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May 26, 2012
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Tennyson's Sir Galahad restoration by AdamCuerden Tennyson's Sir Galahad restoration by AdamCuerden
This is a restoration by me of an out-of copyright illustration by W.E.F. Britten to Tennyson's Sir Galahad. If you've read my notes on the last one of this set, Sleeping Beauty, you'll have heard me talk about how Tennyson often opens and ends in the middle of events, leaving out the opening and conclusion.

This poem is no exception. But it is actually fairly-well quoted. "My strength is as the strength of ten / Because my heart is pure" is something you may recognise (admittedly, mainly from older books.)

-----

My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.
The shattering trumpet shrilleth high,
The hard brands shiver on the steel,
The splinter'd spear-shafts crack and fly,
The horse and rider reel:
They reel, they roll in clanging lists,
And when the tide of combat stands,
Perfume and flowers fall in showers,
That lightly rain from ladies' hands.

How sweet are looks that ladies bend
On whom their favours fall!
For them I battle till the end,
To save from shame and thrall:
But all my heart is drawn above,
My knees are bow'd in crypt and shrine:
I never felt the kiss of love,
Nor maiden's hand in mine.
More bounteous aspects on me beam,
Me mightier transports move and thrill;
So keep I fair thro' faith and prayer
A virgin heart in work and will.

When down the stormy crescent goes,
A light before me swims,
Between dark stems the forest glows,
I hear a noise of hymns:
Then by some secret shrine I ride;
I hear a voice but none are there;
The stalls are void, the doors are wide,
The tapers burning fair.
Fair gleams the snowy altar-cloth,
The silver vessels sparkle clean,
The shrill bell rings, the censer swings,
And solemn chaunts resound between.

Sometime on lonely mountain-meres
I find a magic bark;
I leap on board: no helmsman steers:
I float till all is dark.
A gentle sound, an awful light!
Three angels bear the holy Grail:
With folded feet, in stoles of white,
On sleeping wings they sail.
Ah, blessed vision! blood of God!
My spirit beats her mortal bars,
As down dark tides the glory slides,
And star-like mingles with the stars.

When on my goodly charger borne
Thro' dreaming towns I go,
The cock crows ere the Christmas morn,
The streets are dumb with snow.
The tempest crackles on the leads,
And, ringing, springs from brand and mail;
But o'er the dark a glory spreads,
And gilds the driving hail.
I leave the plain, I climb the height;
No branchy thicket shelter yields;
But blessed forms in whistling storms
Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields.

A maiden knight--to me is given
Such hope, I know not fear;
I yearn to breathe the airs of heaven
That often meet me here.
I muse on joy that will not cease,
Pure spaces clothed in living beams,
Pure lilies of eternal peace,
Whose odours haunt my dreams;
And, stricken by an angel's hand,
This mortal armour that I wear,
This weight and size, this heart and eyes,
Are touch'd, are turn'd to finest air.

The clouds are broken in the sky,
And thro' the mountain-walls
A rolling organ-harmony
Swells up, and shakes and falls.
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
"O just and faithful knight of God!
Ride on! the prize is near."
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
By bridge and ford, by park and pale,
All-arm'd I ride, whate'er betide,
Until I find the holy Grail.----

-----
Image is by W.E.F. Britten (1848-1916), source is The Early Poems of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Edited with a Critical Introduction, Commentaries and Notes, together with the Various Readings, a Transcript of the Poems Temporarily and Finally Suppressed and a Bibliography by John Churton Collins. With ten illustrations in Photogravure by W. E. F. Britten. Methuen & Co. 36 Essex Street W. C. London, 1901

For more about this set, see:


This one wasn't too bad. Before Sleeping Beauty, I lost hours of work on The Lotos-Eaters (which is filthy) after my image editing program crashed, so I'm kind of doing the easier ones before going back. Took... maybe four hours or so?
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