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helenliz

helenliz

Death of King Arthur

The Death of King Arthur - Unknown, Simon Armitage This is another superb translation of a middle English poem into modern language by Simon Armitage. Like [b:Sir Gawain and the Green Knight|3049|Sir Gawain and the Green Knight |Unknown|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1309282183s/3049.jpg|2954048] it is an alliterative poem, with the rhymes and rhythms not coming from the ends of each line, but the alliteration within each line. The extends in this poem to stretching the alliteration over several lines. This type of rhythm seems to drag you along, it works really well with the descriptions of the battle and the action, seeming to hurry forward through these passages.Tells the tale of king Arthur who receives at his court a summons from the Emperor of Rome to go and pay tribute. Arthur says (paraphrasing) "Blow that for a lark" and sets out to conquer Rome. It's all going swimmingly well until he has a nasty dream where he seems the lady fortune and is cast out by her and the wheel of fate turns. From here it's down hill all the way. At home his regent, Mordred has done what all regents do and turned against the crown - it's not going to end well and it doesn't. You know Arthur's going to die (the title does rather give that away) but that doesn't mean that it isn't an emotional send off that tugs at the heart strings.I simply adore the style of writing. There is something about the alliterative style that I find just sweeps me up. I love the word play and juxtaposition of stresses in the lines. It always feels to me that I should be declaiming it, and maybe that's part of its charm - it harks back to a much older tradition, when stories were told not read.I really ought to try some of Simon Armitage's modern work, rather than simply the translations, but these are just wonderful and he certainly has an ear for this - it is stuff of the highest quality.