Childe Roland To The Dark Tower Came by Robert Browning
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
For the past decade or so, one of the ways I find books to read is to see who or what influenced some of my favorite writers. I discovered P.G. Wodehouse after he was mentioned by Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Moore, for example. One of Stephen King's influences for the Dark Tower saga was this poem by Robert Browning.
I've been a Dark Tower junkie for somewhere between twelve and fifteen years at this point but I never read the poem Stephen King drew inspiration from until today. It's not a long poem by any means. There are many reviews on this site that are longer. Yet it contains a lot of parallels to The Dark Tower series.
The poem is in an AABABB rhyme scheme and told in 34 stanzas. I'll note the Dark Tower inklings that jumped out at me.
The first four stanzas seem to be an inspiration for the first book in the Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger. Roland, recalling his wanderings, is tempted to give up on his quest for the Dark Tower by a lying old man with a staff. Sound familiar?
The seventh stanza also harkens to the Gunslinger, when Roland things of the others who have fallen in the quest for the Dark Tower. In the eighth, Roland resumes his quest. In the ninth, he's lost and the only man is gone, kind of like when Roland finds himself lost on the seashore, just before the lobstrocities attack.
In the sixteenth stanza, Roland remembers his friend Cuthbert's face. In the seventeenth, a traitor and a hanging are mentioned. In the flashback sequence in the Gunslinger, Roland and Cuthbert witness the hanging of a traitor.
In the thirty-first stanza, Roland finally sees the Tower in the distance, built of brown stone. Finally, in the final stanza, Roland blows his horn, signifying the end of his quest, something that didn't happen on the last iteration of Stephen King's Dark Tower, but may happen in the next one.
Sadly, there is no giant bear with a satellite dish on it's head in Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came. For the bear, I'll be reading Shardik sometime in the future.
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