“Idylls of the King” part one: The Coming of Arthur

Authors. Writers. Books. Poems. Literature History.

We begin today by looking at the first part of “Idylls of the King” (1859-1885) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson known as “The Coming of Arthur.


The Coming of Arthur is actually an exciting section (to boot) and shows the reader a clear picture of King Arthur and what he stands for as an individual. To start this picture, King of Cameliard, Leodogran asks Arthur for help in defeating the heathens and King Urien as his kingdom is weak (and so is he), and Arthur is king now and expectations are what they are.

After meeting Guinevere and falling in love, Arthur begins his campaign:

“His tents beside the forest. Then he drave

The heathen; after, slew the beast, and felled

The forest, letting in the sun, and made

Broad pathways for the hunter and the knight

And so returned.”

(Idylls of the King | Alfred Lord Tennyson)

Arthur wins decisively against many combatants (other kings and heathens) and swears an oath with Lancelot. His victory and oath shows Arthur’s fortitude, character, and ability to lead, which makes him a noble man who also acts upon his values.

The nobles, including Leodogran feel as though Arthur’s lineage is false, but Leodogran dreams of a crowned Arthur and all is well. Arthur sends Lancelot to collect his queen and he and Guinevere are married. Additionally, Arthur again proves that he is the leader of his people by refusing to pay the lords of Rome the regular tribute, which demonstrates a changing of the guard:

“The old order changeth, yielding place to new;

And we that fight for our fair father Christ,

Seeing that ye be grown too weak and old

To drive the heathen from your Roman wall,

No tribute will we pay: so those great lords

Drew back in wrath, and Arthur strove with Rome.”

(Idylls of the King | Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

This section ends with “Were all one will, and through that strength the King (Arthur)/Drew in the petty princedoms under him …” and this shows that Arthur is now the lord of his realm.

Works Cited

  • Tennyson, Alfred Lord. “The Idylls of the King.” The Project Gutenberg EBook of Idylls of the King. Aug. 4, 2008. Web.