Ever think about all the art that has been lost? Beowulf comes out of an oral tradition of scops singing from a trove of texts. We have this manuscript, which fortunately survived the fitting-yet-sad fire at Ashburnham House, but what about all the other poems? Or what about all the ephemeral moments when a scop arranged … More Kept with Fonder a Care
You know the movement to make traditional bad guys good in children’s stories, or to at least give their side of the story. When I was a boisterous oddly serious public school lad, I remember a story that had recast the big bad wolf as a hapless neighbor who only wanted sugar from his selfish … More The Big Bad Wraecca
Why do we enjoy tragedies? Why is there something almost pleasant about an elegy. We watch King Lear, knowing that the moment will come when he carries Cordelia out. We watch Macbeth to hear “Out, out, brief candle!” I’ve noticed that I enjoy Old English poetry and the works of Thomas Hardy because they enter … More Why Do We Enjoy Suffering in Literature?
We’re leaving Arthurian Legend and moving toward some Anglo-Saxon texts in the following weeks. The Celtic Bretons are pushed back as the Saxons invade. The White Horse that Tennyson uses as a sign of civilization early in the Idylls becomes an epithet for the Saxons, who are now “Lords of the White Horse.” But then … More The Demonic Book of the Bretons
Imagine Arthur pulling the sword from the stone. What season is it? Do you see snow? Does a crisp winter light play over the stone? Now be honest…is Arthur wearing a scarf? I apologize for channeling a Disney scene, but bear with me. The legend of Arthur is very seasonal. The sword is pulled from … More Arthurian Time
Looking for some reading this Father’s Day? Perhaps you need something that rises above the din of bad Disney fathers or maybe you need some me time before opening up some poorly-wrapped black socks. Hey, we all secretly know we need more socks and that we’ll never buy them for ourselves. On this the day … More Father’s Day Reading
I’m still trucking through Malory’s Morte Darthur after a short break last week to read some Anglo-Saxon elegies and William Morris’s Arthurian poems. Malory’s brutal optimism started to wear on me and I found darker poems strangely consoling. But today I’m back and finishing up the grail quest cycle. Since it’s Trinity Sunday, I thought … More Lancelot’s Vision of the Trinity