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The Coming Of Arthur Leodogran

By Author: Mark Gary
Total Articles: 61

Arthur possesses no mean sum of spiritual resolve. He embodies, as fully as any figure Tennyson ever created, the ideals expressed by Pallas to live by law, Acting the law we live by without fear; And, because right is right, to follow right...' Blue blood is no part of his fortitude, for his parentage is suspect, surrounded by muddy rumours, and Tennyson amplifies this aspect of Malory. In The Coming of Arthur Leodogran hesitates to support him: 'A doubtful throne is ice on summer seas' (line 247). What finally wins him over is an account of how Excalibur was bestowed by the Lady of the Lake. This above all shores up Arthur's mandate but, of course, it is only by putting to death the monster within that the mere becomes Thomas Sabo Jewellery a source of authority rather than anarchy. Beowulf, it should not be forgotten, returns from his cleansing of the mere with a fabulous sword.

What Excalibur represents above all is self-conquest. Arthur has rather less success in imparting his values to a recalcitrant world, and ends his reign in despair: 'O me! For why is all around us here As if some lesser god had made the world, But had not force to shape it as he would...' (Passing, lines 13-15). Christianity is supposed to provide answers to our doubts, as Bede explains in a very famous passage, which I quote here in the translation from Turner's History. A heathen counsellor in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria urges his king to accept the Christian faith: The present portion of our existence, O king, compared with the uncertain future, seems to me to resemble the temporary appearance of a sparrow at your winter feasts, when your generals and ministers are around you; gay with the warmth of your central fire it hears the hurrying rain and snow beating without, and for a while is happy; when serener skies approach, the little guest disappears; and as it came we know not whence, it goes we know not where. Such is the life of man; for a short time it appears in this busy world, revels with hilarity, and is active from its enjoyment of existence; soon the passing scenes terminate, and as of Thomas Sabo Charms those which may have preceded this life we are ignorant, so we know nothing of the events which are to follow. In this state of ignorance, of doubt, of alarm, I feel that if this new doctrine contains in it something more certain and more consolatory, it deserves our assent.

Arthur is the consummate Christian knight, and yet like Scyld he comes from the storm and darkness of the sea, and passes finally back into it. His mystery is infiltrated by heathen associations, and Tennyson the Anglo-Saxonist appears to be saying that the new teaching does not bring any more certain knowledge than the old. Of Arthur, as of Scyld Scefing, we may affirm only that he was a good king.

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