Just as many people put on Christmas carols or binge on Hallmark movies or other seasonal entertainment, at this time of year, I seem to find myself re-reading the fantasy sequence The Dark Is Rising.
I blogged about it two years ago but here I am again to sing the praises of this extraordinary quintet of books for younger readers. (I reread the Narnia books too, every few years.)
Though written in the 1970's and set in England and Wales, now, more than ever, these books are relevant for the Dark is indeed on the rise in our world.
I was struck particularly by an early scene in Silver on the Tree, the final book of the sequence. A school bully has been tormenting an immigrant boy and when the bully is treated to a bit of his own medicine, the bully's father takes noisy exception.
"Let them solve their own problems, not come whining over here. What's all that have to do with us? They don't belong here, none of 'em; they should all be thrown out. And if you think they're so bloody marvelous you'd better go live in their lousy countries with them!"
One could hear this tirade most any day on right wing media or on the streets, emboldened as many haters are by the Bigot in Chief.
By the end of the sequence, Merriman/Merlin and deep magic from the past have repelled the present threat of Dark, but the children who have been a crucial part of the battle are left with a warning--which I found especially pertinent:
"For remember...that it is altogether your world now...we have delivered you from evil, but the evil that is inside men is at the last a matter for men to control. The responsibility and the hope and the promise are in your hands--your hands and the hands of the children of all men on this earth. ...the hope is always here, always alive, but only your fierce caring can fan it into a fire to warm the world."
"For Drake is no longer in his hammock, children, nor is Arthur somewhere sleeping, and you may not lie idly expecting the second coming of anybody now, because the world is yours and it is up to you. Now especially since man has the strength to destroy this world. it is the responsibility of man to keep it alive, in all its beauty and marvellous joy."
"And the world will still be imperfect, because men are imperfect. Good men will still be killed by bad, or sometimes by other good men, and there will still be pain and disease and famine, anger, and hate. But if you work and care and are watchful...then in the long run, the worse will never, ever triumph over the better. And the gifts put into some...shall light the dark corners of life for all the rest, in so brave a world."
May we all strive to light the dark corners of life, in whatever way we can, with whatever gifts we possess.