Study Guide

The Defence of Guenevere Lines 93-111

By William Morris

Lines 93-111

So day by day it grew, as if one should

"Slip slowly down some path worn smooth and even,
Down to a cool sea on a summer day;
Yet still in slipping there was some small leaven

"Of stretched hands catching small stones by the way,
Until one surely reached the sea at last,
And felt strange new joy as the worn head lay

"Back, with the hair like sea-weed; yea all past
Sweat of the forehead, dryness of the lips,
Washed utterly out by the dear waves o'ercast,

"In the lone sea, far off from any ships!
Do I not know now of a day in Spring?
No minute of the wild day ever slips

"From out my memory; I hear thrushes sing,
And wheresoever I may be, straightway
Thoughts of it all come up with most fresh sting:

"I was half mad with beauty on that day,
And went without my ladies all alone,
In a quiet garden walled round every way;

  • The speaker says that every day "it grew," but she still doesn't explain exactly what "it" is. Her love of Launcelot, maybe? Or her own desire to be "happy and good," as she said in line 89? Maybe both?
  • She imagines that this "cord" (whatever that cord represents) allows her to lower herself slowly down to the seashore, where she's able to lay her head down with her hair spread out "like sea-weed."
  • The waves would wash away her sweat.
  • But we still don't know exactly what the "cord" she describes really refers to. The speaker apparently doesn't like to give much detail or explanation, just a lot of vivid images.
  • Suddenly we shift scenes: we're no longer with the speaker, imagining how the mysterious "cord" somehow lowered her down to the sea that washed her clean.
  • She says she understands now what a "day in Spring" is like, and she'll never forget it.
  • Whenever she hears "thrushes" (a kind of bird) singing, she remembers that spring day.
  • But she says she remembers it with a "sting." Sounds like the memory isn't entirely positive, huh? Or that she regrets it a little bit? As usual, she doesn't elaborate or explain.
  • On that day, she walked around in a walled garden without her ladies-in-waiting (the women who wait on her hand and foot).

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