The World’s Best English Epic Poetry – Swinburne’s Tale of Balen

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The world’s best English epic and narrative poetry includes Swinburne‘s The Tale of Balen. In superlative verse, Swinburne recounts the life and deeds of Sir Balen of Arthur’s court: and how his fate is caught up irrevocably with that of his brother, Sir Balan.

Balen and Balan are both brothers and friends: sworn to service in King Arthur’s court. Sworn to serve and honour Arthur: blood however proves thicker than water – for Sir Balan loyally accompanies his brother into exile when the king’s judgement falls adversely upon Sir Balen over his slaying of a witch in Arthur’s court.

For a time, the twain continue questing together: until one day they separate – never to behold the features of the other until their death-day.

  • Balen is valiant but impetuous. Can his brother Balan succeed in moderating Balen’s temper and mitigating his rash judgements?
  • Balen has sworn never to raise sword or weapon against his brother. But is mere human resolution proof against the wiles of Fate?

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Knight in armour

 

 

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