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4, 13.-iron grating. A picturesque touch, vividly recalling the conventual life, in which all intercourse with the outside world is held through iron gratings.


4, 15.-beat. Notice the forcible position of the verb. word suggests the storm beating into the convent. It echoes (Macaulay) the lines in a former idyll of this very scandal:'Nor yet was heard

The world's loud whisper breaking into storm.'

-Marriage of Geraint

4, 16.-he...sins. Note the Tennysonian periphrasis, 'her confessor.'

4, 18.-winters. The counting of time by 'winters' was in early English universal. It held its place against 'years' only in reference to aged persons or times of trouble, for which the word 'winters' seemed suggestive, while the poets naturally grew to counting the years of the young by springs or


4, 22. From our Lord's time. Here we have the assumed chronology of the poems. Arthur's reign (see page 112) ended with his death in 542. It is scarcely necessary to point out that the courtly chivalry of the Arthurian poems is that of the poets and warriors of the twelfth century rather than the semi-barbarism of the sixth. Similarly the thought, feeling, philosophy, morality of Tennyson's Idylls are of the nineteenth century rather than the twelfth.


4, 24. surely he had thought. That is, her confessor. 'Surely,' in sense, must be construed with would come,' treating 'he had thought' as almost a parenthesis.

5, 3.-Nay. The answer is, on the whole, affirmative, as we see from the line 5, 5; so that 'nay' really refers to a suppressed clause,-'Nay, I know not why it should not come,' thus presenting a negative answer to the doubt, signified by 'might' in the nun's question.

5, 10.—Beyond my knowing of them. 'Beyond what I had ever known them to be.' Note the poet's fondness, as exem

plified in the repetition in the beginning of the following line, for a monotonous anaphora.

5, 16.-horn from o'er the hills. Tennyson had a special liking for the sound of a horn in the mountains, and often alludes to it. In the Bugle-Song in The Princess, the charm of the sound as heard over Killarney is marvellously caught. 'O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,

And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O sweet and far from cliff and scar

The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!

Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:

Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

5, 18. To hunt by moonlight.

Yet legend has blended Arthur with the Spectral Huntsman. Gervase of Tilbury (1212) says that in the woods of Britain the foresters tell that on alternate days, about noon or at midnight when the moon is full and shining, they often see an array of hunters with dogs and sound of horns, who, in answer to the enquirers, say that they are of the household and fellowship of Arthur (from Strachey's Introduction).

5, 18.

The slender sound. This is as the sound of the bugle 'thin and clear' in the quotation in note 5, 16.

5, 19. -distance beyond distance. From a place far beyond what we call distance - hence an incredible, an infinite distance. 5, 21.-aught...hand. A characteristic expansion of the preceding line.

5, 23. a cold and silver beam.

Cf. the narrative of the appearance of the Grail to the Round Table, p. 8.

5, 25.-beatings in it. A Tennysonian touch, in harmony with his interpretation of the Grail as the sacramental cup. See 3, 4.

6, 2.-faded...decay'd... died. This metaphoric use of words not ordinarily applied to colours, gives fine variety of expression.

The Vision of Percivale's Sister. - "She sees the vision, and sees it through her own high-wrought and delicate passion. It comes attended by such music as an ethereal ear might hear

-as of a silver horn far off, blown o'er the hills, a slender sound, unlike any earthly music. And when the Grail streams through her cell, the beam down which it steals is silver-cold, as the maiden's heart sees it: but the Grail is rose-red; in it are very beatings as of a living heart, and the white walls of her cell are dyed with rosy colours. Cold to earth, ecstatic to heaven; it is the vision of a mystic maiden's passionate purity. And the verses are fitted to the vision." Stopford Brooke, p. 325.

6, 16.-Galahad.


According to Malory (xi. 2), Galahad was the son of Lancelot and Elaine, King Pellam's daughter, to whom dame Brisen by her magic had given the appearance of Queen Guinevere, so that Lancelot might be induced to visit her. Pellam's desire in using this magical device, was, as Lancelot and himself were of the kin of Joseph of Arimathæa, that there should be born a son who "should be named Sir Galahad, the good knight, by whom all the foreign country should be brought out of danger, and by him the Holy Grail should be achieved" (xi. 3).

6, 15.-one...ever moved. This sense of 'ever'='always' is archaic.

So in

The omission of the subject relative is likewise characteristic of Middle English and Early Modern English. Shakspere,

'I have a niind presages me such thrift.'

-Merchant of Venice, I. i. 176.

6, 16.-in white armour. Symbolic of utter purity. Tennyson spiritualizes the character. He sweeps away the unpleasant story of his birth as the talk of 'chatterers' (7, 2); invents the mystical relations between him and Percivale's sister. In Malory, Galahad was reared by twelve nuns, and knighted, though only a youth of, some say, fifteen, by Lancelot, with the words, "God make him a good man, for beauty faileth you not as any that liveth" (xiii. 1). He endures

many battles, finally becoming king of Sarras in the spiritual place. In Sarras he sees the Grail, receives the Saviour in his bodily form and thus achieves the quest. There he dies and there his body is buried by Bors and by Percivale, who then becomes a monk (xvii. 22, 23.) Tennyson's early lyric Sir Galahad, quoted in the Appendix, shows the early hold the figure of this virgin Christian knight had on his imagination. The side of human life that he represents and Tennyson's estimate of it are commented on below.

6, 18.-dubb'd him knight. 'Dubb' is lit. 'to strike,' but with particular reference to the slight blow in the shoulder (or rarely the cheek) with the flat of the sword, which concluded the ceremony of investure.

7, 1.- Lancelot.-Lancelot, in Malory, was the son of King Ban of Benwick (Brittany) and of the lineage of Joseph of Arimathæa. In infancy he was the nursling of the Lady of the Lake, hence his name Lancelot of the Lake. In previous Idylls of the series, Lancelot played an important part. He fought side by side with Arthur for King Leodogran and the two,

'For each had warded either in the fight,

Sware on the field of death a deathless love.'

To Lancelot, the knight most loved and honoured, was given the charge of bringing Guinevere from her father's court to Arthur-a fatal embassy, for at first she thought him, as we learn later, the king himself, and they loved. Suspicions of this love awoke and spread in the Court. They were the reason

of the cruel trials that Geraint laid on Enid; the fatal truth in them brought about the death of Balin and Balan; they made a flagrant story when Vivien related them to Merlin; and the fatal love itself stood in the way of Lancelot loving Elaine, and caused her death. But so far there was no proof, and the loyal mind of Arthur knew nothing, suspected nothing of this love. So matters were at the time of the coming of the Grail. In the scheme of the Allegory, Maccallum seeks to identify the place of Lancelot with that of the Imagination, or if it

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be preferred, of men of imaginative temperament, in the life of the world," p. 335.

7, 3.-birds of passage. Swallows, which in the colder climates are migratory birds. Their lively twittering and rapid flight in pursuit of flies are well-known characteristics. 7, 4. they come. Refers to the chatterers,' who are trifling people flocking to court from unknown parts, spending their time in gossip and swallowing of gossip; as their lives are without permanence their tales should be unheeded.

7, 5.—wanderingly lewd. Given to licentious love of many women, 'letting his passions wander to any casual object.' Fated as Lancelot was to love of Guinevere, and fatal as that love was, he 'loved but one only,' and when he died a holy man,' his brother could well address him in the words of the noblest praise ever given to any man :

"Ah, Launcelot, he said, thou were head of all christian knights; and now I dare say, said Sir Ector, thou Sir Launcelot, there thou liest, that thou were never matched of earthly knight's hand; and thou were the courtliest knight that ever bare shield; and thou were the truest friend to thy lover (friend) that ever bestrode horse; and thou were the truest lover of a sinful man that ever loved woman; and thou were the kindliest man that ever strake with sword; and thou were the goodliest person ever came among peers of knights; and thou were the meekest man and the greatest that ever ate in hall among ladies; and thou were the sternest knight to thy mortal foe, that ever put spear in the rest." (Malory, xxi. 13.)

7, 10.—a strong sword and belt. In Malory, Galahad, in quest of the Grail, finds in a ship a mysterious and fateful sword. The girdle was poor and weak, and only a chaste maiden, daughter of a king or queen, could do away with the girdle. Percivale's sister, who with her brother and Bors were on the ship, then "opened a box, and took out girdles which were seemly wrought with golden threads, and upon that were set full precious stones, and a rich buckle of gold. Lo, lords, said she, here is a girdle that ought to be set about the sword. And wit ye well the greatest part of this girdle was made of my hair, which I loved well when I was a woman in the world. But as soon as I wist that this adventure was ordained me, I

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