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King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table! What magic is in the words! How they carry us straight to the days of chivalry, to the witchcraft of Merlin, to the wonderful deeds of Lancelot and Perceval and Galahad, to the Quest for the Holy Grail, to all that "glorious company, the flower of men," as Tennyson has called the king and his companions! Down through the ages the stories have come to us, one of the few great romances which, like the tales of Homer, are as fresh and vivid to-day as when men first recited them in court and camp and cottage. Other great kings and paladins are lost in the dim shadows of long-past centuries, but Arthur still reigns in Camelot and his knights still ride forth to seek the Grail.
"No little thing shall be
The gentle music of the bygone years,Long past to us with all their hopes and fears."
So wrote the poet William Morris in The Earthly Paradise. And surely it is no small debt of gratitude we owe the troubadours and chroniclers and poets who through many centuries have sung of Arthur and his champions, each adding to the song the gifts of his own imagination, so building from simple folk-tales one of the most magnificent and moving stories in all literature.
This debt perhaps we owe in greatest measure to three men; to Chrétien de Troies, a Frenchman, who in the twelfth century put many of the old Arthurian legends into verse; to Sir Thomas Malory, who first wrote out most of the stories in English prose, and whose book, the Morte Darthur, was printed by William Caxton, the first English printer, in 1485; and to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who in his series of poems entitled the Idylls of the King retold the legends in new and beautiful guise in the nineteenth century.

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