Meter: A study of Idylls of the King, Part 13, The Passing of Arthur.
In the final chapter, Arthur and his host march westward to meet Mordred; on the eve of the final battle, Arthur is visited by the ghost of Gawain, who died in the war against Lancelot. Gawain informs Arthur that he will die in the coming battle.
Arthur laments over the fact that his perfect kingdom has been brought to ruin by his cheating wife, best friend, and traitor nephew.
The next day, Arthur and his host meet Mordred; Choas erupts as a dense fog settles over the battle causing friends to kill friends, and Enemy to slay enemy as no one can see who they are fighting. After the both sides have killed each other off, Arthur sees Mordred and attacks him. Mordred delivers Arthur a mortal blow, but Arthur strikes him dead.
Bedivere pulls Arthur off the battle friend; Arthur tells Bedivere that he is dying and that he needs Bedivere to throw Excalibur back into the lake.
Two times Bedivere takes the sword to the lake, and two times he is unable to bring himself to throw the sword away; he wonders if it should be kept for future generations. Each time Arthur knows that Bedivere is lying, and condemns him for his lies. On the third, time Bedivere throws the sword into the lake; a hand -the lady of the lake- grabs it. Bedivere tells Arthur what he has seen, and Arthur die.
As Arthur die, a group of fairies appears from out of the mist in the boat. They pick up Arthur's body and lay it in the boat (There is a famous painting based off this scene), and sail off.
Here is the final paragraph of Idylls of the King:
Then from the dawn it seem'd there came, but faint
As from beyond the limit of the world,
Like the last echo born of a great cry,
Sounds, as if some fair city were one voice
Around a king returning from his wars.
Thereat once more he moved about, and clomb
Even to the highest he could climb and saw,
Straining his eyes beneath an arch of hand,
Or thought he saw, the speck that bare the King,
Somewhere far off, pass on and on, and go
From less to less, and vanish into light,
And the new sun rose bringing the new year.
(The passing of Arthur, lines 457-469)
Then from /the dawn/ it seem'd/ there came, but faint (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
As from/ beyond/ the lim/it of /the world, (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
Like the/ last ec/ho born/ of a /great cry, (Trochee/Iamb/Iamb/Double Iamb)
Sounds, as/ if some /fair cit/y were/ one voice (Trochee/Double Iamb/Double Iamb)
Around /a king/ re-turn/ing from/ his wars. (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
Thereat /once more /he moved /about,/ and clomb (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
Even to /the high/est he /could climb/ and saw, (Trochee/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)*
Straining/ his eyes/ beneath/ an arch/ of hand, (Trochee/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
Or thought/ he saw, /the speck /that bare /the King, (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
Somewhere /far off,/ pass on /and on, /and go (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb)
From less/ to less, and van/ish in/to light, (Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/Iamb/IAmb)
And the /new sun/ rose bring/ing the/ new year. (Double Iamb/Iamb/Double Iamb)
*I believe Even is being pronounced as 1 syllable.
I hope you enjoyed part 13 of my study on Idylls of the King. Part 14 will be where I discuss certain elements I enjoyed about the story, as well as my feelings toward the theme of the story (believe it or not, this is a very sexist story.)
If you have a thought or a question, please leave a comment or a like!
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