The Lay Of Leithian : Cantos 3, 4.

by J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien

There once, and long ang long ago,
before the sun and moon we know
were lit to sail above the world,
when first the shaggy woods unfurled,
and shadowy shapes did stare and roam
beneath the dark and starry dome
that hung above the dawn of Earth,
the silences with silver mirth
were shaken; the rocks were ringing,
the birds of Melian were singing,
the first to sing in mortal lands,
the nightingales with her own hands
she fed, that fay of garments grey;
beneath her silver girdle's seat
and down unto her silver feet.
She had wayward wandered on a time
from gardens of the Gods, to climb
the everlasting mountains free
that look upon the outmost sea,
and never wandered back, but stayed
and softly sang from glade to glade.
Her voice it was that Thingol heard,
and sudden singing of a bird,
in that old time when new-come Elves
had all the wide world to themselves.
Yet all his kin now marched away,
as old tales tell, to seek the bay
on the last shore of mortal lands,
where mighty ships with magic hands
they made, and sailed beyond the seas.
The Gods them bade to lands of ease
and gardens fair, where earth and sky
together flow, and none shall die.
But Thingol stayed, enchanted, still,
one moment to hearken to the thrill
of that sweet singing in the trees.
Enchanted moments such as these
from gardens of the Lord of Sleep,
where fountains play and shadows creep,
do come, and count as many years
in mortal lands. With many tears
his people seek him ere they sail,
while Thingol listens in the dale.
There after but an hour, him sees,
he finds her where she lies and dreams,
pale Melian with her dark hair
upon a bed of leaves. Beware!
There slumber and a sleep is twined!
He touched her tresses and his mind
was drowned in the forgetful deep,
and dark the years rolled o'er his sleep.
Thus Thingol sailed not on the seas
but dwelt amid the land of trees,
and Melian he loved, divine,
whose voice was potent as the wine
the Valar drink in golden halls
where flower blooms and fountain falls;
but when she sang it was a spell,
and no flower stirred nor fountain fell.
A king and queen thus lived they long,
and Doriath was filled with song,
and all the Elves that missed their way
and never found the western bay,
the gleaming walls of their long home
by the grey seas and the white foam,
who never trod the golden land
where the towers of the Valar stand,
all these were gathered in their realm
beneath the beech and oak and elm.
In later days when Morgoth first,
fleeing the Gods, their bondage burst,
and on the mortal lands set feet,
and in the North his mighty seat
founded and fortified, and all
the newborn race of Men were thrall
unto his power, and Elf and Gnome
his slaves, or wandered without home,
or scattered fastnesses walled with fear
upraised upon his borders drear,
and each one fell, yet reigned there still
in Doriath beyond his will
Thingol and deathless Melian,
whose magic yet no evil can
that cometh from without surpass.
Here still was laughter and green grass,
and leaves were lit with the white sun,
and many marvels were begun.
In sunshine and in sheen of moon,
with silken robe and silver shoon,
the daughter of the deathless queen
now danced on the undying green,
half elven-fair and half divine;
and when the stars began to shine
unseen but near a piping woke,
and in the branches of an oak,
or seated on the beech-leaves brown,
Dairon the dark with ferny crown
played with bewildering wizard's art
music for breaking of the heart.
Such players have there only been
thrice in all Elfinesse, I ween:
Tinfang Gelion who still the moon
enchants on summer nights of June
and kindles the pale firstling star;
and he who harps upon the far
forgotten beaches and dark shores
where western foam for ever roars,
Maglor whose voice is like the sea;
and Dairon, mightiest of the three.
Now it befell on summer night,
upon a lawn where lingering light
yet lay and faded faint and grey,
that Lúthien danced while he did play.
The chestnuts on the turf had shed
their flowering candles, white and red;
there darkling stood a silent elm
and pale beneath its shadow-helm
there glimmered faint the umbels thick
of hemlocks like a mist, and quick
the moths on pallid wings of white
with tiny eyes of fiery light
were fluttering softly, and the voles
crept out to listen from their holes;
the little owls were hushed and still;
the moon was yet behind the hill.
Her arms like ivory were gleaming,
her long hair like a cloud was streaming,
her feet atwinkle wandered roaming
in misty mazes in the gloaming;
and glowworms shimmered round her feet,
and moths in moving garland fleet
above her head went wavering wan --
and this the moon now looked upon,
uprisen slow, and round, and white
above the branches of the night.
Then clearly thrilled her voice and rang;
with sudden ecstasy she sang
a song of nightingales she learned
and with her elvish magic turned
to such bewildering delight
the moon hung moveless in the night.
And this it was that Beren heard,
and this he saw, without a word,
enchanted dumb, yet filled fire
of such a wonder and desire
that all his mortal mind was dim;
her magic bound and fettered him,
and faint he leaned against a tree.
Forwandered, wayworn, gaunt was he,
his body sick and heart gone cold,
grey in his hair, his youth turned old;
for those that tread that lonely way
a price of woe and anguish pay.
And now his heart was healed and slain
with a new life and with new pain.
He gazed, and as he gazed her hair
within its cloudy web did snare
the silver moonbeams sifting white
between the leaves, and glinting bright
teh tremulous starlight of the skies
was caught and mirrored in her eyes.
Then all his journey's lonely fare,
the hunger and the haggard care,
the awful mountains' stones he stained
with blood of weary feet, and gained
only a land of ghosts, and fear
in dark ravines imprisoned sheer --
there mighty spiders wove their webs,
old creatures foul with birdlike nebs
that span their traps in dizzy air,
and filled it with clinging black despair,
and there they lived, and the sucked bones
lay white beneath on the dank stones --
now all these horrors like a cloud
faded from mind. The waters loud
falling from pineclad heights no more
he heard, those waters grey and frore
that bittersweet he drank and filled
his mind with madness -- all was stilled.
He recked not now the burning road,
the paths demented where he strode
endlessly...and ever new
horizons stretched before his view,
as each blue ridge with bleeding feet
battle with creatures old and strong
and monsters in the dark, and long,
long watches in the haunted night
while evil shapes with baleful light
in clustered eyes did crawl and snuff
beneath his tree -- not half enough
the price he deemed to come at last
to that pale moon when day had passed,
to those clear stars of Elfinesse,
the hearts-ease and the loveliness.
Lo! all forgetting he was drawn
unheeding toward the glimmering lawn
by love and wonder that compelled
his feet from hiding; music welled
within his heart, and songs unmade
on themes unthought-of moved and swayed
his soul with sweetness; out he came,
a shadow in the moon's pale flame --
and Dairon's flute as sudden stops
as lark before it steeply drops,
as grasshopper within the grass
listening for heavy feet to pass.
'Flee, Lúthien!', and 'Lúthien!'
from hiding Dairon called again;
'A stranger walks the woods! Away!'
But Lúthien would wondering stay;
fear had she never felt or known,
till fear then seized her, all alone,
seeing that shape with shagged hair
and shadow long that halted there.
Then sudden she vanished like a dream
in dark oblivion, a gleam
in hurrying clouds, for she had leapt
among the hemlocks tall, and crept
under a mighty plant with leaves
all along and dark, whose stem in sheaves
upheld an hundred umbels fair;
and her white arms and shoulders bare
her raiment pale, and in her hair
the wild white roses glimmering there,
all lay like spattered moonlight hoar
in gleaming pools upon the floor.
Then stared he wild in dumbness bound
at silent trees, deserted ground;
he blindly groped across the glade
to the dark trees' encircling shade,
and, while she watched with veiléd eyes,
touched her soft arm in sweet surprise.
Like startled moth from deathlike sleep
in sunless nook or bushes deep
she darted swift, and to and fro
with cunning that elvish dancers know
about the trunks of trees she twined
a path fantastic. Far behind
enchanted, wildered and forlorn
Beren came blundering, bruised and torn:
Esgalduin the elven-stream,
in which amid tree-shadows gleam
the stars, flowed strong before his feet.
Some secret way she found, and fleet
passed over and was seen no more,
and left him forsaken on the shore.
'Darkly the sundering flood rolls past!
To this my long way comes at last --
a hunger and a loneliness,
enchanted waters pitiless.'
A summer waned, an autumn glowed,
and Beren in the woods abode,
as wild and wary as a faun
that sudden wakes at rustling dawn,
and flits from shade to shade, and flees
the brightness of the sun, yet sees
all stealthy movements in the wood.
The murmurous warmth in weathers good,
the hum of many wings, the call
of many a bird, the pattering fall
of sudden rain upon the trees,
the windy tide in leafy seas,
the creaking of the boughs, he heard;
but not the song of sweetest bird
brought joy or comfort to his heart,
a wanderer dumb who dwelt apart;
who sought unceasing and in vain
to hear and see those things again:
a song more fair than nightingale,
a wonder in the moonlight pale.
An autumn waned, a winter laid
the withered leaves in grove and glade;
the beeches bare were gaunt and grey,
and red their leaves beneath them lay.
From cavern pale the moist moon eyes
the white mists that from earth arise
to hide the morrow's sun and drip
all the grey day from each twig's tip.
By dawn and dusk he seeks her still;
by noon and night in valleys chill,
nor hears a sound but the slow beat
on sodden leaves of his own feet.
The wind of winter winds his horn;
the misty veil is rent and torn.
The wind dies; the starry choirs
leap in the silent sky to fires,
whose light comes bitter-cold and sheer
through domes of frozen crystal clear.
A sparkle through the darkling trees,
a piercing glint of light he sees,
and there she dances all alone
upon a treeless knoll of stone!
Her mantle blue with jewels white
caught all the rays of frosted light.
She shone with cold and wintry flame,
as dancing down the hill she came,
and passed his watchful silent gaze,
a glimmer as of stars ablaze.
And snowdrops sprang beneath her feet,
and one bird, sudden, late and sweet,
shrilled as she wayward passed along.
A frozen brook to bubbling song
awoke and laughed; but Beren stood
still bound enchanted in the wood.
Her starlight faded and the night
closed o'er the snowdrops glimmering white.
Thereafter on a hillock green
he saw far off the elven-sheen
of shining limb and jewel bright
often and oft on moonlit night;
and Dairon's pipe woke once more,
and soft she sang as once before.
Then nigh he stole beneath the trees,
and heartache mingled with hearts-ease.
A night there was when winter died;
then all alone she sang and cried
and danced until the dawn of spring,
and chanted some wild magic thing
that stirred him, till it sudden broke
the bonds that held him, and he woke
to madness sweet and brave despair.
He flung his arms to the night air,
and out he danced unheeding, fleet,
enchanted, with enchanted feet.
He sped towards the hillock green,
the lissom limbs, the dancing sheen;
he leapt upon the grassy hill
his arms with loveliness to fill:
his arms were empty, and she fled;
away, away her white feet sped.
But as she went he swiftly came
and called her with the tender name
of nightingales in elvish tongue,
that all the woods now sudden rung:
'Tinúviel! Tinúviel!'
And clear his voice was as a bell;
its echoes wove a binding spell:
'Tinúviel! Tinúviel!'
His voice such love and longing filled
one moment stood she, fear was stilled;
one moment only; like a flame
he leaped towards her as she stayed
and caught and kissed that elfin maid.
As love there woke in sweet surprise
the starlight trembled in her eyes.
A! Lúthien! A! Lúthien!
more fair than any child of Men;
O! loveliest maid of Elfinesse,
what madness does thee now possess!
A! lissom limbs and shadowy hair
and chaplet of white snowdrops there;
O! starry diadem and white
pale hands beneath the pale moonlight!
She left his arms and slipped away
just at the breaking of the day.
He lay upon the leafy mould,
his face upon earth's bosom cold,
aswoon in overwhelming bliss,
enchanted of an elvish kiss,
seeing within his darkened eyes
the light that for no darkness dies,
the loveliness that doth not fade,
though all in ashes cold be laid.
Then folded in the mists of sleep
he sank into abysses deep,
drowned in an overwhelming grief
for parting after meeting brief;
a shadow and a fragrance fair
lingered, and waned, and was not there.
Forsaken, barren, bare as stone,
the daylight found him cold, alone.
'Where art thou gone? The day is bare,
the sunlight dark, and cold the air!
Tinúviel, where went thy feet?
O wayward star! O maiden sweet!
O flower of Elfland all too fair
for mortal heart! The woods are bare!
The woods are bare!' he rose and cried.
'Ere spring was born, the spring hath died!'
And wandering in path and mind
he groped as one gone sudden blind,
who seeks to grasp the hidden light
with faltering hands in more than night.
And thus in anguish Beren paid
for that great doom upon him laid,
the deathless love of Lúthien,
too fair for love of mortal Men;
and in his doom was Lúthien snared,
the deathless in his dying shared;
and Fate them forged a binding chain
of living love and mortal pain.
Beyond all hope her feet returned
at eve, when in the sky there burned
the flame of stars; and in her eyes
there trembled the starlight of the skies,
and from her hair the fragrance fell
of elvenflowers in elven-dell.
Thus Lúthien, whom no pursuit,
no snare, no dart that hunters shoot,
might hope to win or hold, she came
at the sweet calling of her name;
and thus in his her slender hand
was linked in far Beleriand;
in hour enchanted long ago
her arms about his neck did go,
and gently down she drew to rest
his weary head upon her breast.
A! Lúthien, Tinúviel,
why wentest thou to darkling dell
with shining eyes and dancing pace,
the twilight glimmering in thy face?
Each day before the end of eve
she sought her love, nor would him leave,
until the stars were dimmed, and day
came glimmering eastward silver-grey.
Then trembling-veiled she would appear
and dance before him, half in fear;
there flitting just before his feet
she gently chid with laughter sweet:
'Come! dance now, Beren, dance with me!
For fain thy dancing I would see.
Come! thou must woo with nimbler feet,
than those who walk where mountains meet
the bitter skies beyond this realm
of marvellous moonlit beech and elm.'
In Doriath Beren long ago
new art and lore he learned to know;
his limbs were freed; his eyes alight,
kindled with a new enchanted sight;
and to her dancing feet his feet
attuned went dancing free and fleet;
his laughter welled as from a spring
of music, and his voice would sing
as voices of those in Doriath
where paved with flowers are floor and path.
The year thus on to summer rolled,
from spring to a summertime of gold.
Thus fleeting fast their short hour flies,
while Dairon watches with fiery eyes,
haunting the gloom of tangled trees
all day, until at night he sees
in the fickle moon their moving feet,
two lovers linked in dancing sweet,
two shadows shimmering on the green
where lonely-dancing maid had been.
'Hateful art thou, O Land of Trees!
May fear and silence on thee seize!
My flute shall fall from idle hand
and mirth shall leave Beleriand;
music shall perish and voices fail
and trees stand dumb in dell and dale!'
It seemed a hush had fallen there
upon the waiting woodland air;
and often murmured Thingol's folk
in wonder, and to their king they spoke:
'This spell of silence who hath wrought?
What web hath Dairon's music caught?
It seems the very birds sing low;
murmurless Esgalduin doth flow;
the leaves scarce whisper on the trees,
and soundless beat the wings of bees!'
This Lúthien heard, and there the queen
her sudden glances saw unseen.
But Thingol marvelled, and he sent
for Dairon the piper, ere he went
and sat upon his mounded seat --
his grassy throne by the grey feet
of the Queen of Beeches, Hirilorn,
upon whose triple piers were borne,
the mightiest vault of leaf and bough
from world's beginning until now.
She stood above Esgalduin's shore,
where long slopes fell beside the door,
the guarded gates, the portals stark
of the Thousand echoing Caverns dark.
There Thingol sat and heard no sound
save far off footsteps on the ground;
no flute, no voice, no song of bird,
no choirs of windy leaves there stirred;
and Dairon coming no word spoke,
silent amid the woodland folk.
Then Thingol said: 'O Dairon fair,
thou master of all musics rare,
O magic heart and wisdom wild,
whose ear nor eye may be beguiled,
what omen doth this silence bear?
What horn afar upon the air,
what summons do the woods await?
Mayhap the Lord Tavros from his gate
and tree-propped halls, the forest-god,
rides his wild stallion golden-shod
amid the trumpets' tempest loud,
amid his green-clad hunters proud,
leaving his deer and friths divine
and emerald forests? Some faint sign
of his great onset may have come
upon the Western winds, and dumb
the woods now listen for a chase
that here once more shall thundering race
beneath the shade of mortal trees.
Would it were so! The Lands of Ease
hath Tavros left not many an age,
since Morgoth evil wars did wage,
since ruin fell upon the North
and the Gnomes unhappy wandered forth.
But if not he, who comes or what?'
And Dairon answered: 'He cometh not!
No feet divine shall leave that shore,
where the Shadowy Seas' last surges roar,
till many things be come to pass,
and many evils wrought. Alas!
the guest is here. The woods are still,
but wait not; for a marvel chill
them holds at the strange deeds they see,
but kings see not -- though queens, maybe,
may guess, and maidens, maybe, know.
Where one went lonely two now go!'
'Whither thy riddle points is plain'
the king in anger said, 'but deign
to make it plainer! Who is he
that earns my wrath? How walks he free
within my woods amid my folk,
a stranger to both beech and oak?'
But Dairon looked on Lúthien
and would he had not spoken then,
and no more would he speak that day,
though Thingol's face with wrath was grey.
Then Lúthien stepped lightly forth:
'Far in the mountain-leaguered North,
my father,' said she, 'lies the land
that groans beneath King Morgoth's hand.
Thence came on hither, bent and worn
in wars and travail, who had sworn
undying hatred of that king;
the last of Bëor's sons, they sing,
and even hither far and deep
within thy woods the echoes creep
through the wild mountain-passes cold,
the last of Bëor's house to hold
a sword unconquered, neck unbowed,
a heart by evil power uncowed.
No evil needst thou think or fear
of Beren son of Barahir!
If aught thou hast to say to him,
then swear to hurt not flesh nor limb,
and I will lead him to thy hall,
a son of kings, no mortal thrall.'
Then long King Thingol looked on her
while hand nor foot nor tongue did stir,
and Melian, silent, unamazed,
on Lúthien and Thingol gazed.
'No blad nor chain his limbs shall mar'
the king then swore. 'He wanders far,
and news, mayhap, he hath for me,
and words I have for him, maybe!'
Now Thingol bade them all depart
save Dairon, whom he called: 'What art,
what wizardry of Northern mist
hath this illcomer brought us? List!
Tonight go thou by secret path,
who knowest all wide Doriath,
and watch that Lúthien -- daughter mine,
what madness doth thy heart entwine,
what web from Morgoth's dreadfull halls
hath caught thy feet and thee enthralls! --
that she bid not this Beren flee
back whence he came. I would him see!
Take with thee woodland archers wise.
Let naught beguile your hearts or eyes!'
Thus Dairon heavyhearted did,
and the woods were filled with watchers hid;
yet needless, for Lúthien that night
led Beren by the golden light
of mounting moon unto the shore
and bridge before her father's door;
and the white light silent looked within
the waiting portals yawning dim.
Downward with gentle hand she led
through corridors of carven dread
whose turns were lit by lanters hung
or flames from torches that were flung
on dragons hewn in the cold stone
with jewelled eyes and teeth of bone.
Then sudden, deep beneath the earth
the silences with silver mirth
were shaken and the rocks were ringing,
the birds of Melian were singing;
and wide the ways of shadow spread
as into archéd halls she led
Beren in wonder. There a light
like day immortal and like night
of stars unclouded, shone and gleamed.
A vault of topless trees it seemed,
whose trunks of carven stone there stood
like towers of an enchanted wood
in magic fast for ever bound,
bearing a roof whose branches wound
in endless tracery of green
lit by some leaf-emprisoned sheen
of moon and sun, and wrought of gems,
and each leaf hung on golden stems.
Lo! there amid immortal flowers
the nightingales in shining bowers
sang o'er the head of Melian,
while water for ever dripped and ran
from fountains in the rocky floor.
There Thingol sat. His crown he wore
of green and silver, and round his chair
a host of gleaming armour fair.
Then Beren looked upon the king
and stood amazed; and swift a ring
of elvish weapons hemmed him round.
Then Beren looked upon the ground,
for Melian's gaze had sought his face,
and dazed there drooped he in that place,
and when the king spake deep and slow:
'Who art thou stumblest hither? Know
that none unbidden seek this throne
and ever leave these halls of stone!'
But Lúthien answered in his stead:
'Behold, my father, one who came
pursued by hatred like a flame!
Lo! Beren son of Barahir!
What need hath he thy wrath to fear,
foe of our foes, without a friend,
whose knees to Morgoth do not bend?'
'Let Beren answer!' Thingol said.
'What wouldst thou here? What hither led
thy wandering feet, O mortal wild?
How hast thou Lúthien beguiled
or darest thus to walk this wood
unasked, in secret? Reason good
'twere best declare now if thou may,
or never again see light of day!'
Then Beren looked in Lúthien's eyes
and saw a light of starry skies,
and thence was slowly drawn his gaze
to Melian's face. As from a maze
of wonder dumb he woke; his heart
the bonds of awe there burst apart
and filled with the fearless pride of old;
in his glance now gleamed an anger cold.
'My feet hath fate, O king,' he said,
'here over the mountains bleeding led,
and what I sought not I have found,
and love it is hath here me bound.
Thy dearest treasure I desire;
nor rocks nor steel nor Morgoth's fire
nor all the power of Elfinesse
shall keep that gem I would possess.
For fairer than are born to Men
A daughter hast thou, Lúthien.'
Silence then fell upon the hall;
like graven stone there stood they all,
save one who cast her eyes aground,
and one who laughed with bitter sound.
Dairon the piper leant there pale
against a pillar. His fingers frail
there touched a flute that whispered not;
his eyes were dark; his heart was hot.
'Death is the guerdon thou hast earned,
O baseborn mortal, who hast learned
in Morgoth's realm to spy and lurk
like Orcs that do his evil work!'
'Death!' echoed Dairon fierce and low,
but Lúthien trembling gasped in woe.
'And death,' said Thingol, 'thou shouldst taste,
had I not sworn an oath in haste
that blade nor chain thy flesh should mar.
Yet captive bound by never a bar,
unchained, unfettered, shalt thou be
in lightless labyrinth endlessly
that coils about my halls profound
by magic bewildered and enwound;
there wandering in hopelessness
thou shalt learn the power of Elfinesse!'
'That may not be!' Lo! Beren spake,
and through the king's words coldly brake.
'What are thy mazes but a chain
wherein the captive blind is slain?
Twist not thy oaths, O elvish king,
like faithless Morgoth! By this ring --
the token of a lasting bond
that Felagund of Nargothrond
once swore in love to Barahir,
who sheltered him with shield and spear
and saved him from pursuing foe
on Northern battlefields long ago --
death thou canst give unearned to me,
but names I will not take from thee
of baseborn, spy, or Morgoth's thrall!
Are these the ways of Thingol's hall?'
Proud are the words, and all there turned
to see the jewels green that burned
in Beren's ring. These Gnomes had set
as eyes of serpents twined that met
beneath a golden crown of flowers,
that one upholds and one devours:
the badge that Finrod made of yore
and Felagund his son now bore.
His anger was chilled, but little less,
and dark thoughts Thingol did possess,
though Melian the pale leant to his side
and whispered: 'O king, forgo thy pride!
Such is my counsel. Not by thee
shall Beren be slain, for far and free
from these deep halls his fate doth lead,
yet wound with thine. O king, take heed!'
But Thingol looked on Lúthien.
'Fairest of Elves! Unhappy Men,
children of little lords and kings
mortal and frail, these fadings things,
shall they then look with love on thee?'
his heart within him thought. 'I see
thy ring,' he said, 'O mighty man!
But to win the child of Melian
a father's deeds shall not avail,
nor thy proud words at which I quail.
A treasure dear I too desire,
but rocks and steel and Morgoth's fire
from all the powers of Elfinesse
do keep the jewel I would possess.
Yet bonds like these I hear thee say
affright thee not. Now go thy way!
Bring me one shining Silmaril
from Morgoth's crown, then if she will,
may Lúthien set her hand in thine;
then shalt thou have this jewel of mine.'
Then Thingol's warriors loud and long
they laughed; for wide renown in song
had Fëanor's gems o'er land and sea,
the peerless Silmarils; and three
alone he made and kindled slow
in the land of the Valar long ago,
and there in Tûn of their own light
they shone like marvellous stars at night,
in the great Gnomish hoards of Tûn,
while Glingal flowered and Belthil's bloom
yet lit the land beyond the shore
where the Shadowy Seas' last surges roar,
ere Morgoth stole them and the Gnomes
seeking their glory left their homes,
ere sorrows fell on Elves and Men,
ere Beren was or Lúthien,
ere Fëanor's sons in madness swore
their dreadful oath. But now no more
their beauty was seen, save shining clear
in Morgoth's dungeons vast and drear.
His iron crown they must adorn,
and gleam above Orcs and slaves forlorn,
treasured in Hell above all wealth,
more than his eyes; and might nor stealth
could touch them, or even gaze too long
upon their magic. Throng on throng
of Orcs with reddened scimitars
encircled him, and mighty bars
and everlasting gates and walls,
who wore them now amidst his thralls.
Then Beren laughed more loud than they
in bitterness, and thus did say:
'For little price do elven-kings
their daughters sell -- for gems and rings
and things of gold! If such thy will,
thy bidding I will now fulfill.
On Beren son of Barahir
thou hast not looked the last, I fear.
Farewell, Tinúviel, starlit maiden!
Ere the pale winter pass snowladen,
I will return, not thee to buy
with any jewel in Elfinesse,
but to find my love in loveliness,
a flower that grows beneath the sky.'
Bowing before Melian and the king
he turned, and thrust aside the ring
of guards about him, and was gone,
and his footsteps faded one by one
in the dark corridors. 'A guileful oath
thou sworest, father! Thou hast both
to blade and chain his flesh now doomed
in Morgoth's dungeons deep entombed,'
said Lúthien, and welling tears
sprang in her eyes, and hideous fears
clutched at her heart. All looked away,
and later remembered the sad day
whereafter Lúthien no more sang.
Then clear in the silence the cold words rang
of Melian: 'Counsel cunning-wise,
O king!' she said. 'Yet if mine eyes
lose not their power, 'twere well for thee
that Beren failed his errantry.
Well for thee, but for thy child
a dark doom and a wandering wild.'
'I sell not to Men those whom I love'
said Thingol, 'whom all things above
I cherish; and if hope there were
that Beren should ever living fare
to the Thousand Caves once more, I swear
he should not ever have seen the air
or light of heaven's stars again.'
But Melian smiled, and there was pain
as of far knowledge in her eyes;
for such is the sorrow of the wise.

Last updated January 14, 2019