A New Sun: 2019

 

From Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s

Idylls of the King

 

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809-1892, British, who published Idylls of the King in twelve poems between 1859 and 1885 

 

For Anglesey, the last stamping ground of the old order Druids to which the Roman invader had driven them; the sight of which from the Welsh mainland on every clear day inspirited my hope of a similar escape from the long imprisonment of my schooling.

 

 

 

King Arthur has come to his last hour.  Guinevere, his queen, is in a convent for her sins.

Lancelot, Gawain and Mordred are dead and their horses are riderless.

 

 

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Etched armor for a horse in steel, leather, copper alloy and textile; with saddle.  Italian, Milan and Brescia; mid-to-late 16th century.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

 

 

Mordred has fatally wounded the king:  he is dying.

 

 

 

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Foot combat helmet (bascinet) of Sir Giles Capel; steel, c. 1510, possibly English.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. 

This is among the finest artisanal work which I have seen in any medium: not only for its symmetrical beauty but because it meets functional requirements to protect and preserve the life of a man.

 

 

At Arthur’s request, Bevidere, the last of his knights, has returned the sword, Excalibur, to the lake where a mighty arm rises from the waters to catch it.

 

 

 

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As above

 As above

 

 

 

Bevidere carries Arthur to the lake’s edge so that he may be taken by barge to Avalon for healing.

 

 

Hanging Islands, conceived 1966, refabricated 2015, acrylic and metal with 35 prisms.  Charles Ross, American born 1937.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 

 

 

To return again, as the Celts say.  Or maybe not, says Tennyson, who had no Celtic blood in him.

The poem’s most famous words are addressed by Arthur to comfort Bevidere.

 

 

 

“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,

And God fulfils himself in many ways,

Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.

 

 

 

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Hanging Islands, conceived 1966, refabricated 2015, acrylic and metal with 35 prisms.  Charles Ross, American born 1937.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 

 

 

 

Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?

I have lived my life, and that which I have done

May He within himself make pure! ……….

 

Bevidere climbs higher and higher to catch the last glimpse of the barge.

 

 

 

 

Thereat once more he moved about, and clomb

Ev’n to the highest he could climb, and saw,

Straining his eyes beneath an arch of hand,

 

 

The Ashokan Reservoir early on a summer morning, 2015

 

Or thought he saw, the speck that bare the King,

Down that long water opening on the deep

Somewhere far off, pass on and on, and go

From less to less and vanish into light.

 

 

 

 

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Created in 1915 in the eastern Catskills to secure water for New York City, the Ashokan Reservoir is the largest of six such reservoirs.  Eminent domain resettled several hamlets and drowned them. Litigation took two generations to settle.

A sadness mixes with the immense pleasure which this body of water gives because people are alive still whose people were affected by this seizure of land which had been worked since the early 1700’s.

There is nowhere you can stand for a view of the whole Ashokan reservoir.  A Y-shaped road crosses it and if you stand where the V comes to a point, the reservoir extends on one side clear to the horizon.

All the reservoirs were closed shortly after 9/11.  Now, only one leg of the Ashokan Y road is permanently closed for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.  A bald eagle has nested there for some years; and the black bear is periodically sighted on that leg in its only wooded patch

 

And the new sun rose bringing the new year.

 

 

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