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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Structure of Idylls of the King

Idylls of the King is made up 12 separate but interrelated poems, all revolving around the subject of the Arthurian legend.  The work was not written in chronological order, with "The Passing of Arthur," the last of the poems, being written first, shortly after the death of Arthur Henry Hallam and likely in tribute to that young man.  The work begins and ends with poems about Arthur while other ten poems deal with his knights, his Queen, and Merlin.  Together, the poems illustrate the greatest and purity of the King and the failure of the others to live up to his standards. 

The work is written in blank verse and contain much imagery of the sea and other aspects of nature.  Religion plays a major role with the many biblical allusions.  Dedicated to Prince Albert, the work was first published in 1859 with four idylls, two years before the death of the man Tennyson calls "Albert the Good."  Tennyson believed that Albert displayed many of the same qualities with which Arthur is depicted.  Ultimately, Tennyson desired all Victorians to adhere to those same morals.

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