Alfred Tennyson, who was born on August 6, 1809 (Ricks, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography), was a great Victorian poet who published many works including some poetry related to the Arthurian Legends. The American edition of Tennyson's The Coming of Arthur and Other Idylls of the King published in 1896 and edited by William J. Rolfe is a small pocket sized book. The book has a deep green hardcover that offsets the thin gold lettering of the title and has clean cut pages that contain five tales about characters from the Round Table. The table of contents outlines the stories of Gareth and Lynette, The Marriage of Geraint, Geraint and Enid, Balin and Balan, and Merlin and Vivien. Before delving into the stories of the Round Table, Tennyson provides his readers with a short dedication in the form of a poem. There is a section towards the back of the edition within the last few pages that has notes by Rolfe that provide insight about the dedication. He says that the dedication is a "tribute to Prince Albert" and it introduces "the idea of chivalry that Arthur set before his knights" (Rolfe 190). In addition to the notes and dedication, the edition also contains a portrait of Tennyson on the first page of the book and an index in the back of the book.

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Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson - Project Gutenburg (Wikimedia Commons)(accessed Jan 27, 2016)

In November 1850, Tennyson was appointed Poet Laureate (Ricks, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). Queen Victoria, who was in charge of choosing the poet laureate, describes Tennyson as "very peculiar looking, tall, dark, with a fine head, long black flowing hair and a beard - oddly dressed, but there is no affectation about him" (Ricks, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). Ricks mentions that the reasoning behind Tennyson's appointment as Poet Laureate was because it was offered to him by Prince Albert, who had enjoyed Tennyson's In Memoriam (Ricks, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). In 1861 Prince Albert died and Tennyson decided to provide a dedication in the Idylls of the King to the memory of Prince Albert, which our 1896 edition contains. The first few lines of the dedication are as follows: "These to His Memory - since he held them dear, / Perchance as finding there unconsciously / Some image of himself - I dedicate, / I dedicate, I consecrate with tears - / These Idylls." (Tennyson, lines 1-5). The capitalization of "Memory" (line 1) probably is a reference to Prince Albert's own interest in Tennyson's In Memoriam. When Tennyson speaks of finding "some image of himself" (line 3), he could be referring to the matter of Prince Albert's royalty in comparison with the subject matter of the poem, specifically King Arthur's royalty and how the two men are similar in terms of their status. The repetition of the word "dedicate" not only signifies that these lines are a dedication but this repetition also resembles that of a stutter one might perform out of sadness and the inability to speak due to this sadness. The sadness that Tennyson feels is proven by line 4, "I consecrate with tears". With this analysis of the first five lines of Tennyson's dedication in this edition, it is obvious just how much of an emotional dedication it was to his friend and admirer Prince Albert. The fifty-three line long dedication also gives a glimpse about what to expect from the poetry that follows.

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Dedication within the 1896 edition

In the opinion of Christopher Ricks, Tennyson's interest in the Arthurian legends "were lifelong" (Ricks, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). Many of his poems, including "The Lady of Shalott", demonstrate Tennyson's interests in the Arthurian world. His poems eventually turned into narratives that made up the "Idylls of the King". In 1855 he began creating the Idylls and in 1859 the first four were published (Ricks, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography), three of which are in the 1896 American edition: The Marriage of Geraint, Geraint and Enid, and Merlin and Vivien. Tennyson's life long interests had a significant impact on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries according to Alan Lupack (80). Lupack states that the "Idylls of the King had a significant impact on nineteenth- and early twentieth century culture ... popular culture all looked to Tennyson's Arthurian works for subject matter and themes." (80). Much of his Arthurian poetry has been adapted into different forms of plays by various people. Lupack suggests that "the Idylls was seen as offering moral example, and so a number of plays based on Tennyson's Arthurian sequence are directed toward children" (81), and a few of these plays combined elements from both Malory and Tennyson (82). In this sense, Alfred Tennyson's The Coming of Arthur and Other Idylls of the King are continuing to live on in modern society; through these adaptations, even children are being able to experience Tennyson in some fashion. The popularization and modernization of Tennyson's take on the Arthurian Legends is beneficial to audiences today, which is apparent from the statements above from Lupack. Because The Arthurian Legends are from the Medieval era, it is difficult for stories like these to be re-introduced into a modern society such as today, but it seems that through Tennyson and the various adaptations that have followed Tennyson, this re-introduction has been successful for both children and adults to experience the great stories that come out of the Arthurian Legends.

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King Arthur's Round Table 1873 (Wikimedia Commons)(accessed Jan 30, 2016)





Works Cited
Lupack, Allan. "The Influence of Tennyson's Poems on Arthurian Drama." Arthuriana 24.4 (2014): 80-96. Web. 30 Jan. 2016.
Ricks, Christopher. "Tennyson, Alfred first Baron Tennyson (1809-1892)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. May 2006. Oxford University Press. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Tennyson, Alfred. The Coming of Arthur and Other Idylls of the King. Ed. William J. Rolfe. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co, 1896. Print. Call number: PR5559 C6R6
"Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson", Wikimedia Commons. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
"King Arthur's Round Table 1873", Wikimedia Commons. Web. 30 Jan. 2016.

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