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  1. #1
    Amanda Roper

    Your opinions please... Literary essay/short

    The Eternal Outcast
    (A Meditation of Merlin)

    It has been said that our sight is clearest looking back. Only in doing so have I truly understood my life. I was doomed from birth to wander the land, an eternal outcast. Even in death, I am alone, buried in a solitary oak deep within the heart of a forgotten forest.

    I remember little of the early years. Yet, I can still feel the ancient, inborn pain my race is cursed to bear. I remember the flames and a great darkness that ruled my days until sight returned. It was not that vision which proceeds from the organs of our eyes, but a deeper sight which allows one to view the very heart of things. And then, I remember the woman who called herself my mother fading away from a wasting disease when I was barely eleven years of age.

    I began to roam after her death, drawn by some unknown force toward the land of my ancestors. Even there, I was cast out. They all knew the story of my birth, hated me for the sin of being born of a human woman. I was the forbidden child.

    I left their shores to wander aimlessly through foreign lands. The doors of every village closed to me. They sensed my heritage. It was not difficult. I hardly looked like them with my thin, sharp featured face and overdeveloped shoulders. Whispers of an elven-born child circulated through the town like an ill wind. I could bear their hatred. Unlike my peopleís, it was born, not of pride but of fear. Yet, childish terror pushed me, once again, into the solitude of the forest.

    I remained there for I know not how many years until I was found by a hawker, who had been out about his hunting rounds. His words were strange to me, and I feared him. But, despite my differences from his own family, he took me in. Only such a man could have tamed me then, after having run wild for so long. His patience and kindness calmed my terror and returned my mind.

    He adopted me as a son and began to train me in his trade. In doing so, he returned my rightful name. I was then and always will be a hawk, a hobby, a Merlin, not of manís world and yet not free of it.

    I grew to love the man and his family. Never before had I felt so accepted. Even when I had lived with my mother, I felt as isolated from her as we were from the world. Still, I was helpless to save them. I woke near midnight choking from the smoke of my dreams and ran into the cool of the night. It was then that the cottage exploded into flame, I know not why. Held back by the old fear of fire, I could only watch as the flames consumed them. Tears streaming down my face as I listened to their screams echoing through the night, I was still unable to move one step toward the burning home. Even those with the second sight cannot always change the future.

    Once again, I was alone, walking the town roads. My rambles led me to a castle being constructed for the third time. Too late, I remembered my dreams. It was to be the stronghold of King Vortigernís domain. I was compelled to tell what I had seen. He marveled at my revelation of hidden water lying far beneath the earth. My service was repaid with swords and the teeth of dogs driving me yet again deep into the forest.

    It was there that I found others, outcasts like me. Even among the outcasts I was an outcast. They feared my powers only enough to covet them. They drugged me, tortured me, anything to make me tell the future. The poor fools never knew that all they need have done was ask. I could not lie to them, nor could I remain silent if asked. Something inside me would not alow such things to lie in secret.

    Despite the cruelty they showed me, I still hold a debt of gratitude toward them. They had cared for the boy. The fearless child I was destined to guide to greatness. We were the only ones to escape Vortigernís massacre. He killed them all for the crime of living, simply living.

    I became the childís guardian though I barely seemed his senior. I know now that I must have been centuries old, yet I still bore the appearance of a youth. I named the child Arthur and reared him as if he were my own son. He never feared my powers nor questioned them. They simply were. He alone loved me. He trusted me to the end, though he did not always heed my advice.

    I began to age as I ventured away from the forest. Another century passed, and still I would not die though I wished it greatly after Arthurís death. I took an apprentice. She was a beautiful young woman and eager to learn. I taught her all that I could.

    She took pity on me, a rambling old man who had lived, oh too long. She urged me to teach her one last skill. I cast the spell, knowing no human woman could do the same. In doing so, I entombed myself in the oak. I had been so blind. None can destroy an immortal child but another.

    So, here I have stood for a thousand years. I am not really dead nor truly living, watching the forest catch fire.

    Inspired by the works of T.A. Barron and Jane Yolen.

  2. #2

    Re: Your opinions please... Literary essay/short

    Sounds nice, much like the history of Harry Potter.

  3. #3
    Jack Jackson

    Re: Your opinions please... Literary essay/short

    Hi Amanda,
    I'm not really clear what we have here. Your heading indicates that the piece is a literary essay, but it reads as a sort of first-person synopsis. You don't call it a critical essay, but I think of essays--at least insomuch as they are about well known myths or stories, such as Merlin's--as being more about finding truths [or lies] inherent in the works of others.
    I think you've done a quite-elegant summary of one version of the myth, but again, I'm unclear to what end.

    I saw a couple of minor things you might consider changing, on my first read-through, but [dang it! I hate it when this happens] I couldn't find one of them when I looked for it.

    "He killed them all for the crime of living, simply living."
    If it were me, I'd use a semi-colon instead of a comma.

    Sorry I can't be more help, Amanda, but I think it might help if you could clarify the purpose of the piece.
    Write on
    Jack J

  4. #4

    Re: Your opinions please... Literary essay/short

    The Eternal Outcast
    (A Meditation of Merlin)

    Hi Amanda,

    I printed this out and read it through. I envy your obvious enthusiasm for writing. You have the potential to come up with a good story here.

    As I see this, it doesn't fit my definition of literary fiction. This seems to fall squarely into the fantasy genre. The fantasy genre is tough because folks tend to emulate the styles of Donaldson and Tolkien, and the like, who were masters of the genre. Their work tends to use a lot of long narrative and passive voice, for that poetic feel. However, when new writers emulate this style, the results don't automatically appear as superb as that of the masters. I can swing a bat, but that doesn't make me Babe Ruth, so to speak. It takes time to study, learn, practice and grow as a writer.

    You've made a good effort, and that's the practice part, so I applaud you for stepping up. I'd say, as an exercise, your work is a good first effort. Now you need to keep writing, and try to find your own voice, your own flavor, so to speak. That just takes studying the craft (get some books on writing fiction, especially, "On Writing Well," by William K. Zinsser). Learn to create unique characters that capture the reader's attention, and practice, practice, practice.

    Keep on writing, and take care ~ Lindi

  5. #5
    Amanda Roper

    In answer

    This was an essay I was assigned my senior year in high school. We were supposed to take a literary character and write about their live from their point of view after their death. I got an A on the essay then, but it was much worse. I redid the essay as a college junior for a writing exercise. I don't really plan to publish it, just use it as a step toward "perfecting" my writing skills.

  6. #6

    Re: In answer

    I liked your writing - keep up your good work.

  7. #7
    Amanda Roper

    Re: In answer

    Thanks. I intend to.

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