Lay of Leithian

In The Lays of Beleriand, the third volume of a set of twelve books called The History of Middle-earth, Christopher Tolkien has published fragments of J.R.R. Tolkien’s long poem The Lay of Leithian. One of the versions reached some 4000 verses. This was to be a poem about a mortal Beren and an immortal elf-maiden Luthien whose story is familiar to all who had read The Silmarillion.

This poem never reached its end, because at one point Tolkien decided to start all over again, and the new version also never reached its end. All parts of this story are heavily emended by the author, and in The Lays of Beleriand Christopher Tolkien gives us elaborate explanations about dates, order of writing, reasons for changing certain parts.

Here before you is an attempt of a fan of Tolkien’s work to edit this complicated collection of fragments into a continuous poem. It is meant as a reading for those who have already read Christopher Tolkien’s book, and also for those who haven’t, in order to show them the taste of Tolkien’s poetry.

To those who know the work in its original it will be clear which parts were edited by this fan. Others should bear in mind that many of the names have been changed to make the poem coherent, while some of the characters change their name in the course of development only because some parts are from older and some from the later version, but the changing of those names would have affected the rhyme and the meter. So if the reader feels a desire to understand this work better, they should consider reading the original work, that also contains another epic poem, one about Turin Turambar written in alliterative verse.

Leaf By Niggle

Conversion: 8 Jan 2013
Time: 3h
Wiki: Leaf by Niggle
link: Mountains of Niggle by Maria

Niggle’s yearnings after truth and beauty (God’s creations) are echoed in his great painting; after death, Niggle is rewarded with the realization (the making-real) of his yearning. Or, if you prefer, Niggle’s Tree always existed – he simply echoed it in his art

A religious reading of Leaf by Niggle could lead to the conclusion that the allegory of “Leaf by Niggle” is life, death, purgatory and paradise

“Leaf by Niggle” is often seen as an allegory of Tolkien’s own creative process, and, to an extent, of his own life.

Plot 1

In this story, an artist, named Niggle, lives in a society that does not much value art. Working only to please himself, he paints a canvas of a great Tree with a forest in the distance. He invests each and every leaf of his tree with obsessive attention to detail, making every leaf uniquely beautiful. Niggle ends up discarding all his other artworks, or tacks them onto the main canvas, which becomes a single vast embodiment of his vision.

However, there are many mundane chores and duties that prevent Niggle from giving his work the attention it deserves, so it remains incomplete and is not fully realized.

At the back of his head, Niggle knows that he has a great trip looming, and he must pack and prepare his bags. Also, Niggle’s next door neighbour, a gardener named Parish, is the sort of neighbour who always drops by whining about the help he needs with this and that. Moreover, Parish is lame and has a sick wife, and honestly needs help — Niggle, having a good heart, takes time out to help.

And Niggle has other pressing work duties that require his attention. Then Niggle himself catches a chill doing errands for Parish in the rain.

Eventually, Niggle is forced to take his trip, and cannot get out of it. He has not prepared, and as a result ends up in a kind of institution, in which he must perform menial labour each day.

In time he is paroled from the institution, and he is sent to a place ‘for a little gentle treatment’. But he discovers that the new country he is sent to is in fact the country of the Tree and Forest of his great painting, now long abandoned and all but destroyed (except for the one perfect leaf of the title which is placed in the local museum) in the home to which he cannot return — but the Tree here and now in this place is the true realization of his vision, not the flawed and incomplete form of his painting.

Niggle is reunited with his old neighbour, Parish, who now proves his worth as a gardener, and together they make the Tree and Forest even more beautiful. Finally, Niggle journeys farther and deeper into the Forest, and beyond into the great mountains that he only faintly glimpsed in his painting.

Long after both Niggle and Parish have taken their journeys, the lovely field that they built together becomes a place for many travelers to visit before their final voyage into the Mountains, and it earns the name “Niggle’s Parish.”