10 October 2012

Two loves united

From the days of my childhood I have very much enjoyed the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.  It started, I think, with the cartoon The Legend of Prince Valiant:

From this cartoon I delved into the legends themselves and dabbled into the historicity of King Arthur (a topic that sill captures my attention).  I even wrote a senior seminar paper on King Arthur when I attended Quincy University.

My love of the legends continues to this day and I am a member of the International Arthurian Society - North American Branch.  I look forward to receiving the quarterly issues of Arthuriana and typically devour its contents soon after it arrives.

Also as a boy I was introduced to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and quickly fell in love with the tales of Middle Earth, as well.

Now it seems these two loves will soon be, in a certain sense, merged together: Next year Tolkien's poem in narrative verse titled, "The Fall of Arthur," will be published:
It's the story of a dark world, of knights and princesses, swords and sorcery, quests and betrayals, and it's from the pen of JRR Tolkien. But this is not Middle-earth, it's ancient Britain, and this previously unpublished work from the Lord of the Rings author stars not Aragorn, Gandalf and Frodo, but King Arthur.
The Guardian goes on to give us a brief excerpt of the opening lines:
Arthur eastward in arms purposedhis war to wage on the wild marches,over seas sailing to Saxon lands,from the Roman realm ruin defending.Thus the tides of time to turn backward and the heathen to humble, his hope urged him,that with harrying ships they should hunt no moreon the shining shores and shallow watersof South Britain, booty seeking.
I've already read Tolkien's masterful translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and I can't wait to read this poem.

Just last week I finished reading Tolkien's essay On Fairy Stories where he says of the Arthurian legends:
It seems fairly plain that Arthur, once historical (but perhaps as such not of great importance), was also put in the Pot.  There he was boiled for a long time, together with many other older figures and devices, of mythology and Faërie, and even some other stray bones of history (such as Alfred's defence against the Danes), until he emerged as a King of Faërie.
I wonder what elements Tolkien has put into the soup?

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