Study Guide

The Defence of Guenevere Lines 4-12

By William Morris

Lines 4-12

As though she had had there a shameful blow,
And feeling it shameful to feel ought but shame
All through her heart, yet felt her cheek burned so,

She must a little touch it; like one lame
She walked away from Gauwaine, with her head
Still lifted up; and on her cheek of flame

The tears dried quick; she stopped at last and said:
"O knights and lords, it seems but little skill
To talk of well-known things past now and dead.

  • The speaker's hand touches her cheek as though someone smacked her.
  • She thinks it would be "shameful" not to feel shame, and feels her cheeks burn with a blush.
  • Why is she ashamed? Is it because she doesn't like speaking in public, or because of something else? We just don't know yet.
  • She touches her own cheek because she can feel the blush there. Is she trying to hide the blush, or is the "burn" of the blush almost painful?
  • She walks away from some guy named Gauwaine with her head held proudly up, in spite of the fact that she's blushing beet red.
  • There is no punctuation between lines 9 and 10 to divide Stanza 3 from Stanza 4, forcing the reader to move quickly from one line to the next – this effect sort of imitates the way that the still-unnamed woman is walking quickly away from Gauwaine.
  • We also learn that she had been crying, but now the "tears" on her cheeks are dry.
  • Finally, she stops walking and starts talking, addressing a group of unnamed "knights and lords" about the past.
  • She doesn't seem to want to bring it up, because she says that what she's going to tell them is already "well-known."

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