The Lay Of The Children Of Húrin: II. Beleg

by J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien

Long time alonehe lived in the hills
a hunter of beastand hater of Men,
or Orcs, or Elves,till outcast folk
there one by one,wild and reckless
around him rallied;and roaming far
they were feared by both foeand friend of old.
For hot with hatewas the heart of Túrin,
nor a friend found himsuch folk of Thingol
as he wandering metin the wood's fastness.
There Beleg the braveon the borders of Doriath
they found and fought-- and few were with him --
and o'erborne by numbersthey bound him at last,
till their captain cameto their camp at eve.
Afar from that fighthis fate that day
had taken Túrinon the trail of the Orcs,
as they hastened hometo the Hills of Iron
with the loot ladenof the lands of Men.
Then soon was him saidthat a servant of Thingol
they had tied to a tree --and Túrin coming
stared astoniedon the stern visage
of Beleg the bravehis brother in arms,
of whom he learned the loreof leaping blades,
and of bended bowand barbéd shaft,
and the wild woodland'swisdom secret,
when they blent in battlethe blood of their wounds.
Then Túrin's heartwas turned from hate,
and he bade unbindBeleg the huntsman.
'Now fare thou free!But, of friendship aught
if thy heart yet holdsfor Húrin's son,
never tell thou talethat Túrin thou sawst
an outlaw unlovedfrom Elves and Men,
whom Thingol's thanesyet thirst to slay.
Betray not my trustor thy troth of yore!'
Then Beleg of the bowembraced him there --
he had not fared to the fastor the fall of Orgof --
there kissed him kindly comfort speaking:
'Lo! nought know Iof the news thou tellest;
but outlawed or honouredthou ever shalt be
the brother of Beleg,come bliss come woe!
Yet little me likesthat thy leaping sword
the life should drinkof the leaguered Elves.
Are the grim Glamhoththen grown so few,
or the foes of Faëriefeeble-hearted,
that warlike Menhave no work to do?
Shall the foes of Faëriebe friends of Men?
Betrayest thou thy trothwhom we trusted of yore?'
'Nor of arméd Orc,nor [of] Elf of the wood,
nor of any on earthhave I honour or love,
O Beleg the bowman.This band alone
I count as comrades,my kindred in woe
and friendless fate --our foes the world.'
'Let the bow of Belegto your band be joined;
and swearing deathto the sons of darkness
let us suage our sorrowand the smart of fate!
Our valour is not vanquished,nor vain the glory
that once we did winin the woods of old.'
Thus hope in the heartof Húrin's offspring
awoke at those words;and them well likéd
of that band the boldest,save Blodrin only --
Blodrin Bor's son, who for blood and for gold
alone lusted,and little he recked
whom he robbed of richesor reft of life,
were it Elf or Orc;but he opened not
the thoughts of his heart.There throbbed the harp,
where the fires flickered,and the flaming brands
of pine were piledin the place of their camp;
where glad men gathered in good friendship
as dusk fell downon the drear woodland.
Then a song on a suddensoaring loudly --
and the trees up-loomingtowering harkened --
was raised of the Wrackof the Realm of the Gods;
of the need of the Gnomeson the Narrow Crossing;
of the fight at Fangros,and Fëanor's sons'
oath unbreakable.Then up sprang Beleg:
'That our vaunt and our vowsbe not vain for ever,
evern such as they swore,those seven chieftains,
an oath let us swearthat is unchanging
as Tain-Gwethil'stowering mountain!'
Their blades were bared, as blood shining
in the flame of the fireswhile they flashed and touched.
As with one man's voicethe words were spoken,
and the oath utteredthat must unrecalled
abide for ever,a bond of truth
and friendship in arms,and faith in peril.
Thus war was waked in the woods once more
for the foes of Faërie,and its fame widely,
and the fear of that fellowship,now fared abroad;
when the horn was heardof the hunting Elves
that shook the shawsand the sheer valleys.
Blades were nakedand bows twanging,
and the shafts from the shadowsshooting wingéd,
even in Angbandthe Orcs trembled.
Then the word wandereddown the ways of the forest
that Túrin Thalionwas returned to war;
and Thingol heard it,and his thanes were sped
to lead the lost onein love to his halls --
but his fate was fashionedthat they found him not.
Little gold they got in that grim warfare,
but weary watches and wounds for guerdon;
nor on robber-raids now rode they ever,
who fended from Faëriethe fiends of Hell.
But Blodrin Bor's sonfor booty lusted,
for the loud laughterthe the lawless days,
and meats unmeasured,and mead-goblets
refilled and filled,and the flagons of wine
that went as waterin their wild revels.
Now tales have toldthat trapped as a child
he was dragged by the Dwarvesto their deep mansions,
and in Nogrod nurtured,and in nought was like,
spite blood and birth,to the blissful Elves.
His heart hatedHúrin's offspring
and the bowman Beleg;so biding his while
he fled their fellowshipand forest hidings
to the merciless Orcs, whose moon-pallid
cruel-curvéd bladesto kill spare not;
than whose greed for goldnone greater burns
save in hungry heartsof the hell-dragons.
He betrayed his troth;traitor made him
and the forest fastnessof his fellows in arms
he opened to the Orcs,nor his oath heeded.
There they fought and fellby foes outnumbered,
by treachery trappedat a time of night
when their fires fadedand few were waking --
some wakened never,not for wild noises,
nor cries nor curses,nor clashing steel,
swept as they slumberedto the slades of death.
But Túrin they took,though towering mighty
at the Huntsman's handhe hewed his foemen,
as a bear at baymid bellowing hounds,
unheeding his hurts; at the hest of Morgoth
yet living they lapped him,his limbs entwining,
with hairy hands and hideous arms.
Then Beleg was buriedin the bodies of the fallen,
as sorely woundedhe swooned away;
and all was over, and the Orcs triumphed.
The dawn over Doriathdimly kindled
saw Blodrin Bor's sonby a beech standing
with throat thirlédby a thrusting arrow,
whose shaven shaft,shod with poison,
and feather-wingéd,was fast in the tree.
He bargained the bloodof his brothers for gold:
thus his meed was meted --in the mirk at random
by an orc-arrow his oath came home.
From the magic mazesof Melian the Queen
they haled unhappyHúrin's offspring,
lest he flee his fate;but they fared slowly
and the leagues were longof their laboured way
over hill and hollowto the high places,
where the peaks and pinnacles of pitiless stone
looming up lofty are lapped in cloud,
and veiled in vapoursvast and sable;
where Eiglir Engrin, the Iron Hills, lie
o'er the hopeless hallsof Hell upreared
wrought at the roots of the roaring cliffs
of Thangorodrim'sthunderous mountain.
Thither led they laden with loot and evil;
but Beleg yet breathedin blood drenchéd
aswoon, till the sun to the South hastened,
and the eye of daywas opened wide.
Then he woke and wondered, and weeping took him,
and to Túrin Thalionhis thoughts were turned,
that o'erborne in battleand bound he had seen.
Then he crawled from the corpsesthat had covered him over,
So Thingol's thanesathirst and bleeding
in the forest found him:his fate willed not
that he should drink the draught of death from foes.
Thus they bore him backin bitter torment
his tidings to tellin the torchlit halls
of Thingol the king; in the Thousand Caves
to be healéd wholeby the hands enchanted
of Melian Mablui,the moonlit queen.
Ere a week was outwornhis wounds were cured,
but his heart's heavinessthose hands of snow
nor sotohed nor softened,and sorrow-laden
he fared to the forest. No fellows sought he
in his hopeless hazard,but in haste alone
he followed the feetof the foes of Elfland,
the dread daring, and the dire anguish,
that held the heartsof Hithlum's men
and Doriath's doughtiestin a dream of fear.
Unmatched among Men,or magic-wielding
Elves, or huntersof the Orc-kindred,
or beasts of preyfor blood pining,
was his craft and cunning, that cold and dead
an unseen slotcould scent o'er stone,
foot-prints could findon forest pathways
that lightly on the leaveswere laid in moons
long waned, and washedby windy rains.
The grim Glamhoth'sgoblin armies
go cunning-footed,but his craft failed not
to tread their trail,till the lands were darkened,
and the light was lostin lands unknown.
Never-dawning nightwas netted clinging
in the black branchesof the beetling trees;
oppressed by pungentpinewood's odours,
and drowsed with dreamsas the darkness thickened,
he strayed steerless.The stars were hid,
and the moon mantled.There magic foundered
in the gathering glooms,there goblins even
(whose deep eyes drillthe darkest shadows)
bewildered wandered,who the way forsook
to grope in the glades,there greyly loomed
of girth unguessedin growth of ages
the topless trunksof trees enchanted.
That fathomless foldby folk of Elfland
is Taur-na-Fuin,the Trackless Forest
of Deadly Nightshade,dreadly naméd.
Abandoned, beaten,there Beleg lying
to the wind harkenedwinding, moaning
in bending boughs;to branches creaking
up high over head,where huge pinions
of the pluméd pine-treescomplained darkly
in black foreboding. There bowed hopeless,
in wit wildered,and wooing death,
he saw on a suddena slender sheen
shine a-shimmeringin the shades afar,
like a glow-worm's lampa-gleaming dim.
He marvelled what it might beas he moved softly;
for he knew not the Gnomesof need delving
in the deep dungeonsof dark Morgoth.
Unmatched their magicin metal-working,
who jewels and gems that rejoiced the Gods
aforetime fashioned,when they freedom held,
now sinking slavesof ceaseless labour
in Angband's smithies, nor ever were suffered
to wander away, warded always.
But little lanternsof lucent crystal
and silver coldwith sublest cunning
they strangely fashioned,and steadfast a flame
burnt unblinkingthere blue and pale,
unquenched for ever.The craft that lit them
was the jewel-makers'most jealous secret.
Not Morgoth's might,nor meed nor torment
them vowed, availedto reveal that lore;
yet lights and lampsof living radiance,
many and magical,they made for him.
No dark could dim themthe deeps wandering;
whose lode they lit was lost seldom
in groundless grot,or gulfs far under.
'Twas a Gnome he beheldon the heaped needles
of a pine-tree pillowed,when peering wary
he crept closer.The covering pelt
was loosed from the lampof living radiance
by his side shining.Slumber-shrouded
his fear-worn facewas fallen in shade.
Lest in webs woven of unwaking sleep,
spun round by spellsin those spaces dark,
he like forlornand lost for ever,
the Hunter hailed himin the hushed forest --
to the drowsy deepsof his dream profound
fear ever-followingcame falling loud;
as the lancing lightning he leapt to his feet
full deeming that dreadand death were upon him,
Flinding go-Fuilinfleeing in anguish
from the mines of Morgoth.Marvelling he heard
the ancient tongueof the Elves of Tún;
and Beleg the Bowmanembraced him there,
and learnt his lineageand luckless fate,
how thrust to thraldomin a throng of captives,
from the kindred carriedand the cavernous halls
of the Gnomes renownedof Nargothrond,
long years he labouredunder lashes and flails
of the baleful Balrogs,abiding his time.
A tale he unfoldedof terrible flight
o'er flaming felland fuming hollow,
o'er the parchéd dunes of the Plains of Drouth,
till his heart took hopeand his heed was less.
'Then Taur-na-Fuinentangled my feet
in its mazes enmeshed;and madness took me
that I wandered witless,unwary stumbling
and beating the bolesof the brooding pines
in idle anger --and the Orcs heard me.
They were camped in a clearing,that close at hand
by mercy I missed.Their marching road
is beaten broadthrough the black shadows
by wizardry wardedfrom wandering Elves;
but dread they knowof the Deadly Nightshade,
and in haste onlydo they hie that way.
Now cruel criesand clamorous voices
awoke in the wood,and winged arrows
from horny bowshummed about me;
and following feet,fleet and stealthy,
were padding and patteringon the pine-needles;
and hairy handsand hungry fingers
in the glooms groping,as I grovelled fainting
till they cowering found me. Fast they clutched me
beaten and bleeding, and broken in spirit
they laughing led me, my lagging footsteps
with their spears speeding.Their spoils were piled,
and countless captives in that camp were chained,
and Elfin maidstheir anguish mourning.
But one they watched,warded sleepless,
was stern-visaged, strong,and in stature tall
as are Hithlum's menof the misty hills.
Full length he lay and lashed to pickets
in baleful bonds,yet bold-hearted
his mouth no mercyof Morgoth sued,
but defied his foes. Foully they smote him.
Then he called, as clearas cry of hunter
that hails his houndsin hollow places,
on the name renownedof that noblest king --
but men unmindfulremember him little --
Húrin Thalion,who Erithámrod hight,
the Unbending, for Orc and Balrog
and Morgoth's mighton the mountain yet
he defies fearless,on a fangéd peak
of thunder-rivenThangorodrim.'
In eager angerthen up sprang Beleg,
crying and calling,careless of Flinding:
'O Túrin, Túrin, my troth-brother,
to the brazen bondsshall I abandon thee,
and the darkling doorsof the Deeps of Hell?'
'Thou wilt join his journeyto the jaws of sorrow,
O bowman crazéd,if thy bellowing cry
to the Orcs should come;their ears than cats'
are keener whetted, and though the camp from here
be a day distantwhere those deeds I saw,
who knows if the Gnomethey now pursue
that crept from their clutches,as a crawling worm
on belly cowering,whom they bleeding cast
in deathly swoonon the dung and slough
of their loathsome lair.O Light of Valinor!
are ye glorious Gods!How gleam their eyes,
and their tongues are red!' 'Yet I Túrin will wrest
from their hungry hands, or to Hell be dragged,
or sleep with the slainin the slades of Death.
Thy lamp shall lead us,and my lore rekindle
and wise wood-craft!''O witless hunter,
thy words are wild --wolves unsleeping
and wizardry wardtheir woeful captives;
unerring their arrows; the icy steel
of their curvéd bladescleaves unblunted
the meshes of mail;the mirk to pierce
those eyes are able;their awful laughter
the flesh freezes! I fare not thither,
for fear fetters mein the Forest of Night:
better die in the dark dazed, forwandered,
than wilfully woo that woe and anguish!
I know not the way.''Are the knees then weak
of Flinding go-Fuilin? Shall free-born Gnome
thus show himselfa shrinking slave,
who twice entrapped has twice escaped?
Remember the mightand the mirth of yore,
the renown of the Gnomesof Nargothrond!'
Thus Beleg the bowmanquoth bold-hearted,
but Flinding foughtthe fear of his heart,
and loosed the lightof his lamp blue,
now brighter burning.In the black mazes
enwound they wandered,weary searching;
by the tall tree-bolestowering silent
oft barred and baffled;blindly stumbling
over rock-fast rootswrithing coiléd;
and drowsed with dreamsby the dark odours,
till hope was hidden.'Hark thee, Flinding;
viewless voicesvague and distant,
a muffled murmurof marching feet
that are shod with stealthshakes the stillness.'
'No noise I hear,'the Gnome answered,
'thy hope cheats thee.' 'I hear the chains
clinking, creaking,the cords straining,
and wolves paddingon worn pathways.
I smell the bloodthat is smeared on blades
that are cruel and crooked;the croaking laughter --
now, listen! louderand louder comes,'
the hunter said.'I hear no sound,'
quoth Flinding fearful. 'Then follow after!'
with bended bow then Beleg answered,
'my cunning rekindles,my craft needs not
thy lamp's leading.'Leaping swiftly
he shrank in the shadows;with shroud lantern
Flinding followed him,and the forest-darkness
and drowsy dimnessdrifted slowly
unfolding from them in fleeing shadows,
and its magic was minished,till they marvelling saw
they were brought to its borders.There black-gaping
an archway opened.By ancient trunks
it was framed darkly,that in far-off days
the lightning felled,now leaning gaunt
their lichen-leprous limbs uprooted.
There shadowy bats that shrilled thinly
flew in and flew outthe air brushing
as they swerved soundless.A swooning light
faint filtered in, for facing North
they looked o'er the leaguesof the lands of mourning,
o'er the bleak boulders,o'er the blistered dunes
and dusty drouthof Dor-na-Fauglith;
o'er that Thirsty Plain,to the threatening peaks,
now glimpséd greythrough the grim archway,
of the marching mightof the Mountains of Iron,
and faint and farin the flickering dusk
the thunderous towersof Thangorodrim.
But backward broadthrough the black shadows
from that darkling doordimly wandered
the ancient Orc-road; and even as they gazed
the silence suddenly with sounds of dread
was shaken behind them, and shivering echoes
from afar came fleeting.Feet were tramping;
trappings tinkling;and the troublous murmur
of viewless voicesin the vaulted gloom
came near and nearer.'Ah! now I hear',
said Flinding fearful;'flee we swiftly
from hate and horror and hideous faces,
from fiery eyes and feet relentless!
Ah! woe that I wanderedthus witless hither!'
Then beat in his breast,foreboding evil,
with dread unwonted the dauntless heart
of Beleg the brave.With blanchéd cheeks
in faded fernand the feathery leaves
of brown brackenthey buried them deep,
where dank and darka ditch was cloven
on the wood's bordersby waters oozing,
dripping down to diein the drouth below.
Yet hardly were they hidwhen a host to view
round a dark turningin the dusky shadows
came swinging suddenwith a swift thudding
of feet after feeton fallen leaves.
In rank on rankof ruthless spears
that war-host went; weary stumbling
countless captives, cruelly laden
with bloodstained booty,in bonds of iron
they haled behind them,and held in ward
by the wolf-ridersand the wolves of Hell.
Their road of ruinwas a-reek with tears:
many a hall and homestead, many a hidden refuge
of Gnomish lordsby night beleaguered
their o'ermastering mightof mirth bereft,
and fair things fouled, and fields curdled
with the bravest bloodof the beaten people.
To an army of war was the Orc-band waxen
that Blodrin Bor's sonto his bane guided
to the wood-marches, by the welded hosts
homeward hurryingto the halls of mourning
swiftly swollen to a sweeping plague.
Like a throbbing thunderin the threatening deeps
of cavernous cloudso'ercast with gloom
now swelled on a sudden a song most dire,
and their hellward hymntheir home greeted;
flung from the foremostof the fierce spearmen,
who viewed mid vapoursvast and sable
the threefold peaks of Thangorodrim,
it rolled rearward, rumbling darkly,
like drums in distant dungeons empty.
Then a werewolf howled; a word was shouted
like steel on stone;and stiffly raised
their spears and swordssprang up thickly
as the wild wheatfieldsof the wargod's realm
with points that palelypricked the twilight.
As by wind waftedthen waved they all,
and bowed, as the bands with beating measured
moved on mirthlessfrom the mirky woods,
from the topless trunksof Taur-na-Fuin,
neath the leprous limbsof the leaning gate.
Then Beleg the bowman in bracken cowering,
on the loathly legions through the leaves peering,
saw Túrin the tall as he tottered forward
neath the whips of the Orcs as they whistled o'er him;
and rage arosein his wrathful heart,
and piercing pity outpoured his tears.
The hymn was hushed;the host vanished
down the hellward slopes of the hill beyond;
and silence sankslow and gloomy
round the trunks of the trees of Taur-na-Fuin,
and nethermost nightdrew near outside.
'Follow me, Flinding, from the forest curséd!
Let us haste to his help,to Hell if need be
or to death by the dartsof the dread Glamhoth!':
and Beleg boundedfrom the bracken madly,
like a deer driven by dogs baying
from his hiding in the hillsand hollow places;
and Flinding followedfearful after him
neath the yawning gate,through yew-thickets,
through bogs and bentsand bushes shrunken,
till they reached the rocksand the riven moorlands
and friendless fellsfalling darkly
to the dusty dunesof Dor-na-Fauglith.
In a cup outcarvenon the cold hillside,
whose broken brinkwas bleakly fringed
with bended bushesbowed in anguish
from the North-wind's knife,beneath them far
the feasting campof their foes was laid;
the fiery flareof fuming torches,
and black bodies in the blaze they saw
crossing countlessly,and cries they heard
and the hollow howling of hungry wolves.
Then a moon mountedo'er the mists riding,
and the keen radianceof the cold moonshine
the shadows sharpenedin the sheer shallows,
and slashed the slopeswith slanting blackness;
in wreaths uprisingthe reek of fires
was touched to tremuloustrails of silver.
Then the fires faded,and their foemen slumbered
in a sleep of surfeit.No sentinel watched,
nor guards them girded --what good were it
to watch wakefulin those withered regions
neath Eiglir Engrin,whence the eyes of Bauglir
gazed unclosing from the gates of Hell?
Did not werewolves' eyesunwinking gleam
in the wan moonlight --the wolves that sleep not,
that sit in circleswith slavering tongues
round camp or clearingof the cruel Glamhoth?
Then was Beleg a-shudder,and the unblinking eyes
nigh chilled his marrowand chained his flesh
in fear unfathomed,as flat toearth
by a boulder he lay.Lo! black cloud-drifts
surged up like smokefrom the sable North,
and the sheen was shroudedof the shivering moon;
the wind came wailingfrom the woeful mountains,
and the heath unhappyhissed and whispered;
in the camp accursed.His quiver rattled
as he found his feet and felt his bow,
hard horn-pointed,by hands of cunning
of black yew wrought;with bears' sinews
it was stoutly strung;strength to bend it
it had nor Man nor Elfsave the magic helped him
that Beleg the bowmannow bore alone.
Nor arrows of the Orcsso unerring wingéd
as his shaven shaftsthat could shoot to a mark
that was seen but in glanceere gloom seized it.
Then Dailir he drew,his dart beloved;
howso far fared it, or fell unnoted,
unsought he found itwith sound feathers
and barbs unbroken(till it broke at last);
and fleet bade he flythat feather-pinioned
snaketonguéd shaft,as he snickered the string
in the notch nimbly, and with naked arm
to his ear drew it.The air whistled,
and the tingling stringtwanged behind it,
soundless a sentinelsank before it --
there was one of the wolves that awaked no more.
Now arrows afterhe aimed swiftly
that missed not their markand meted silent
death in the darknessdreadly stinging,
till three of the wolveswith throats piercéd,
and four had fallenwith fleet-wingéd
arrows a-quiveringin their quenchéd eyes.
Then great was the gapin the guard opened,
and Beleg his bowunbent, and said:
'Wilt come to the camp,comrade Flinding,
or await me watchful?If woe betide
thou might win with wordthrough the woods homeward
to Thingol the kinghow throve my quest,
how Túrin the tallwas trapped by fate,
how Beleg the bowmanto his bane hasted.'
Then Flinding fiercely,though fear shook him:
'I have followed thee far, O forest-walker,
nor will leave thee nowour league denying!'
Then both bow and swordBeleg left there
with his belt unbound in the bushes tangled
of a dark thicketin a dell nigh them,
and Flinding there laidhis flickering lamp
and his nailéd shoes,and his knife only
he kept, that uncumberedhe might creep silent.
Thus those brave in dreaddown the bare hillside
towards the camp clamberedcreeping wary,
and dared that deedin days long past
whose glory has gonethrough the gates of earth,
and songs have sungunceasing ringing
wherever the Elves in ancient places
had light or laughterin the later world.
With breath bated on the brink of the dale
they stood and stared through stealthy shadows,
till they saw where the circle of sleepless eyes
was broken; with heartsbeating dully
they passed the placeswhere pierced and bleeding
the wolves welteredby wingéd death
unseen smitten;as smoke noiseless
they slipped silentthrough the slumbering throngs
as shadowy wraithsshifting vaguely
from gloom to gloom,till the Gods brought them
and the craft and cunningof the keen huntsman
to Túrin the tallwhere he tumbled lay
with face downardin the filthy mire,
and his feet were fettered,and fast in bonds
anguish enchainedhis arms behind him.
There he slept or swooned,as sunk in oblivion
by drugs of darknessdeadly blended;
he heard not their whispers;no hope stirred him
nor the deep despairof his dreams fathomed;
to awake his witno words availed.
No blade would biteon the bonds he wore,
though Flinding feltfor the forgéd knife
of dwarfen steel,his dagger prizéd,
that at waist he woreawake or sleeping,
whose edge would eatthrough iron noiseless
as a clod of clayis cleft by the share.
It was wrought by wrightsin the realms of the East,
of troth unmindful;it betrayed him now
from its sheath slippingas o'er shaggy slades
and roughhewn rockstheir road they wended.
'We must bear him backas best we may,'
said Beleg, bendinghis broad shoulders.
Then the head he liftedof Húrin's offspring,
and Flinding go-Fuilinthe feet claspéd;
and doughty that deed,for in days long gone
though Men were of mouldless mighty builded
ere the earth's goodnessfrom the Elves they drew,
though the Elfin kindredsere old was the sun
were of might unminished,nor the moon haunted
faintly fadingas formed of shadows
in places unpeopled,yet peers they were not
in bone and fleshand body's fashioning,
and Túrin was tallest of the ten races
that in Hithlum's hillstheir homes builded.
Like a log they lifted his limbs mighty,
and straining staggeredwith stealth and fear,
with bodies bending and bones aching,
from the cruel dreamingof the camp of dread,
where spearmen drowsed sprawling drunken
by their moon-blades keenwith murder whetted
mid their shaven shaftsin sheaves piléd.
Now Beleg the bravebackward led them,
but his foot fumbledand he fell thudding
with Túrin atop of him,and trembling stumbled
Flinding forward; there frozen lying
long while they listenedfor alarm stirring,
for hue and cry,and their hearts cowered;
but unbroken the breathingof the bands sleeping,
as darkness deepenedto the dead midnight,
and the lifeless hourwhen the loosened soul
oft sheds the shacklesof the shivering flesh.
Then dared their dreadto draw its breath,
and they found their feetin the fouléd earth,
and bent they boththeir backs once more
to their task of toil,for Túrin woke not.
There the huntsman's handwas hurt deeply,
as he groped on the ground,by a gleaming point --
'twas Dailir his dartdearly prizéd
he had found by his footin fragments twain,
and with barbs bended:it broke at last
neath his body falling. It boded ill.
As in dim dreaming,and dazed with horror,
they won their waywith weary slowness,
foot by footstep,till fate them granted
the leaguer at lastof those lairs to pass,
and their burden laid they, breathless gasping,
on bare-bosméd earth, and abode a while,
ere by winding waysthey won their path
up the slanting slopeswith silent labour,
with spended strength sprawling to cast them
in the darkling dellneath the deep thicket.
Then sought his sword,and songs of magic
o'er its eager edgewith Elfin voice
there Beleg murmured,while bluely glimmered
the lamp of Flinding neath the lacéd thorns.
There wondrous wove hewords of sharpness,
and the names of knivesand Gnomish blades
he uttered o'er it:even Ogbar's spear
and the glaive of Gaurinwhose gleaming stroke
did rive the rocksof Rodrim's hall;
the sword of Saithnar,and the silver blades
of the enchanted childrenof chains forgéd
in their deep dungeon;the dirk of Nargil,
the knife of the Northin Nogrod smithied;
the sweeping sickleof the slashing tempest,
the lambent lightning'sleaping falchion
even Celeg Aithorn that shall cleave the world.
Then whistling whirled hethe whetted sword-blade
and three times threeit threshed the gloom,
till flame was kindledflickering strangely
like licking firelightin the lamp's glimmer
blue and balefulat the blade's edges.
Lo! a leering laughlone and dreadful
by the wind waftedwavered nigh them;
their limbs were loosenedin listening horror;
they fancied the feetof foes approaching,
for the horns hearkeningof the hunt afoot
in the rustling murmurof roving breezes.
Then quickly curtainedwith its covering pelt
was the lantern's light,and leaping Beleg
with his sword severedthe searing bonds
on wrist and armlike ropes of hemp
so strong that whetting;in stupor lying
entangled stilllay Túrin moveless.
For the feet's fettersthen feeling in the dark
Beleg blunderingwith his blade's keenness
unwary woundedthe weary flesh
of wayworn foot,and welling blood
bedewed his hand -- too dark his magic:
that sleep profound was sudden fathomed;
in fear woke Túrin,and a form he guessed
o'er his body bendingwith blade naked.
His death or torment he deemed was come,
for oft had the Orcsfor evil pastime
him goaded fleefuland gashed with knives
that they cast with cunning,with cruel spears.
Lo! the bonds were burstthat had bound his hands:
his cry of battlecalling hoarsely
he flung him fiercelyon the foe he dreamed,
and Beleg fallingbreathless earthward
was crushed beneath him. Crazed with anguish
then seized that swordthe son of Húrin,
to his hand lying by the help of doom;
at the throat he thrust; through he pierced it,
that the blood was buriedin the blood-wet mould;
ere Flinding knewwhat fared that night,
all was over.With oath and curse
he bade the goblinsnow guard them well,
or sup on his sword: 'Lo! the son of Húrin
is freed from his fetters.'His fancy wandered
in the camps and clearingsof the cruel Glamhoth.
Flight he sought notat Flinding leaping
with his last laughter, his life to sell
amid foes imagined;but Fuilin's son
there stricken with amaze,starting backward,
cried: 'Magic of Morgoth! A! madness damned!
with friends thou fightest!' --then falling suddenly
the lamp o'erturnedin the leaves shrouded
that its light released illumined pale
with its flickering flame the face of Beleg.
Then the boles of the treesmore breathless rooted
stone-faced he stoodstaring frozen
on that dreadful death,and his deed knowing
wildeyed he gazedwith waking horror,
as in endless anguishan image carven.
So fearful his facethat Flinding crouched
and watched him, wonderingwhat webs of doom
dark, remorseless,dreadly meshed him
by the might of Morgoth;and he mourned for him,
and for Beleg, who bowshould bend no more,
his black yew-woodin battle twanging --
his life had wingedto its long waiting
in the halls of the Moono'er the hills of the sea.
Hark! he heard the hornshooting loudly,
no ghostly laughter of grim phantom,
no wraithlike feetrustling dimly --
the Orcs were up;their ears had hearkened
the cries of Túrin;their camp was tumult,
their lust was alightere the last shadows
of night were lifted.Then numb with fear
in hoarse whisperto unhearing ears
he told his terror;for Túrin now
with limbs loosenedleaden-eyed was bent
crouching crumpled by the corse moveless;
nor sight nor sound his senses knew
and wavering wordshe witless murmured,
'A! Beleg,' he whispered,'my brother-in-arms.'
Though Flinding shook him,he felt it not:
had he comprehendedhe had cared little.
Then winds were wakenedin wild dungeons
where thrumming thundersthrobbed and rumbled;
storm came stridingwith streaming banners
from the four cornersof the fainting world;
then the clouds were clovenwith a crash of lightning,
and slung like stonesfrom slings uncounted
the hurtling hailcame hissing earthward,
with a deluge darkof driving rain.
Now wafted high,now wavering far,
the cries of the Glamhothcalled and hooted,
and the howl of wolvesin the heavens' roaring
was mingled mournful:they missed their paths,
for swollen swept thereswirling torrents
down the blackening slopes,and the slot was blind,
so that the blundering backup the beaten raod
to the gates of gloommany goblins wildered
were drowned or drawnin Deadly Nightshade
to die in the dark;while dawn came not,
while the storm-ridersstrove and thundered
all the sunless day,and soaked and drenched
Flinding go-Fuilinwith fear speechless
there crouched aquake;cold and lifeless
lay Beleg the bowman;brooding dumbly
Túrin Thalionneath the tangled thorns
sat unseeingwithout sound or movement.
The dusty dunesof Dor-na-Fauglith
hissed and spouted.Huge rose the spires
of smoking vapourswathed and reeking,
thick-billowing cloudsfrom thirst unquenched,
and dawn was kindleddimly lurid
when a day and nighthad dragged away.
The Orcs had gone,their anger baffled,
o'er the weltering waysweary fainting
to their hopeless hallsin Hell's kingdom;
no thrall took theyTúrin Thalion --
a burden bore hethan their bonds heavier,
in despair fetteredwith spirit empty
in mourning hopelesshe remained behind.

Last updated January 14, 2019