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"desire unsated and savage fury"

Happy birthday to maidoforange! May you have a wonderful day and many, many more!

Today's quote contains within it all that has been published thus far of J.R.R. Tolkien's unfinished epic poem entitled "The Fall of Arthur." I continue to hope that the complete surviving text will one day be published:

In his own Arthurian poem he did not touch on the Grail but began an individual rendering of the Morte d'Arthur, in which the king and Gawain go to war in 'Saxon lands' but are summoned home by news of Mordred's treachery. The poem was never finished, but it was read and approved by E.V. Gordon, and by R.W. Chambers, Professor of English at London University, who considered it to be 'great stuff--really heroic, quite apart from its value as showing how the Beowulf metre can be used in modern English'. It is also interesting in that it is one of the few pieces of writing in which Tolkien deals explicitly with sexual passion, describing Mordred's unsated lust for Guinever (which is how Tolkien chooses to spell her name):

His bed was barren; there black phantoms
of desire unsated and savage fury
in his brain had brooded till bleak morning.

But Tolkien's Guinever is not the tragic heroine beloved by most Arthurian
writers; instead she is described as

lady ruthless,
fair as fay-woman and fell-minded,
in the world walking for the woe of men.

Although 'The Fall of Arthur' was abandoned in the mid nineteen-thirties, Tolkien wrote as late as 1955 that he still hoped to complete it; but in the event it remained unfinished.

from Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 2nd, 2005 01:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the birthday wishes, (((EH))). Cool icon!!! Thanks for bringing the poem to my attention. I had not known about it. It rather fits with my view of Gwennie. I have never had any use for her or for Helen of Troy, come to that.
Mar. 2nd, 2005 10:31 pm (UTC)
:::hugs::: I hope your birthday is wonderful! Remember: you're still a tweenager in Hobbit years! :) Nice comparison between Gwennie and Helen, by the way. I can see that. Thanks for the kind words about my icon! I don't really possess the skill to make them, but I just had to have one for Excalibur, and that image stuck with me.

Have a fantastic day!
Mar. 2nd, 2005 10:34 pm (UTC)
What a treat!
How I would love to read it all -it does sound heroic, and very epic.
Thank-you dearest :)
Mar. 3rd, 2005 02:04 pm (UTC)
Doesn't it just? ::sigh:: That, plus Tolkien's translation of Beowulf, are high on my list of texts I'd most like to read. Hope springs eternal...! :) Thanks, m'dear!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )