Tristram and Iseult & Sohrab and Rustum
By: Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)
Tristram & Iseult is a narrative poem containing strong romantic and tragic themes: and was first published in 1852 by Matthew Arnold. This poem draws upon the Tristram and Iseult legends: which were popular with contemporary readers.
The poem opens with Tristram upon his deathbed. The monologue of the dying man is shot through with sharp pangs of regret: centering upon his induced passion for Iseult of Ireland - inflamed by his unwittingly imbibing an irresistible love-potion.
Before his decease, Tristram's lawful wife - Iseult of Ireland - arrives in time to share his deathbed. Iseult of Brittany graciously accedes to their request to be buried near each other - in a splendidly-constructed mausoleum.
Iseult of Brittany survives to raise Tristram's children in isolation. She forgives Tristram his adultery, and with delightful pathos remains thankful for the short years of happiness that she spent espoused to one of King Arthur's best knights.