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Idylls of the King and a Selection of Poems

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  411 ratings  ·  34 reviews
With regal melancholy and a superb sense of craft, Tennyson's poems evoke Past and Present - the Isle of the Lotos-Eaters, heraldic Camelot, his own twilit English gardens - seeking to reconcile the Victorian zeal for public progress with private despair. Using his own eloquence or masks of mythic figures, Tennyson was the stylist most imitated by poets of his day - praise ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 1961 by Signet Classic (first published 1889)
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3.99  · 
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 ·  411 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star
Cried in a Macy's Starbucks. And on the subway. A++++, would be devastated again.
You pretty much can't avoid reading Idylls of the King, if you're going to study Arthuriana, and I'd already read some of it, here and there. But I decided to finally sit my way down and work through them from the beginning. Tennyson's poetry is wonderful, though of course very formal (to the modern reader, at least). His treatment of female characters (is there a truly positive female character in his work?) is troubling, but the quality of the writing and the love he had for his vision of Came ...more
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arthuriana
Since Goodreads may very well scoop this up and deposit with reviews of other editions entirely: This is a review of the Signet Classic "Idylls of the King and a New Selection of Poems: 150th Anniversary Edition" (Amazon and iBook catalogue title), a 2003 re-issue, with a new introduction, of a collection first published in 1961. The cover and title page just say it has "A Selection of Poems," with no claim of being recent, a point to which I will return.

The review was originally written to go w
Abby Ophus
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, 2017
I really enjoyed reading these poems on the heels of Le Morte D'Arthur and Once and Future King. I loved the Biblical references that Tennyson made... for example:

"And Merlin call'd it 'the Siege Perilous,'
Perilous for good and ill; 'for there,' he said,
'No man could sit but he should lose himself.'
And once by misadvertence Merlin sat
In his own chair, and so was lost; but he,
Galahad, when he heard of Merlin's doom,
Cried, 'If I lose myself, I save myself!'"

And some of his story additions- partic
Samantha Puc
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Gorgeous. I mean, absolutely stunning poetry. Tennyson's exploration of the dark side of love, and how it can overtake the very greatest of men (Merlin and King Arthur included), is one of the most breathtaking and painful pieces of poetic, historical fiction that I've ever read. I could honestly sit and read and analyze these poems for hours. There's so much to interpret, so much to enjoy... If you're a fan of Arthurian legend, you should absolutely take a look at Idylls. Same goes for anyone w ...more
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arthurian-legend
I found Tennyson's Idylls of the King to be very readable. Tennyson has a very clear verse that is both eloquent and easy to follow. He writes several stories from the Arthurian canon. My personal favorite is "Gareth and Lynette." It's an unconventional adventure story, and it's one of the few times that the women in Camelot are shown taking action. And, as proven in "Lancelot an Elaine," Tennyson manages to bring sympathy to some unlikeable Camelot characters.
This version also includes poetry
Nicholas Bobbitt
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Same as my rating for the other copy of Idylls of the King. I haven't read the poems, but I'm sure they're all fine.
Isaac Hamlet
Let me just say that the ONLY reason this book gets only 2 stars is because I had some gripes with the story that drove me crazy. That said if you can appreciate amazing prose written in early modern English, then you should read this book. I wish I hadn't been reading this book for school so that I could pay more attention to the writing than to the story (if that makes sense), if I had I might have been able to give this book another star or two in good conscience.
But as I was reading this for
Erik Graff
Mar 28, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Arthurian fans, poets
Recommended to Erik by: Harriet J. Naden
Shelves: poetry
My first exposure to the Matter of Britain was in junior high school when I read what was probably an abridged version of Malory illustrated by Pyle. The next were White's Once and Future King and the musical and movie based upon it. I picked up Tennyson because we'd read him in high school English classes.

It's long. I read part of it silently, part of it aloud over a period of weeks, possibly months, a bit at a time. Mostly I was impressed by the language, but one idea came across and has perdu
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Most of this is terrific. Idylls of the King is definitely worth reading, and some of the poems that come after it-- "Ulysses" and "Tithonus" in particular-- are stunning. I thought, however, that "The Two Voices" and "Locksley Hall" were awful-- long, boring, and trite, and weirdly reminiscent of Dr. Seuss. For some reason Tennyson reserved his most original, evocative lines for poems written in blank verse or complex rhyme. Anyway, most of the book is lovely, and I'll certainly be keeping it a ...more
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
I get the impression not everyone loves Tennyson. I get that; he's a pompous douche. I always kinda liked him, though. I think his strongest stuff here - Arthur's speech to Guinevere, in "Guinevere," comes to mind - is staggering. Sometimes you have to work a little too hard to figure out what the hell he's banging on about, though. You get the impression he's being purposefully obtuse because he thinks that's what poets are supposed to do.
Mar 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I guess I liked it. Tennyson seems to glory in the decay of something good, strong, and even perfect. It's a bit gloomy for my taste. Same thing with the poems--I don't really find death all that dreamy, and I don't feel the pull of the grave. I would actively like to avoid the grave. I prefer Whitman's version of this period--exuberant, optimistic, still kind of annoying.
Apr 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Tennyson, as always, exhibits lyrical excellence and weaves together the hopes, joys, fears, and tragedy that characterize the tale of King Arthur. The characters are richly portrayed, the tale itself sings, and shattered dream of Camelot becomes, for Tennyson, a solemn warning and word of remorse for a grand venture lost.
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
One of my favorite poets is Tennyson and I love Idylls of the King. I can read this over and over again! I read "Locksley Hall" and "The Lady of Shallot" in college and couldn't get enough of Tennyson.
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was "The Coming of Arthur" and at the end, "The Passing of Arthur" that made this series for me. The middle stories I could do without but the beginning and the end nailed the wonderful pagan mysticism, lush lyricism and beautiful pictures that Tennyson creates. He's a master.
Sep 05, 2007 rated it liked it
thanks to markson, i now know that auden said tennyson had the finest ear of asny english poet, and was also undoubtedly the stupidest. considering that i rank ears more important than brains, i'm giving it a shot.
Again, this makes up part of the core of my knowledge of the Arthurian legends, and was an early influence in how I saw that world, forming most of my opinions of the characters involved. Another foundation novel, in my opinion. Besides, I like Tennyson.
Dec 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, poetry

Eloquentky written, Tennyson paints beautiful words that sometimes overwhelmed me with their sheer greatness.

I loved some parts of the Idylls, and some poems, like The Lady of Shalott for example, made me wonder at their loveliness.
Jul 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arthurian, victorian
I liked it, I just didn't love it. I suppose I just rather have a story that tells the whole part. The poetic delivery became a bit tiresome after a bit save for a few moments during each chapter I had chills. Glad I read it but won't be clamouring for a repeat....
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
A lovely collection of poems on Arthurian legend-- difficult to read and analyze, yes, but it was worth the challenge. My favorite story within it has got to be "Lancelot and Elaine" as it tells the sad yet beautiful story of "Elaine, the lily maid of Astolat".
Nov 16, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Poetry fans, Arthurian saga fans
I like King Arthur legends and stuff, but I'm not at all a poetry fan...
Mar 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I especially liked In Memoriam A.A.H., and from Idylls of the King, the stories of Geraint and Enid.
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The best retelling of Arthurian myth I've read.
May 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
Maybe because I'm not interested in poetry & was basically forced to read this for English, but I didn't like it ... At all .
Jun 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: old, poetry
Good stories, but I would have preferred them if they weren't poems. But that's just cuz I don't like poetry.
Guinevere was a bitch. I greatly prefer Tennyson's other poetry to the majority of the title work. That is all.
Eric wushen
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
January 27
The coming of Arthur gives me a feelings of the morning light. He cleaned out all the negative nature force and wild animals. And build the round table for justice and peace to his people.
Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, arthurian
Tennyson was my first serious poetic influence, and the entire reason I wrote lengthy epic poetry in highschool.
Heather Moore
Jun 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, arthurian
Absolutly beautiful and enchanting.
Sep 24, 2007 marked it as to-read
Its time to reread this poem now that I've reached the age of decline where, "we are not now that force which once moved earth and heaven."
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Alfred Tennyson, invariably known as Alfred Lord Tennyson on all his books, was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, the fourth of the twelve children of George Tennyson, clergyman, and his wife, Elizabeth. In 1816 Tennyson was sent to Louth Grammar School, which he disliked so intensely that from 1820 he was educated at home until at the age of 18 he joined his two brothers at Trinity College, Cambrid ...more
“Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” 208 likes
More quotes…