Some background information regarding “Idylls of the King” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Authors. Writers. Books. Poems. Literature History.

My poetry journey began not too long ago, so I am always taking every opportunity to research more kinds of poems and genres. Somewhere in my research, though, I stumbled across this poem (story?), and was blown away because I also love Arthurian legends (King Arthur is a fantastic film), so I thought I would share some of the background (even if you know it already) before I take a deep dive into each section!

The gist

“The Idylls of the King” is a cycle of poems (twelve to be exact) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson—a 1800s poet and creative genius—and the cycle tells the tale of King Arthur’s attempt to “elevate” mankind.

“Based largely on Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur, the work spans the full scope of Arthur’s career, from his first encounter with Guinevere, who would become his queen, to his final battle with Mordred.”


The poem focuses on Arthur, his knights, the quest for the holy grail, and “numerous minor characters,” which happen in the following order.

  • The Coming of Arthur
  • Gareth and Lynette
  • Enid
  • The Marriage of Geraint
  • Geraint and Enid                
  • Balin and Balan
  • Merlin and Vivien
  • Lancelot and Elaine
  • The Holy Grail
  • Pelleas and Ettare
  • The Last Tournament
  • Guinevere
  • The Passing of Arthur
  • To the Queen

I will be breaking each of these down in future posts, so pull your copy from your library (or buy a copy) and follow along!

Works Cited