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78, 13.—the stars. That is, and of the stars.'

78, 16.—the Poet-forms. The realizations of those nobler times which the poets have dreamt of.

78, 19.-Titanic. 'Enormous,' 'gigantic.' (Gk. Titan, one of the race of old deities, warring against Zeus, who cast them into Tartarus. They are fabled as gigantic beings able to pile mountain on mountain, and no doubt personified forces of nature.)


79, 1. We are Ancients. Adapted from Bacon's remark: Antiquitas sæculi juventus mundi. These times are the ancient times, when the world is ancient, and not those which we account ancient ordine retrogrado, by a computation backward from ourselves." - Advancement of Learning, i. Bartlett quotes Whewell, Phil. Induct. Sciences, ii. 198, to the effect that this thought is likewise in Giordano Bruno's Cena di Cenere (1584). Cf. 2 Esdras, 14. 10.


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79, 5.-decads (dek'ad). Here a period of ten successive years,' in which sense the spelling 'decade' is usual.

79, 6.—quinquenniad. 'A period of five years.' (L. quinque, five, annus, year, and nom. suffix. ad.)

79, 7.-quintessence. Cf. 37, 7 and note.


80, 10f.—Which all too dearly, etc. Not yet loving another, she is too sweetly occupied with herself; as yet the depths of her nature have not been moved by love for her suitor.

80, 12ff.-A sleep by kisses, etc. The quiet of her nature, not yet broken by the kiss of love, keeps her from knowing all that life has to offer her ('the moral') in love and wifedom.


81, 7ff.—To shape the song, etc. 'To make a story that is merely an airy beautiful nothing, apart from real life (11 8-9),

or an elaborate old-time unpractical romance of love (11. 10-11),—I did it but to please you whom I love; but, however fanciful it be, there is earnest beneath its jest, and both are,'


81, 8.-birds of Paradise. A name of many species of birds, found chiefly in New Guinea and famous for the magnificence of their plumage. They were once fabled to be without feet and to remain always on the wing.

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81, 11.-by Cupid-boys. The name of Cupid, the Roman God of Love, represented as a boy carrying bow and arrows, was used in art, decoration, etc., to designate figures of children, in this case children in fantastic dresses who had in Court ceremonies to carry the ladies' trains.



First publication. The Morte d'Arthur (see p. 124) first appeared as part of The Epic. The setting of the poem in The Epic was made by imagining a gathering at Francis Allen's, on a Christmas Eve, when the parson Holmes, the poet Everard Hall, the host, and the narrator sat talking round the wassail-bowl. After Holmes had harped on the general decay of faith, the conversation turned to Hall's poems;

'You know, said Frank, he burnt
His epic, his King Arthur, some twelve books-...
God knows he has a mint of reasons; ask.

It pleased me well enough.' 'Nay, nay,' said Hall,
'Why take the style of those heroic times?
For nature brings not back the Mastodon,
Nor we those times; and why should any man
Remodel models? these twelve books of mine
Were faint Homeric echoes, nothing-worth,
Mere chaff and draff, much better burnt.' 'But I,'
Said Francis, 'pick'd the eleventh from this hearth
And have it: keep a thing, its use will come.

I hoard it as a sugar-plum for Holmes.'...

He brought it; and the poet little urged,

But with some prelude of disparagement,
Read, mouthing out his hollow oes and aes,
Deep-chested music, and to this result.'

When the Morte d'Arthur was read, the parson woke up to grunt 'Good,' but the other hearers sat for some time rapt; then to bed, where the the narrator dreams of Arthur's return as a modern gentleman of stateliest port.'

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Though not published till 1842, the poem had reached completion in 1837. Landor writes on December 9th of that year: “Yesterday a Mr. Moreton, a young man of rare judgment, read to me a manuscript by Mr. Tennyson, very different in style from his printed poems. The subject is the death of

Arthur. It is more Homeric than any poem of our time, and rivals some of the noblest parts of the Odyssea."—Forster, Life of Landor, ii. 323.

Twenty-seven years after publication, when the Idylls were well nigh complete, the Morte d'Arthur was taken out of its charming personal setting, which could not be made harmonious with the series of epic-idylls, and expanded into The Passing of Arthur. These expansions, made at a time when the possible allegorizing of the Arthurian story was uppermost in the poet's mind, are in the main directed to strengthen the spiritual drift of the story, and represent the struggle of the Soul with despair of its mission in life, and its farewell as it enters once more into 'the great deep.'

Its source.

The Morte d'Arthur like The Holy Grail rests upon Malory's Morte Darthur; more particularly it is founded upon chapters four and five of the twenty-first book, of which the poem is, as we shall see, a close poetic rendering.

Its literary value. The poem has exercised a great charm over its readers since its publication. Its great theme, the passing away of a hero-king, mortally wounded by a traitorous knight, on a battle-field among the wild mountains; the mysterious departure, god-like, yet fraught with the deepest pathos of imminent death; the vivid picture of Bedivere gazing after the lessening barge: all these are a noble theme, which leaves us too revolving many memories, in the silent exaltation of mind arising from the contemplation of scenes of noble thought and heroic action.

The style too is wonderfully clear, simple, and strong with its brief English words, and yet with a mournful melody, and with some of the finest onomatopoeic effects in the language.

"Not only in the language," says Bayne, "is it Homeric, but in the design and manner of treatment. The concentration of the interest on the hero, the absence of all modernism in the way of love-story or passion-painting, the martial clearness, terseness, brevity of the narrative. with definite

specification, at the same time, are exquisitely true to the Homeric pattern," p. 334. This, however, is exquisitely unfair to Malory; for in this early sketch Tennyson's treatment of his source is far nearer the original than the ornate versions in the subsequent Idylls, and every point that gives the poem its 'Homeric' character is exquisitely true of the poet's original. Illustrations of this will appear in our comparisons. Brimley (p. 243) speaks more nearly the truth: "They are rather Virgilian than Homeric cchoes; elaborate and stately, not naïve and eager to tell their story; rich in pictorial detail; carefully studied; conscious of their own art; more anxious for beauty of workmanship than interest of action."

And in allegory, which we had to stop and struggle with in The Holy Grail—where can it be found in this picture of the last days of a human hero. "No allegory, no ethics, no rational soul, no preaching symbolism, enter here, to dim, confuse, or spoil the story. Nothing is added which does not justly exalt the tale, and what is added is chiefly a greater fulness and breadth of humanity, a more lovely and supreme nature, arranged at every point to enhance into keener life the human feelings of Arthur and his knight, to lift the ultimate hour of sorrow and of death into nobility."-Stopford Brooke, p. 387.

82, 1.-Morte d'Arthur. French, 'death of Arthur.' (Mort is the purer French form.)

82, 2.-So. Suggesting a description as already given in the epic poem of which the present is a supposed fragment.

82, 3.-Among the mountains, etc. In Malory the battle was assigned "upon a down besides Salisbury, and not far from the sea side, and this day was assigned on a Monday after Trinity Sunday" (xxi. 3). In Geoffrey, it is by the river Cambula, in Cornwall.

In Tennyson, the scenic background is made to harmonize with the closing of Arthur's life; see notes 8, 12; 16, 2.

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