BENJAMIN A. SALTZMAN n a letter dated October 24, 1872 to his affectionate friend Aglaia Coronio, William Morris writes: "I suppose you see that Tennyson is publishing another little lot of Arthurian legend. We all know pretty well what it will be; and I confess I don't look forward to it."1 Fourteen years earlier, Morris had published The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems.2 In these poems, he reinvents medieval romance legends and does so far more beautifully, some say, than Tennyson had done in the "pale and anæmic"3 Idylls of the King, the first installment of which was published only a year after The Defence.4 Yet, because Tennyson's Idylls earned a far kinder response from the critics than did Morris' Defence,5 Morris' confession to Coronio may have been nothing more than a moment of bitterness remaining from Tennyson's previous success. In an earlier letter written on August 12, 1869 to Edward Williams Byron Nicholson who, as an undergraduate at Oxford, sought Morris' advice for the creation of a magazine, Morris expresses his specific love for a few of Tennyson's poems: Don't think it ungracious if I take you to task for falling upon Tennyson, who after all
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
Published: Nov 16, 2011
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