s c o r e s the theme of the I d y l l s . A c c o r d i n g to Eggers, A r t h u r ' s i n a b i l i t y t o d i s c r i m i n a t e f a l s e from t r u e stems from h i s moral p e r f e c t i o n , which i s a more damaging weakness than G e r a i n t ' s . P h i l o s o p h i c a l l y , t h i s theme of appearance and r e a l i t y f i n d s e x p r e s s i o n as s o u l at war w i t h sense; and s t r u c t u r a l l y , as Camelot the c i t y b u i l t to music at war w i t h n a t u r e . One c r i t i c sees t h i s s t r u g g l e i n terms of "community," t h a t " p r i n c i p l e of. coherence w i t h i n human r e l a t i o n s h i p , " and s o c i e t y , t h a t "aspect of human l i f e 22 c h a r a c t e r i s e d by law, custom, and t r a d i t i o n . " A c c o r d -i n g l y , " A r t h u r ' s i d e a l i s t o e s t a b l i s h a community i n terms of a s o c i e t y : t h a t i s to express the i d e a l i n the 23 r e a l . " In t h i s approach, the r e c o g n i t i o n of t r u e from f a l s e i s expressed by a "complex of i d e a s r a n g i n g from h y p o c r i s y on a s o c i a l p l a n e , appearance and r e a l i t y on a 24 p h i l o s o p h i c a l p l a n e , to the problem of a u t h o r i t y . " F o r E n g b r e t s e n , the d i s c r e p a n c y between appearance and r e a l i t y not o n l y c o n s t i t u t e s the I d y l l s ' 'host encom-p a s s i n g c o n c e p t u a l f e a t u r e , " but i s "perhaps the most 25 fundamental Tennysonian f i e l d o f i n v e s t i g a t i o n . " S i m i -l a r l y , f o r R y a l s , " i l l u s i o n i s a major theme of the work," and a l l the a c t o r s are " i n one way or another, v i c t i m s of 27 t h e i r i l l u s i o n s . " T h e i r f a i l u r e t o see r e a l i t y as i t i s h e l p s to b r i n g about the f a i l u r e of the King's v i s i o n . " R e a l i t y " depends on the i n t e r p r e t e r , and i n an essay w r i t t e n much e a r l i e r than the ones j u s t mentioned, " r e a l i t y as i t i s , " which L a n c e l o t and Guinevere have f a i l e d t o see, i s the r e a l i t y of l o v e . The l e s s o n of the f i n a l r u i n i n the poem i s t h a t " L a n c e l o t and Guinevere 28 have s i n n e d a g a i n s t l o v e " — h e a g a i n s t the King's l o v e f o r him, and she a g a i n s t the King's l o v e f o r h e r , because by s e e k i n g t h e i r own g r a t i f i c a t i o n , t h e i r l o v e has become l u s t . L i k e l o v e , the s o u l f o r the e a r l y commentators was a l s o a r e a l i t y . W r i t i n g at the t u r n of the c e n t u r y , Sneath s t a t e s t h a t f o r Tennyson, "there are supreme moments i n the l i f e of the s o u l when i t i n t u i t s i t s own i m m o r t a l i t y 20 . . . when i t f e e l s i t cannot d i e . " Thus, i n The Holy G r a i l , the poet through A r t h u r " a f f i r m s the r e a l i t y of God 30 and man, and a l s o of man's i m m o r t a l i t y . " B e f o r e t h i s , A r t h u r "had been speaking o f moments when the m a t e r i a l world, i n c l u d i n g even the human body, appears t o belong merely t o the world o f s e e m i n g — t h e world of ' v i s i o n ' — t h e 31 phenomenal w o r l d , and not the world o f r e a l i t y . " But man i s a l s o a s p i r i t who "knows h i m s e l f as a r e a l i t y . " A c c o r d i n g t o Gordon, "Man i s a s p i r i t d w e l l i n g i n a body," which i s a product of e v o l u t i o n and which, a l t h o u g h c a r r y -•50 i n g "the h i s t o r y of the p a s t , " i s y e t f r e e . More r e c e n t c r i t i c s , perhaps because they f e e l u n comfortable i n the presence o f u n q u e s t i o n i n g b e l i e f i n the s o u l , l o v e and the Unseen, have tended to bend the I d y l l s i n t o an e x i s t e n t i a l frame. One n o t i c e s t h i s s h i f t from an orthodox i n t e r p r e t a t i o n t o an e x i s t e n t i a l one when comparing P r i e s t l e y ' s approach to the poem w i t h R y a l s ' s . P r i e s t l e y c o u l d w r i t e i n 1950 t h a t "Tennyson i s a s s e r t i n g through the I d y l l s the primacy of the Unseen, the u l t i m a t e 33 r e a l i t y of the S p i r i t u a l , " which i s m a n i f e s t e d through a s u c c e s s i o n of phenomena whose e x i s t e n c e i s not "merely shadows or i l l u s i o n s ; they are ' r e a l ' i n t h a t they are 34 the temporal a c t u a l i z a t i o n s o f the i d e a l . " A r t h u r ' s l i f e - w o r k might be d e f e a t e d , but the e x i s t e n c e of good, no m atter how b r i e f , a f f i r m s the presence of the i d e a l somewhere i n the Unseen. F o r R y a l s , however, the I d y l l s shows " t h a t i n t h i s world s e p a r a t e d from the t r u e s o c i e t y of the e t e r n a l deep by enshrouding m i s t s , appearance i s mistaken f o r r e a l i t y . C o n f u s i o n and i l l u s i o n are . . . i n e v i t a b l e , and the r e s u l t 35 i s not moral e v o l u t i o n but moral f a i l u r e . " R y a l s ' s s o l u t i o n i s e x i s t e n t i a l where man d e c e i v e s h i m s e l f i n t o b e l i e v i n g i n l o v e i n order to make sense of t h i s absurd world: What man must do, Tennyson seems to suggest, i s to a c t i n t h i s world of near a b s u r d i t y as though l o v e r e a l l y were the g r e a t c o s m o l o g i c a l p r i n c i p l e p o s i t e d i n "In Memoriam"—which means t h a t man must commit h i m s e l f to an e t h i c a l e x i s t e n c e . 36 As e a r l i e r c r i t i c s have p o i n t e d out, and as R y a l s h i m s e l f does i n an e a r l i e r essay, l o v e and the Unseen are r e a l i t i e s f o r Tennyson. There i s no s e l f - d e c e p t i o n , as R y a l s would suggest. To emphasize the e x i s t e n t i a l approach at the expense of the t r a d i t i o n a l v a l u e s of b e l i e f i n God, b e l i e f i n the goodness i n man, b e l i e f i n m o r a l i t y , i s t o p e r v e r t the ethos of the I d y l l s f o r the sake of r e l e v a n c e to the modern wor l d . I t i s because so many contemporary c r i t i c s have f a i l e d t o observe t h i s c r i t i c a l c a u t i o n t h a t one i s l e d i n t o such f a l l a c i o u s statements as the f o l l o w i n g : " A l -though T r i s t r a m i s something o f a coward, he i s , as the t w e n t i e t h c e n t u r y n o v e l i s t would t h i n k of a man l i k e him, a type o f moral e x p l o r e r , an experimenter i n e v i l and s i n . And as such he p e r c e i v e s man's r e a l i t y i n a way t h a t i s s t i l l r e l e v a n t . " F o r t h i s c r i t i c , "the Red Knigh t and T r i s t r a m prove a f t e r a l l sounder m o r a l i s t s than the poet who c r e a t e d them," because they experiment w i t h e v i l , and through e v i l , can achieve u n d e r s t a n d i n g o f the good. To see T r i s t r a m as a moral e x p l o r e r or a moral r e a l i s t i s to apply to the poem a concept of r e a l i t y and of m o r a l i t y a l i e n to i t s n a t u r e . When t h i s i s done, then T r i s t r a m becomes another example of M i l t o n ' s Satan turned Hero, and not what the L a s t Tournament r e a l l y r e v e a l s , which i s a psycho-l o g i c a l a n a l y s i s o f p e r v e r t e d i n t e l l e c t . Another m o d e r n i s t i c approach concerns Arthur;*s Vow and the s t r e n g t h of h i s w i l l i n s u s t a i n i n g h i s m o r a l l y weaker k n i g h t s . Brashear c l a i m s t h a t the vows made t o A r t h u r are never p r e c i s e l y s t a t e d , " f o r the n a t u r e or q u a l i t i e s of the deeds and vows are r e l a t i v e l y unimportant." A c c o r d i n g to him, "the k n i g h t s o f the Round Tab l e are bound to the w i l l of the k i n g , and the onl y e l a b o r a t i o n t h a t can be made i s th a t i n a vague way the g o a l i s l o v e of God and men.""^ Not onl y i s the Vow c l e a r l y s t a t e d , but i t i s g i v e n the most s i g n i f i c a n t p l a c e i n the s t r u c t u r e , namely at the end of the t e n i d y l l s , i n the denouement when A r t h u r c o n f r o n t s the f a l l e n Queen. To argue t h a t the k n i g h t s are bound to the w i l l of the K i n g by some vague ccreept of l o v e of God and men, or t h a t they are p r i s o n e r s t o the w i l l o f the K i n g as 4 0 R y a l s has suggested, i s to judge the Vow on the vague n o t i o n of " f o l l o w i n g the K i n g " and not on i t s p r e c i s e commands as found i n Guinevere. Indeed, the k n i g h t s have heard A r t h u r e n u n c i a t e h i s Vow, and the y have v o l u n t a r i l y accepted i t , a l b e i t w i t h apprehension. As a r e s u l t of t h e i r acceptance A r t h u r and the k n i g h t s were f o r a time " a l l one w i l l . " The b e l i e f t h a t the King's h e r o i c w i l l s u s t a i n s the i l l u s i o n of an i d e a l i s not an i s o l a t e d i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the past decade. In an essay e n t i t l e d , "The D e s p a i r of V i c t o r i a n Heroes,"^""'" Gray t r a c e s the change i n the V i c t o r i a n s ' b e l i e f i n the H e r o i c W i l l ' s a b i l i t y t o mould h i s t o r y t o a b e l i e f i n change brought about by f o r c e s o u t s i d e the i n d i v i d u a l ' s c o n t r o l . A l l the i n d i v i d u a l can do i s l e a r n t o handle change, he cannot c o n t r o l i t ; h i s moral duty i s t o s u r r e n d e r h i s w i l l t o a cause i n o r d e r to r e a l i z e ends. A c c o r d i n g to Robb, A r t h u r e x e r t s such a s t r o n g i n f l u e n c e on h i s s u b j e c t s t h a t he d e p r i v e s them of t h e i r own w i l l u n t i l , " l a c k o f w i l l and f e e l i n g s of g u i l t and unworthiness d i s a b l e h i s s u b j e c t s from f u l f i l l i n g 42 man's p o t e n t i a l i t y as A r t h u r p r e s e n t s i t . " By h i s p r e -sence and Vow, " A r t h u r ' s c a t e g o r i c a l i m p e r a t i v e and c a t e g o r i c a l p r e s e n c e , " the K i n g undermines h i s k n i g h t s ' w i l l and f a i t h , because he makes them aware of t h e i r un-w o r t h i n e s s . A r t h u r and the Hero's W i l l r e c e i v e t h e i r f u l l e s t d i s c u s s i o n i n R y a l s ' s essay, "the Moral Paradox of the Hero 4 3 i n the I d y l l s of the K i n g . " The moral agent i n man i s h i s w i l l . The poem deals w i t h "the paradox of r e a l i t y namely, how can the redeemer work h i s w i l l w i thout v i o l a t -i n g the w i l l of others." R y a l s takes the f o l l o w i n g quota-t i o n from the Memoirs as the s p r i n g b o a r d f o r h i s essay: "Take away the source of i n d i v i d u a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y and men s i n k i n t o pessimism and madness." T h e r e f o r e , A r t h u r imposes h i s w i l l on the k n i g h t s , and by so " e n j o i n i n g upon h i s k n i g h t s these i m p o s s i b l e vows A r t h u r c r e a t e s the con-d i t i o n which causes g u i l t and madness throughout h i s o r d e r . " He s e t out t o found a s o c i e t y based on freedom, but to h i s sorrow he l e a r n e d t h a t he c o u l d not c r e a t e a f r e e man. F o r a w h i l e A r t h u r i s content w i t h s e l f -d e c e p t i o n , but i n the end he can no l o n g e r a v o i d r e c o g n i z i n g h i s s e l f d e c e p t i o n s and the u n r e s o l v i n g paradoxes of r e a l i t y . F o r the i m p o s i t i o n of h i s h e r o i c a u t h o r i t y , h i s w i l l , upon r e a l i t y meant the d e n i a l t o others of t h e i r own moral r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . A r t h u r stands f u l l y , i n moral terms, as both the hero and the v i l l a i n of the I d y l l s of the King.44 The p r i c e of i d e a l s i s the p r i c e of freedom, be-cause the "moral l i f e " stands i n o p p o s i t i o n t o the " n a t u r a l " development of man, which i s t r u e freedom. Although the c r i t i c s r e c o g n i z e the importance of A r t h u r ' s moral v i s i o n , n e v e r t h e l e s s , they b e l i e v e t h a t a n y t h i n g which c o n s t r i c t s man's freedom i s u n n a t u r a l and t h e r e f o r e e v i l . Thus, A r t h u r i s a g l o r i o u s f a i l u r e and the m o r a l l y f r a i l k n i g h t s are the ones with whom the r e a d e r i d e n t i f i e s . The k n i g h t s are a c r o s s - s e c t i o n of common, f r a i l humanity, f o r n e a r l y a l l have t h e i r f a i l i n g s , even P e r c i -v a l e , whom Ry a l s accuses of b e i n g a scandalmonger, a " s e n s a t i o n a l - s e e k i n g v i s i o n a r y , " and a " v a i n , s e l f - c e n t r e d , i r r e s p o n s i b l e k n i g h t . " He i s "not c r e d i t e d w i t h one g l o r i o u s deed or u n s e l f i s h a c t , " nor does he " b r i n g the g l o r y which the k i n g r e j o i c e s i n " through any fearsome 45 e x p l o i t or brave a c t . In sum, P e r c i v a l e i s a f a i l u r e as a k n i g h t o f the Round T a b l e . R y a l s ' s censure f a i l s to take i n t o account the s p i r i t u a l growth which occurs i n P e r c i v a l e , f o r i n t e l l i n g Ambrosius of h i s quest, the k n i g h t i s i n f a c t " c o n f e s s i n g " h i s p r e v i o u s p r i d e and s p i r i t u a l b l i n d n e s s . When he f o c u s s e s on the h i g h esteem i n which A r t h u r h e l d him, or on h i s success a t the tournament, P e r c i v a l e i s t r y i n g to r e c a p t u r e f o r Ambrosius the v a n i t y of h i s o l d s e l f . I t was a matter of s p i r i t u a l p u r i t y t i n g e d w i t h p r i d e , and i f i n the p r o c e s s of n a r r a t i o n , P e r c i v a l e s l i p s back i n t o h i s o l d s e l f , i t i s o n l y because he i s human and t h e r e f o r e s t i l l f r a i l . A c c o r d i n g t o R y a l s , Ambrosius s e r v e s as a c o n t r a s t to P e r c i v a l e ' s nature, and i s a "humanitarian r e a l i s t , " an "Art h u r on a s m a l l e r s c a l e " whose f u n c t i o n i s t o " d i r e c t the r e a d e r ' s response t o P e r c i v a l e ' s n a r r a t i v e " and so expose P e r c i v a l e f o r what he r e a l l y i s . One s h o u l d p o i n t out t h a t , u n l i k e A r t h u r , t h e r e i s n o t h i n g s p i r i t u a l about Ambrosius, and h i s e x i s t e n c e i n the monastery i s an exampl of a monastic m i s f i t . He i s h a p p i e r m i n g l i n g "with our f o l k " and d e l i g h t s h i m s e l f "with g o s s i p and o l d wives' t a l e s . " He i s i n t e r e s t e d i n the "human a n g l e " of P e r c i -v a l e f s adventures, i n the men and women the k n i g h t met. The quest f o r the g r a i l i s reduced f o r Ambrosius to a s e n s a t i o n a l event, something m i r a c u l o u s , and as a r e s u l t , i t s s p i r i t u a l i m p l i c a t i o n s are l o s t on him. F o r R y a l s , the g r a i l ^ - q u e s t r e v e a l s t h a t the " i d e a l of s e r v i c e " has d i s a p p e a r e d and " s e l f - f u l f i l l m e n t , not s e l f l e s s - d u t y , [has become] the g o a l among the k n i g h t s I t i s perhaps more c o r r e c t to say t h a t , as the Round Table i s founded on a v i s i o n of the S p i r i t u a l , and on the impera t i v e of s e l f l e s s duty, the quest f o r most of the k n i g h t s s h o u l d be seen not as a s e l f i s h a c t of s e l f - f u l f i l l m e n t , but as a misguided r e a c t i o n of s e l f l e s s commitment a t an i n c r e a s i n g l y s e l f i s h time. When the good k n i g h t s r i d e o f f i n s e a r c h of the g r a i l , they must s u r e l y have c a r r i e d w i t h them the h o p e f u l wish of the nun t h a t perhaps a v i s i o n of the g r a i l would cure the world of i t s s p i r i t u a l m a l a i s e . Not o n l y have the k n i g h t s l i k e P e r c i v a l e come i n f o r c r i t i c i s m , but so has A r t h u r , some of i t w i t h j u s t i f i -47 c a t i o n . Boas sees the a l t e r a t i o n o f the A r t h u r of the Romance to Tennyson's a s c e t i c K i n g as one of the major" fl a w s of the I d y l l s , as does Swinburne. Bagehot noted t h a t "the c h a r a c t e r of A r t h u r , absorbed i n the i d e a l con-c e p t i o n of a c h i v a l r o u s monarchy, i s the v e r y type of the h i g h e s t a b s t r a c t of a s c e t i c c h a r a c t e r , " w h i l e L a n c e l o t r e p r e s e n t s the "type of the sensuous and s e n s i t i v e . " E l s d a l e a t t a c k s t h i s a s c e t i c s t r e a k i n the K i n g : "Rapt i n dreams of a t r a n s c e n d e n t a l p e r f e c t i o n f o r t h i s a l l - t o o -i m p e r f e c t humanity of ours he a l l o w s the a f f e c t i o n and sympathy which should have e x i s t e d between h i m s e l f and 50 h i s w i f e to go as i t were by d e f a u l t . " A r t h u r should "have k n e l t down here b e s i d e h e r , and c o n f e s s e d t h a t he h i m s e l f was p a r t l y t o blame . . . i n f a c t , t h a t he had n e g l e c t e d the w i f e f o r whose s a f e custody he was r e s p o n -51 s i b l e b e f o r e h i s God." The King's a s c e t i c n a t u r e a l i e n -a t e s the sympathy of y e t another c r i t i c : "The f a c t t h a t A r t h u r i s so much more and so much l e s s a man a l i e n a t e s 52 sympathy." And a more modern c r i t i c has c a s t i g a t e d A r t h u r ' s a s c e t i c i s m as inhumane: "A k i n g , 'high, s e l f -esteemed, and p a s s i o n l e s s ' remains inhuman, and A r t h u r ' s inhumanity proves to be h i s own undoing. I t i s h i s l o v e of p r i n c i p l e r a t h e r than humankind, h i s own l a c k of domestic wisdom, t h a t p r e d i c t a b l y d i s s o l v e s the f e l l o w s h i p 5 3 of the Round T a b l e . " The problem w i t h such a c h a r a c t e r i s best summed up by the c r i t i c i n the Edinburgh Review of 1870: " I t i s d i f f i c u l t to do more than d e s c r i b e and adore the p e r f e c t man; i n h i s very essence he i s p a s s i v e . There are no w a r r i n g p a s s i o n s about him, no f i e r c e ambi-t i o n s , no undermining meanness of d i s t r u s t . U n t i l the moment comes when he i s crushed under the sudden anguish of sorrow and shame, A r t h u r cannot be an a c t i v e a c t o r on 54 the scene." P a s s i o n l e s s , a s c e t i c , a l l - p e r f e c t — t h a t i s how the e a r l i e r c r i t i c s and many contemporary ones see A r t h u r . H i s treatment of Guinevere has a l s o g r a t e d on the s e n s i b i l i t y of more than one r e a d e r . However, one should d i s t i n g u i s h between the a e s t h e t i c e r r o r of making him both husband and judge at Almesbury, and h i s f a i l u r e e i t h e r to o f f e r Guine-vere the n e c e s s a r y l o v e or to d e t e c t h e r waywardness. To speak o f h i s " l a c k of domestic wisdom," as the c r i t i c above d o e s , ' i s t o reduce the I d y l l s t o a domestic l o v e - s t o r y which i t i s not, even though the Queen's a d u l t e r y i s c e n t r a l t o the p l o t . C r i t i c s have a l s o p o i n t e d out the weakness i n the K i n g which stems from h i s p e r f e c t i o n . In an essay e n t i t l e d , "Tennyson's P a r a d o x i c a l K i n g , " Solomon has noted t h a t the major paradox of the I d y l l s i s Tennyson's " d e p i c t i o n of the 'blameless k i n g , 1 who i s p a r a d o x i c a l l y to blame f o r the 55 d e s t r u c t i o n o f h i s own kingdom." For Eggers, " i t i s h i s [ A r t h u r ' s ] v e r y moral p e r f e c t i o n t h a t makes immoral f a c t i n v i s i b l e t o him . . . . A r t h u r ' s s u p e r i o r i t y [ t o G e r a i n t ] . . . i s s t i l l a f a c t , but i n the l a g e r moral i d e a of the I d y l l s of the K i n g t h a t same s u p e r i o r i t y makes him i n -capable of s e e i n g t r u t h s t h a t l e s s e r men a r r i v e at . . . ." Hot only i s he b l i n d t o e v i l , but A r t h u r ' s i d e a l i s m , because 57 of xts i m p o s s i b i l i t y to implement, makes him a c h i e f f o o l . 1 I t has been suggested by Solomon t h a t the s t r u c -t u r e of the poem should be seen i n terms of paradoxes of 58 which A r t h u r i s the c h i e f paradox. Fo r another c r i t i c , the " p a t t e r n of the Noble A c t i o n " dominates the I d y l l s . The f o o l has a l s o been suggested as a m o t i f : "the m o t i f of the ' f o o l ' f o l l o w s the f o r t u n e s of A r t h u r ' s realm l i k e a m a l e v o l e n t shadow," and i s a d e s i g n " t h a t i s f i t t e d to r e f l e c t w i t h c l a r i t y Tennyson's u n r e m i t t i n g p e r c e p t i o n of the t r a n s i e n c e of even the h i g h e s t f o r t u n e . " Other m o t i f s and images which have been r e c o g n i z e d are the c o l o r s r e d and white by G r i d l e y ^ and A d i c k s , ^ 1 as have the use of the seasons to i n d i c a t e the p a t t e r n of decay of the Round T a b l e . E n g e l b e r g i n an essay e n t i t l e d , "The Beast Image i n Tennyson's I d y l l s of the K i n g , " has noted the poet's use of animals t o emphasize the b e s t i a l 6 2 i n man. But perhaps the most important s t r u c t u r a l and thematic element i s t h e a l l e g o r y . B u r c h e l l c l a i m s t h a t no a l l e g o r y e x i s t s : "the I d y l l s of the K i n g i s s i m p l y the d i a g n o s i s of a c o r r u p t c i v i l i z a t i o n : t h e r e i s no judgement, no s p e c i f i c moral 63 a l l e g o r y , " a sentiment a n t i c i p a t e d i n an e a r l i e r c r i t i c a l 64 essay by T a i n s h . Others have a t t a c k e d the a l l e g o r y of the poem. For example, Baum a t t a c k s i t s p l o t and a l l e g o r y on the grounds of c o n f u s i o n which stems from "the i r r e g u l a r 6 S f a s h i o n of i t s i n c e p t i o n . " 5 MacCallum a l s o a t t a c k s the a l l e g o r y : "the a l l e g o r y , though a t t e n u a t e d and reduced, o c c a s i o n a l l y a s s e r t s i t s e l f i n such a way as to i n t e r f e r e fi fi w i t h the e f f e c t of the n a r r a t i v e . " He o b j e c t s to an a l l e g o r i c a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n because "the s e p a r a t i o n of the meaning from the form makes a d i v o r c e where no d i v o r c e ought to be, and seems opposed to the v e r y n ature of the p o e t r y ; " h i s second r e a s o n a n t i c i p a t e s Baum's s t r i c t u r e : "a l a r g e p o r t i o n of the p r e s e n t poem was a d m i t t e d l y com-posed without c o n s c i o u s r e f e r e n c e to any 'dark c o n c e i t . 1 " Perhaps a more c o r r e c t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the a l l e -g o r i c a l n ature of the I d y l l s i s t h a t g i v e n by Van Dyke. A c c o r d i n g to him, "We must d i s t i n g u i s h between the a l l e -g o r i c a l fragments which Tennyson had woven i n t o h i s work, and the substance of the I d y l l s ; between the scenery and mechanical a p p l i a n c e s , and the a c t o r s who move upon t h e s t a g e . The attempt to i n t e r p r e t the poem as a s t r i c t 6 8 a l l e g o r y breaks down at once and s p o i l s the s t o r y . " He sees the poem as a p a r a b l e , f o r " i t c a s t s b e s i d e i t s e l f an image, a r e f l e c t i o n , of something s p i r i t u a l , j u s t as a 69 man w a l k i n g i n the s u n l i g h t i s f o l l o w e d by h i s shadow," and t h i s perhaps b e s t e x p l a i n s the a l l e g o r i c a l n a t u r e of the poem. The a l l e g o r y i s n e i t h e r l i k e P i l g r i m ' s P r o g r e s s nor l i k e the "Romance of the Rose." One reason why the I d y l l s w i l l not f i t i n t o an a l l e g o r i c a l system l i k e these i s t h a t the poem i s b u i l t up by a s e r i e s of a c c r e t i o n s . An a l l e -g o r i c a l w r i t e r ' s p r e s e n t a t i o n i s e s s e n t i a l l y d i d a c t i c — h e knows h i s s u b j e c t , theme and purpose b e f o r e he w r i t e s , and t h e r e f o r e uses h i s b a t t e r y of l i t e r a r y t e c h n i q u e s to p r e -sent h i s lesson., i n the most f o r c e f u l and a c c e p t a b l e way. E s s e n t i a l l y a l y r i c a l w r i t e r , Tennyson uses the method of the l y r i c poet, which i s to e xpress, by b r i n g i n g i n t o f o c u s , the subconscious response he has to an event by means of h i s range of l i t e r a r y t e c h n i q u e s . To a l a r g e e x t e n t , the f i n a l outcome i s not determined b e f o r e the f i r s t word i s l a i d down. T h i s cumulative p r o c e s s has been d i s c u s s e d by E l s d a l e : These poems seem to be b u i l t up by a p r o c e s s of a c c r e t i o n , more or l e s s , l i k e a c o r a l r e e f , or of s u p e r i m p o s i t i o n , l i k e a c h i l d ' s p a l a c e of b r i c k s ; i n s t e a d of b e i n g u n f o l d e d l i k e a many branched p l a n t from one s i n g l e r o o t , or e v o l v e d by a c o n s i s t e n t and u n i f o r m i n t e r n a l development, l i k e a l i v i n g organism. B r e a d t h of c o n c e p t i o n and of treatment would, i t would seem, have prevented t h i s , and i s i n the main the m i s s i n g element.70 The meaning of the a l l e g o r y i s perhaps b e s t ex-p l a i n e d by P r i e s t l e y , a c c o r d i n g to whom the I d y l l s i s seen as a dramatic a l l e g o r y w i t h A r t h u r i n t e r p r e t e d " i n the most 71 g e n e r a l sense" as " s o u l or s p i r i t i n a c t i o n . " As the s o u l , the K i n g i s " c o n s t a n t l y a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the b r i n g i n g of o r d e r out of chaos, harmony out of d i s c o r d , " and i s i d e n t i f i e d "with the r e l i g i o u s f a i t h which must animate man, s o c i e t y and n a t i o n . " The Round Table " i s the symbol of the o r d e r , i n d i v i d u a l or s o c i a l , which the v a l u e s c r e a t e , " and the " t r a g i c c o l l a p s e of A r t h u r ' s work . . . i s an a l l e g o r y of the c o l l a p s e of s o c i e t y , of n a t i o n , and of i n d i v i d u a l , which must f o l l o w the r e j e c t i o n of s p i r i t u a l 72 v a l u e s . " Needless to say, P r i e s t l e y i s not u s i n g " a l l e -gory" i n the same way as one d e f i n e s " a l l e g o r y " i n P i l g r i m ' s  P r o g r e s s . Two of the b e s t approaches to the I d y l l s are B u c k l e y ' s chapter on t h e poem i n h i s book, Tennyson; The Growth of a Poet, and an essay by Solomine e n t i t l e d , "The Burkean Idea of the S t a t e i n Tennyson's P o e t r y . " The Burkean s t a t e i s "a moral and s p i r i t u a l e n t i t y w i t h a sense 73 of c o r p o r a t e or o r g a n i c u n i t y . " In t h i s s t a t e , "the whole was g r e a t e r than the sum of i t s p a r t s , " and thus, man can-not e x i s t i n i s o l a t i o n — " h e cannot be c o n s i d e r e d an i s o -l a t e d p a r t i n a l i f e l e s s machine. God has o r d a i n e d the s t a t e to be man's ' n a t u r a l ' environment, and e i t h e r to de s t r o y i t , or to i s o l a t e o n e s e l f from i t s s a v i n g graces 74 i s to speed man s w i f t l y t o the b e a s t . " Camelot as d e p i c t e d e a r l y i n the I d y l l s i s the : •.:. \ i d e a l s t a t e , w h i l e l a t e r , i t r e v e a l s "the d e g e n e r a t i o n of s o c i e t y from the Burkean to the anarchy of s e c u l a r En-l i g h t m e n t s t a t e . " Tennyson b e l i e v e d t h a t i n d i v i d u a l i t y "can o n l y be r e a l i s e d when men are l i n k e d t o g e t h e r i n w e l l -d e f i n e d s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s . " Consequently, "when the r e l a t i o n s h i p s d i s s o l v e i n Camelot, the k n i g h t s a l s o l o s e t h e i r i d e n t i t i e s . " Because of the " s e c u l a r i s a t i o n and m a t e r i a l i s a t i o n of the s t a t e , " f r a g m e n t a t i o n , i s o l a t i o n and s e n s u a l i s m f o l l o w , and t h i s tends t o "reduce the k n i g h t s t o mere s p i r i t l e s s p e r s o n a l i t i e s f o r c e d t o p l a y v a r i o u s 75 r o l e s , o r to the l e v e l of the b e a s t , without i d e n t i t y . " The bond between the k n i g h t s and A r t h u r i s l o v e and t r u s t , and as l o n g as these remain o p e r a t i v e , the d i v i s i o n between K i n g and k n i g h t s w i l l never o c c u r . "For the k n i g h t s not to accept K i n g A r t h u r ' s l o v e i s to be sepa-r a t e d from the d i v i n e a u t h o r i t y i n v e s t e d i n him." Once they d e t a c h themselves from A r t h u r ' s a u t h o r i t y they have "detached themselves from God's g r a c e . " The seeds of moral decay l i e w i t h i n the s t a t e , w i t h man: " p r i d e , l u s t , 76 anger, s l a n d e r , envy and break of t r u s t . " Thus, the l a t e r i d y l l s t r a c e the d i v i s i v e e f f e c t these s i n s b r i n g about as they grow t o weeds i n the P a r a d i s e of Camelot. I f Solomine's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s u p p l i e s the n e c e s -sary i n f o r m a t i o n f o r an u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the poem's moral statement, B u c k l e y ' s s u p p l i e s an u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the poemi's s t r u c t u r e . A c c o r d i n g to him, "Though a few of the c h a r a c -t e r s r e c u r as l i n k s between some of the i d y l l s , the u n i t y of the sequence l i e s not i n a c t i o n or p l o t but i n theme, 77 imagery and atmosphere." The i d y l l s are seen as p a n e l s "arranged i n o r d e r l y p r o g r e s s i o n and framed on the one s i d e by the Coming of A r t h u r and on the other by the Pass-i n g of A r t h u r . The frame d e f i n e s the b e g i n n i n g and the end of the A r t h u r i a n s o c i e t y , and each of the p a n e l s marks 7ft a stage i n i t s growth or d e c l i n e . " F o r B u c k l e y , "the i d y l l i s s t r i c t l y a p i c t u r e of 79 mood, c h a r a c t e r , or g e s t u r e . " The same depth of c h a r a c -t e r i z a t i o n as f o r a n o v e l s h o u l d not be expected, a l t h o u g h i n f a c t , Tennyson does t r a n s c e n d the l i m i t a t i o n s of h i s form to p r e s e n t some w e l l developed c h a r a c t e r s . H i s suc-cess i s , u n f o r t u n a t e l y , a two-edged sword, f o r i t s p o i l s the poem to l e a v e i n the end a flawed m a s t e r p i e c e . The major f l a w i s h i s wrong c h o i c e of hero. Caught i n what RO Solomine c a l l s "a c r o s s - c u r r e n t of c o n f l i c t i n g v a l u e s , " L a n c e l o t i s reduced m e n t a l l y and m o r a l l y to a mere s h e l l of k nighthood. But, "the u n f o r t u n a t e t h i n g i s , t h a t the whole p l a n of the I d y l l s of the K i n g i s sketched around 81 the p e r f e c t k i n g . . . ." 1W. Bagehot, "The I d y l l s of the K i n g , " i n Tennyson; The C r i t i c a l H e r i t a g e , ed, J . D. Jump (London: Routledge & Kegan P a u l , 1967), 215-66. 2 I b i d . , p. 230. ^T. S. E l i o t , E s says A n c i e n t and Modern (London: Paber & Paber, 1936), p. 180. ^E. Blunden, ed. S e l e c t e d P o e t r y of Tennyson (London: Heinemann, 1960"]"^ C r i t i c a l H e r i t a g e , "A. C. Swinburne on the I d y l l s , " 318-21. 6 I b i d . , p. 321. 7 L e t t e r s of Matthew A r n o l d 1848-1888. ed. G. W. R u s s e l l (London: M a c m i l l a n & Co., 1895), I, 127. Q C r i t i c a l H e r i t a g e , "G. M. Hopkins on the I d y l l s , " 3 3 4 - 3 5 . Q J-. B u c k l e y , Tennyson: The Growth of a Poet (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , I960), 191-92. " ^ L e t t e r 157, The Correspondence of Thomas C a r l y l e  and Ralph Waldo EmersonT" 1854-1872, ed. L c . E. Norton] (London: Chatto & Windus, 1885), I I , 503-04. " ^ C r i t i c a l H e r i t a g e , "Hopkins," 354-55. u 1 2 [ A n o n . ] , "The Laureate and h i s A r t h u r i a d , " London  Q u a r t e r l y Review, XXXIV (1870), 154-86. 1 5 P . S. Boas, " I d y l l s o f the K i n g i n 1921," Nine-t e e n t h Century and A f t e r , XC (Nov. 1921). 819-50. 14 / P. S. Boas, From R i c h a r d s o n to P i n e r o (London: John Murray, 1956), 210-29.. 15 M. M i y o s h i , " N a r r a t i v e Sequence and the M o r a l System: Three T r i s t r a m Poems," V i c t o r i a n N e w s l e t t e r , XXXV ( S p r i n g , 1969), 5-10. H. K o z i c k i , "Tennyson's I d y l l s of the King as Tragic Drama," V i c t o r i a n Poetry, IV (1966), 15-20. 1 7 I b i d . , p. 18, K. A. Robb, "The Structure of Tennyson's I d y l l s  of the King," D i s s e r t a t i o n Abstracts, XXVIII (1967), 640A-41A (Wisconsin). B. L i t z i n g e r , "The Structure of Tennyson's The  l a s t Tournament," V i c t o r i a n Poetry, I (1963), 53-60. 20 J. Eggers, "The Weeding of the Garden: Tenny-son's Geraint I d y l l s and The Mabinogion," V i c t o r i a n  Poetry, IV (1966), 45-51. 21 L. Poston, "The Argument of the Geraint-Enid Books i n I d y l l s of the King," V i c t o r i a n Poetry, II (1964), 269-75. 22 R. Sears, "The Unity of Tennyson's I d y l l s of  the King," D i s s e r t a t i o n Abstracts, XXVII (1967), 2545A (Ohio). 23 ^Loc. c i t . 24 T • + LOC. C i t . 25 N. Engbretsen, "The Thematic Evolution of I d y l l s  of the King," V i c t o r i a n Newsletter, XXVI (1964), 1-5. 2 6 C. de L. Ryals, "The I d y l l s of the King: Tenny-son's New Realism," V i c t o r i a n Newsletter, XXXI (1967), 5-7. 2 7 I b i d . , p. 5. 28 C. P. G. Mastermann, Tennyson as a Religious  Teacher (London: Methuen & Co., 1910), p. 140. 29 ^E. H. Sneath, The Mind of Tennyson (London: Constable & Co., 1900), p. 156. 3 0 I b i d . , p. 85. 3 1 I b i d . , p. 85. 52W. C. Gordon, The S o c i a l Ideals of A l f r e d Ten-nyson (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1906), p. 70. 5 5 P . E. 1. P r i e s t l e y , "Tennyson's I d y l l s , " Uni-v e r s i t y of Toronto, XIX (1949-50), 35-49. 3 4 I b i d . , p. 46. 35 R y a l s , p. 6. 5 6 I b i d . , p. 6. 3 7 0. de L. R y a l s , Theme and Symbol i n Tennyson's  Poems to 1850 ( P h i l a d e l p h i a : U n i v e r s i t y of P e n n s y l v a n i a P r e s s , 1964), p. 265-3 8 M i y o s h i , pp. 5-10. 39 W. R. B r a s h e a r , "Tennyson's T r a g i c V i t a l i s m : The I d y l l s of the K i n g , " V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , VI (1968), 29-45. 40 ^ C. de I . R y a l s , "The Moral Paradox of the Hero i n the I d y l l s of the K i n g , " J o u r n a l of E n g l i s h L i t e r a r y  H i s t o r y , XXX (1965), 53-69. 4 1 D . J . Gray, "The D e s p a i r of V i c t o r i a n Heroes," Boston U n i v e r s i t y S t u d i e s i n E n g l i s h , V (1961), 1-17. 4 2 R o b b , 640A-41A. 43 J ^ R y a l s , "The M o r a l Paradox of the Hero," 53-69. 4 4 I b i d . , p. 67. 45 C. De L. R y a l s , " P e r c i v a l e , Ambrosius and the Method of N a r r a t i o n i n The Holy G r a i l , " Die Neuren Sprachen, X I I (1963), 535-45. 4 6 I b i d . , p. 556. 4 7 B o a s , " I d y l l s of the K i n g i n 1921," 819-50. AO C r i t i c a l H e r i t a g e . "Swinburne on the I d y l l s , " 518-21. 49 ^ C r i t i c a l H e r i t a g e . Bagehot, "The I d y l l s of the K i n g , " 215:ro1T: 50 H. E l s d a l e , S t u d i e s i n the I d y l l s (London: H. S. K i n g & Co., 1907), p. 162. 5 1 I b i d . , p. 165. 52 M. J . C. R e i d , The A r t h u r i a n Legend (Edinburgh: O l i v e r and Boyd, I960), p. 48. 55 J . R i c h a r d s o n , The Pre-Eminent V i c t o r i a n : A  Study of Tennyson (London! Jonathan Cape, 1962), p. 114. "^[Anon.], "The E p i c of A r t h u r , " E dinburgh Review, XXXI (1870), 502-39. 55 S. J . Solomon, "Tennyson's P a r a d o x i c a l K i n g , " V i c t o r i a n P o e t r y , I (1963), 258-71. 56 Eggers, pp. 45-51. 5 7 R . B. W i l k e n f e l d , "Tennyson's Camelot: The Kingdom of P o l l y , " U n i v e r s i t y of Toronto Q u a r t e r l y , XXXVII (1967-68), 281-94. 5 8 S o l o m o n , pp. 258-71. 5 9 W i l k e n f e l d , pp. 281-94. ^ R . 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