Legacy YM

Canto 11 - Canto 11


So days drew on from the mournful day;

the curse of silence no more lay

on Doriath, though Daeron's flute

and Lúthien's singing both were mute.

The murmurs soft awake once more

about the woods, the waters roar

past the great gates of Thingol's halls;

but no dancing step of Lúthien falls

on turf or leaf. For she forlorn,

where stumbled once, where bruised and torn,

with longing on him like a dream,

had Beren sat by the shrouded stream

Esgalduin the dark and strong,

she sat and mourned in a low song:

'Endless roll the waters past!

To this my love hath come at last,

enchanted waters pitiless,

a heartache and a loneliness.'

The summer turns. In branches tall

she hears the pattering raindrops fall,

the windy tide in leafy seas,

the creaking of the countless trees;

and longs unceasing and in vain

to hear one calling once again

the tender name that nightingales

were called of old. Echo fails.

'Tinúviel! Tinúviel!'

the memory is like a knell,

a faint and far-off tolling bell:

'Tinúviel! Tinúviel!'

'O mother Melian, tell to me

some part of what thy dark eyes see!

Tell of thy magic where his feet

are wandering! What foes him meet?

O mother, tell me, lives he still

treading the desert and the hill?

Do sun and moon above him shine,

do the rains fall on him, mother mine?'

'Nay, Lúthien my child, I fear

he lives indeed in bondage drear.

The Lord of Wolves hath prisons dark,

chains and enchantments cruel and stark,

there trapped and bound and languishing

now Beren dreams that thou dost sing.'


'Then I alone must go to him

and dare the dread in dungeons dim;

for none there be that will him aid

in all the world, save elven-maid

whose only skill were joy and song,

and both have failed and left her long.'

Then nought said Melian thereto,

though wild the words. She wept anew,

and ran through the woods like hunted deer

with her hair streaming and eyes of fear.

Daeron she found with ferny crown

silently sitting on beech-leaves brown.

On the earth she cast her at his side.

'O Daeron, Daeron, my tears,' she cried,

'now pity for our old days' sake!

Make me a music for heart's ache,

for heart's despair, and for heart's dread,

for light gone dark and laughter dead!'

'But for music dead there is no note,'

Daeron answered, and at his throat

his fingers clutched. Yet his pipe he took,

and sadly trembling the music shook;

and all things stayed while that piping went

wailing in the hollows, and there intent

they listened, their business and mirth,

their hearts' gladness and the light of earth

forgotten; and bird-voices failed

while Daeron's flute in Doriath wailed.

Lúthien wept not for very pain,

and when he ceased she spoke again:

'My friend, I have a need of friends,

as he who a long dark journey wends,

and fears the road, yet dare not turn

and look back where the candles burn

in windows he has left. The night

in front, he doubts to find the light

that far beyond the hills he seeks.'

And thus of Melian's words she speaks,

and of her doom and her desire

to climb the mountains, and the fire

and ruin of the Northern realm

to dare, a maiden without helm

or sword, or strength of hardy limb,

where magic founders and grows dim.

His aid she sought to guide her forth

and find the pathways to the North,

if he would not for love of her

go by her side a wanderer.

'Wherefore,' said he, 'should Daeron go

into direst peril earth doth know

for the sake of mortal who did steal

his laughter and joy? No love I feel

for Beren son of Barahir,

nor weep for him in dungeons drear,

who in this wood have chains enow,

heavy and dark. But thee, I vow,

I will defend from perils fell

and deadly wandering into hell.'


No more they spake that day, and she

perceived not his meaning. Sorrowfully

she thanked him, and she left him there.

A tree she climbed, till the bright air

above the woods her dark hair blew,

and straining afar her eyes could view

the outline grey and faint and low

of dizzy towers where the clouds go,

the southern faces mounting sheer

in rocky pinnacle and pier

of Shadowy Mountains pale and cold;

and wide the lands before them rolled.

But straightway Daeron sought the king

and told him his daughter's pondering,

and how her madness might her lead

to ruin, unless the king gave heed.

Thingol was wroth, and yet amazed;

in wonder and half fear he gazed

on Daeron, and said: 'True hast thou been.

Now ever shall love be us between,

while Doriath lasts; within this realm

thou art a prince of beech and elm!'

He sent for Lúthien, and said:

'O maiden fair, what hath thee led

to ponder madness and despair

to wander to ruin, and to fare

from Doriath against my will,

stealing like a wild thing men would kill

into the emptiness outside?'

'The wisdom, father,' she replied;

nor would she promise to forget,

nor would she vow for love or threat

her folly to forsake and meek

in Doriath her father's will to seek.

This only vowed she, if go she must,

that none but herself would she now trust,

no folk of her father's would persuade

to break his will or lend her aid;

if go she must, she would go alone

and friendless dare the walls of stone.

In angry love and half in fear

Thingol took counsel his most dear

to guard and keep. He would not bind

in caverns deep and intertwined

sweet Lúthien, his lovely maid,

who robbed of air must wane and fade,

who ever must look upon the sky

and see the sun and moon go by.

But close unto his mounded seat

and grassy throne there ran the feet

of Hirilorn, the beechen queen.

Upon her triple boles were seen

no break or branch, until aloft

in a green glimmer, distant, soft,

the mightiest vault of leaf and bough

from world's beginning until now


was flung above Esgalduin's shores

and the long slopes to Thingol's doors.

Grey was the rind of pillars tall

and silken-smooth, and far and small

to squirrels' eyes were those who went

at her grey feet upon the bent.

Now Thingol made men in the beech,

in that great tree, as far as reach

their longest ladders, there to build

an airy house; and as he willed

a little dwelling of fair wood

was made, and veiled in leaves it stood

above the first branches. Corners three

it had and windows faint to see,

and by three shafts of Hirilorn

in the corners standing was upborne.

There Lúthien was bidden dwell,

until she was wiser and the spell

of madness left her. Up she clomb

the long ladders to her new home

among the leaves, among the birds;

she sang no song, she spoke no words.

White glimmering in the tree she rose,

and her little door they heard her close.

The ladders were taken and no more

her feet might tread Esgalduin's shore.

Thither at whiles they climbed and brought

all things she needed or besought;

but death was his, whoso should dare

a ladder leave, or creeping there

should set one by the tree at night;

a guard was held from dusk to light

about the grey feet of Hirilorn

and Lúthien in prison and forlorn.

There Daeron grieving often stood

in sorrow for the captive of the wood,

and melodies made upon his flute

leaning against a grey tree-root.

Lúthien would from her windows stare

and see him far under piping there,

and she forgave his betraying word

for the music and the grief she heard,

and only Daeron would she let

across her threshold foot to set.

Yet long the hours when she must sit

and see the sunbeams dance and flit

in beechen leaves, or watch the stars

peep on clear nights between the bars

of beechen branches. And one night

just ere the changing of the light

a dream there came, from the Gods, maybe,

or Melian's magic. She dreamed that she

heard Beren's voice o'er hill and fell

'Tinúviel' call, 'Tinúviel.'

And her heart answered: 'Let me be gone

to seek him no others think upon!'

She woke and saw the moonlight pale

through the slim leaves. It trembled frail


upon her arms, as these she spread

and there in longing bowed her head,

and yearned for freedom and escape.

Now Lúthien doth her counsel shape;

and Melian's daughter of deep lore

knew many things, yea, magics more

than then or now know elven-maids

that glint and shimmer in the glades.

She pondered long, while the moon sank

and faded, and the starlight shrank,

and the dawn opened. At last a smile

on her face flickered. She mused a while,

and watched the morning sunlight grow,

then called to those that walked below.

And when one climbed to her she prayed

that he would in the dark pools wade

of cold Esgalduin, water clear,

the clearest water cold and sheer

to draw for her. 'At middle night,'

she said, 'in bowl of silver white

it must be drawn and brought to me

with no word spoken, silently.'

Another she begged to bring her wine

in a jar of gold where flowers twine

'and singing let him come to me

at high noon, singing merrily.'

Again she spake: 'Now go, I pray,

to Melian the queen, and say:

"thy daughter many a weary hour

slow passing watches in her bower;

a spinning-wheel she begs thee send."'

Then Daeron she called: 'I prithee, friend,

climb up and talk to Lúthien!'

And sitting at her window then,

she said: 'My Daeron, thou hast craft,

beside thy music, many a shaft

and many a tool of carven wood

to fashion with cunning. It were good,

if thou wouldst make a little loom

to stand in the corner of my room.

My idle fingers would spin and weave

a pattern of colours, of morn and eve,

of sun and moon and changing light

amid the beech-leaves waving bright.'

This Daeron did and asked her then:

'O Lúthien, O Lúthien,

What wilt thou weave? What wilt thou spin?'

'A marvellous thread, and wind therein

a potent magic, and a spell

I will weave within my web that hell

nor all the powers of Dread shall break.'

Then Daeron wondered, but he spake

no word to Thingol, though his heart

feared the dark purpose of her art.


And Lúthien now was left alone.

A magic song to Men unknown

she sang, and singing then the wine

with water mingled three times nine;

and as in golden jar they lay

she sang a song of growth and day;

and as they lay in silver white

another song she sang, of night

and darkness without end, of height

uplifted to the stars, and flight

and freedom. And all names of things

tallest and longest on earth she sings:

the locks of the Longbeard dwarves; the tail

of Draugluin the werewolf pale;

the body of Glomund the great snake;

the vast upsoaring peaks that quake

above the fires in Angband's gloom;

the chain Angainor that ere Doom

for Morgoth shall by Gods be wrought

of steel and torment. Names she sought,

and sang of Glend the sword of Nan;

of Gilim the giant of Eruman;

and last and longest named she then

the endless hair of Uinen,

the Lady of the Sea, that lies

through all the waters under skies.

Then did she lave her head and sing

a theme of sleep and slumbering,

profound and fathomless and dark

as Lúthien's shadowy hair was dark

each thread was more slender and more fine

than threads of twilight that entwine

in filmy web the fading grass

and closing flowers as day doth pass.

Now long and longer grew her hair,

and fell to her feet, and wandered there

like pools of shadow on the ground.

Then Lúthien in a slumber drowned

was laid upon her bed and slept,

till morning through the windows crept

thinly and faint. And then she woke,

and the room was filled as with a smoke

and with an evening mist, and deep

she lay thereunder drowsed in sleep.

Behold! her hair from windows blew

in morning airs, and darkly grew

waving about the pillars grey

of Hirilorn at break of day.

Then groping she found her little shears,

and cut the hair about her ears,

and close she cropped it to her head,

enchanted tresses, thread by thread.

Thereafter grew they slow once more,

yet darker than their wont before.

And now was her labour but begun:

long was she spinning, long she spun;


and though with elvish skill she wrought,

long was her weaving. If men sought

to call her, crying from below,

'Nothing I need,' she answered, 'go!

I would keep my bed, and only sleep

I now desire, who waking weep.'

Then Daeron feared, and in amaze

he called from under; but three days

she answered not. Of cloudy hair

she wove a web like misty air

of moonless night, and thereof made

a robe as fluttering-dark as shade

beneath great trees, a magic dress

that all was drenched with drowsiness,

enchanted with a mightier spell

than Melian's raiment in that dell

wherein of yore did Thingol roam

beneath the dark and starry dome

that hung above the dawning world.

And now this robe she round her furled,

and veiled her garments shimmering white;

her mantle blue with jewels bright

like crystal stars, the lilies gold,

were wrapped and hid; and down there rolled

dim dreams and faint oblivious sleep

falling about her, to softly creep

through all the air. Then swift she takes

the threads unused; of these she makes

a slender rope of twisted strands

yet long and stout, and with her hands

she makes it fast unto the shaft

of Hirilorn. Now, all her craft

and labour ended, looks she forth

from her little window facing North.

Already the sunlight in the trees

is drooping red, and dusk she sees

come softly along the ground below,

and now she murmurs soft and slow.

Now chanting clearer down she cast

her long hair, till it reached at last

from her window to the darkling ground.

Men far beneath her heard the sound;

but the slumbrous strand now swung and swayed

above her guards. Their talking stayed,

they listened to her voice and fell

suddenly beneath a binding spell.

Now clad as in a cloud she hung;

now down her roped hair she swung

as light as squirrel, and away,

away, she danced, and who could say

what paths she took, whose elvish feet

no impress made a-dancing fleet?

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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