Cottle’s Alfred


King Alfred vs the Danes

Another great poetry must read includes Cottle‘s Alfred. 

Cottle retells the legend of King Alfred the Great in stirring blank verse. The epic includes many well-known episodes , including Alfred’s: narrow escape from being slaughtered when the Danes stormed the royal stronghold at Chippenham, his taking refuge in the marshland stronghold in Somerset, and his reemerging at Egbert’s Stone to once more take the offensive which will finally culminate in Anglo-Saxon victory at the Battle of Edington.

The first scene is set in Denmark: with Ivar swearing to wreak a bloody vengeance on England for the death of his father, Rgnar, at the hands of Ælla of Northumbria.  The second book shifts back to Alfred in Somersetshire: dispersing his army with orders to rendezvous later that year at Selwood Forest.

  • Ragnar had been previously captured by Ælla and thrown into a snakepit to perish. What is the dread revenge Ivar has sworn to carry out on Ælla? Will Ivar succeed?
  • Guthrum’s army fails finally to prevail against Alfred in the field. By the brutal customs of the Norse religion Guthrum must immolate himself on the field of battle. Or can the genius and temperance of Alfred offer his enemy a second alternative?

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