Friday, 17 June 2016

The Last Battle

"On the morning of Stiklestad...the men of King Olaf the Saint were wakened by a skald who chanted a Bjarkamaal: one of those lays wherein the warriors of the pagan Dane-King Hrolf were called to their last battle."
-Poul Anderson, Hrolf Kraki's Saga (New York, 1973), p. xviii.

"...last battle..." is an eminently evocative phrase. Hrolf Kraki's men really do experience their version of a Ragnarok. They have benefited from Hrolf's reign, are loyal to him and must now rally and die fighting for him. The Last Battle is the title of the concluding volume of CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. Narnia is invaded and conquered by Calormenes and then destroyed but is also transcended by Narnians who are translated to Aslan's country. And, in James Blish's Black Easter, a demon who claims that his side is winning Armageddon says:

-James Blish, Black Easter (New York, 1977), pp. 164-165.

And the Internationale contains the stirring phrase:

"...the last fight let us face."

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

We also see mention of a "last battle" in Tolkien's Middle Earth mythos, where it was prophesied Morgoth would be defeated for good and men, elves, and dwarves would together work to repair the harm done to Arda.