Legacy YM

Canto 14 - Canto 14

50

Hounds there were in Valinor

with silver collars. Hart and boar,

the fox and hare and nimble roe

there in the forests green did go.

Oromë was the lord divine

of all those woods. The potent wine

went in his halls and hunting song.

The Gnomes anew have named him long

Tauros, the God whose horns did blow

over the mountains long ago;

who alone of Gods had loved the world

before the banners were unfurled

of Moon and Sun; and shod with gold

were his great horses. Hounds untold

baying in woods beyond the West

of race immortal he possessed:

grey and limber, black and strong,

white with silken coats and long,

brown and brindled, swift and true

as arrow from a bow of yew;

their voices like the deeptoned bells

that ring in Valmar's citadels,

their eyes like living jewels, their teeth

like ruel-bone. As sword from sheath

they flashed and fled from leash to scent

for Tauros' joy and merriment.

In Tauros' friths and pastures green

had Huan once a young whelp been.

He grew the swiftest of the swift,

and Oromë gave him as a gift

to Celegorm, who loved to follow

the great God's horn o'er hill and hollow.

Alone of hounds of the Land of Light,

when sons of Fëanor took to flight

and came into the North, he stayed

beside his master. Every raid

and every foray wild he shared,

and into mortal battle dared.

Often he saved his Gnomish lord

from Orc and wolf and leaping sword.

A wolf-hound, tireless, grey and fierce

he grew; his gleaming eyes would pierce

all shadows and all mist, the scent

moons old he found through fen and bent,

through rustling leaves and dusty sand;

all paths of wide Beleriand

he knew. But wolves, he loved them best;

he loved to find their throats and wrest

their snarling lives and evil breath.

The packs of Thu him feared as Death.

No wizardry, nor spell, nor dart,

no fang, nor venom devil's art

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could brew had harmed him; for his weird

was woven. Yet he little feared

that fate decreed and known to all:

before the mightiest he should fall,

before the mightiest wolf alone

that ever was whelped in cave of stone.

Hark! afar in Nargothrond,

far over Sirion and beyond,

there are dim cries and horns blowing,

and barking hounds through the trees going.

The hunt is up, the woods are stirred.

Who rides to-day? Ye have not heard

that Celegorm and Curufin

have loosed their dogs? With merry din

they mounted ere the sun arose,

and took their spears and took their bows.

The wolves of Thu of late have dared

both far and wide. Their eyes have glared

by night across the roaring stream

of Narog. Doth their master dream,

perchance, of plots and counsels deep,

of secrets that the Elf-lords keep,

of movements in the Gnomish realm

and errands under beech and elm?

Curufin spake: 'Good brother mine,

I like it not. What dark design

doth this portend? These evil things,

we swift must end their wanderings!

And more, 'twould please my heart full well

to hunt a while and wolves to fell.'

And then he leaned and whispered low

that Orodreth was a dullard slow;

long time it was since the king had gone,

and rumour or tidings came there none.

'At least thy profit it would be

to know whether dead he is or free;

to gather thy men and thy array.

"I go to hunt" then thou wilt say,

and men will think that Narog's good

ever thou heedest. But in the wood

things may be learned; and if by grace,

by some blind fortune he retrace

his footsteps mad, and if he bear

a Silmaril I need declare

no more in words; but one by right

is thine (and ours), the jewel of light;

another may be won a throne.

The eldest blood our house doth own.'

Celegorm listened. Nought he said,

but forth a mighty host he led;

and Huan leaped at the glad sounds,

the chief and captain of his hounds.

Three days they ride by holt and hill

the wolves of Thu to hunt and kill,

and many a head and fell of grey

they take, and many drive away,

till nigh to the borders in the West

of Doriath a while they rest.

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There were dim cries and horns blowing,

and barking dogs through the woods going.

The hunt was up. The woods were stirred,

and one there fled like startled bird,

and fear was in her dancing feet.

She knew not who the woods did beat.

Far from her home, forwandered, pale,

she flitted ghostlike through the vale;

ever her heart bade her up and on,

but her limbs were worn, her eyes were wan.

The eyes of Huan saw a shade

wavering, darting down a glade

like a mist of evening snared by day

and hasting fearfully away.

He bayed, and sprang with sinewy limb

to chase the shy thing strange and dim.

On terror's wings, like a butterfly

pursued by a sweeping bird on high,

she fluttered hither, darted there,

now poised, now flying through the air

in vain. At last against a tree

she leaned and panted. Up leaped he.

No word of magic gasped with woe,

no elvish mystery she did know

or had entwined in raiment dark

availed against that hunter stark,

whose old immortal race and kind

no spells could ever turn or bind.

Huan alone that she ever met

she never in enchantment set

nor bound with spells. But loveliness

and gentle voice and pale distress

and eyes like starlight dimmed with tears

tamed him that death nor monster fears.

Lightly he lifted her, light he bore

his trembling burden. Never before

had Celegorm beheld such prey:

'What hast thou brought, good Huan say!

Dark-elvish maid, or wraith, or fay?

Not such to hunt we came today.'

' 'Tis Lúthien of Doriath,'

the maiden spake. 'A wandering path

far from the Wood-Elves sunny glades

she sadly winds, where courage fades

and hope grows faint.' And as she spoke

down she let slip her shadowy cloak,

and there she stood in silver and white.

Her starry jewels twinkled bright

in the risen sun like morning dew;

the lilies gold on mantle blue

gleamed and glistened. Who could gaze

on that fair face without amaze?

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Long did Curufin look and stare.

The perfume of her flower-twined hair,

her lissom limbs, her elvish face,

smote to his heart, and in that place

enchained he stood. 'O maiden royal,

O lady fair, wherefore in toil

and lonely journey dost thou go?

What tidings dread of war and woe

In Doriath have betid? Come tell!

For fortune thee hath guided well;

friends thou hast found,' said Celegorm,

and gazed upon her elvish form.

In his heart him thought her tale unsaid

he knew in part, but nought she read

of guile upon his smiling face.

'Who are ye then, the lordly chase

that follow in this perilous wood?'

she asked; and answer seeming-good

they gave. 'Thy servants, lady sweet,

lords of Nargothrond thee greet,

and beg that thou wouldst with them go

back to their hills, forgetting woe

a season, seeking hope and rest.

And now to hear thy tale were best.'

So Lúthien tells of Beren's deeds

in northern lands, how fate him leads

to Doriath, of Thingol's ire,

the dreadful errand that her sire

decreed for Beren. Sign nor word

the brothers gave that aught they heard

that touched them near. Of her escape

and the marvellous mantle she did shape

she lightly tells, but words her fail

recalling sunlight in the vale,

moonlight, starlight in Doriath,

ere Beren took the perilous path.

'Need, too, my lords, there is of haste!

No time in ease and rest to waste.

For days are gone now since the queen,

Melian whose heart hath vision keen,

looking afar me said in fear

that Beren lived in bondage drear.

The Lord of Wolves hath prisons dark,

chains and enchantments cruel and stark,

and there entrapped and languishing

doth Beren lie if direr thing

hath not brought death or wish for death':

than gasping woe bereft her breath.

To Celegorm said Curufin

apart and low: 'Now news we win

of Felagund, and now we know

wherefore Thu's creatures prowling go',

and other whispered counsels spake,

and showed him what answer he should make.

'Lady,' said Celegorm, 'thou seest

we go a-hunting roaming beast,

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and though our host is great and bold,

'tis ill prepared the wizard's hold

and island fortress to assault.

Deem not our hearts or wills at fault.

Lo here our chase we now forsake

and home our swiftest road we take,

counsel and aid there to devise

for Beren that in anguish lies.'

To Nargothrond they with them bore

Lúthien, whose heart misgave her sore.

Delay she feared; each moment pressed

upon her spirit, yet she guessed

they rode not as swiftly as they might.

Ahead leaped Huan day and night,

and ever looking back his thought

was troubled. What his master sought,

and why he rode not like the fire,

why Curufin looked with hot desire

on Lúthien, he pondered deep,

and felt some evil shadow creep

of ancient curse o'er Elfinesse.

His heart was torn for the distress

of Beren bold, and Lúthien dear,

and Felagund who knew no fear.

In Nargothrond the torches flared

and feast and music were prepared.

Lúthien feasted not but wept.

Her ways were trammelled; closely kept

she might not fly. Her magic cloak

was hidden, and no prayer she spoke

was heeded, nor did answer find

her eager questions. Out of mind,

it seemed, were those afar that pined

in anguish and in dungeons blind

in prison and in misery.

Too late she knew their treachery.

It was not hid in Nargothrond

that Fëanor's sons her held in bond,

who Beren heeded not, and who

had little cause to wrest from Thu

the king they loved not and whose quest

old vows of hatred in their breast

had roused from sleep. Orodreth knew

the purpose dark they would pursue:

King Felagund to leave to die,

and with King Thingol's blood ally

the house of Fëanor by force

or treaty. But to stay their course

he had no power, for all his folk

the brothers had yet beneath their yoke,

and all yet listened to their word.

Orodreth's counsel no man heard;

their shame they crushed, and would not heed

the tale of Felagund's dire need.

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At Lúthien's feet there day by day

and at night beside her couch would stay

Huan the hound of Nargothrond;

and words she spoke to him soft and fond:

'O Huan, Huan, swiftest hound

that ever ran on mortal ground,

what evil doth thy lords possess

to heed no tears nor my distress?

Once Barahir all men above

good hounds did cherish and did love;

once Beren in the friendless North,

when outlaw wild he wandered forth,

had friends unfailing among things

with fur and fell and feathered wings,

and among the spirits that in stone

in mountains old and wastes alone

still dwell. But now nor Elf nor Man,

none save the child of Melian,

remembers him who Morgoth fought

and never to thraldom base was brought.'

Nought said Huan; but Curufin

thereafter never near might win

to Lúthien, nor touch that maid,

but shrank from Huan's fangs afraid.

Then on a night when autumn damp

was swathed about the glimmering lamp

of the wan moon, and fitful stars

were flying seen between the bars

of racing cloud, when winter's horn

already wound in trees forlorn,

lo! Huan was gone. Then Lúthien lay

fearing new wrong, till just ere day,

when all is dead and breathless still

and shapeless fears the sleepless fill,

a shadow came along the wall.

Then something let there softly fall

her magic cloak beside her couch.

Trembling she saw the great hound crouch

beside her, heard a deep voice swell

as from a tower a far slow bell.

Thus Huan spake, who never before

had uttered words, and but twice more

did speak in elven tongue again:

'Lady beloved, whom all Men,

whom Elfinesse, and whom all things

with fur and fell and feathered wings

should serve and love arise! away!

Put on thy cloak! Before the day

comes over Nargothrond we fly

to Northern perils, thou and I.'

And ere he ceased he counsel wrought

for achievement of the thing they sought.

There Lúthien listened in amaze,

and softly on Huan did she gaze.

Her arms about his neck she cast

in friendship that to death should last.


Canto1 - OF THINGOL IN DORIATH
Canto2 - OF LÚTHIEN THE BELOVED
Canto3 - OF DAERON MINSTREL OF THINGOL
Canto4 - OF MORGOTH & THE SNARING OF GORLIM
Canto5 - OF THE SAVING OF KING FINROD FELAGUND BY THE XII BËORINGS
Canto6 - OF TARN AELUIN THE BLESSED
Canto7 - OF GORLIM UNHAPPY
Canto8 - OF BEREN SON OF BARAHIR AND HIS ESCAPE
Canto9 - OF THE COMING OF BEREN TO DORIATH; BUT FIRST IS TOLD OF THE MEETING OF MELIAN AND THINGOL
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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