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.