Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Journey - Part 2

J. R. R. Tolkein could do it.  When he wanted to create a mythic history he created prose and used the epics of old to influence his writing style - hence the slightly stilted dialogue and the long apparently pointless asides and tangents.  Maybe this ought to be a heritage of prose rather than a heritage of poetry.  A father leaves to his son what is best about the father, not what he would rather leave, after all.

Would you like to know more?

Light fell heavy in drops through the forest cover leaves, lighting shafts about the path winding through the holly.  Eowyn, first born daughter of the King Owain, walked alone but confident with head held high, running hands along the wood and flowers.  Around the wildlife of the Dimwald made known their case, the blackbird calling out warning in the highest branches, thrush and sparrow made play in the undergrowth and squirrels ran over the mighty storm felled oak.  It was to the Trade Road she walked, anxious to travel along it and meet the giants.  Long was the way and busy the road, increasing the chances of meeting others, but the air was sweet and the day was long.

The Trade Road from the Dustanane to the Land of the Giants.
This looks toward the Dustanane.  It's blurred.

In the woods around us I have walked with both of my children now and spent a great deal of time wondering what to do with them.  We have now created quite a mythos from them, this Dimwald, part of the Dustanane ruled by the good king Owain.  We know now the bounds of the kingdom, that was much larger in the days of yore than it currently is.  As the world has grown older, I tell them, the land has shrunk like wrinkles on an old body.  What was once several days' ride becomes a walk of twenty or so minutes.  What was once a mighty river is now simply a large stream and what was once a vast expanse of waste now looks like a simple quarry.

"Gwendolyn," greeted Eowyn "It is good to see you!"

"Hale and well met, Princess," Gwendolyn lowered her bow quickly, so it was difficult to remember if it had been ready and pointed at the Princess at all. "The pigs are not so abroad as I would have liked."

"Then join me, I seek the counsel of giants," Eowyn smiled, "It should be a great adventure!"

"Aye, my future queen, I should like that."

The Giant Wastes.  You can see the Escarpment known as
Dragonholme with the trees if you squint.
Yeah.  There's also the problem of language, as my own stilted exchange shows.  I still haven't really decided when to set the epic and the stories.  At first I was borrowing so much from Beowulf that it didn't really matter - after all, this was an epic that was post-Roman in origin and therefore borrowed much from the new religion of Christianity, for example, which appeals.  The whole story of Beowulf was suffused with heroism and power.  Then I got to digging and looking into things and it occurs to me that most of what I have discovered and enjoyed was, well, pre-Roman.  In many ways I am more drawn to Bronze Age and before, the Neolithic, than I am to the post-Roman dark ages.

There are many reasons for this but I think chief among them is the fact that pre-Roman Britain, or wherever, was full of a richer darkness and unknowability.  In the lands after the Romans, though there is darkness and space for anything, there is also a tradition.  There are organised societies, there are castles and fortresses and towns and villages and farms that are understandable.  When I was planning the Dunstanane and mapping it earlier in the year I realised that my conception of local farms was based on round houses and low walled enclosures more than it was based on centralised towns and villages of the sort that proliferate in the late Antiquity and Dark Age periods.

Mind you, looking at the prose above, maybe I'm better sticking to creating a poem.  And Eowyn isn't getting a sword no matter my mythology.

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