Concluding ‘The Fall of Arthur’ ~ The Writing Begins …

Fall of Arthur

A few weeks back I reported the possibility of seeing the completion of Tolkien’s The Fall of Arthur, here.

I expressed my desire in trying and create my own “fan fiction” and expand on the poem’s narrative – by closely following Christopher Tolkien’s notes on the various abandoned sketches his father never completed.

My plan so far was to continue from the last canto in the book (Canto V), which finds Arthur arriving back to the coasts of Britain – to reclaim his title after being usurped by Mordred – and debating with Gawain on whether they should land there or find another alternative.

So far, I’ve planned the following Cantos that would naturally progress from Tolkien’s incomplete poem:

Canto VI: The Departure of Gawain

Canto VII: Arthur lands in Romeril

Canto VIII: The Burial of Gawain 

Canto IX: The Battle of Camlann

A brief introduction …

So far, I have written a very rough sketch of the beginning of Canto VII, which finds Arthur landing on the beaches at Romeril and fighting his way against Mordred’s army.

Prior to his landing , Gawain – eager to regain his king’s title and having assailed the shore with only a handful of men – has been slain on the shore.

It’s not Tolkien, neither does it completely adhere to the Old English alliterative metre as it should be. (Revisions will follow)

What is it, however, is an initial attempt to get started on this project and to give a glimpse of how and where the story might end up.

I’ll leave it up to you to come up with thoughts and opinions on the piece … 😉

Concluding Fall of Arthur Excerpt


15 thoughts on “Concluding ‘The Fall of Arthur’ ~ The Writing Begins …

  1. Fantastic start! I can’t wait to see this project completed. I have nearly no skill in writing poetry myself (and certainly none in alliterative metre), but I really enjoy reading/speaking it and I admire those who can write in that ‘style’. But once again, excellent work!

  2. James, this is really cool! Unfortunately I haven’t read Tolkien’s version of what comes before, so I have no idea how well it matches with the rest of the poem. But based on other things like this that I’ve read, it looks pretty good! I really have to admire you for doing this, because I know that if I tried to do something like this, it would be terrible. 😛

    So keep it up!


  3. I took a class last year where we looked in depth at Tolkien’s Arthur and I must say this is an excellent start. You may not have the meter but Tolkien’s use of alliteration is clear and the tone is the same. I enjoyed that stanza very much.

  4. That’s fantastic, and it reads beautifully. Perhaps you can help me out – I’m always a little baffled by alliterative verse. I’d love to hear your thoughts on creating this kind of verse. I’ve read over the history and rules a few times, but I’m still unclear.

    It appears that the consonant sounds sometimes match on stress beats of just the first half of a couplet, and sometimes on every line. Does this change indicate something, or are there just a few different stylistic choices? Or are there general rules about vowel matching that I’m missing that might answer this question – as in, do “a” and “e” count as an alliterative match?

    Sorry, poetry neophyte here!

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for your comments. To be honest, I’m also a beginner in this area – heck, I’m also an amateur in poetry! 🙂

      As far as I’m concerned, all words beginning with a vowel in the first half line, will automatically “alliterate” with any other vowels in the second half line …

      See for instance Tolkien’s opening of the Fall of Arthur:

      Arthur eastward in arms purposed”

      Furthermore, there are several styles, known as “Line Types” that offer a variety of combinations on how and where the stressed and unstressed syllables are structured.

      I’ve found the following article (Old English Poetics for Poets) to be very helpful (which is a condensed version of another, more detailed guide found here: E-Intro to Old English: Meter).

      I hope that helped a little – with my very limited knowledge of the subject 🙂

  5. Keep going James! The other thing I am finding really interesting is the comments on different types of poetry. It might be worth a blog entry about what you learn as you continue, especially as it is Tolkien oriented. I know next to nothing about poetry myself even though I have written some, but only over the last few years. So, it is interesting for me to find out more about it here.

  6. This is simply amazing, I deeply admire your efforts. When I read “The Fall of Arthur” I was so sad because I couldn’t know how Tolkien could end the story, now I can have an idea….

    Will you post an update anytime soon? 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s