Tolkien's reuse of his own material
Hi all, I have recently been reading a kindle version of Tolkien's unfinished Fall of Arthur, an attempt to rework the death of Arthur into the old northern European alliterative verse form - see for example https://www.cs.mcgill.ca/~rwest/wikispeedia/wpcd/wp/a/Alliterative_verse.htm for a summary of this. JRRT seems to have started this in the early 1930s but abandoned it a few years later despite having strong encouragement from people whose opinions he respected. He had a lot of similar abandoned projects, but happily for us, some of them turned up in reused form in works which were published. Alliterative verse was something he delighted in and tried to reproduce in various places - apparently at one stage Elvish poetry such as the Lay of Beren and Luthien was intended to use this form, but in the end as it appears in LotR and elsewhere, elvish poetry uses couplets with one or more rhyming schemes (some folk will remember me rabbiting on about this when we were doing the LotR slow read).
Anyway, the passage which caught my eye was this - the context is that Arthur has taken a bunch of knights and soldiers eastwards in a kind of holy quest to crush evil, and has just reached the borders of a forest called Mirkwood:
cried as a clarion. Clear went his voice
In the rocks ringing above roaring wind
and rolling thunder: ‘Ride, forth to war,
ye hosts of ruin, hate proclaiming!
Foes we fear not, nor fell shadows
of the dark mountains demon-haunted!
Hear now ye hills and hoar forest,
ye awful thrones of olden gods
huge and hopeless, hear and tremble!
From the West comes war that no wind daunteth,
might and purpose that no mist stayeth;
lord of legions, light in darkness,
east rides Arthur!’ Echoes were wakened.
And this in turn reminded me of Theoden when restored by Gandalf, and before the battle of the Pelennor Fields:
Arise now, arise, Riders of Théoden!
Dire deeds awake: dark is it eastward.
Let horse be bridled, horn be sounded!
Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor![
Together with Eomer's cry of despair when he thinks Eowyn is dead:
Death! Ride, ride to ruin and the world's ending!
Clearly he has borrowed his own earlier work, and repurposed it for the Rohirrim. All of which made me wonder if he did this just because he had a great love for this poetic form, or whether he had in mind a connection between Theoden and Arthur?