Idylls of the King "From The Great Deep To The Great Deep"

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"From The Great Deep To The Great Deep"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Young King Arthur presumes to seek the hand of fair Guinevere, only child of King Leodgran, who has requested and received Arthur's help in repelling both the Saxon invaders and the beast prevalent in the desolate countryside torn by petty native kings and weak Roman rulers. Bellicent, daughter of Ygerne and Gorlois, tells Leodgran of legends of the mysterious lineage of Arthur: (1) he is the son of Ygerne and Gorlois, (2) he is the son of Ygerne and King Uther, who killed Gorlois and took his wife, and (3) before his death Bleys, master of Merlin (a magician who reared Arthur), told Bellicent that on the night of the death of Uther, who wept because he had no heir, Merlin and Bleys beheld a fiery dragon-winged ship sail down from heaven, leaving a baby, whom they hailed as heir to Uther, and who is the youthful King Arthur. Confronted by this riddle, Merlin had answered Bellicent in riddles:

"Rain, rain, and sun! a rainbow in the sky!
A young man will be wiser by and by;
An old man's wit may wander ere he die.
"Rain, rain, and sun! a rainbow on the lea!
And truth is this to me, and that to thee;
And truth or clothed or naked let it be.
"Rain, sun, and rain! and the free blossom blows:
Sun, rain, and sun! and where is he who knows?
From the great deep to the great deep he goes."