A long-awaited ending… – that of course we wish Tolkien had left us himself.

by Oct 18, 2005Poetry

Against the wall then Beren reeled;
still with his left he sought to shield
fair Lúthien, who cried aloud
to see his pain, and down she bowed,
in anguish sinking to the ground.
But Carcharoth, his purpose drowned,
pressed not, for deep the jewel burned,
and half in fear he sudden turned,
and vanished back the stairway dark
to burst from Angband’s portals stark.

About the gates an Orc-host fell
and Balrogs, lords in darkling hell,
in ranks prepared to march to war.
Them the great wolf rent and tore –
the goblins dire and demons foul –
and rent the air with wolfin howl
whence echoed down through caverns chill
the magic of the Silmaril.
At that mighty voice profound
the caverns trembled underground;
the dungeons crumbled, pillars fell
in Morgoth’s deeply-dolven hell.
Beren then, at Lúthien’s side,
came stumbling out the gates thrown wide
by Carcharoth, and just behind
down crash the gates and ruined bind
the might of Angband under earth
and holden from the lands of mirth.
Morgoth’s army broke and fled
at onslaught sudden; filled with dread
of Carcharoth they sprang aside,
yet many stumbled, fell and died.
A mighty host in battle fell
before the gates of Morgoth’s hell;
not this force would ruin bring
into the land of Thingol king,
for it broke upon the plain
of Dor-na-Fauglith, where the rain
no more shall come to wash away
the dust of bones that still there lay
since that battle long ago
when hate and fire burned the snow.

Carcharoth, by fear pursued,
his maddened flight he swift renewed,
for in his belly burning fierce
the Silmaril, whose light could pierce
the deepest shadow; not the will
of Morgoth would the jewel chill,
and as it burned that holy fire
drove the wolf to fate most dire:
that magic stronger than Melian’s
should entrance win to Thingol’s lands.
Thus out from Angband’s smoke and flame
mighty Carcharoth ravening came,
out of the North, the Land of Dread,
whence only evil pathways led,
and wandered lost across the plain
till he nigh with thirst was slain,
and came at last to Doriath.
Here glen and glade and forest path
had long been kept from every foe
by Melian’s magic, wrought in woe,
and long she Morgoth’s hand did hold
from that hidden land that was of old.
To Doriath against her will
came naught; the mighty woods were still
for fate was woven; weird of old
decreed that Melian’s magic hold
until should come a mortal child,
Beren, and a creature wild
should burst the bonds that held yet back
Bauglir’s demons from the wrack
of Elfland flowering under trees
as gardens in the Lands of Ease.

Amid tremendous tumult round
Morgoth woke, for in that sound
he heard his treasure that was gone
and glimpsed his crown, whence two gems shone.
Then wrathful roused his legions there
commanding them to climb the stair
and issue forth upon the plain,
the field with elven blood to stain.
For knew he not the hall was filled
with rock, the army outside stilled,
and Beren drooped near death at door
as Lúthien sought to life restore
with cunning arts and loving hands
and lore she learned in elven lands;
yet that wound of venomed fang
no art would cure, but still she sang.
“O Beren! Beren, why must thou
forsake our love and leave me now?
The gem is won, our quest achieved,
yet here I weep, who once believed
that all our pain would end at last
if e’er again these gates we passed.”

The two despaired as lightning broke
the rocks about and wrath awoke
in Angband’s stony corridors.
Lo! Thorndor King of Eagles soars
above the field the wolf had fled,
above the dreadful ghastly dead
as Balrogs, Orcs and evil things
creep thence to take the prize that sings
upon their master’s threshold drear,
and our tale had ended here
but for the Eagles strong and swift
who to the gates did stoop and lift
the pair entwined in anguish grim
away from Angband’s portals dim;
a third there stayed to guard their flight
perched on the mountain’s stony height.
No Orc nor thrall of Morgoth dared
approach that Eagle huge that glared
with menace grim and biding hate
upon the wreck of Angband’s gate.

Now the Eagles’ lord and king,
Thorndor, of whom the Elves still sing,
as he had borne King Fingolfin
from that self-same gate again
he lifted Beren swooning deep
whose high and mighty doom would keep
from harm until appointed hour.
Lúthien, too, from Morgoth’s power
as yet was safe. O’er fields of drouth
the Eagles bore them to the south –
far above the mountains tall,
the Hidden City’s outer wall,
over the grave of Fingolfin
and secret land of Gondolin.
There Turgon reigned, a [hidden] lord,
of whom the elvish bards record
many a tale of mighty deed,
how to Túrin’s aid at need
he marched with host ten thousand strong
upon the northward road, and long
their way when from Unnumbered Tears
to hiding and to secret fears
the host of Gondolin returned.
They sing how as the city burned
Ecthelion with Gothmog fought
to bitter death. His foe he sought
with sword and knife in battle fierce
until the demon he did pierce
with mortal wound, but all enwound
by whip of flame, without a sound
both crashed to ruin. These shall pass,
but Turgon’s realm yet green with grass
and niphredil did bloom, its lord
by all of Elfinesse adored,
and high his helm and sharp his sword,
the king of mead and vale and sward.

But Lúthien had only tears
and speed alone could still her fears.
The city lying silver-white
amid the plain that starry night
was glimpsed beneath, and then was gone.
In haste the Eagles flew them on
in fear of Beren’s life, and dread
of pursuing anger swift and red.
The Eagles set them gently down
amid the trees and beech-leaves brown
of Doriath’s borders, then to steep
and treacherous mountains, watch to keep,
they must return. There Lúthien
with elvish arts unknown to Men,
with ancient lore that she did know
and wild herbs that in Doriath grow,
there healed Beren’s wound, and saved
him for whom she perils braved.

Here farther from its source of power
the hurt seemed less; not yet the hour
by doom appointed, and still more –
enchanted airs their magic bore
from Melian’s throne unto her child
in the woodland, desperate, wild,
and when the dawn broke golden-red
Beren stirred, and laid his head
in Lúthien’s lap as he awoke,
and wildered, staring, thusly spoke:
“’twas all a dream, that I did hold
the Silmaril, and thou so bold
before the seat of hell did stand,
deliv’ring us from Morgoth’s hand?
It seemed so clear, and yet I know
these woods, so far from Angband’s glow.
Here I left you to pursue
my dreadful oath, and death to woo,
that you, kept safe in Doriath,
might follow not my dooméd path.”

“Rest, love,” she answered, “’twas no dream,
the Silmaril you held, its gleam
in Morgoth’s awful dungeon drear,
nor even that pursuing fear
which claimed thy hand, and near thy life,
then maddened fled. Forget our strife –
my father cannot from his land
now bar thee, nor refuse my hand
in justice, after Morgoth’s fire,
and rocks and steel and hatred dire
of that black feud of Elfinesse
kept not that jewel he would possess.
Come back with me to face the king,
with tales of mighty deeds we bring.”
And yet the woods were passing sweet,
for flowers sprang beneath her feet
as Lúthien danced, and there they stayed,
enchanted dancing glade to glade,
and on a morning ere the dew
was dry, to them came Huan true,
most loyal hound in all the West,
returned to those who loved him best.
Thus passed the days, till rumour grew
of shadow lurking – Huan knew
that Carcharoth now stalked the land,
and the power of Melian’s hand

was broken, for the Silmaril
was power strong, and now the will
of King and Queen it both defied.
Thus doom of old so long denied
had come to pass. In fear they fled
down forest paths gone dark with dread.
To Menegroth they hastened swift
to warn the king, and hearts to lift
with tidings of their valiant fight
and perilous journey back to light.


Since that fair morn his daughter fled
King Thingol sat in awful dread
upon his throne and cursed the fate
that Beren brought from halls of hate
where starlight fails and shadows creep
o’er every living heart, and deep
beneath the earth in caverns drear
there lies and waits the utmost fear.
Mablung, called the Heavy Hand,
with all his fell and fearless band
of archers grey now roamed the wood
at Thingol’s bidding, that they should
discover all the things that passed
along the woodland’s marches vast.
Lúthien’s flight had sorrow brought
and Thingol’s folk now wandering sought
with tearful eyes that lissom maid
through grassy glen and sunny glade.
Well-nigh all the woodland folk
hunted beneath the beech and oak,
but found her not, for she was fled;
the trail since gone cold and dead.
But many strayed the Girdle past
and left the Guarded Realm at last,
and these were lost, their senses dazed
by Melian’s magic that amazed
the minds of all who thither sought.
The search was vain, yet dearly bought,
for thence came Dairon never more
to Menegroth upon the shore
of the faëry stream where Beren came
with longing heart his love to tame.
He wanders ever down the years
which have no power to slake his tears
and, seeking still for Lúthien,
far beyond the ways of Men
he pipes on shores and lands grown dim
that she might, hearing, come to him,
and in his song such anguish rings
that from the waking world it wings
across the sea beyond the walls
of Valinor, to timeless halls,
where in memory ever-green
his music lives as it had been
in Doriath. Yet wanders he
in Eastern lands now fitfully,
a doom on him to stay his quest,
nor end his journey, nor to rest
until he finds that Elvish maid
enchanted dancing glade to glade.

Sudden from Nargothrond there came
upon a horse as swift as flame
a messenger from Celegorm
in cloak as dark as winter storm.
Before the king, still grieving sore,
he said that sons of Fëanor
now held in bond fair Lúthien
and from the king her hand would win,
and if no blessing he would give
then shut in Narog might she live,
but never thence would she return
`til Melian and Thingol learn
that Fëanor’s house was mighty still
in arms and honour. `Twas their will
that Thingol’s quest in their despite
should fail, and never Beren might
return alive from Northern lands
to scorn their oath. In other hands
their father’s gem might not abide.
On such a house a seething tide
of war and hate would ever pour
until in shame would they restore
to Fëanor’s heirs the gems of light,
their thrice-enchanted jewels bright,
for Felagund had joined the quest
of mortal frail who sought to wrest
a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown,
a quest in which his line should drown
for neither Elf nor Man returned,
and Orodreth the people spurned –
in spite of crown he stood alone
while Celegorm claimed Narog’s throne.

Now Thingol’s wrath burned fierce and hot –
his daughter’s hand would not be bought
by force or threat of force. In haste
reply he sent that all to waste
he’d lay the land of Nargothrond,
its lords pursuing till beyond
the realms of Elfinesse he found
what way their harried flight had wound.
And as the herald sped away
all strength of arms that gathered lay
in Menegroth were summoned forth
as once they marched against the North,
this time in feuds of Elfinesse
to stain their hands, and honour less
to find in slaying kin by kin,
but glory still they hope to win,
and insult to avenge in war.
But Melian’s heart misgave her sore
and counseled Thingol that he wrought
an evil deed, and ruin sought,
and said she would forbid him fight
but that she knew by magic sight
that never would their armies meet
while Thingol sat upon his seat
in Doriath. But warning now
he would not take, nor rest his vow
of vengeance swift on Narog’s lord
and Fëanor’s gem to lay in hoard.

No more than this she laid revealed
before the king, and fate was sealed,
as stories tell, by haughty pride
that luck and valour turned aside,
for as the Elves set out to fight
another army, black as night,
and marching under moon and star,
all veiled from Melian’s gaze afar
by its captain’s power on them fell.
The Elves there met the host of hell
beneath the forest’s eaves, and each
surprised at battle under beech
were scattered, and the fight was long
in doubt, for though the Elves were strong
their foes were many, fierce and grim
and round their captain shadows dim
were wrapped, and thence a whip of flame
laid waste to all, and boastful claim
he made that back to Morgoth’s lair
would willing go the daughter fair
of Melian. This Thingol heard
and turned in wrath, without a word
to send an arrow winging true
to find that voice, still hid from view
by clinging dark, And in that hour
it was said that by the power
of Ulmo of or Oromë,
whose thought through wood or water lay,
that shot was guided. Boldog falls
and never back to Angband’s halls
came news of errand under tree
for fought and fell there faithfully
the Elves, and with their captain dead
that host from out the northland dread
their will had lost, and scattered flew
before their foes who following slew
them all, and never one returned,
but by these tidings Thingol learned
that Lúthien’s wandering far was known
and rumour e’en to Morgoth flown
of Elven maid so blinding-fair,
of perfume and of beauty rare.
Now Doriath’s host prepared to go
in haste across the drifted snow
to march to Narog’s aid at need,
and thus at last doth Thingol heed
Melian’s counsel – no avail
the sons of Fëanor to assail
while threat remained of Morgoth’s power
snatching Lúthien from her bower
as fought the lords of Elf and Gnome,
forgetting thus to guard their home.


Then Thingol sent at break of day
to East where the gorge of Aglon lay
his vassal Mablung Heavy Hand
with a strong and hardy band
of mighty Elves that might win through
the spies of Angband, thick as dew
on cloudy morn when warm winds cease,
an embassy to sue for peace
with brothers five of Curufin
and Celegorm, whose words might win
release of Lúthien from her cell
who might thence return to dwell
in her father’s house in Doriath,
but not so far wound Mablung’s path.
Had that message reached the ears
of Maedhros, deeds of after years
might otherwise have been, and tears
averted, though perhaps the oath
by Beren’s quest awakened both
the realms of Maedhros’ mighty kin
had set against Esgalduin.

But now on Mablung’s band there fell
the ruin of that hound of hell,
dread Carcharoth, whom Red Maw name
the songs of Elves; before they came
beyond the edge of Melian’s wood
in tripled ranks the Elf-band stood.
Battle there is beneath the trees,
bitter and swift, but no Elf flees.
There left their lives that grey-clad band
save one alone: the Heavy Hand,
who hastened back to warn the king
of Morgoth’s foul and demon thing
that roamed the woods of Doriath
and slew all those found in its path.
Through meadow and through forest glade,
through vine-choked thickets drenched in shade,
o’er streams and roots in twisted maze
he fled the wolf down secret ways
until at Thingol’s door he stood,
alone escaping from the wood.
There to king and court was told
his tale of anguish – how the bold
and mighty Elves who once set forth
were slain by guile of the North.

Since Beren took his leave of them
to seek for Fëanor’s peerless gem
had Thingol laid on him a curse,
believing him a spy, or worse,
to the Thousand Caves no more to fare
nor Doriath’s roads again to dare
on pain of death. No whispered word
of Melian’s mercy yet he heard
but anxious sat with hardened heart
to wait for tidings by her art
or by the skill of Mablung brave
the news that might his daughter save,
relenting not till fateful day
brought Beren’s long and winding way
to Doriath again at last
[at eve of spring as daylight passed.]
[at eve of day as winter passed.]
[at eventide as winter passed.]

Now Mablung’s tidings fed anew
his grief, and cold dark anger grew:
“We curse thee, Beren, and I swear,
if Doriath’s roads again you dare
your death shall follow swift and true.”
“My lord,” said Melian, “thou shalt rue
this oath of pain in anger made.
Our daughter was taken into shade
by force nor guile of Angband’s lord.
Of that vast shadow long abhorred
Beren is no creeping spy
nor servant of Thû’s lidless eye.
Love it was that bound him here;
love of Lúthien, daughter dear,
and love that drew her after him,
even to Morgoth’s dungeons grim.”
“My oath is sworn in anger just,”
replied the king, “and Beren must,
ere he returns to walk my land,
seek, and take, and hold in hand
the Silmaril I bade him bring
to lay before his lord and king.
Now must we arm for death and war.
Alas! I fear that nevermore
shall Lúthien, that fairest maid,
return to us from halls of shade
in Morgoth’s realm where she has strayed
beyond our power to lend her aid.”
Then at the king’s command his folk
left their homes neath beech and oak
and gathered in to swift march forth
and meet the armies of the North
that [now] must follow, fierce and fell,
the vanguard of the host of hell.

Then opened wide the caverns’ door
and entered there a wonder more
than all the armour gleaming bright
and gems that shone by torches’ light:
of all the Elves the maid most fair
in radiant splendour; perfume rare
dripped softly from enchanted cloak
and in each heart a memory woke
of fountains cool and flowers soft
and song of birds that high aloft
brought joy and gladness to the land.
Beside her standing hand in hand
with ragged clothes and arm in sling
the mortal Beren who did bring
to Thingol’s realm such grief and pain
that never should be felt again.
Then all who stood round Thingol’s chair
gazing on that storied pair
fell silent as the king strode forth.
“Speak now, thou servant of the North!
Hast thou brought the Silmaril
as once thou swore to me, or will
thy life be forfeit? `Twould be just
were you emprisoned till to dust
your bones were crumbled – all my land
now feels the weight of Morgoth’s hand.
One alone has here me sought
and finding, then, his freedom bought.
You, then, must it be who told
this secret to our foe of old,
and brings the great wolf here to slay
my people on this fearful day.”
Then raised the guard their arms on high
that Beren, at a word, might die.
Before his doom there Beren stood
and faced the king of rock and wood:
“My lord, when last I left this hall,
I solemn swore an oath to all
that rocks nor steel nor Morgoth’s fire
should keep me from my sweet desire.
I swore to seek the jewels bright
of Fëanor, and with the light
of one at least within my hand,
then again to walk your land.
Behold! my quest is now fulfilled.
The gem I sought as you had willed.”
His left hand now he opened wide;
a murmur in the hall, a tide
of anger grew that mortal dared
defy the king; that he had fared
to Doriath with broken oath
to stand before their court – then both
his arms he lifted – one hand only
had he. Then in silence lonely
began his tale, and all revealed:
how Huan had from prison sealed
released fair Lúthien and led
her North to where the wolves had fed
on his companions, and of Thû
and faithful Felagund the true.
All the tale was swift recounted –
how Lúthien had Huan mounted
to ride in search when Beren left
her in her father’s woods, bereft
of hope, until she found him fey
upon the Northland’s borders grey;
how then disguised in fell and wing
they entered Angband, there to sing
with elvish craft and subtle skill
in which was drowned the mighty will
of Morgoth; how the jewel they stole
but trapped by Carcharoth the whole
of the hopeless quest again seemed lost;
how all the lands they swift had crossed
upon the Eagles’ backs, and few
could doubt these words, for all was true,
as Lúthien said, and Huan fleet
there laid his head at Beren’s feet.
`Twas known to all he never gave
such blessing to a master, save
to Lúthien in Nargothrond,
emprisoned there all hope beyond,
and Huan on the mortal shore
bespoke the gods in Valinor.
The truth may humble even kings
as clear within the heart it rings –
so Thingol now spared Beren’s life,
embraced him, and forgot their strife.

“Now with my blessing thou hast earned
in Morgoth’s realm where fires burned
and hope seemed lost of skies above
but for undying selfless love.
I thought my daughter mad, a spell
on her to capture and compel
her mind, and thou a Northern spy.
Now be it known that it was I
whose mind entrapped by groundless fear
in jealousy for daughter dear
her hopes by carelessness betrayed
with foolish quest I on thee laid,
and Dairon’s loss I blamed on thee,
but thou art blameless now I see.”
Then Lúthien before the throne
took Beren’s hand within her own –
there each to each they plighted troth
and king and court did honour both
with joy and song and with fair words
in Thingol’s halls where trilled the birds
of Melian. Yet heavy lay
as nightfall smothers fading day,
the woeful news of Mablung bold
and tale of horrors Beren told.

Thus the secret there was learned –
how Carcharoth by magic burned
had come upon the woodland Elves
and all now murmured to themselves
that war indeed was not at hand;
one wolf alone now stalked the land.
They cast aside their armour fair
and swords and axes gathered there
and armed for hunt with spear and bow
and barking hounds that host did go
with Huan leading, hound of war
that gods unleashed in Valinor.

His foe he smelled when all tracks failed
and through the woods the wolf they trailed
o’er streams and fens and hillsides steep
until, beside a marshland deep,
where gathered all the waters grey
in brake of cane the wolf to bay
still snarling fierce at last was brought.
As night descended there was fought
a battle sudden; on the king,
as elvish harpers often sing,
there leapt the wolf, and Beren sprang
to his defence, and loudly rang
great Huan’s baying. Deadly darts
by practiced skill and cunning arts
now found the wolf, who maddened tore
at Huan who had crouched before
his master, his own life to give
that perchance Beren might yet live
at last to wed fair Lúthien
beyond all hopes of mortal Men.

But naught availed to stop the rush
of maddened wolf through reed and brush
that dart nor spear could turn aside,
with rending jaws that gaping wide
with countless venomed teeth were filled
and snapping now would not be stilled.
He crouched and leapt on Beren’s chest
with flashing teeth to tear his breast.
To Beren falling, swooning, dying
the king then stooped, and careful lying
fallen hero on the grass
no more paid heed to what should pass
tween Carcharoth and Huan fey
who saw the doom that on him lay.

Ere that battle much renown
had Huan won in war, and down
through many lonesome years and long
his tale was told in elvish song,
but all his deeds of might and skill
in mortal lands seemed pale and chill
beside his fate declared to all,
before the mightiest wolf to fall.
Great was that battle of wolf and hound
at water’s edge. With leap and bound
they circled watching for a hold,
and through the woods the echoes rolled
of wolvish howl that Morgoth’s hate
and malice filled, and leaguer strait,
more cruel than any trap of steel
or dungeons where his captives reel
in pain and torment – as had Thû
once sung to Beren till darkness grew
within his mind, and visions cast
of deeds of Elfland’s sorrows past,
so now that host within their hearts
felt creep deceit of Morgoth’s arts
and Fëanor’s oath they saw fulfilled
in war of Elf with Elf, and chilled
the air now felt, though spring was come,
and helpless each stood stricken dumb.

Sudden in answer Huan bayed
and Carcharoth’s fell visions stayed,
for in his voice the Valar’s wrath
now kindled rang down forest path,
and Tavros’ mighty horns were heard,
a stirring sound that after word
nor song could ever fully tell,
a note to drown the voice of hell.

Long they feinted, circling near,
so close that Thingol’s archers fear
their shafts to loose lest friend they strike,
but ringed them round with sword and pike.
Many dreadful wounds they made
with snapping teeth, but no hold laid
upon the other, till at last
when red the sky as daylight passed
Huan caught at wolvish coat
and sank his jaws into its throat.
They crashed to earth, and quick as thought
there flashed the elvish spears which sought
the wolf, and pierced his chest,
as sank the sun into the West.

Once more in Huan words awoke,
and to Beren thus he spoke
with voice alike to deep-toned bells
that ring in Valmar’s citadels:
“Farewell my master, Beren bold.
My strength is spent; my limbs are cold.
The Northern threat a while is stilled,
but my own doom at last fulfilled,
for in my veins the poison flows
of hatred and of mortal woes,
and now I go to Valinor
to rest and hunt, forsaking war,
to follow chase with my old lord
Oromë, by hounds adored.
The deeds of this day long shall be
recalled in song and memory
in Lands of Ease where I now go
and here on earth in rain and snow
and sun. My vision now in truth
grows dim, and for the hunts of youth
my heart now yearns.”

Then silence fell
and Beren bade him fond farewell
with hand upon his head; no strength
he found for words, and there at length
the rasping breath of Huan ceased
and all the Elves from most to least
wept, for there at Thingol’s feet
grim Beren lay, and Huan fleet,
and others of the elvish host
who no more would return to boast
in many-pillared halls of stone
in Menegroth where now alone
there watched and waited Lúthien,
more fair than any child of Men,
and sweetly sang the nightingales.
But song and laughter sudden fails
as Huan’s spirit seeks the shore
where the Shadowy Seas’ last surges roar
and on her heart a shadow crept
foreboding Beren’s doom that slept
now but a little while, though dim
as yet her vision was of him.

Esgalduin the faëry stream
flowed dark and strong as in a dream
beside the field where Beren fell
defending Thingol in the dell.
Carcharoth lay upon the sand
and Beren called the Heavy Hand
and bade him take his keen-edged knife
that in war had drunk the life
of many foes and from the gut
of Carcharoth the gem to cut.
This Mablung did, and there was seen
the fiery jewel’s holy sheen
through Beren’s fingers that yet clenched
the Silmaril whose light unquenched
glowed pure as once the shining Trees
had lit with mirth the Lands of Ease.
Long miles though his path had wound,
his right hand thus once more was found
still incorrupt, though in the vile
and muddied pool of wolvish bile
naught else survived. The jewel’s light
cast back the dark and banished night
and brightly blazed it forth anew
the hand with magic to imbue,
for as the gentlest finger laid
upon it were it as unmade –
no bit of bone nor wisp of smoke
was there; through flesh the radiance broke
and reflected after in the face
of all who stood about that place,
the purest light Yavanna made
ere all the world was drowned in shade.

In Beren’s hand then Mablung set
the Silmaril which kindled yet
to brighter flame. At last his quest
begun at Thingol’s bitter jest
was won as to the king’s hand passed
the gem of Fëanor, and vast
the silence grew about that pair;
all thoughts were turned to Lúthien fair
as Thingol held the quest achieved
before his people who believed
no might nor art of Elfinesse
nor even of the utter West
could yet avail o’er Angband’s lord
to wrest his treasures from his hoard.
But Beren lay beyond all aid –
his hurt was mortal, and he made
but one request: that ere he died
he might be brought where the dark tide
of the faëry stream flowed deep and strong
past Menegroth where shadows long
fell all about the jewel he won
more fair than moon or stars or sun;
through rocks and steel and Morgoth’s fire
to see once more his sweet desire
ere to Mandos he was hurled
to leave the Circles of the World.
Then he declared that all he sought
was won, and lost, his doom full-wrought.

Of beechen leaves they wove a bier
to carry Beren swift as fear
might drive them from that place of death.
Of moon no light, of wind no breath
intruded where that party passed
and o’er Esgalduin at last
they crossed the bridge to find the shore
where stood King Thingol’s mighty door.
There Lúthien waited, and she came,
in sorrow like a dancing flame
that all devours what it desires
and all devoured then expires.
Embracing him, she bade him wait
for her until the chains of Fate
them joined once more in Mandos’ realm
beyond the lands of oak and elm.
He saw in Lúthien’s eyes a sight
of starlight burning without night
in skies unclouded, and of dreams
whose beauty through all trials gleams
unlooked-for ever, and of hopes
that frail as a rose-bud opes
and as the day wears on may fade
neath weight of cares upon them laid,
yet all-enduring may avail.
But gazing on her words him fail;
his head was cradled to her breast
when he at last was called to rest.
A final kiss upon his eyes
she placed, and then her true love dies.


The night closed in, and starlight paled
to utter black as all hope failed.
Of moon or torch no flickering came
and Lúthien, the shining flame
of Thingol’s house did wane and fade
when Beren’s corse in grave was laid,
for those of elvish race age not
nor sicken so long as there is aught
within the world that they hold dear,
but weariness, and grief, and fear,
these things may rob the earth of joy
and wonder, as it were a toy
in child’s hand that other cares
with passing years take unawares.
Thus her sorrow gladness steals,
her heart no song nor laughter feels,
and all the land grew dim and grey;
she wandered as one gone astray
until her winding ways had brought
her to a place of doom unsought.

There long ago in Elder-days
ere voice was heard or trod were ways,
the haunt of silent shadows stood
in starlit dusk Nan Elmoth wood.
In Elder-days that long are gone
a light amid the shadows shone,
a voice was in the silence heard:
the sudden singing of a bird.
There Melian came, the Lady grey,
and dark and long her tresses lay
beneath her silver girdle-seat
and down unto her silver feet.
The nightingales with her she brought,
to whom their song herself she taught,
who sweet upon her gleaming hands
had sung in the immortal lands.
But for her daughter in that place,
most lovely of immortal race,
no beauty had the woods, nor mirth
remained to her upon the earth;
no bounds her sorrow had, nor balm
as stood she there in stillness calm.

It seemed a voice she sighing heard
in creaking boughs without a word.
[Where the forest-stream went through the wood,
and silent all the stems there stood
of tall trees, moveless, hanging dark
with mottled shadows on their bark
above the green and gleaming river,
there came through leaves a sudden shiver,
a windy whisper through the still
cool silences, and down the hill,
as faint as a deep sleeper’s breath,
an echo came as cold as death:
“Long are the paths, of shadow made
where no foot’s print is ever laid,
over the hills, across the seas!
Far, far away are the Lands of Ease,
but the Land of the Lost is further yet,
where the Dead wait, while ye forget.
No moon is there, no voice, no sound
of beating heart; a sigh profound
once in each age as each age dies
alone is heard. Far, far it lies,
the Land of Waiting where the Dead sit,
in their thoughts’ shadow, by no moon lit.]

Then Lúthien no more was bound
to Middle-earth. Her spirit found
the westward way beyond the shore
where the Shadowy Seas’ last surges roar,
over Timbrenting in timeless halls
where Mandos dwells, where the light falls
on the shining sea. Then hope again
within her heart awoke; she sang,
for Beren there had stayed his path
as she had bade in Doriath.
`Tis doom of Men to leave the earth,
forsaking light and love and mirth,
forgetting strife and grief and woe
and all the hurts that they did know –
the gift of Eru that ere days
are ended shall of Gods earn praise,
but curse to him it seemed as yet
to leave the world and love forget,
and so in Mandos tarried he,
a spirit watching fitfully
to bid farewell to Lúthien
before he took the paths of Men,
forever sundered from his love,
the princess whom all things above
he cherished. So she found him there,
and of Mandos did she dare
alone of Elves to mercy plead
of that stern judge, her wish to heed –
that Beren at her side remain
in Halls of Waiting, or again
return to Thingol’s woodland green
where all might be as it had been.

Thus Lúthien to Mandos sang,
her voice in utter silence rang,
a theme of love and joy profound
so potent that was reason drowned.
She first of her adventures told
in Middle-Earth, and still more bold
she grew as Mandos stayed her not
but with his eyes her story sought.
Even here enchantment lay
upon her listener to stay
and hearken to her golden voice,
though no power to sway his choice
she found, but as he listened grew
her mournful tale in beauty true.

“Sharing laughter, knowing smiles,
sidelong glances, and at whiles
to steal unobserved a kiss,
together sharing in our bliss;
the warmth of sun, the scent of rain,
a faithful friend to share your pain –
thus hand in hand through many years
entwine two mortal paths.

So brief two lives together wend
and hearts and souls do sweetly blend.
When each from each our pathways part
and sudden sad doth grow my heart
for comfort do I dream of him
and comfort finds my soul therein
for know I that he dreams of me
when I dream of him.

The mirth we share, the roads we dare,
of such things love is made
in mortal lands where Vala’s hands
on earth are never laid.

But also share we pain and sorrow
and all uncertain doubt the morrow,
but any fear the future holds
that Bauglir in the shadows molds
to haunt our steps on distant shores
and forth from Angband ever pours
together we shall meet.

Long were the paths of shadow made
where no foot’s print is ever laid,
and none alive them wish to find
which our spirits snare and bind.
Yet willingly I sought thy halls,
my love to find within thy walls
and with him to return.

In this my hour of need the power
[alone] you have to set us free,
and if you do I vow to you
our deeds of song shall worthy be.”

“Alas! my child, to grant this boon
I have no power. I would have soon
united thee again in life
in elven lands as man and wife
were he but of your kin and kind,
but even I the law doth bind.
Ilúvatar has given Men
to pass at will beyond our ken –
so free my halls may he depart
though not to lands ye knew, but start
a journey hence, I know not where,
but home with thee he may not fare.
And yet, methinks, of song thy tale
of mighty deeds and sore travail
indeed is worthy. Dear the price,
and yet no other would suffice
to hear such song in lore recounted,
and well-bought shall it be accounted.”

Then in the silence of his mind
where what Ilúvatar designed
and purposed was to him revealed,
to Eru Mandos now appealed
for staying of the doom that lay
on Beren. Much that they did say
is hidden still from elven lore
but to Lúthien he bore
a little of that long debate.
For many Men before their fate
had asked to lay their gift aside
in dread of that which may abide
within the Void beyond the world
about which Morgoth’s malice curled.
That dark lord’s taint now cursed with fear
both dark and death, which once were dear,
accounted gifts among the wise,
but Morgoth’s will did now disguise.
Only Beren asked this thing
all free of fear of Morgoth’s sting –
not fear of death, but hope in life
made Beren wish return to strife,
not to hold his gift in spite
but seeking for a brighter light,
and out of love he seeks to bind
his soul to earth. Ye may not find
a nobler cause in any lore
of daring quest or beauty more
than dwells on earth in after-days,
and Mandos listened in amaze.
To Lúthien Eru gave this choice:
her dancing steps, her lilting voice,
her lissom limbs and shadowy hair
in long dark tresses flowing there
may walk once more upon the earth,
returned to lands of olden mirth
to hold in memory ever-green
all things which in her life had been,
or with her love, if she would dare,
a mortal span of years to share.
If with her he would walk again
their lives enmeshed in mortal pain
should ever be, for in return
the fiery spirit that doth burn
in Lúthien must forever dim,
and she must leave the world with him,
all her father’s house forsaking
and the nightingales awaking
in her mother’s hands alone
must sing while other lands unknown
in realms unthought-of by the Elves
they two must wander by themselves.

A mortal life she then did choose;
she could not bear her love to lose
a second time, and still more cold
as past the weary ages rolled
would grow the world before her eyes,
a dreary place where laughter dies,
and down through distant depths of Time
in endless harmony sublime
but all unheeding years would creep
and no more she would dance, but weep,
forever sundered from her love
and by the wheeling stars above
oft reminded by that fire
that once Men named the Burning Briar –
the seven stars that Beren saw
when sky was dark and hope was raw
and ever blazed to light his path
and guide him back to Doriath.

When from Mandos they had gone
before their eyes in glory shone
the walls of Valmar white as gold
that Elves had built in days of old,
of all their cities counted best
and hid by mountains west of West.
A little while they tarried there
but soon they wished once more to fare
to lands that they had left behind.
At Alqualondë did they find
a ship to weather any squall,
and white its sails were and tall.
From Valinor to Eglarest
they sailed from the utter West.
Some say that back with them a hound
in whose voice the stirring sound
was heard of horns of Oromë
once more a-hunting day by day.
But others say in Valinor
he stayed, forgetting tears and war
in mortal lands where once he strayed,
and never after song was made
of Huan’s deeds in mortal lands
or if the doom of Mandos stands
to bar his way from sweet return
to realms for which his heart doth yearn.
For with his master Celegorm
he once went heedless of the storm
of wrath that their rebellion stirred
behind them in Aman. No word
of Manwë stayed them from their course
alone to wrest by trial of force
from Morgoth Fëanor’s gems of light
that yet did shine, though all was night.
Before the sun or moon yet shone
that land was bathed in starlight wan
where Finwë’s son the Noldor led
through trackless wastes where it is said
a doom the Valar did pronounce
on any who would not renounce
the slaying of their kin and go
to beg forgiveness – that in woe
through all the ages of the world
wherever Fëanor unfurled
his mighty banner should they find
that war and grief their fate doth bind.
With them on that curséd day
was Huan, and his master fey
he followed faithful, and no more
mayhap his feet may walk that shore
where long ago with Tavros’ folk
he ran neath shade of beech and oak,
but shut in Mandos has he spent
many long years, till he repent
of his defiance.

But `tis known
that Beren and Lúthien alone
from those harbors journeyed east.
No aid of guide nor hardy beast
they had, till north of Nargothrond
to slender Ginglith and beyond
they came to Narog’s foaming shores
where over rocks the water pours
in flashing streams that murmur soft
of rest and solace, and where oft
a gleaming fish is seen to leap
from pools still, and cold, and deep.
Across the shallows broad they wade
on which the sunlight ever played
and cast its trembling rainbows bright
upon their faces, with the light
of Lúthien’s eyes to sparkling blend
and mingle, till too swift doth wend
their path across the Guarded Plain
where Orodreth’s power yet did reign,
and thence they passed to Neldoreth
that lies in the north of Doriath.

In wonder there the woodland folk
them greeted, and in awe they spoke
in later years in Thingol’s halls
how soft but strong enchantment falls
about the feet of Lúthien
that swiftly whirling, dancing then
upon the grass where once she stepped
as fleet as roe-deer flashing leapt
through hidden mazes ever roaming
in twisting paces in the gloaming
until should fade the gleam of stars
and soft the light between the bars
of tree trunks standing watch would creep
to steal the night away, and sleep
should come while all the woods were waking
and morning breezes leaves were shaking.

On Lúthien’s brow in gold was set
the Silmaril, that blazing yet
more bright than any star doth shine
glistening marvelous in heaven’s mine.
This Thingol gave her on a morn
beneath the boughs of Hirilorn
upon a bright mid-summer’s eve
where light and shadow interweave
as falling from the beechen queen
in silken-silver golden sheen
are both reflected in her eyes
and in the gem where never dies
the soft gold gleam of Glingal’s flower
and Belthil’s silver bloom that power
of Fëanor emprisoned there
to sparkle ever and to flare
when other lights were wholly dark.
Then sudden through the woods a lark
was singing sweet in silence vast
that lay upon the forest fast.

No flute of Dairon there was heard
contending with the trilling bird,
but everywhere the nightingales
whose moving music never fails
were softly joined in trembling themes
that are remembered in the dreams
that flee at morn’s approach, and all
at dawn are lost beyond recall.
Half elven-fair and half divine,
more lovely than the stars that shine
through frosty airs in darkest night
to music twirling in delight
were Lúthien’s dancing steps that spun
about the glades till one by one
all living things there paused that went
with padding footsteps on the bent.
Her skill in dancing unsurpassed
is counted while the earth shall last
save only Nessa who is seen
swiftly moving on the green
immortal lawns in Undying Lands
beyond the surging waves and sands
by which the ancient Sea divides
with endless-flowing darkling tides
that realm from lands where all things fade
with endless years upon them laid.
And but for Nessa’s beauty rare
has never been so blinding-fair
in Eä any Elf or Man
to rival the child of Melian.
When Fëanor’s gem of fiery hue
above her raiment white and blue
in crown of finest gold was set
her other gems its glory yet
reflected from her silken dress
more bright than lords of Elfinesse
remembered from the world’s youth.
And thus arrayed `tis said in sooth
that none that were or yet shall be
on either shore of the sundering sea
may claim to match that peerless sight
of jewels uncounted blazing bright
in robe as blue as summer skies
whose light was mirrored in her eyes
and sparkled in her mantle white,
a flowing train of starry light.

And so `tis sung alone of Men
by the boundless love of Lúthien
has Beren passed to Mandos’ halls
to see what lies beyond those walls
and looked upon that Vala stern
and thence has gained a brief return
to Middle-Earth. But never more
of what he learned in Valinor
to mortal Men he spoke, nor told
the secret that he learned of old
of Eru’s gift and their strange doom
that ever shall before them loom,
and of this thing he little spoke
when questioned by King Thingol’s folk.

[Conclusion coming soon]

The first five lines are Tolkien’s, quoted from the book. There is also a second slightly longer bit near the end which is quoted – this is clearly marked.


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Found in Home 5 Reading Room 5 Poetry 5 A long-awaited ending… – that of course we wish Tolkien had left us himself.

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