Robinson’s Tristram


Tristram & Isolt

Another great poetry must read includes Edwin Alington Robinson‘s Tristram. In stunning verse, Robinson describes the star-crossed Tristram becoming enthralled simultaneously with two Isolts – of Ireland, and of Brittany, respectively: and of the tragedy that ensues.

Exiled from Cornwall, Tristram seeks refuge across the channel outside Arthur’s realm: beyond the reach of his treacherous uncle, King Mark. What stirred King Mark’s ire was the continued amorous attentions bestowed by his wife – Queen Isolt, now of Cornwall – upon the handsome knight Sir Tristram: feelings which he eagerly reciprocated, and which led to his exile in Brittany. Perhaps by marrying the beautiful Isolt of Brittany he can forget Cornwall and its ravishing queen?

After Tristram’s marriage to Isolt of Brittany, he dwells contentedly enough: until the time King Arthur invites him to return to Camelot for his inauguration as a knight of the Round Table. Once back in Britain, Tristram’s passion for Queen Isolt rekindles, and animates him to again chance visiting Cornwall. King Mark – lately escaped from incarceration – gets wind of Tristram’s dalliance and sends assassins to take care of his nephew. Nor is Tristram difficult to find: for he is already inside the queen’s bower: eagerly rediscovering their mutual amores.

  • Is King Arthur able to curb his sub-king Mark’s hatred and preserve Tristram’s life?
  • What is Queen Morgan’s devilish game? Is Morgan on the side of King Mark? Or Queen Isolt? Or is Morgan pursuing some separate scheme of her own?

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