From the Arthurian Lit Readings: “Sir Palomydes’ Quest” by William Morris

 

Arthuriana and the Matter of Britain influenced centuries of writers and artists, but many think of the Arts & Crafts movement and Pre-Raphaelites when it comes to the visuals. Few know, however, that William Morris himself was more than a painter–in fact, he was also a fantasy writer and poet (among many other things).

During my graduate research, I came upon his poem “The Defense of Guinevere” and, ultimately, more of his Arthurian poetry work. Sir Palomydes has always been one of my favorites, the prince from the Middle East sent to Arthur’s court as a paragon of chivalry–who falls in love with Iseult but never gets her (thanks, Tristan).

I think this poem beautifully encapsulates Palomydes’ daydream of just how high he could go in terms of accomplishments, while also realizing for all that renown, Iseult will never think on him the way he does on her. You can find the poem, which was published between 1910-1915 (after Morris’s death) here.

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