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  • David Burrows

Where did the name Enid come from? (Bonus: The St. David of Wales Connection)

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

Enid's Origin


St. Geraint and Enid

St. Geraint and Enid 

St. Geraint and Enid

Where did the name Enid come from?

And here come the Skeleton Station Plainsmen. . . Kind of catchy, right? Believe it or not, Enid was once called Skeleton Station, and to find just how Enid was renamed, one has to wade through a bit of folklore. 

The story with the most supporting factors begins in 1856 with none other than an Englishman. Writing narrative poems about the legend of King Arthur, his love for Guinevere and her tragic betrayal of Arthur, English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson entitled one of the poems “Enid” in his Idylls of the King, which he published in 1856 and 1885. The character Enid was a beautiful woman, second only in beauty to the fair Guinevere, hence the reason Enid received her own Idylls. 

Reading this poem on a railroad trip from Kansas, M.A. Low, vice president and general counsel for Rock Island, arrived in Skeleton Station and took an immediate disliking to the name. After all, who would want to visit a place named Skeleton Station? 

With Lord Tennyson’s poetic words fresh in his mind, Low renamed the railroad station Enidafter the beautiful woman in Lord Tennyson’s poems, and when local Cherokee Strip historian George Rainey traced the origins of how Enid received its name in the 1930’s, he came to the conclusion that this was the story that held the most fact to the town’s renaming. 


Here's another variant of the story

Enid was initially written as a single poem but was later divided into two parts: 'The Marriage of Geraint" and 'Geraint and Enid". It is based on one of the Welsh Romances Geraint and Enid of the Mabinogion.

The Marriage of Geraint

Geraint, tributary prince of Devon and one of Arthur's bravest knights, is married to Enid, the only daughter of Yniol. He loves his wife deeply and she responds with equal affection; her only wish is to please him. At this time, the first rumours about Lancelot and Guinevere begin to spread throughout the court, but as yet there is no proof that any romance really exists. Geraint believes the stories and begins to fear that Enid will follow the bad example of her friend, the queen. His worries begin to plague him and he finally asks Arthur's permission to return to Devon.

After they arrive home, Geraint is very affectionate and attentive to his wife. He totally neglects his duties as a ruler and a knight, for he is obsessed with the idea that Enid has left a lover behind at the palace. Made suspicious by his jealousy, he stays at Enid's side at all times. Before long, Geraint's reputation begins to suffer. His people secretly scoff at him and jeer that his manliness is gone. Enid also is upsetby his new and disgraceful way of life, but she is afraid to criticise him since she does not want to cause him any pain.

One morning as they lie in bed, she muses out loud about her sad dilemma and berates herself as a bad wife for remaining silent. Geraint awakens and overhears her last few words. He jumps to the conclusion that she is confessing her infidelity and is infuriated. He angrily shouts that he is still a warrior, despite all rumours, and that he will at once go on a quest to prove his prowess. She alone is to accompany him, taking no baggage and wearing her oldest and most shabby dress.

Geraint and Enid

Geraint and Enid set out on their journey that very morning. Geraint orders Enid to ride in front of him and not to speak, whatever the provocation. Perhaps, Tennyson hints, this command is because he still loves her and is afraid that in some outburst of his brooding jealousy he will harm her. The two ride on slowly into the bandit-infested wilderness adjoining Devon. Neither speaks, and both look pale and unhappy.

After a while, Enid notices three knights and overhears them planning to attack Geraint. He is riding so listlessly that he inspires no fear in them. She does not wish to disobey his order to her, but is afraid that he might be harmed. Finally she rides back and warns him. Rather than show any gratitude, Geraint criticises Enid for her disobedience and needles her about his suspicion that she really wants him to be defeated. Geraint engages the knights and is victorious. He piles the armour of the dead knights on their horses and makes Enid lead them as she rides.

The same episode is repeated again with three other knights, and once more Geraint chastises Enid for her disobedience. He is triumphant in each fight. Now Enid is forced to lead six captured horses. Geraint has some sympathy for her difficulty handling them, but does not offer to help.

In the afternoon, Geraint and Enid dine with some farm workers and are then guided to an inn for the night. After arranging for accommodations, Geraint continues to be sullen and nasty. Later that evening, they are visited at the inn by the local ruler, Earl Limours, who, by chance, happens to have once been a suitor of Enid's. Limours is a crude drunkard, and Geraint callously allows him to make all sorts of coarse jokes, much to the distress and embarrassment of Enid. Before leaving for the night, Limours informs Enid that he still loves her and plans the next morning to rescue her from her cruel husband.

When day breaks, Enid warns Geraint of the plot. He, of course, suspects her of having encouraged the earl and is angry. They leave the inn immediately but are pursued by Limours and his followers. In a running fight, Geraint is able to drive them off.

Soon the unhappy couple enters the lawless territory of Earl Doorm the Bull. Suddenly Geraint collapses from his wounds. Enid is powerless to aid him and she sits by his side, weeping while he lies unconscious. After a while, Doorm and his soldiers ride past, returning from a raid. The outlaw earl's curiosity is aroused by the lovely maiden and he questions her. Doorm insists that the wounded knight is dead, but Enid refuses to believe him. The outlaw chieftain has his soldiers bring Geraint's body and Enid to his stronghold.

As they gallop off together on one horse, they meet Edyrn, son of Nudd. He informs them that he is an advance scout for an army led by Arthur to rid this province of thieves and outlaws. He offers to guide them to the king's camp where Geraint reports to Arthur. After Geraint is shamed by the praise Arthur gives him, he and Enid are reconciled in their tent. When Geraint is well again they all return to Caerleon. Later on, the happy couple returns to Devon. Geraint's chivalrous and commendable behaviour as ruler and knight ends all rumours about him.


What does Enid mean?

Enid (or Enide) comes from enaïd, a Welsh word, meaning "soul" or "life". The verse: "Bless the Lord, oh my soul" uses the word enaïd for soul.  It is pronounced en-a-ee-d. The letter ï is used to show that both the "a" and the "i" are both pronounced. The "a" is a long a as in say. The "i" is a latin i sounding like a long double "e" as in seed. En-ay-ee-d. The beautiful word meaning "soul" or "life". The Cambrian Journal from 1861 answers the question like this: "What is Enaïd?""The breath of God in a carnal body.""The five commons of all things: earth, water, air, fire, and Enaïd; and God is the Enaïd, from Whom proceeds all life.""These sentiments are very near the Holy Scriptures, where we read, 'God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living Enaïd'."

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