Legacy YM

Canto 15 - Canto 15

56

In Wizard's Isle still lay forgot,

enmeshed and tortured in that grot

cold, evil, doorless, without light,

and blank-eyed stared at endless night

two comrades. Now alone they were.

The others lived no more, but bare

their broken bones would lie and tell

how ten had served their master well.

To Felagund then Beren said:

' 'Twere little loss if I were dead,

and I am minded all to tell,

and thus, perchance, from this dark hell

thy life to loose. I set thee free

from thine old oath, for more for me

hast thou endured than e'er was earned.'

'A! Beren, Beren hast not learned

that promises of Morgoth's folk

are frail as breath. From this dark yoke

of pain shall neither ever go,

whether he learn our names or no,

with Thu's consent. Nay more, I think

yet deeper of torment we should drink,

knew he that son of Barahir

and Felagund were captive here,

and even worse if he should know

the dreadful errand we did go.'

A devil's laugh they ringing heard

within their pit. 'True, true the word

I hear you speak,' a voice then said.

' 'Twere little loss if he were dead,

the outlaw mortal. But the king,

the Elf undying, many a thing

no man could suffer may endure.

Perchance, when what these walls immure

of dreadful anguish thy folk learn,

their king to ransom they will yearn

with gold and gem and high hearts cowed;

or maybe Celegorm the proud

will deem a rival's prison cheap,

and crown and gold himself will keep.

Perchance, the errand I shall know,

ere all is done, that ye did go.

The wolf is hungry, the hour is nigh;

no more need Beren wait to die.'

The slow time passed. Then in the gloom

two eyes there glowed. He saw his doom,

Beren, silent, as his bonds he strained

beyond his mortal might enchained.

Lo! sudden there was rending sound

of chains that parted and unwound,

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of meshes broken. Forth there leaped

upon the wolvish thing that crept

in shadow faithful Felagund,

careless of fang or venomed wound.

There in the dark they wrestled slow,

remorseless, snarling, to and fro,

teeth in flesh, gripe on throat,

fingers locked in shaggy coat,

spurning Beren who there lying

heard the werewolf gasping, dying.

Then a voice he heard: 'Farewell!

On earth I need no longer dwell,

friend and comrade, Beren bold.

My heart is burst, my limbs are cold.

Here all my power I have spent

to break my bonds, and dreadful rent

of poisoned teeth is in my breast.

I now must go to my long rest

in Aman, there beyond the shore

of Eldamar for ever more

in memory to dwell.' Thus died the king,

as still the elven harpers sing.

There Beren lies. His grief no tear,

his despair no horror has nor fear,

waiting for footsteps, a voice, for doom.

Silences profounder than the tomb

of long-forgotten kings, neath years

and sands uncounted laid on biers

and buried everlasting-deep,

slow and unbroken round him creep.

The silences were sudden shivered

to silver fragments. Faint there quivered

a voice in song that walls of rock,

enchanted hill, and bar and lock,

and powers of darkness pierced with light.

He felt about him the soft night

of many stars, and in the air

were rustlings and a perfume rare;

the nightingales were in the trees,

slim fingers flute and viol seize

beneath the moon, and one more fair

than all there be or ever were

upon a lonely knoll of stone

in shimmering raiment danced alone.

Then in his dream it seemed he sang,

and loud and fierce his chanting rang,

old songs of battle in the North,

of breathless deeds, of marching forth

to dare uncounted odds and break

great powers, and towers, and strong walls shake;

and over all the silver fire

that once Men named the Burning Briar,

the Seven Stars that Varda set

about the North, were burning yet,

a light in darkness, hope in woe,

the emblem vast of Morgoth's foe.

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'Huan, Huan! I hear a song

far under welling, far but strong;

a song that Beren bore aloft.

I hear his voice, I have heard if oft

in dream and wandering.' Whispering low

thus Lúthien spake. On the bridge of woe

in mantle wrapped at dead of night

she sat and sang, and to its height

and to its depth the Wizard's Isle,

rock upon rock and pile on pile,

trembling echoed. The werewolves howled,

and Huan hidden lay and growled

watchful listening in the dark,

waiting for battle cruel and stark.

Thu heard that voice, and sudden stood

wrapped in his cloak and sable hood

in his high tower. He listened long,

and smiled, and knew that elvish song.

'A! little Lúthien! What brought

the foolish fly to web unsought?

Morgoth! a great and rich reward

to me thou wilt owe when to thy hoard

this jewel is added.' Down he went,

and forth his messengers he sent.

Still Lúthien sang. A creeping shape

with bloodred tongue and jaws agape

stole on the bridge; but she sang on

with trembling limbs and wide eyes wan.

The creeping shape leaped to her side,

and gasped, and sudden fell and died.

And still they came, still one by one,

and each was seized, and there were none

returned with padding feet to tell

that a shadow lurketh fierce and fell

at the bridge's end, and that below

the shuddering waters loathing flow

o'er the grey corpses Huan killed.

A mightier shadow slowly filled

the narrow bridge, a slavering hate,

an awful werewolf fierce and great:

pale Draugluin, the old grey lord

of wolves and beasts of blood abhorred,

that fed on flesh of Man and Elf

beneath the chair of Thu himself.

No more in silence did they fight.

Howling and baying smote the night,

till back by the chair where he had fed

to die the werewolf yammering fled.

'Huan is there' he gasped and died,

and Thu was filled with wrath and pride.

'Before the mightiest he shall fall,

before the mightiest wolf of all',

so thought he now, and thought he knew

how fate long spoken should come true.

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Now there came slowly forth and glared

into the night a shape long-haired,

dank with poison, with awful eyes

wolvish, ravenous; but there lies

a light therein more cruel and dread

than ever wolvish eyes had fed.

More huge were its limbs, its jaws more wide,

its fangs more gleaming-sharp, and dyed

with venom, torment, and with death.

The deadly vapour of its breath

swept on before it. Swooning dies

the song of Lúthien, and her eyes

are dimmed and darkened with a fear,

cold and poisonous and drear.

Thus came Thu, as wolf more great

than e'er was seen from Angband's gate

to the burning south, than ever lurked

in mortal lands or murder worked.

Sudden he sprang, and Huan leaped

aside in shadow. On he swept

to Lúthien lying swooning faint.

To her drowning senses came the taint

of his foul breathing, and she stirred;

dizzily she spake a whispered word,

her mantle brushed across his face.

He stumbled staggering in his pace.

Out leaped Huan. Back he sprang.

Beneath the stars there shuddering rang

the cry of hunting wolves at bay,

the tongue of hounds that fearless slay.

Backward and forth they leaped and ran

feinting to flee, and round they span,

and bit and grappled, and fell and rose.

Then suddenly Huan holds and throws

his ghastly foe; his throat he rends,

choking his life. Not so it ends.

From shape to shape, from wolf to worm,

from monster to his own demon form,

Thu changes, but that desperate grip

he cannot shake, nor from it slip.

No wizardry, nor spell, nor dart,

no fang, nor venom, nor devil's art

could harm that hound that hart and boar

had hunted once in Valinor.

Nigh the foul spirit Morgoth made

and bred of evil shuddering strayed

from its dark house, when Lúthien rose

and shivering looked upon his throes.

'O demon dark, O phantom vile

of foulness wrought, of lies and guile,

here shalt thou die, thy spirit roam

quaking back to thy master's home

his scorn and fury to endure;

thee he will in the bowels immure

of groaning earth, and in a hole

everlastingly thy naked soul

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shall wail and gibber this shall be,

unless the keys thou render me

of thy black fortress, and the spell

that bindeth stone to stone thou tell,

and speak the words of opening.'

With gasping breath and shuddering

he spake, and yielded as he must,

and vanquished betrayed his master's trust.

Lo! by the bridge a gleam of light,

like stars descended from the night

to burn and tremble here below.

There wide her arms did Lúthien throw,

and called aloud with voice as clear

as still at whiles may mortal hear

long elvish trumpets o'er the hill

echo, when all the world is still.

The dawn peered over mountains wan,

their grey heads silent looked thereon.

The hill trembled; the citadel

crumbled, and all its towers fell;

the rocks yawned and the bridge broke,

and Sirion spumed in sudden smoke.

Like ghosts the owls were flying seen

hooting in the dawn, and bats unclean

went skimming dark through the cold airs

shrieking thinly to find new lairs

in Deadly Nightshade's branches dread.

The wolves whimpering and yammering fled

like dusky shadows. Out there creep

pale forms and ragged as from sleep,

crawling, and shielding blinded eyes:

the captives in fear and in surprise

from dolour long in clinging night

beyond all hope set free to light.

A vampire shape with pinions vast

screeching leaped from the ground, and passed,

its dark blood dripping on the trees;

and Huan neath him lifeless sees

a wolvish corpse for Thu had flown

to Taur-nu-Fuin, a new throne

and darker stronghold there to build.

The captives came and wept and shrilled

their piteous cries of thanks and praise.

But Lúthien anxious-gazing stays.

Beren comes not. At length she said:

'Huan, Huan, among the dead

must we then find him whom we sought,

for love of whom we toiled and fought?'

Then side by side from stone to stone

o'er Sirion they climbed. Alone

unmoving they him found, who mourned

by Felagund, and never turned

to see what feet drew halting nigh.

'A! Beren, Beren!' came her cry,

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'almost too late have I thee found?

Alas! that here upon the ground

the noblest of the noble race

in vain thy anguish doth embrace!

Alas! in tears that we should meet

who once found meeting passing sweet!'

Her voice such love and longing filled

he raised his eyes, his mourning stilled,

and felt his heart new-turned to flame

for her that through peril to him came.

'O Lúthien, O Lúthien,

more fair than any child of Men,

O loveliest maid of Elfinesse,

what might of love did thee possess

to bring thee here to terror's lair!

O lissom limbs and shadowy hair,

O flower-entwined brows so white,

O slender hands in this new light!'

She found his arms and swooned away

just at the rising of the day.


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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