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The Ballad of the White Horse (1911)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0898708907, Hardcover)This ballad needs no historical notes, for the simple reason that it does not profess to be historical. All of it that is not frankly fictitious, as in any prose romance about the past, is meant to emphasize tradition rather than history. King Alfred is not a legend in the sense that King Arthur may be a legend; that is, in the sense that he may possibly be a lie. But King Alfred is a legend in this broader and more human sense, that the legends are the most important things about him.The cult of Alfred was a popular cult, from the darkness of the ninth century to the deepening twilight of the twentieth. It is wholly as a popular legend that I deal with him here. I write as one ignorant of every-thing, except that I have found the legend of a King of Wessex still alive in the land. I will give three curt cases of what I mean. A tradition connects the ultimate victory of Alfred with the valley in Berkshire called the Vale of the White Horse, I have seen doubts of the tradition, which may be valid doubts. I do not know when or where the story started; it is enough that it started somewhere and ended with me; for I only seek to write upon a hearsay, as the old balladists did...
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:28 -0400)
Alfred the Great was the seventh-century Saxon King of Wessex whowith the aid of God and the Virgin Marydefended his land against the Vikings. Incorporating fact and legend, Chesterton's epic 1911 poem narrates Alfred's exploits on the battlefield. It may have provided inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
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