Study Guide

The Defence of Guenevere Lines 80-92

By William Morris

Lines 80-92

Behold my judges, then the cloths were brought;
While I was dizzied thus, old thoughts would crowd,

"Belonging to the time ere I was bought
By Arthur's great name and his little love;
Must I give up for ever then, I thought,

"That which I deemed would ever round me move
Glorifying all things; for a little word,
Scarce ever meant at all, must I now prove

"Stone-cold for ever? Pray you, does the Lord
Will that all folks should be quite happy and good?
I love God now a little, if this cord

"Were broken, once for all what striving could
Make me love anything in earth or heaven?

  • Now the speaker speaks to her "judges" again directly. (Remember, she's standing in front of a room full of "knights and lords" [line 1], defending herself at her trial.)
  • She says this was the moment when "the cloths were brought."
  • She's referring to that earlier analogy she made in lines 16-41, when she asked the judges to imagine that they were about to die and were forced to choose between two cloths – one that represented heaven, and one that represented hell.
  • So this was it, she says: when she was all depressed in the months after Launcelot's arrival, this was the moment of choice for her.
  • She says she was "dizzied" at this time. But with what? Depression? Love? Is she making excuses or just explaining how she felt at the time?
  • She says that at around this time, she kept remembering how she used to feel before she was "bought." That doesn't really sound like a nice way of describing her marriage to King Arthur, does it?
  • Apparently she and her husband, King Arthur, were never in love. She allowed herself to be "bought" by his wealth and position as king.
  • So in the months after Launcelot's arrival, she asked herself if she really had to give up "that" thing that would always "glorify all things."
  • She doesn't say what "that" is, though – does she mean true love? Happiness?
  • She wondered whether "the Lord" actually wanted people to be both "happy and good."
  • She says she loves God a little but wonders what would happen if that "cord" were broken.
  • Does the "cord" she's referring to mean her love of God? Her life? Her desire for happiness, which she seems to believe God wants for everyone?

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