Thursday, November 08, 2018

Golden Game Pieces: A Preview

Tonight, Prof. Carl Edlund Andersön drew a connection between the "gullnar tǫfllor / í grasi" (golden game-pieces in the grass) of Vǫluspá (N-K 61, CR 60, Hb 54) and a scene from chapter two of Prince Caspian.  He wasn't sure if anyone else had made the connection, so I did a quick google search to see what I could find.   

"The younger gods again shall meet
In Idavellir's pastures sweet,And tales shall tell of ancient doom,The Serpent and the fire and gloom,And that old King of Gods recallHis might and wisdom ere the fall.There marvelous shall again be foundCast in the grass upon the groundThe golden chess wherewith they playedWhen Asgard long ago was made,When all their courts were filled with goldIn the first merriment of old."J. R. R. Tolkien, "The Prophecy of the Sybil," from The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun.  This poem is amazingly reminiscent of The Last Battle (and those golden chess always make me think of the beginning of Prince Caspian), for both were drawing on Norse mythos and the Voluspa.
So at least one other person has made the connection between the Voluspa (via Tolkien's poem) and the Narnia tale, although I haven't looked for any serious scholarship on the issue.

And here is an edited and condensed version of the passage from Prince Caspian.  It's not clear whether Susan found the piece in grass, per se, but it might have been in among some weeds.
At the fifth journey they found the well, just outside, the hall, hidden in weeds, but clean and fresh and deep when they had cleared these away.  The remains of a  stone pavement rand half-way round it.  […]  When [Susan] came back [from getting another drink at the well] she was carrying something in her hand.  ‘Look,’ she said in rather a choking voice.  ‘I found it by the well.’  She handed it to Peter and sat down. […]  All now saw what it was — a little chess-knight, ordinary in size but extraordinarily heavy because it was made of pure gold; and the eyes in the horse’s head were two tiny little rubies — or rather one was, for the other had been knocked out.  ‘Why!’ said Lucy, ‘it’s exactly like one of the golden chessmen we used to play with when we were Kings and Queens at Cair Paravel.’

C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian, ch. 2

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