Legacy YM

Canto 10 - Canto 10


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 Daeron 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 Daeron'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 Daeron 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 Daeron coming no word spoke,

silent amid the woodland folk.

Then Thingol said: 'O Daeron wise,

with wary ears and watchful eyes,

who all that passes in this land

dost ever heed and understand,

what omen doth this silence bear?

What horn afar upon the air,

what summons do the woods await?

Mayhap the Lord Tauros from his gate

and tree-propped halls, the forest-god,

rides his great 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 trees of Ennorath.

Would it were so! An age now hath

Gone by since Nahar trod this earth

in days of our peace and ancient mirth,

ere rebel lords of Eldamar

pursuing Morgoth from afar

brought war and ruin to the North.

Doth Tauros to their aid come forth?

But if not he, who comes or what?'

And Daeron said: 'He cometh not!

No feet divine shall leave that shore,

where the Outer 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 yet queen, maybe,

can guess, and maiden dobtless knows

who ever now beside her goes.'


'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 Daeron 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 one 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 blade 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 Daeron, 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 dreadful 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 Daeron 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 lanterns 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 arched 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 in 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!'

no word he answered, filled with dread.

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.

Daeron 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 Daeron 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 Elves had set

as eyes of serpents twined that met

beneath a golden crown of flowers,

that one upholds and one devours:

the badge that Finarfin 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 fading 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 Tun of their own light

they shone like marvellous stars at night,

in the great Gnomish hoards of Tun,

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.

Canto10 - Canto 10
Canto11 - Canto 11
Canto12 - Canto 12
Canto13 - Canto 13
Canto14 - Canto 14
Canto15 - Canto 15
Canto16 - Canto 16
Canto17 - Canto 17
Canto18 - Canto 18
Canto19 - Canto 19
Canto20 - Canto 20
Canto21 - Canto 21
Canto22 - Canto 22

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