Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
The gemmy bridle glittered free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
- Brace yourself for a long description of Lancelot, with some unfamiliar words.
- This is the major shift in the plot, so the speaker has to get us really invested in Lancelot. He starts out by comparing his jewel-covered bridle (the gear that fits over the horse's head) to a constellation of stars in the sky.
The bridle bells rang merrily
As he rode down to Camelot:
- We also learn that the bridle has ringing bells on it, and that Lancelot is headed down the river, towards Camelot.
And from his blazoned baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
Beside remote Shalott.
- Lancelot apparently also has a strap or belt across his shoulder called a "baldric." It's specially decorated, or "blazon'd."
- Don't worry if these words are new to you. They would have seemed old-fashioned to readers in the nineteenth century too. Tennyson uses them to give this poem a medieval feel.
- The baldric was often used to carry something, and Lancelot is toting a silver bugle (a horn that a knight could blow in battle). All this gear is making a lot of noise as he heads down the trail.