She wills it: would I, if she will'd it? nay,
Who knows? but if I would not, then may God,
I pray him send a sudden Angel down
To seize me by the hair and bear me far
And fling me deep in that forgotten mere,
Among the tumbled fragments of the hills."
It was enchanting. Lovely. Spritely, shimmering, and all sorts of ephemeral adjectives that don't quite make sense in context but seize my poetic soul.
Young, romantic Elaine, a lady in her own right, falls desperately in love with Sir Lancelot and (spoilers!) dies of grief when he refuses her. And O! how I felt for Elaine, who everyone pinched companionably on the cheek and said how adorable her crush on Lancelot was, never realizing that her broken heart had never ceased bleeding dry...
But I had yet to discover the crowning gem of Tennyson's Arthurian poems: the haunting, elegiac The Lady of Shalott, which, although not technically part of his Idylls, is often included with it.
On either side the river lie
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-towered Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round and island there below,
This poem alone does not secure this collection its spot on my favorites shelf, however. This collection has a personal significance for me.
While vacationing in
The first one I reached for was Idylls of the King. And upon opening it, I saw signatures marching across the front page in faded, lovely handwriting. James Edward. Richard Kerrick. John Emmet. Walter Vincent. Mary Eleanor. Mary Agnes. And finally, Mary Bernadette.
My great-great uncles. My great-great grandparents.
So yes, I love Tennyson's Idylls of the King. How can I not, when a passion for it runs five generations back?
Reminder: You remember the drill from last year! Comment on any of the favorite classics posts to be entered in the favorite classics giveaway! Entries are capped at one per post, but feel free to comment more. This series won't take place consecutively but will be scattered around blog tours and interviews until it concludes on my birthday, the twenty-fourth. As for the hint for tomorrow's book: what happens when one novel follows the individual plotlines of an entire village?
(Also: Hurrah for my fiftieth post!)