Living Myth

The significance of a myth is not easily to be pinned on paper by analytical reasoning. It is at its best when it is presented by a poet who feels rather than makes explicit what his theme portends; who presents it incarnate in the world of history and geography, as our poet has done. Its defender is thus at a disadvantage: unless he is careful, and speaks in parables, he will kill what he is studying by vivisection, and he will be left with a formal or mechanical allegory, and what is more, probably with one that will not work. For myth is alive at once and in all its parts, and dies before it can be dissected.

— J. R. R. Tolkein was born this day in 1892 (speaking of Beowulf)

Britt Martin's illustration of Beowulf battling Grendel
You can make the Ring an allegory of our own time, if you like: an allegory of the inevitable fate that awaits all attempts to defeat evil power by force. But that is only because all power struggles devolve in this way.

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