The Passing Of Uther Pendragon

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= A Druidic Play in Shakespeare-Style Verse, =
Set In King Arthur’s Time

(a stage play grown from a live storytelling performance)
Long one-act of Sovereignty flowing to Arthur from:
His FATHER UTHER, the beloved of Lady Moon,
essential ancient character ignored today.
(More theory: read the Precis at end.)

From Fine Art Graphic Novel The Passing Of Uther Pendragon
From Fine Art Graphic Novel The Passing Of Uther Pendragon
From The Big Red Strory BookTales Of Men And Women
From The Big Red Strory BookTales Of Men And Women
This blog post in is in Category Spiritual Initiation
This blog post in is in Category Spiritual Initiation
This post is in category Nature
This post is in category Nature

This post is in category Audio Video This post is in category About Writing The Passing Of Uther Pendragon – Get Media .. ..A One-Act Play In King Arthur’s Time.

PLAY SCRIPT arranged for very informal presentation by two actors with little materials and preparation. .. {-Read.Or.Save-} .. This opens the printable Pdf file of 24 pages.

AUDIO of the author reading the play script.. .. {-PLAY-} ..or.. {-SAVE-} .. ..Playing opens and runs the Mp3 file. .. Saving gets the same Mp3 file inside a zipped folder, so it won’t open automatically. .. ..This is the poet’s dramatic reading of the play in an old rough desktop recording of 40 minutes. .. ..The occasional squeaking is his office chair.

THE FINE ART GRAPHIC NOVEL .. ..See selected pictures in an art gallery site.. {-See.Pics-} .. ..The graphic novel’s fancy web site.. .. {-Visit.Site-}

A BOOK which this poem is in.. .. {-Read.Or.Save-} .. This opens story book “Tales Of Men And Women” in a Pdf file of 500 pages.

creative commons 2020 -sriley


This post is in category Stage Play : INTRUCTIONS for INFORMAL PRODUCTIONS

This version of the play is arranged for very informal presen­tation by two actors with no stage setting and little preparation. .. Two actors read from scripts held in their hands. .. It would be best for them to walk about a bit, posing and gesturing, but nothing of that sort is definitely required. .. They might just sit still on tall stools the whole time and simply concentrate on good dramatic voice. .. Thus, in a pinch, one single rehearsal shortly before the show might be enough.

In this script the two parts are denoted “Woman” and “Man” but please do not feel bound by their gender. .. It would be best if the two performers have distinctly different voices but they needn’t be female and male. .. In any case, whatever else, their voices should express their parts. .. The Man’s character is gen­erally militant, willful, demanding, while the Woman is most often cool, contemplative and deep.

Some care should be given to your dress. .. Plain black clothing would certainly serve, but on the other hand you might prefer a bit of dash. .. If you have a shirt with stars and moons printed boldly on it, that might be ideal. .. Just keep in mind that this play takes place beneath a midnight sky; .. don’t let your clothing distract the audience from that.


“The Lovers”

The Passing of Uther Pendragon. A dramatic play by Stone Riley. The audience all take their seats. House lights down.

Curtain up. A few plain wooden chairs at center stage. Stage lights up but dim; light like guttering torches; shadowy, complex and flickering. In fact, the stone walls at the backdrop of the stage show that we are in a torch-lit medieval castle hall. Perhaps there are festive ornaments hung about the walls, for we have come here to a feast.

No. No ornaments are hung about at all. The dark high stone walls are bare except for one tall wide stone-built window over there, up stage left, that now stands shuttered tight.

Actually, see, this great window over there is a screen on which various pictures will be projected as the play goes on. It looks like great wooden shutters now, with a bar across, but that’s just the picture projected on it now when the curtain goes up.

Hush! The Young Man enters at stage left.

“Head Of Bran”

A spotlight follows him.

This Young Man wears a jester’s suit, for he’s a comic enter­tainer, and in his hand he grasps the scepter of his office, a stick with on its end a grinning puppet’s skull. The Young Man enters; he runs and dances toward the further wing.

Hark! My Mistress comes! Oh, she is good! You’ll see!

Lady! Please! Thy noble audience awaits!

Oh no! She tarries. Oh, I know that cook. That sweaty cook! He drips into his awful pastries. He wants her in his bed. Oh! He touches her! She touches him! Oh! But who am I to say her nay? Such comfort I would gladly give myself, but she’ll have none of that from me.

That cook! That cook! That is the man I know! He is a thief. Last Sabbath afternoon, I beat him good at bowls and he would not pay! I pulled his nose. Now, what is that? That is a pasty from the Duke’s own table! I saw them there myself! And look, my Lady gives a kiss for it! Oh! Oh!

Oh, she is good. See how she kisses. See that hand? Each move is grace. Oh, comforts I would gladly give indeed. Yet, she is old. She is old. That silver hair! Those knowing eyes! That magic giving touch. She tells me, find a girl. A girl! There’s what she says to me. Once the covers are tucked up beneath her chin, I am sent scuttling away.

She tarries.

Behold! My Mistress comes!


So, enter now the Muse, old and hobbling on a cane, stage right. The Young Man tries to help her to a chair, but no: she stands. She speaks.

A long long time ago – but not so long ago as you might think – the people of Britain trembled in fear of coming civil war, for Great King Uther lay dying with no heir.

Yes, good Uther The Dragon who had held the British folk steady through the long and bitter Saxon Wars, held them steady in his gentle hand;
Yes, strong Uther of the Dragon’s Head who had held the British army steady in his mighty hand all through those bloody Saxon Wars;

“Uther In Victory”

He had come down to his end without a child;

And the soldiers who had fought those wars were already brawling now every day in violent contentions in the streets of several towns, for championship, vying which of their captains now should take the crown.

Yes, even with Good Uther gone sick-a-bed this week ago, dying of an ancient flake of poisoned spear point that had lodged inside a scar inside his ribs, many years ago, on a day of battle, and dying of his weary heart.

A childless king, aye, so thought the world and so thought he as well, for he had loved one woman in this world; and the woman whom he truly loved and who loved him in truth; they had shared one single night of carefree bliss. They had shared one single night together thigh to thigh in naked trust in all their lives – one night – because she was the good wife of another man.

“Sun In Her Hair”

So now this man lain down in a shadowed lamp-lit chamber all hung with painted canvasses, done by masters, but built of stone, this loving man; the heartbeat slow, the brow grown cold; up he strained from fitful dream and heaved a mighty sigh:


“Manheim Jail”

So that the captains and the servants gathered there all drew close. He raised a trembling hand toward the shuttered window and commanded: “Show me the stars.”

Two elder servants hurried to push tall rattling shutters back, the old nurse who, as a little girl, had helped to wash him at his birth, and the hobbling hooded master brewer who was the nurse’s bedmate now.

And there the great window stood open; open to the glories of a midnight sky all pricked through up and down by needle points from the dense atmosphere of brilliant suns that blaze away far out there, far out there beyond the heavy thick veil of watery dark that cloaks our realm; and yet a very fluid Earthy sky this was, whose scented substance softly glowed blue-green with cool moonlight.

Now the window breeze, the easy breath of a rare calm autumn night beside the cold and stormy Narrow Sea – this wind which now these people surely must feel as if it were the breath of stars – this entering breeze brushed gently by the small bouquets of green silk Chinese ribbon twined into a garland that was hung high from the rough tall posts of the royal bed,

And it touched Uther’s face and naked breast, as cold as he but pressing hard, so that the wounded man was suddenly pressed down hard by an amazing weight and he fell heavily into the pillow and, almost uttering a silent cry, surrendered all the meager power that he found still within his grasp, surrendered any hope of further struggle;

And all of this while his dim eyes stared unblinking outward from that seaside tower toward the midnight sky.

“Midnight Sky”

But then a great annoyance suddenly came to life within the sick man’s mind, a great annoyance at himself for having not yet thrown away the line and made a sail to seek some passage toward the further stars.

He twisted then about in his frustration, wrestling blindly with the swan’s down coverlet until, except one leg and foot, except the big thick ever-seeping bandage on his lower left side, now torn aside to let the bleeding show, and the glistening cup-shaped wound, Uther lay completely naked.

“Bloody Grail”

He felt as if some landsman’s type of little carrack shell – the kind of tiny boat that any good farmer’s boy and girl might build in half an afternoon from naught but hairy hide and sticks and grassy twine and wax – with naught but small things in their hands for tools and stumps and rocks for cobbler’s anvil – that just that sort of landsman’s boat was being held ready for him now.

He felt as if he only need look over his shoulder in some new direction, and there would be his first loyal boyhood pal, fine in manhood now, standing waiting, smiling, with the tiny leather boat pulled out beside a tree.

The time had come now when they could let it down there into the broad estuary by the castle’s lower gate, with the ebb tide tugging firm and impatient on the ropes, and Uther would just hop down like a young man would into the fragile shell.

“Under Sail”

He would take to the oars at first, he decided now, because he had to test himself; he needed, first of all, to see how soon that fabled ethereal tide would force him to rig the linen gull’s-wing sail that would stand head-high, and let himself lie back for a rest. He even heard that good fellow standing by the tree call out and laugh gaily and saw the beckoning arm gesturing among the trees.

But even now this dying king spared a glance about the place where his body lay. He twitched his head to cast the glance. He wished to spy the reason for his bitterness. He wished to know what should be done before he turned away.

And with surrender come and gone, and with this new inten­tion known, Uther felt himself overtaken suddenly by another dream.

“Sky Bridge”

He felt the sky wind lift him up and set him down too soon with feet upon that bridge of nearer stars that spans our sky – set him down with feet on the first climbing steps of that glorious shining bridge of the Milky Way that you and I now know as the span of our own galaxy;

So that the wind pushed at his back and he must walk with feet stirring up the glowing dust, he must walk the bridge most spirits walk away, but living still, in wondrous dream.

And soon came he to ground amid a little camp of sleeping cattle guards. Twas in some snow-specked frosty valley pasture way far north of there, he thought, and some good man with his sons come out to mind a herd, and all the hearty fellows wrapped in blankets by the low fire with weapons close to hand and wrapped in slumber.

The herding dogs perked up to see him pass but their old bitch judged best to keep the moonlight’s peace and this old lady of the pack hushed them all again with a long whisper of a growl, and then stern looks, and then raised her white brows and winked at him and cast a look down toward his feet.

And so he found there then beside that dwindling fire a certain boy. Beside that boy he felt compelled to kneel and gaze upon a pensive face.

So stirred the boy and glanced up in his eyes, almost awake.

So spoke the man, seeing there these eyes which he had seen in many yearning dreams before; so spoke the man:
“This is my child.”

“Fever Dream”

So awoke the man.
So awoke the dreaming man when the fading campfire rose up in shooting embers that shot now in a fountain from his opened eyes for all to see.
And though he could not rise, a fair great bellow rolled up from Uther’s rasping chest, and with fingers bending back around the bedboard, he gasped out loud the name “Igraine”.
So was named the absent mistress of his heart.

“Absent Love”

The air was still for a minute then, and then extended whis­pering, and some rude discourteous shoves,
And then a bearded captain of the royal guard was shoved up forward to stand by his pillow.
The fellow bent down close.

“Mirror Self”

Though Uther saw naught else, for all else was a haze of broken memories, and darkness that seemed reflected in the countless glittering bits;
Yet Uther watched this fellow through an oval tinted pane that seemed clear enough,
That seemed to shade in green the only window that seemed open to that world where he had walked in light so well.
Those who stood back further were urging the fellow to speak.

“Sir King!” the fellow shouted.

Uther answered with a faintly waving hand.

“Do you know me?” The fellow shouted loud.
Then, seeing that the glowing eyes flicked in seeming proof of conscious thinking cognition,
The captain hurried quick and loud into the duty of his report,
In quite the very way as if he’d come upon his dying king atop some quaking wall amid whistling cannon shell.

“Do you know me?” The fellow bent again closer to the eyes and turned his face side and side one time to help them see.
Peering closer still, he judged it was no use to call a lamp,
For the eyes themselves seemed definitely to shine, now seeming quite like Baltic amber.

Wound” -sr

“I am your Lady’s paramour!”

No further flicker came and so the fellow hurried on:

“The Dukes and Council all as one sent me pelting forth, before last dawn,
With horses ready at the stations from the trumpet call,
To beg the Lady’s presence,
And I have just returned, still in my muddy gear and spittle beard, as all may see,
But she will not come.

“I hurried up the stairs and then I heard the shout.
I begged with every trick a paramour can know – for all those tricks I know from easy practice, as many good wives will testify if asked at law;
And I have conjured them on her very earnestly and earned fine smiles,
But she will not come.

“I finally asked if she would come to your command, Sir King, and she answered this:
‘That is men’s work.’
There’s what she said. She has already sent from her retinue just some old nurse who, she claims, was present at your birth and has the power of benediction.
But now she refuses to send more, nor better medicines to boot. Men’s work;
She says: She will not come.”

All the gist of that long report flowed through Uther’s ears in twisted sound, and yet a point stuck in his consciousness that Igraine could not be found, not even here now at the end. So he gathered up two rasping breaths and turned his head to whisper to the crowd;

“Merlin Emrhys.” He vigorously blinked his eyes to gather up a hold on vision, and there then Merlin stood. The king’s fingers reached and twined into the old magician’s woolen hood.

“Owl’s Eye”

Hovering in the oval lighted space of Uther’s vision, the Great Druid spoke: “I am here, old friend.”

The muttering breath then was quite inaudible to other ears, but came to the great philosopher perfectly plain. Now they stood in some other place. Standing, hands holding each other’s arms, Uther spoke to Merlin thus:

“Merlin! You prophesied a boy! You spoke it twice I heard myself, and all of it seemed perfectly plain.”

Smiling warily, hands on each other’s arms, they began to circle one another very carefully step by careful step, and the king went on: “So. What then? Did I fail you in some contract in some way since then? Or was it just that little hop and skip in my dancing-bear routine, that I never did learn to your satisfaction?

“False Accusation”

“Or were some gods displeased somewhere, with my hopes of advancement? No, I would have seen that much if that were true, seen it with just that silver looking glass you gave me. No; so then, wherein lies the failure?”

Uther got a momentary grip on Merlin’s shoulder, lost it, got his thumb into the arm pit which was left unguarded for an instant. Thus restrained, Merlin let himself grow bull-like, with horns and ears and snout and hooves, so that he was a great-humped minotaur. Seeking then a real true grip into the arm pit’s flesh, the king said:

“A-hah old chum, perhaps then this riddle can be taken by the bones; yea e’en by the bull’s own bones. Perhaps I have it right here, eh?


It that right yet? No? How’s this: My nonexistent son was never truly prophesied at all; was he, friend? Truly? It was my very dream to have a boy, and yet you lied.”

And Merlin answered, loud for all to hear in every realm a human voice might reach; “Yea, Friend Uther! Your child was truly prophesied by me! A child to be the finest king to ever stand between these shores!”

“Elemental Altar”

So Uther gathered up three rasping breaths, and shouted toward the world which he had known, with all of his own strength and more. He shouted thus: “Where is my son?”

“Earth’s Embrace”

“Peace, old friend;” the prophet spoke; “he is hid safe in love’s embrace till now and all will be fulfilled in time.”

“Can it be?” spoke Uther in that other place. “I should have known.”

“Peace, old friend,” the prophet said, “and easy loose your lines.
Voyage forth in peace, old friend, and steady breeze.
Mind the current drift round Virgo’s Shoals and the Whirlpool of the Mighty Forge.
Steady steer for the one light at the dark edge of the Moon, then find a coastward wind along that shore to fetch you home. And run to port in rising dawn.
Fly from this battlefield in peace, honored friend, for when you go, the new man comes.”


So then, standing in that other place, the aged priest spat into his own left hand and reached, with thumb and fingers spanning toward the ears, to press a few dry drops of spittle into the royal brow, while the king let his head bow down as one must do to undergo that bit of Druid ritual.

And with that bit of ritual, Uther felt as if a new eye opened, an eye that seemed to gaze perpetually into the stars both up and down.
For a moment to him too, it seemed as if the glittering shapes that had been jostling round him for these hours, now had surprisingly formed into a shadow of an all-encompassing shape of every color, many colors that were far too dim or brilliant for an eye to see.

And yet somehow he felt as if he caught the outline of its shape.
It seemed to be a picture of some harbor town spread out upon a pretty spit of land that curved around to make the harbor mouth from either side.
He thought a tide must be pouring in to fill the tiny anchorage just now, so looked the action of the ripples far and wide.

“Clearing Vision”

Now to minister to the king in proper legal order, the mourners found and carried and stood the aged midwife there.

The only females in the room were she and a whelping rat and the rat’s last cub beneath the bed inside the floor.
The midwife’s palsied hand produced and then held forth a tiny vial of fluid, a green glass vial with gold cap dangling from a cunning hinge wrought at some Fairy hearth with tiny pliers and hammer; fluid to be dripped upon the head.

At once, several willing hands of magistrates and dukes, horny hands far more accustomed to the grip of war, all reached out at once in hopes to catch the jewel-like trembling vial in case it fell.

But in Uther’s staring eyes she was all women.

“Goddess Portrait #1”

The curving cheek was like all other cheeks, the eyes and chin and brow all like the female countenance itself, and of these countless forms it took inside his eyes, the form which shaped itself most certainly for him was this: Igraine.

Here was Igraine. Here was Igraine on that warm summer’s day of flowers bending to the breeze, when they had kissed their fill and promised more. Here was Igraine. Here was Igraine reclined, with eyes startled wide in wonder and then languid in release when he had proved his cunning skill.

Here was Igraine. Here was Igraine rose up beside to stand upon their sheltered mossy bed, against the brilliant light; and she, holding open her linen robe like lifted wings fluttering wide above them both, and standing as a bird must stand in air to soar, and laughing bright, she’d bathed her bones and spirit in the wind.

But now the face of all women spoke. And she said this:
“Do ye know me, Child?”

“I know you, Mother.”

So then ye hearken to me, Son. Ye hark?”

“I hearken, Mother.”

“That crescent land where thou art bound to dwell a space; ye’ve seen the chart?”

“The Moon”

“I’ve seen the place meself, in dream I think it was; and too, I have been told the way by a friendly well-tried mariner who even gave me guided study of his charts one night, with lens and candles. And he said that I understood them well!

“Mind the drift at Virgo’s Shoals, he said deliberately for me to hear not more than half an hour ago, and also mind the Whirlpool of the Mighty Forge, if such a spectacle with such a name as that should chance to heave in view. Make for the one light at the dark edge of the Moon. There catch a coasterly for home.”

“Ye’ll run to port in rising dawn? It would not suit to fail the inward tide, hearken ye, for others long before yer time have missed it, and the tale was told and retold since then about their homeless wanderings. Fail not yer first in-going tide at Troytown Spit!”

“I’ll run to port in rising dawn indeed.”


“Ye’ll be a shining prince in that fair land.”

“Mother! Shall I?”

“Ye’ll bend the harp and sing the melodies right from the birdies’ throats, me well-beloved, and father many men.”

“Mother! Shall I?”

“Ye be me truest well-beloved, me one, and all that shall be done is done, and all that shall be done is done by thee.”

“Mother! Shall I go? Now?”

“And blessed; go.”

And so, in the death bed chamber, the falling droplets from a sacred well came down, cascading billowing scent of white and scarlet rose among the wettened stones.

And so the bended fingers on the bedboard quite fell slack, the glowing eyes reduced to shiny coal. A final tremble, and the thighs came up as if set fit to dance a piper’s tune, and one final bloody gout from the wound to soak the mattress through, to drip into the soil and rocks below to mark the place as sacred altar where this man passed.

And so the sacred waterfall washed down.

At last his vision cleared. Wipe clean the windows of percep­tion, and throw wide the windowed doors. The countless glittering crystal bits of every hue, each with its sound and taste and calendar and isolated meaning, came all translucent to him now like glistening glass; they smoothed like sun-warmed ice to form the moonlight’s colored warp and weft.

And then the moonlight was the ever-intertangling sap-filled vine of leaf and stem and bud that makes our realm, and out through the castle’s postern gate, there among the leafy shrubs, his old chum grinned and waved most energetically.


“Come on! Uther now, come on! The tide’s still good!”

They could not help but kiss like girls, then, muscled arm round muscled back and thigh to thigh, to jig the opening steps of Dance For Joy, for which the guardian spirits of that wooded shore produced a lively breezy tune.

But then when the new boy hopped down to the fragile shell, then the mortal blood dripped down through rock to water veins, so that the people gathered about the death bed, one and all alike, could feel the fluid virtues of the air drain down out of that place,

leaving the chamber’s air most strangely warm and thin and still. The scents of various meats and herbs then were plain.

A seagull then was seen!

“Seagull Turning”

A young cadet who had snuck in the door in simple hope of seeing miracles, his simple plan to pose there as a messenger till senior rank might send him packing; this young cadet shouting while he ran to point out of the window at the sight:

The white bird painted by the dappled moonlight gleaming from the waves below, its wings held wide and turning far out of view across the sinking water, just the way a single one of them will often do to track the smallest kind of fishing craft.

And then a slapping wind came up to knock the shutters from their hooks. Just as neatly as an oaken gate that turns on iron pins, the rattling shutters closed and latched themselves at once, and then the mighty crossbar fell, and so the window stood there well and truly shut.

King Arthur started, dreaming of the distant noise. No king in that realm then, he was a boy of twelve.

The sharp pebble that had teased his scalp all night, there beside the dwindling fire where this secret king lay in a woolen wrap among his fellow cattle guards, this sharp pebble may have pricked a nerve just then, or else the distant sound itself was loud enough to wake him with a jerk.

He knew it was a dream again at once, not thinking that the trouble was a crafty band of wolves or thieves. He plainly felt, clinging to his mind, the plastic flesh of someplace he had been, or such as that, or else he heard the faces pulled out of shape speaking to him from behind.

“Disembodied Voice”

The thing which he’d done with these weirding dreams so far was to lean back on his elbows and gaze half way up beyond the horizon at the countless sharp points that are often brightest there.

At home he’d moved his bed, to the foot of his foster father’s bed to find this kind of view, that gentle good old knight, and had been blessed with a transit of Venus. Sometimes the clarity of the stars would lift the dreamy cobwebs and all would disappear like foot-sore dust into the holy dew.

“Sovereignty Rising”

His elder brothers, all of them elder by numerous years, clumped in drunk one night, protesting to their Knight as a legalized committee, having dragged in a magistrate’s most disgruntled clerk from the town with his bowl and scroll to witness any deal, that the family’s foundling foster brother should not take the liberty to move his bed, even with no spoken leave from anyone, even usurping that so-far unalloted space where he was at that moment somehow loath to rest his little butt.

The good knight smiled but shut his lips, pressed them with his fingertips.

The band of brothers stepped back to a corner, taking time to plan another speech. But then Arthur had calmed them all by standing tall on his bed and giving a very formal wave of his hand; three waves, in fact. He had laughed then, and claimed a championship that he had won from them at draughts.

And there, tonight, he spied the lower cloud of stars which in that latitude must look to any human eye just like a flight of hillside stairs, seen in profile on the hill, just beyond some near-by valley, up to the Milky Way. To win such spectacles as that at draughts is quite a play.

But now he found a different thing. He realized tonight this view would let the weird dream’s full memory take shape before his eyes instead of only in his brain.

He held his thumb and fingers up as if to make a peephole in a screen. He beheld now in memory what he had seen before in dream, awake now to judge the sights and sounds of it against his little hoarded self-learned store of wisdom.

Our brave boy beheld this: A man-like being robed in glittering light, his brow encircled by a wreath of green silk Chinese bows. This peculiar spirit descends down those hillside stairs and, taking royal shape and face, strides here across the intervening valley.

“Transdimensional Being”

A goddess green willow tree, beneath whose canopy he finds himself – whose ancient roots run through this ground – she smiles down.

The Great King kneels therefore within the canopy, and looks to Arthur’s face. The royal eyes drip tears to see his face, and droop their lids in pity, so that a bleeding wound opens some­where in the sky to sprinkle on his head like rain.

And then the Great King spoke those words which he, the boy, had found no wit nor dare to even hearken in a dream:

Woman: Here is my child.

Action: (They embrace.)

Man: Curtain down.

“Curtain Down”

Woman: Applause.


Guess What !?!?:
The PRECIS from:
The Seldom-Seen 2012 FINE ART GRAPHIC NOVEL:

Paperback book cover

“The Passing Of Uther Pendragon”
began on a windy cold New England autumn night in 1998, before a paying audience, as an extemporaneous 20 minute storytelling performance.

It was unwritten and less than half rehearsed. In fact, the opening lines had lurked outside of conscious mind till I was sitting waiting for my cue there in the wing. The pictures must be magicked up with voice and gesture.

And then it blew the roof off of the little hall. They loved it. The death of King Arthur’s father. There had not been a current version of that tale in several hundred years and apparently this was the time for it.

In our culture King Arthur is a common item signifying brilliant hope, or such as that. So a person waiting in that audience, seeing in the program that there is a tale about his father’s death, and never having heard of it, might well hope to hear an interesting piece of art. They might well hope to hear about despair or grief or fear from which emerges brilliant hope, or such as that, assuming that the artist makes the work piece true and strong. The theme might be “life goes on” or maybe “Life conquers Death” or else . . .

There is an old old Plains Indian story about the early early days, one where the story says that one time Creator goes to see First Woman asking for advice. Creator goes to ask First Woman if it ought to be that humans have to die, or not. And First Woman answers Yes, it ought to be that humans have to die. So they will feel sorry for each other.

King Arthur’s father? King Arthur’s father dies? That Plains Indian story (assuming that you’ve mainly heard our culture’s standard “Adam & Eve”) has a surprising configuration of story parts. So too this Arthur thing. And so it’s curious. And so you might well feel some hope that some surprising idea might emerge from it, some theme you haven’t heard before or not heard well expounded, some thought that would be useful in your own vital effort to understand life (the grief and hope and all of that) if the artist comes close to the truth somehow and speaks up strongly, and if you listen carefully and ponder it.

King Arthur’s father dies. We are so familiar with such intimate pain. So is this why we pity each other? The fear and grief we know so well? Aristotle, in his famous essay on theater, makes a different point but does seem to agree with that. And certainly this keen ability to pity is the thing the Buddha said should give us hope. And certainly it is the point of many beautiful stories. And is this pity then the truest strongest reason we make stories, and any other true strong works of art? Perhaps we make these things to comfort one another. Perhaps this is the poet’s craft above all else. For surely this is what we see as beautiful.

And yet, when Walt Whitman had a photo made to print inside his first self-published book – he who later nursed so many dying men so tenderly – Whitman posed for that famous photo in that famous book in the costume of a New York City dockyard tough. (They who later lynched and burned the innocents.) And through those self-printed pages he shouted a “Song of Myself”. Indeed, Whitman roared his “Body Electric” the same way Jimi Hendrix later did. He bellowed that the poet is the whole world.

Just so, three thousand years before, the poet Amergin stepped from a boat down into surf upon the shore of Ireland, to wade up into war, and cried out that he was himself entirely that land his wandering people chose to spend their blood upon. As Amergin proclaimed himself to be the stones and sun and hawk and roaring spear and all, so too, in magical imagination, I must stride out to the apron of the stage that night and summon Life to sing through Me.

To tell the truth about these strangers’ lives (they who ponder poets’ words) and tell it true and strong, it is not I but Life who must be heard. Me, I shall be a posing gesturing character in the tale of how the tale was told.

And so, it comes as no surprise that in this kind of work the major theme may well be seen as this: “Male surrendering to Female”.

+ End of “The Passing Of Uther Pendragon” +

7 thoughts on “The Passing Of Uther Pendragon

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