Sunday, October 13, 2013


Look.  It's the Milky Way.  Kind of puts things into perspective, doesn't it?
      It reminds me of the end of T.H.White's THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING, first published in 1939, on the very eve of the Great War.  Some of my favorite words in all of literature since I was 14 or so, describing the quiet death of King Arthur in his tent in the midst of a fierce battle:
     He saw the problem before him as plain as a map. The fantastic thing about war was that it was fought about nothing - literally nothing. Frontiers were imaginary lines. There was no visible line between Scotland and England, although Flodden and Bannockburn had been fought about it. It was geography which was the cause - political geography. It was nothing else. Nations did not need to have the same kind of civilization, nor the same kind of leader, any more than the puffins and the guillemots did. They could keep their own civilizations, like Esquimaux and Hottentots, if they would give each other freedom of trade and free passage and access to the world. Countries would have to become counties - but counties which could keep their own culture and local laws. The imaginary lines on the earth's surface only needed to be unimagined. The airborne birds skipped them by nature. How mad the frontiers had seemed to Lyo-lyok, and would to Man if he could learn to fly.
     The old King felt refreshed, clear-headed, almost ready to begin again.
     There would be a day - there must be a day - when he would come back to Gramarye with a new Round Table which had no corners, just as the world had none - a table without boundaries between the nations who would sit to feast there. The hope of making it would lie in culture. If people could be persuaded to read and write, not just to eat and make love, there was still a chance that they might come to reason.
     But it was too late for another effort then. For that time it was his destiny to die, or, as some say, to be carried off to Avilion, where he could wait for better days. For that time it was Lancelot's fate and Guenever's to take the tonsure and the veil, while Mordred must be slain. The fate of this man or that man was less than a drop, although it was a sparkling one, in the great blue motion of the sunlit sea.
     The cannons of his adversary were thundering in the tattered morning when the Majesty of England drew himself up to met the future with a peaceful heart.

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