The Echo of a Wordless Song


The sound of a harp song haunted him. It blended with the sound of the wind over this strange inland sea, invaded his mind, would not let him go, would not let him forget...

In his mind's eye, he could see her again - her lithe form dancing in the moonlight in the glades of Doriath, her voice slipping through the starlight like silver...she was so beautiful.

So beautiful...

Bending his head, he pressed his face against the carved wood of his harp, held his hands flat against the strings, trying in vain to still the song that rang in his mind...

He remembered the day the man came to Doriath. He was so haggard and ragged - escaped somehow where any other would have died - should have died - but by some mad whim of the Valar he had not, and had stumbled upon the glade where she had been, dancing beside the Esgalduin...

He wrenched his mind from the memory. Even now, so many years later, he couldn't bear to think of it. How could she have loved that man - that mortal? He hadn't understood, hadn't been able to, and so at last, in desperation at her continuing folly in meeting the human, had told her father. Wincing, he recalled the look in her eyes as she passed him in Thingol's throne room. She had known that he had been the one to tell Thingol, known somehow, that he had been watching them secretly, and the flash of anger in her eyes at his betrayal still rankled in his breast - but he had had to do it! He couldn't bear to watch her throw herself away, loving a mere mortal.

Sliding his hands along the harp strings, he ran his fingers across them, playing a wildly happy song almost frantically, drowning out the other song. But his fingers would not obey, and the wild tune turned into a weird variation of the other melody, both songs merging in his mind until, at last, the heartbreaking melody overcame the song, and filled the night with wordless music, and more memories...

Swallowing, he remembered the second time he betrayed her. Betrayed, she had said, but still he couldn't understand why she didn't see that it wasn't betrayal, but an effort to protect her. He trembled once more at the memory of what she had planned to do, and had indeed done, after escaping her imprisonment. He had been terrified for her, when he found out she had succeeded in escaping Doriath - her prison, she had later said, when she returned. Miraculously returned, with the mortal, and in so doing sealed his doom. For somehow, in some fashion, they had achieved the impossible, and dared to face Morgoth himself to reclaim the Silmaril.

Why? he thought despairingly, unable still to understand. Why, for a mere mortal? The wind pulled at his hair, whipped his clothes, but he paid it no heed. Throwing up his hand in an odd gesture of surrender, he pulled the harp to him almost roughly, and played the song that haunted him. The clear notes rang out, filling the night with the wordless melody he had tried in vain to escape. The song echoed over the wide lake before him, carrying through the night like it would never cease. He bent his face toward the harp, closing his eyes tightly against the pain, the memories, his fingers playing the tune flawlessly, inexorably, tears slipping from beneath his closed eyelids. The song rose and swelled until he could bear it no longer, and throwing the harp away from him, he rose abruptly and made two swift strides to the shore of the lake.

Why? He stood looking over the dark waters, hands clenched at his sides, his throat aching with unshed tears. She was gone, now, the one he loved. Gone, and sundered forever from her people. The night washed over him, the quiet evening sounds washing over him. Bleakly, he stretched out his hand, reaching for something gone from him forever, or perhaps merely touching the edges of an old memory....

"I loved you."

The words echoed across the night, and were gone. Wearily, Daeron turned back to his harp, and gathering it up, disappeared silently into the night. Across the dark waters of the lake, one last echo came back - the harp song that haunted the minstrel - the song he wrote for Lúthien.


"But seeking for Lúthien in despair he wandered upon strange paths, and passing over the mountain he came into the East of Middle-earth, where for many ages he made lament beside dark waters for Lúthien, daughter of Thingol, most beautiful of all living things."
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion

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