Nerdanel’s Story

by Apr 27, 2006Stories

(Disclaimer: All of the characters, places, and the main story line are JRR Tolkien’s wonderful creations. All references are from The Silmarillion, or HoME Vols 10 or 12 Nothing is mine, except the interpretation and any mistakes.)

`Her (Míriel’s) death was a lasting grief to Fëanor, and both directly and by its further consequences a main cause of his later disastrous influence on the history of the Noldor.’

(The Shibboleth of Fëanor. HoME 12 ‘The Peoples of Middle Earth. JRR Tolkien. HarperCollins Ed. 2002 p333)

House of Sarmo Urundil. Seventh Age.

I rarely go up to Tirion now. I stay in my father’s house, in the dwellings of the Aulenduri* that are to be found further into the Calacirya than the city. My hröa* is tired with what has become the labour of living, and my memories weigh most heavily upon my fëa*. Soon will I seek release; to lay myself down in the gardens of Irmo Lórien, mayhap, and breath forth; almost as his mother did.

They say: `The Lady Nerdanel endures, despite her loss and her shame. She is strong, and will prevail until the End.’ But they have not my memories; they know not how I truly feel. Many have endured loss; many have been sundered from those they love because of the kinslayings, or the exile, or doom encountered in the Hither Lands. But none of them bore seven children. None bore seven, mighty, sons, who yet became murderers, who are even now labelled the `Dispossessed’ forever. None of them were wife to the mightiest and most skilled of all the Noldor, the one who created the Great Jewels, who led the rebellion against the Valar, who was blamed for our greatest woes!

“He consumed his lady mother through his birth, and now, finally, the outworking of his deeds will consume you!” my father says bitterly. “Soon you, also, will have no choice but to seek respite from this existence. For you cannot continue through more Ages like this.”

My father’s words are meant to stir me into denial, into taking hold of life again, even as he says Maitimo* would have done had he returned from the Hither Lands at the dawn of the First Age. But Maitimo did not return from the Hither Lands; neither has he returned from the Halls of Awaiting. None of my sons have. And I grow weary these last years with the loss of all hope of beholding them again in the land of the living.

As I ponder the past, I remember that day of such perplexity and sorrow when the Lady Míriel lay down to rest. Most weary indeed had she become, for she had no more strength, nor will to live. The death of an immortal in Aman: it was unthinkable! How much more so that it was something she had freely determined to do.

I remember talk of the grief of King Finwë; that he could not hold her to this life with any of his pleas or promises; that though his love for her was a great and glad thing, was it not enough.

And I remember the lasting grief that unnatural denial of a mother’s love and nurture caused to her son, Fëanáro. Though he was nigh early youth* when she died, yet was he most pained, for dearly did he love her, and, as with all Eldar in the Blessed Realm, thought never to be parted from her. So did he burry himself in his works and explorations, to ease his pain. Many indeed are those who can remember Fëanáro’s later deeds, and with no great joy. But this was the beginning, and I, at least, remember it all so very well!

I was a little over two years of age* at the time Míriel breathed forth. I heard a great deal about there `surely being healing in Aman’, and about the realisation that this event had taken even the Valar by surprise. My father, for he was most devoted to Aulë, gathered us together: his wife, his only child, and those others of the Noldor who worked with him. We all sought the peace and reassurance of the Valar for ourselves in such a disturbing situation, but mostly we sought peace and comfort for the bereaved king, and prince.

“There is something gravely wrong in this. It will lead to an anguish we cannot yet foresee”, my mother had warned.

“The Valar know what is best. We can trust them to resolve the situation,” my father replied, though he, too, had many misgivings. We were so naive about death; it was something then, unlike now, that was utterly beyond our comprehension. Míriel was, and then she was not! How could that be?

“Let her rest. The strength she gave up to bear Fëanáro was great. She will return in time, when she is healed. She will be reunited with her hröa!” they had said.

But Míriel did not return. A short time it seemed before our king, wandering the hills of Eldamar on a visit to his friend, King Ingwë, had met with another. Not that such an event would have had much influence on me as the daughter of Urundil had I not, also, met with someone while walking in the hills.

Ai! I remember it as if it were yesterday! I remember the first time we met, so very clearly!

When first I beheld him, I knew what beauty and brilliance and power were; for he possessed all those qualities in a measure far greater than any I had ever known. That he had other qualities too, I was soon to discover. We rode, and walked at will together, away from the dwellings of the Noldor, and made many journeys of exploration into the hills and across the plains of Valinor. We discussed matters of lore, of craft, and, to my surprise and delight, I found we developed such an affinity of fëa that there could only be one outcome.

The Wedding of King Finwë to the Lady Indis of the Vanyar saw the resurgence of joy in the life of one of the bereaved. I believe, at that time, I brought a measure of joy back into the life of that other.

Curufinwë Fëanáro was soon to play a central role in the history of the Noldor, along with those two half-brothers whom Indis bore to Finwë. He was to become the mightiest and most awe-inspiring figure of the Age of the Trees. Ever in the background was I, and glad to so be. Yet I made my presence felt, and not just through those sons I bore and loved in turn; though later lore may have all but disregarded my existence. But then, later lore was written by those who had no love for my family, and re-written by mortals, mortal men at that. They generally had scant regard for a female who was considered wise, rather than beautiful.

I often live in memory of those early days; the golden time before the release of the Vala who was to bring doom upon us all. That time before Fëanáro came to his full strength, and began the great work which was the result of his foresight and supreme skill. My husband’s creation of the Silmarils was a wonder beyond wonders, but their magnificence only added to his pride, and possessiveness. And in that same moment Moringotho*, consumed with hatred and with envy of the Eldar, began his well-placed whispers of deception. Those lies, which encouraged Fëanáro’s greedy love for his creations, would, in the fullness of time, so consume him. Such a waste it was; such a waste of what he might have become; what he might yet have wrought for the glory of Arda. Such a waste of joy it was, and of love.

In memory there is still fulfilment. For a short time I can forget all the grief that followed, and I long to be with him again, to be captured by his piercing gaze, and filled by that life and energy that flowed through him as a living fire. I long to be out in the hills once more with him, and with those beautiful sons he gave me; strong and swift and eager they all were.

But they are in the Halls of Awaiting long since, and only I remain in Elvenhome.

At times, when I read some of what is written, I wonder how much of it I dreamt, and how much was real? I do not recognise my family at all in some works, while others leave out matters that were of great import. They say still that he was wicked, that Fëanáro and our sons were cruel and fell. They became so, mayhap, but it was not always thus. I make no plea against the blasphemy of their oath, nor against the destruction they wrought upon our own kind through three kinslayings. But where their father went, our sons would follow unquestioningly, for he was ever their `bright flame’ as well as mine. And as for my lord himself: to be the first among our people to have a loved one die, to be the first among our people to have a loved one slain, to be the object at which Moringotho’s insidious spite was aimed; was it any wonder Fëanáro became fell; that at the time of the oath he was nigh out of his mind?

The Valar understood. Even though they condemned the eldest son of Finwë, they mourned for his marring as much as for the destruction of the Trees. Was it not reported, and by the Vanyar, that Manwë himself wept?

My consolation and trial is to ponder the past, the burden of memory, and live in it again and again, and wonder if, at any point, I could have made a difference to the way things developed. When I look back, it was as if I were the smallest corner of a triangle, in which those two most powerful beings of their kind contended. I tried to reason with him in those last years, for I was one of the very few to whom he would pay heed. Long indeed did I endeavour to change Fëanáro’s mood as slowly but surely, the loathsome evil of ‘Morgoth’ corrupted him, twisting him from my counsel and from my arms. We were in conflict, Moringotho and I, though at the time I knew it not, and he had all the advantage. The power of a Vala against my small wisdom! Yet I fought for my husband’s heart, for his nobility every step of the way…almost every step. I should have gone with him into exile, to Formenos, that is the thought that plagues me.

His father would not be parted from him, nay, not in guiltlessness for his actions, neither in guilt. Finwë’s love was never to falter. I should have made clear that my love never faltered either. I should have been with him! In that most blinded of my deeds, for I, also, was clouded by Moringotho’s lies, did I fail Fëanáro, and so also our sons. Yet mayhap do I delude myself, that anything I could have said or done would have made a difference once Finwë was slain, and the Great Jewels taken.

Many of those who died in the flight from Aman, in the kinslayings and in the first four Ages have returned to their families once more, and walk the fields, the hills and the shores in joy. Many more have been reunited on Tol Eressëa, that place where the returned exiles may dwell in sight of the Blessed Realm. Yet time passes but slowly here, and few are those who have returned of late. For some, there is no forgiveness it seems; so dire were their deeds, it is said. There is no forgiveness for my sons, for my lord, I now do ponder. I have not seen any of them for so very long, and it strikes me that, before I am totally consumed, I will write down what happened in those early years, as it happened, and that for me will be another way to be with them again. And who is to say, but in the doing I may wrench back the smallest of victories from Moringotho, for he who was my lord and my love. And in that my heart will be at rest.

All years are Valinorian years.
Hröa = Body
Fëa = Spirit
Aulenduri = Servants of Aulë
Maitimo = Maedhros
Moringotho = Morgoth

There is a discrepancy concerning the time of Míriel’s death between The Silmarillion, and Home Vol12. The Silmarillion (supported by HoME 10) seems to say she died shortly after Fëanor’s birth, while the `Shibboleth of Fëanor’ in HoME 12, `The People’s of Middle Earth’, says she `endured until he was full grown’. I have veered towards what I think were Tolkien’s later thoughts on this matter.


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