King Arthur, in "The Holy Grail"
From The Idylls of the King, by Alfred Tennyson
For Poetry Aloud this week here are the closing words of “The Holy Grail,” one of the twelve long poems or “idylls” in Alfred Tennyson’s magnificent Idylls of the King. We are in the time of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table, but the days are darkening, and Camelot is rushing to its doom. The quest, which King Arthur had advised his knights against undertaking, has proved, for almost all of them, a disastrous failure. Here Arthur asks the most famous of his knights, Sir Lancelot, what his success was. And Lancelot, we know, is burdened by a terrible sin, his adulterous love of the queen, Guinevere. Finally, Arthur gives his judgment on the quest, and that includes a most powerful reflection on what it means to be a king. The words are reported to us by Sir Perceval, who is something of a prig, and who has set his knighthood aside to be a monk; Perceval was all for the quest, and he does not understand what the king is talking about.
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