Cultured Wednesday: The Springtime Days of the Round Table

In Lord Alfred Tennysson‘s Idylls of the King, we have a wonderfully romantic retelling of the ancient tale of the King, with everything you expect to find.

round table
La Quête du Graal: Arrivée de Galaad à la cour Milan, vers 1380-1385. Copié par Albertolus de Porcelis

In old age, Arthur recalled the springtime days of the Round Table and the hopes of glory with which he had begun. 

But I was first of all the kings who drew
The knighthood-errant of this realm and all
The realms together under me, their Head,
In that fair Order of my Table Round,
A glorious company, the flower of men,
To serve as model for the mighty world,
And be the fair beginning of a time.
I made them lay their hands in mine and swear
To reverence the King, as if he were
Their conscience, and their conscience as their King,
To break the heathen and uphold the Christ,
To ride abroad redressing human wrongs,
To speak no slander, no, nor listen to it,
To honour his own word as if his God’s,
To lead sweet lives in purest chastity,
To love one maiden only, cleave to her,
And worship her by years of noble deeds,
Until they won her; for indeed I knew
Of no more subtle master under heaven
Than is the maiden passion for a maid,
Not only to keep down the base in man,
But teach high thought, and amiable words
And courtliness, and the desire of fame,
And love of truth, and all that makes a man.

If you are interested in the Arthurian legend, you might find The Camelot Project of the University of Rochester to be of interest.


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