Episode #50: Storytime Reading of Robert Browning’s Poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”


Last week, we read the Old English fairy tale, “Childe Roland.”  This week, I’m reading aloud the Robert Browning poem, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” which was the inspiration for Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.  It’s quite different from the fairy tale and from King’s books, though it shares the dark psychological bent he gave his long magnus opus.  I found it a difficult poem to read.  Couldn’t quite get into a good rhythm, so there are parts that seem more staccato than I would have liked.  It seemed more like one of those works that tries to evoke a series of feelings and images rather than telling a narrative tale.  It reminded me of the Coleridge poem, “Kubla Khan” (In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree …).  

You can find an interpretation of Browning’s poem on Sparknotes.  One of the takeaways of the poem is there is always sacrifice in the single minded devotion to a goal and sometimes that leads to some culture shock when others can’t quite understand what the goal was all for.  Logan from The Thirteenth Hour figures that at the end of his own long quest, as mentioned here.

Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, by Thomas Moran (clicking on the picture takes you to the Wikipedia entry to this poem).

If you don’t know the story of Roland a la Stephen King, I highly recommend reading them or listening to the audio books (which are excellent).  The first novel, The Gunslinger, has a great opening line.  Below are some pictures from the novels in the series.

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The beginning of The Gunslinger

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Susannah Dean takes aim with Roland’s revolver, by Ned Dameron.

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Jake Chambers and Oy on the attack, by Michael Whelan.

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Jake and Roland at the clearing at the end of the path, by Michael Whelan.

As always, thanks for listening!


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