by J. R. R. Tolkien
Lo! the lady Morwenin the land of shadow
waited in the woodlandfor her well-beloved,
but he came neverto clasp her nigh
from that black battle.She abode in vain;
no tidings told herwhether taken or dread
or lost in flighthe lingered yet.
Laid waste his landsand his lieges slain,
and men unmindfulof that mighty lord
in Dorlómin dwellingdealt unkindly
with his wife in widowhood;she went with child,
and a son must succoursadly orphaned,
Túrin Thalionof tender years.
In days of blacknesswas her daughter born,
and named Nienor,a name of tears
that in language of eldis Lamentation.
Then her thoughts were turnedto Thingol the Elf,
and Lúthien the lissomwith limbs shining,
his daughter dear,by Dairon loved,
who Tinúviel was namedboth near and far,
the Star-mantled,still remembered,
who light as leafon linden tree
had danced in Doriathin days agone,
on the lawns had liltedin the long moonshine,
while deftly was drawnDairon's music
with fingers fleetfrom flutes of silver.
The boldest of the brave,Beren Ermabwed,
to wife had won her,who once of old
had vowed fellowshipand friendly love
with Húrin of Hithlum,hero dauntless
by the marge of Mithrim'smisty waters.
Thus to her son she said:'My sweetest child,
our friends are few;thy father is gone.
Thou must fare afarto the folk of the wood,
where Thingol is thronedin the Thousand Caves.
If he remember Morwenand thy mighty sire
he will foster thee fairly,and feats of arms,
the trade he will teach theeof targe and sword,
that no slave in Hithlumshall be son of Húrin.
A! return my Túrinwhen time passeth;
remember thy motherwhen thy manhood cometh
or when sorrows snare thee.'Then silence took her,
for fears troubled her trembling voice.
Heavy boded the heartof Húrin's son,
who unwitting of her woewondered vaguely,
yet weened her wordswere wild with grief
and denied her not;no need him seemed.
Lo! Mailrond and Halog,Morwen's henchmen,
were young of yoreere the youth of Húrin,
and alone of the liegesof that lord of Men
now steadfast in servicestayed beside her:
now she bade them bravethe black mountains
and the woods whose wayswander to evil;
though Túrin be tender,to travail unused,
they must gird them and go.Glad they were not,
but to doubt the wisdomdared not openly
of Morwen who mournedwhen men saw not.
Came a day of summerwhen the dark silence
of the towering trees trembled dimly
to murmurs movingin the milder airs
far and faintly;flecked with dancing
sheen of silverand shadow-filtered
sudden sunbeamswere the secret glades
where winds came waywardwavering softly
warm through the woodland'swoven branches.
Then Morwen stood,her mourning hidden,
by the gate of her garthin a glade of Hithlum;
at her breast bore sheher babe unweaned,
crooning lowlyto its careless ears
a song of sweetand sad cadence,
lest she droop for anguish.Then the doors opened,
and Halog hastenedneath a heavy burden,
and Mailrond the oldto his mistress led
her gallant Túrin,grave and tearless,
with heart heavy as stonehard and lifeless,
uncomprehendinghis coming torment.
There he cried with courage,comfort seeking:
'Lo! quickly will I comefrom the courts afar,
I will long ere manhoodlead to Morwen
great tale of treasureand true comrades.'
He wist not the weirdwoven of Morgoth,
nor the sundering sorrowthat them swept between,
as farewells they tookwith faltering lips.
The last kissesand lingering words
are over and ended;and empty is the glen
in the dark forest,where the dwelling faded
in trees entangled.Then in Túrin woke
to woe's knowledgehis bewildered heart,
that he wept blindlyawakening echoes
sad resoundingin sombre hollows,
as he called: 'I cannot,I cannot leave thee.
O! Morwen my mother,why makest me go?
The hills are hateful,where hope is lost;
O! Morwen my mother,I am meshed in tears,
for grim are the hillsand my home is gone.'
And there came his criescalling faintly
down the dark alleysof the dreary trees,
that one there weepingweary on the threshold
heard how the hills said'my home is gone.'
The ways were wearyand woven with deceit
o'er the hills of Hithlumto the hidden kingdom
deep in the darknessof Doriath's forest,
and never ere nowfor need or wonder
had children of Menchosen that pathway,
save Beren the bravewho bounds knew not
to his wandering feetnor feared the woods
or fells or forestor frozen mountain,
and few had followedhis feet after.
There was told to Túrinthat tale by Halog
that in the Lay of Leithian,Release from Bonds,
in linkéd wordshas long been woven,
of Beren Ermabwed,the boldhearted;
how Lúthien the lissomhe loved of yore
in the enchanted forestchained with wonder --
Tinúviel he named her,than nightingale
more sweet her voice,as veiled in soft
and wavering wispsof woven dusk
shot with starlight, with shining eyes
she danced like dreamsof drifting sheen,
pale-twinkling pearlsin pools of darkness;
how for love of Lúthienhe left the woods
on that quest perilousmen quail to tell,
thrust by Thingolo'er the thirst and terror
of the Lands of Mourning;of Lúthien's tresses,
and Melian's magic,and the marvellous deeds
that after happenedin Angband's halls,
and the flight o'er felland forest pathless
when Carcharoththe cruel-fangéd,
the wolf-wardenof the Woeful Gates,
whose vitals firedevoured in torment
them hunted howling(the hand of Beren
he had bitten from the wristwhere that brave on held
the nameless wonder,the Gnome-crystal
where light livingwas lockd enchanted,
all hue's essence.His heart was eaten,
and the woods were filledwith wild madness
in his dreadful torment,and Doriath's trees
did shudder darklyin the shrieking glens);
how the hound of Hithlum,Huan wolf-bane,
to the hunt hastedto the help of Thingol,
and as dawn came dimlyin Doriath's woods
was the slayer slain,but silent lay
there Beren bleedingnigh brought to death,
till the lips of Lúthienin love's despair
awoke him to words,ere he winged afar
to the long awaiting;thence Lúthien won him,
the Elf-maiden,and the arts of Melian,
her mother Mabluiof the moonlit hand,
that they dwell for everin days ageless
and the grass greys notin the green forest
where East or Westthey ever wander.
Then a song he made them for sorrow's lightening,
a sudden sweetnessin the silent wood,
that is 'Light as Leafon Linden' called,
whose music of mirthand mourning blended
yet in hearts does echo.This did Halog sing them:
The grass was very long and thin,
The leaves of many years lay thick,
The old tree-roots wound out and in,
And the early moon was glimmering.
There went her white feet lilting quick,
And Dairon's flute did bubble thin,
As neath the hemlock umbels thick
Tinúviel danced a-shimmering.
The pale moths lumbered noiselessly,
And daylight died among the leaves,
As Beren from the wild country
Came thither wayworn sorrowing.
He peered between the hemlock sheaves,
And watched in wonder noiselessly
Her dancing through the moonlit leaves
And the ghostly moths a-following.
There magic took his weary feet,
And he forgot his loneliness,
And out he danced, unheeding, fleet,
Where the moonbeams were a-glistening.
Through the tangled woods of Elfinesse
They fled on nimble fairy feet,
And left him to his loneliness
In the silent forest listening,
Still hearkening for the imagined sound
Of lissom feet upon the leaves,
For music welling underground
In the dim-lit caves of Doriath.
But withered are the hemlock sheaves,
And one by one with mournful sound
Whispering fall the beechen leaves
In the dying woods of Doriath.
He sought her wandering near and far
Where the leaves of one more year were strewn,
By winter moon and frosty star
With shaken light a-shivering.
He found her neath a misty moon,
A silver wraith that danced afar,
And the mists beneath her feet were strewn
In moonlight palely quivering.
She danced upon a hillock green
Whose grass unfading kissed her feet,
While Dairon's fingers played unseen
O'er his magic flute a-flickering;
And out he danced, unheeding, fleet,
In the moonlight to the hillock green:
No impress found he of her feet
That fled him swiftly flickering.
And longing filled his voice that called
And longing sped his feet enthralled
Behind her wayward shimmering.
She heard as echo of a spell
His lonely voice that longing called
One moment paused she glimmering.
And Beren caught that elfin maid
And kissed her trembling starlit eyes,
Tinúviel whom love delayed
In the woods of evening morrowless.
Till moonlight and till music dies
Shall Beren by the elfin maid
Dance in the starlight of her eyes
In the forest singing sorrowless.
Wherever grass is long and thin,
And the leaves of countless years lie thick,
And ancient roots wind out and in,
As once they did in Doriath,
Shall go their white feet lilting quick,
But never Dairon's music thin
Be heard beneath the hemlocks thick
Since Beren came to Doriath.
This for hearts' upliftingdid Halog sing them
as the frowning fortress of the forest clasped them
and nethermost night in its net caught them.
There Túrin and the twain knew torture of thirst
and hunger and fear, and hideous flight
from wolfriders and wandering Orcs
and the things of Morgoth that thronged the woods.
There numbed and wettedthey had nights of waking
cold and clinging,when the creaking winds
summer had vanquishedand in silent valleys
a dismal drippingin the distant shadows
ever splashed and spiltover spaces endless
from rainy leaves,till arose the light
greyly, grudgingly,gleaming thinly
at drenching dawn.They were drawn as flies
in the magic mazes;they missed their ways
and strayed steerless,and the stars were hid
and the sun sickened.Sombre and weary
had the mountains been;the marches of Doriath
bewildered and waywornwound them helpless
in despair and error,and their spirits foundered.
Without bread or waterwith bleeding feet
and fainting strengthin the forest straying
their death they deemed itto forwandered,
when they heard a horn that hooted afar
and dogs baying.Lo! the dreary bents
and hushed hollowsto the hunt wakened,
and echoes answeredto eager tongues,
for Beleg the bowmanwas blowing gaily,
who furthest faredof his folk abroad
by hill and by hollowahunting far,
careless of comradesor crowded halls,
as light as a leaf,as the lusty airs
as free and fearlessin friendless places.
He was great of growthwith goodly limbs
and lithe of girth,and lightly on the ground
his footsteps fellas he fared towards them
all garbed in greyand green and brown.
'Who are ye?' he asked.'Outlaws, maybe,
hiding, hunting,by hatred dogged?'
'Nay, for famine and thirstwe faint,' said Halog,
'wayworn and wildered,and wot not the road.
Or has not heard of the hills of slain,
field tear-drenchédwhere in flame and terror
Morgoth devouredthe might and valour
of the hosts of Finwegand Hithlum's lord?
The Thalion Erithámrodand his thanes dauntless
there vanished from the earth,whose valiant lady
yet weeps in widowhoodas she waits in Hithlum.
Thou lookest on the lastof the lieges of Morwen,
and the Thalion's childwho to Thingol's court
now wend at the wordof the wife of Húrin.'
Then Beleg bade thembe blithe, saying:
'The Gods have guided youto good keeping;
I have heard of the houseof Húrin undaunted,
and who hath not heardof the hills of slain,
of Nirnaith Ornoth,Unnumbered Tears!
To that war I went not,yet wage a feud
with the Orcs unending,whom mine arrows fleeting
smite oft unseenswift and deadly.
I am the hunter Belegof the hidden people;
the forest is my fatherand the fells my home.'
Then he bade them drinkfrom his belt drawing
a flask of leatherfull-filled with wine
that is bruised from the berriesof the burning South --
the Gnome-folk know it,from Nogrod the Dwarves
by long ways lead itto the lands of the North
for the Elves in exilewho by evil fate
the vine-clad valleysnow view no more
in the land of Gods.There was lit gladly
of wind-fallen woodthat his wizard's cunning
rotten, rain-sodden,to roaring life
there coaxed and kindledby craft or magic;
there baked they fleshin the brands' embers;
white wheaten breadto hearts' delight
he haled from his wallettill hunger waned
and hope mounted,but their heads were mazed
by that wine of Dor-Winionthat went in their veins,
and they soundly slepton the soft needles
of the tall pinetreesthat towered above.
Then they waked and wondered,for the woods were light,
and merry was the mornand the mists rolling
from the radiant sun.They soon were ready
long leagues to cover.Now led by ways
devious windingthrough the dark woodland,
by slade and slopeand swampy thicket,
through lonely days,long-dragging nights,
they fared unfaltering,and their friend they blessed,
who but for Beleghad been baffled utterly
by the magic mazesof Melian the Queen.
To those shadowy shoreshe showed the way
where stilly the streamstrikes before the gates
of the cavernous courtof the King of Doriath.
Over the guarded bridgehe gained them passage,
and thrice they thanked him,and thought in their hearts
'the Gods are good' --had they guessed, maybe,
what the future enfolded,they had feared to live.
To the throne of Thingolwere the three now come;
there their speech well sped,and he spake them fair,
for Húrin of Hithlumhe held in honour,
whom Beren Ermabwedas a brother had loved
and remembering Morwen,of mortals fairest,
he turned not Túrinin contempt away.
There clasped him kindlythe King of Doriath,
for Melian moved him with murmured counsel,
and he said: 'Lo, O son of the swifthanded,
the light in laughter,the loyal in need,
Húrin of Hithlum,thy home is with me,
and here shalt sojournand be held my son.
In these cavernous courtsfor thy kindred's sake
thou shalt dwell in dear love,till thou deemest it time
to remember thy motherMorwen's loneliness;
thou shalt wisdom winbeyond wit of mortals,
and weapons shalt wieldas the warrior-Elves,
nor slave in Hithlumshall be son of Húrin.'
There the twain tarriedthat had tended the child,
till their limbs were lightenedand they longed to fare
through dread and dangerto their dear lady,
so firm their faith.Yet frore and grey
eld sat more heavyon the aged head
of Mailrond the old,and his mistress' love
his might matched not,more marred by years
than Halog he hoped notto home again.
Then sickness assailed himand his sight darkened:
'To Túrin I must turnmy troth and fealty,'
he said and he sighed,'to my sweet youngling';
but Halog hardenedhis heart to go.
An Elfin escortto his aid was given,
and magics of Melian,and a meed of gold,
and a message to Morwenfor his mouth to bear,
words of gladnessthat her wish was granted,
and Túrin takento the tender care
of the King of Doriath;of his kindly will
now Thingol called herto the Thousand Caves
to fare unfearingwith his folk again,
there to sojourn in solacetill her son be grown;
for Húrin of Hithlumwas holden in mind
and no might had Morgothwhere Melian dwelt.
Of the errand of the Elvesand of eager Halog
the tale tells not,save in time they came
to Morwen's threshold.There Thingol's message
was said where she satin her solitary hall,
but she dared not doas was dearly bidden,
who Nienor her nurslingyet newly weaned
would not leave nor be ledon the long marches
to adventure her frailty in the vast forest;
the pride of her people,princes ancient,
had suffered her senda son to Thingol
when despair urged her,but to spend her days
an almsguest of others,even Elfin kings,
it little liked her;and lived there yet
a hope in her heartthat Húrin would come,
and the dwelling was dearwhere he dwelt of old;
at night she would listenfor a knock at the doors
or a footstep fallingthat she fondly knew.
Thus she fared not forth;thus her fate was woven.
Yet the thanes of Thingolshe thanked nobly,
nor her shame showed she,how shorn of glory
to reward their wendingshe had wealth too scant,
but gave them in giftthose golden things
that last lingered,and led they thence
a helm of Húrinonce hewn in wars
when he battled with Berenas brother and comrade
against ogres and Orcsand evil foes.
Grey-gleaming steel,with gold adorned
wrights had wrought it,with runes graven
of might and victory,that a magic sat there
and its wearer wardedfrom wound or death,
whoso bore to battlebrightly shining
dire dragon-headedits dreadful crest.
This Thingol she badeand her thanks receive.
Thus Halog her henchmanto Hithlum came,
but Thingol's thanesthanked her lowly
and girt them to go,though grey winter
enmeshed the mountainsand the moaning woods,
for the hills hindered notthe hidden people.
Lo! Morwen's messagein a month's journey,
so speedy fared they,was spoken in Doriath.
For Morwen Melian was moved to ruth,
but courteously the kingthat casque received,
her golden gift,with gracious words,
who deeply delved had dungeons filled
with elvish armouriesof ancient gear,
yet he handled that helmas his hoard were scant:
'That head were highthat upheld this thing
with the token crowned,the towering crest
to Dorlómin dear, the dragon of the North,
that Thalion Erithámrod the thrice renowned
oft bore into battlewith baleful foes.
Would that he had worn itto ward his head
on that direst dayfrom death's handstroke!'
Then a thought was thrustinto Thingol's heart,
And Túrin was calledand told kindly
that his mother Morwena mighty thing
had sent to her son,his sire's heirloom,
o'er-written with runesby wrights of yore
in dark dwarflandin the deeps of time,
ere Men to Mithrimand misty Hithlum
o'er the world wandered;it was worn aforetime
by the father of the fathersof the folk of Húrin,
whose sire Gumlinto his son gave it
ere his soul severedfrom his sundered heart --
''Tis Telchar's workof worth untold,
its wearer warded from wound or magic,
from glaive guardedor gleaming axe.
Now Húrin's helmhoard till manhood
to battle bids thee,then bravely don it,
go wear it well!'Woeful-hearted
did Túrin touch itbut take it not,
too weak to wieldthat mighty gear,
and his mind in mourningfor Morwen's answer
was mazed and darkened.
Thus many a day
it came to passin the courts of Thingol
for twelve years longthat Túrin lived.
But seven winterstheir sorrows had laid
on the son of Húrinwhen that summer to the world
came glad and goldenwith grievous parting;
nine years followedof his forest-nurture,
and his lot was lightened,for he learned at whiles
from faring folkwhat befell in Hithlum,
and tidings were toldby trusty Elves
how Morwen his motherknew milder days
and easement of evil,and with eager voice
all Nienor named the Northern flower,
the slender maidenin sweet beauty
now graceful growing.The gladder was he then
and hope yet hauntedhis heart at whiles.
He waxed and grewand won renown
in all lands where Thingolas lord was held
for his stoutness of heartand his strong body.
Much lore he learned and loved wisdom,
but fortune followed himin few desires;
oft wrong and awrywhat he wrought turnéd,
what he loved he lost,what he longed for failed,
and full friendshiphe found not with ease,
nor was lightly loved,for his looks were sad;
he was gloomy-heartedand glad seldom
for the sundering sorrowthat seared his youth.
On manhood's thresholdhe was mighty-thewed
in the wielding of weapons;in weaving song
he had a minstrel's mastery,but mirth was not in it,
for he mourned the miseryof the Men of Hithlum.
Yet greater his griefgrew thereafter
when from Hithlum's hillshe heard no more
and no traveller told himtidings of Morwen.
For those days were drawingto the doom of the Gnomes
and the power of the Princeof the pitiless kingdom,
of the grim Glamhoth,was grown apace,
till the lands of the Northwere loud with their noise,
and they fell on the folkwith fire and slaughter
who bent not to Baugliror the borders passed
of dark Dorlóminwith its dreary pines
that Hithlum was calledby the unhappy people.
There Morgoth shut themin the Shadowy Mountains,
fenced them from Faërieand the folk of the wood.
Even Beleg fared notso far abroad
as once was his wont,for the woods were filled
with the armies of Angbandand with evil deeds,
and murder walkedon the marches of Doriath;
only the mighty magicof Melian the Queen
yet held their havocfrom the hidden people.
To assuage his sorrowand to sate his rage,
for his heart was hotwith the hurts of his folk,
then Húrin's sontook the helm of his sire
and weapons weightyfor the wielding of men,
and he went to the woodswith warrior-Elves,
and far in the foresthis feet led him
into black battleyet a boy in years.
Ere manhood's measurehe met and he slew
Orcs of Angbandand evil things
that roamed and ravenedon the realm's borders.
There hard his life,and hurts he lacked not,
the wounds of shaftand the wavering sheen
of the sickle scimitars,the swords of Hell,
the bloodfain bladeson black anvils
in Angband smithied,yet ever he smote
unfey, fearless,and his fate kept him.
Thus his prowess was provenand his praise was noised
and beyond his yearshe was yielded honour,
for by him was holdenthe hand of ruin
from Thingol's folk,and Thû feared him,
and wide wanderedthe word of Túrin:
'Lo! we deemed as deadthe dragon of the North,
but high o'er the hostits head uprises,
its wings are spread!Who has waked this spirit
and the flame kindledof its fiery jaws?
Or is Húrin of Hithlumfrom Hell broken?'
And Thû who was thronedas than mightiest
neath Morgoth Bauglir,whom that master bade
'go ravage the realmof the robber Thingol
and mar the magicof Melian the Queen',
even Thû feared him,and his thanes trembled.
One only was therein war greater,
more high in honourin the hearts of the Elves
than Túrin son of Húrin,tower of Hithlum,
even the hunter Belegof the hidden people,
whose father was the forestand the fells his home;
to bend whose bow,Balthronding named,
that the black yewtreeonce bore of yore,
had none the might;unmatched in knowledge
of the woods' secretsand the weary hills.
He was the leader belovedof the light companies
all garbed in greyand green and brown,
the archers arrowfleetwith eyes piercing,
the scouts that scoured scorning danger
afar o'er the fellstheir foemen's lair,
and tales and tidingstimely won them
of camps and councils,of comings and goings,
all the movements of the mightof Morgoth Bauglir.
Thus Túrin, who trusted to targe and sword,
who was fain of fightingwith foes well seen,
where shining swords made sheen of fire,
and his corslet-cladcomrades-in-arms
were snared seldomand smote unlooked-for.
Then the fame of the fightson the far marches
was carried to the courtsof the king of Doriath,
and tales of Túrinwere told in his halls,
of the bond and brotherhoodof Beleg the ageless
with the blackhaired boy from the beaten people.
Then the king called themto come before him
did Orc-raids lessenin the outer lands
ever and oftenunasked to hasten,
to rest them and reveland to raise awhile
in songs and laysand sweet music
the memory of the mirthere the moon was old,
when the mountains were youngin the morning of the world.
On a time was Túrinat his table seated,
and Thingol thanked himfor his thriving deeds;
there was laughter long and the loud clamour
of a countless companythat quaffed the mead
and the wine of Dor-Winionthat went ungrudged
in their golden goblets;and goodly meats
there burdened the boardsneath blazing torches
in those high halls setthat were hewn of stone.
There mirth fell on many;there minstrels clear
did sing them songsof the city of Cór
that Taingwethiltowering mountain
o'ershadowed sheerly,of the shining hals
where the great gods sitand gaze on the world
from the guarded shoresof the gulf of Faërie.
One sang of the slayingat the Swans' Haven
and the curse that had come on the kindreds since.
Last updated January 14, 2019