Legacy YM

Canto 17 - Canto 17


Towards Doriath the wanderers now

were drawing nigh. Though bare was bough,

and winter through the grasses grey

went hissing chill, and brief was day,

they sang beneath the frosty sky

above them lifted clear and high.

They came to Mindeb swift and bright

that from the northern mountains' height

to Neldoreth came leaping down

with noise among the boulders brown,

but into sudden silence fell,

passing beneath the guarding spell

that Melian on the borders laid

of Thingol's land. There now they stayed;

for silence sad on Beren fell.

Unheeded long, at last too well

he heard the warning of his heart:

alas, beloved, here we part.

'Alas, Tinúviel,' he said,

'this road no further can we tread

together, no more hand in hand

can journey in the Elven-land.'

'Why part we here? What dost thou say,

even at dawn of brighter day?'

'For safe thou'rt come to borderlands

o'er which in the keeping of the hands

of Melian thou wilt walk at ease

and find thy home and well-loved trees.'

'My heart is glad when the fair trees

far off uprising grey it sees

of Doriath inviolate.

Yet Doriath my heart did hate,

and Doriath my feet forsook,

my home, my kin. I would not look

on grass nor leaf there evermore

without thee by me. Dark the shore

of Esgalduin the deep and strong!

Why there alone forsaking song

by endless waters rolling past

must I then hopeless sit at last,

and gaze at waters pitiless

in heartache and in loneliness?'

'For never more to Doriath

can Beren find the winding path,

though Thingol willed it or allowed;

for to thy father there I vowed

to come not back save to fulfill

the quest of the shining Silmaril,

and win by valour my desire.

"Not rock nor steel nor Morgoth's fire


nor all the power of Elvenesse,

shall keep the gem I would possess":

thus swore I once of Lúthien

more fair than any child of Men.

My word, alas! I now must keep,

and not the first of men must weep

for oath in pride and anger sworn.

Too brief the meeting, brief the morn,

too soon comes night when we must part!

All oaths are for breaking of the heart,

with shame denied, with anguish kept.

Ah! would that now unknown I slept

with Barahir beneath the stone,

and thou wert dancing still alone,

unmarred, immortal, sorrowless,

singing in joy of Elvenesse.'

'That may not be. For bonds there are

stronger than stone or iron bar,

more strong than proudly spoken oath.

Have I not plighted thee my troth?

Hath love no pride nor honour then?

Or dost thou deem then Lúthien

so frail of purpose, light of love?

By stars of Elbereth above!

If thou wilt here my hand forsake

and leave me lonely paths to take,

then Lúthien will not go home

but weeping in the woods will roam,

nor peril heed, nor laughter know.

And if she may not by thee go

against thy will thy desperate feet

she will pursue, until they meet,

beyond all hope in love once more

on earth or on the shadowy shore.'

'Nay, Lúthien, most brave of heart,

thou makest it more hard to part.

Thy love me drew from bondage drear,

but never to that outer fear,

that darkest mansion of all dread,

shall thy most blissful light be led.'

'Never, never!' he shuddering said.

But even as in his arms she pled,

a sound came like a hurrying storm.

There Curufin and Celegorm

in sudden tumult like the wind

rode up. The hooves of horses dinned

loud on the earth. In rage and haste

thus madly eastward they now raced,

to find the old and perilous path

between the dreadful Gorgorath

and Thingol's realm. That was their road

most swift to where their kin abode

far off, where Himring's watchful hill

o'er Aglon's gorge hung tall and still.


They saw the wanderers. With a shout

straight on them turned their steeds about

as if neath maddened hooves to rend

the lovers and their love to end.

But as they came the horses swerved

with nostrils wide and proud necks curved;

Curufin, stooping, to saddlebow

with mighty arm did Lúthien throw,

and laughed. Too soon; for there a spring

fiercer than tawny lion-king

maddened with arrows barbed smart,

greater than any horned hart

that hounded to a gulf leaps o'er,

there Beren gave, and with a roar

leaped on Curufin; round his neck

his arms entwined, and all to wreck

both horse and rider fell to ground;

and there they fought without a sound.

Dazed in the grass did Lúthien lie

beneath bare branches and the sky;

the Gnome felt Beren's fingers grim

close on his throat and strangle him,

and out his eyes did start, and tongue

gasping from his mouth there hung.

Up rode Celegorm with his spear,

and bitter death was Beren near.

With elvish steel he nigh was slain

whom Lúthien won from hopeless chain,

but baying Huan sudden sprang

before his master's face with fang

white-gleaming, and with bristling hair,

as if he on boar or wolf did stare.

The horse in terror leaped aside,

and Celegorm in anger cried:

'Curse thee, thou base born dog, to dare

against thy master teeth to bare!'

But dog nor horse nor rider bold

would venture near the anger cold

of mighty Huan fierce at bay.

Red were his jaws. They shrank away,

and fearful eyed him from afar:

nor sword nor knife, nor scimitar,

no dart of bow, nor cast of spear,

master nor man did Huan fear.

There Curufin had left his life,

had Lúthien not stayed that strife.

Waking she rose and softly cried

standing distressed at Beren's side:

'Forbear thy anger now, my lord!

nor do the work of Orcs abhorred;

for foes there be of Elfinesse

unnumbered, and they grow not less,

while here we war by ancient curse

distraught, and all the world to worse

decays and crumbles. Make thy peace!'


Then Beren did Curufin release;

but took his horse and coat of mail,

and took his knife there gleaming pale,

hanging sheathless, wrought of steel.

No flesh could leeches ever heal

that point had pierced; for long ago

the dwarves had made it, singing slow

enchantments, where their hammers fell

in Nogrod ringing like a bell.

Iron as tender wood it cleft,

and sundered mail like woollen weft.

But other hands its haft now held;

its master lay by mortal felled.

Beren uplifting him, far him flung,

and cried 'Begone!', with stinging tongue;

'Begone! thou renegade and fool,

and let thy lust in exile cool!

Arise and go, and no more work

like Morgoth's slaves or cursed Orc;

and deal, proud son of Fëanor,

in deeds more proud than heretofore!'

Then Beren led Lúthien away,

while Huan still there stood at bay.

'Farewell,' cried Celegorm the fair.

'Far get you gone! And better were

to die forhungered in the waste

than wrath of Fëanor's sons to taste,

that yet may reach o'er dale and hill.

No gem, nor maid, nor Silmaril

shall ever long in thy grasp lie!

We curse thee under cloud and sky,

we curse thee from rising unto sleep!

Farewell!' He swift from horse did leap,

his brother lifted from the ground;

then bow of yew with gold wire bound

he strung, and shaft he shooting sent,

as heedless hand in hand they went;

a dwarvish dart and cruelly hooked.

They never turned nor backward looked.

Loud bayed Huan, and leaping caught

the speeding arrow. Quick as thought

another followed deadly singing;

but Beren had turned, and sudden springing

defended Lúthien with his breast.

Deep sank the dart in flesh to rest.

He fell to earth. They rode away,

and laughing left him as he lay;

yet spurred like wind in fear and dread

of Huan's pursuing anger red.

Though Curufin with bruised mouth laughed,

yet later of that dastard shaft

was tale and rumour in the North,

and Men remembered at the Marching Forth,

and Morgoth's will its hatred helped.


Thereafter never hound was whelped

would follow horn of Celegorm

or Curufin. Though in strife and storm,

though all their house in ruin red

went down, thereafter laid his head

Huan no more at that lord's feet,

but followed Lúthien, brave and fleet.

Now sank she weeping at the side

of Beren, and sought to stem the tide

of welling blood that flowed there fast.

The raiment from his breast she cast;

from shoulder plucked the arrow keen;

his wound with tears she washed it clean.

Then Huan came and bore a leaf,

of all the herbs of healing chief,

that evergreen in woodland glade

there grew with broad and hoary blade.

The powers of all grasses Huan knew,

who wide did forest-paths pursue.

Therewith the smart he swift allayed,

while Lúthien murmuring in the shade

the staunching song, that Elvish wives

long years had sung in those sad lives

of war and weapons, wove o'er him.

The shadows fell from mountains grim.

Then sprang about the darkened North

the Sickle of the Gods, and forth

each star there stared in stony night

radiant, glistering cold and white.

But on the ground there is a glow,

a spark of red that leaps below:

under woven boughs beside a fire

of crackling wood and sputtering briar

there Beren lies in drowsing deep,

walking and wandering in sleep.

Watchful bending o'er him wakes

a maiden fair; his thirst she slakes,

his brow caresses, and softly croons

a song more potent than in runes

or leeches' lore hath since been writ.

Slowly the nightly watches flit.

The misty morning crawleth grey

from dusk to the reluctant day.

Then Beren woke and opened eyes,

and rose and cried: 'Neath other skies,

in lands more awful and unknown,

I wandered long, methought, alone

to the deep shadow where the dead dwell;

but ever a voice that I knew well,

like bells, like viols, like harps, like birds,

like music moving without words,

called me, called me through the night,

enchanted drew me back to light!

Healed the wound, assuaged the pain!

Now are we come to morn again,

new journeys once more lead us on

to perils whence may life be won,

hardly for Beren; and for thee

a waiting in the wood I see,

beneath the trees of Doriath,

while ever follow down my path

the echoes of thine elvish song,

where hills are haggard and roads are long.'

'Nay, now no more we have for foe

dark Morgoth only, but in woe,

in wars and feuds of Elfinesse

thy quest is bound; and death, no less,

for thee and me, for Huan bold

the end of weird of yore foretold,

all this I bode shall follow swift,

if thou go on. Thy hand shall lift

and lay in Thingol's lap the dire

and flaming jewel, Fëanor's fire,

never, never! A why then go?

Why turn we not from fear and woe

beneath the trees to walk and roam

roofless, with all the world as home,

over mountains, beside the seas,

in the sunlight, in the breeze?'

Thus long they spoke with heavy hearts;

and yet not all her elvish arts,

nor lissom arms, nor shining eyes

as tremulous stars in rainy skies,

nor tender lips, enchanted voice,

his purpose bent or swayed his choice.

Never to Doriath would he fare

save guarded fast to leave her there;

never to Nargothrond would go

with her, lest there came war and woe;

and never would in the world untrod

to wander suffer her, worn, unshod,

roofless and restless, whom he drew

with love from the hidden realms she knew.

'For Morgoth's power is now awake;

already hill and dale doth shake,

the hunt is up, the prey is wild:

a maiden lost, an elven child.

Now Orcs and phantoms prowl and peer

from tree to tree, and fill with fear

each shade and hollow. Thee they seek!

At thought thereof my hope grows weak,

my heart is chilled. I curse mine oath,

I curse the fate that joined us both

and snared thy feet in my sad doom

of flight and wandering in the gloom!

Now let us haste, and ere the day

be fallen, take our swiftest way,

till o'er the marches of thy land

beneath the beech and oak we stand

in Doriath, fair Doriath

whither no evil finds the path,

powerless to pass the listening leaves

that droop upon those forest-eaves.'


Then to his will she seeming bent.

Swiftly to Doriath they went,

and crossed its borders. There they stayed

resting in deep and mossy glade;

there lay they sheltered from the wind

under mighty beeches silken-skinned,

and sang of love that still shall be,

though earth be foundered under sea,

and sundered here for evermore

shall meet upon the Western Shore.

One morning as asleep she lay

upon the moss, as though the day

too bitter were for gentle flower

to open in a sunless hour,

Beren arose and kissed her hair,

and wept, and softly left her there.

'Good Huan,' said he, 'guard her well!

In leafless field no asphodel,

in thorny thicket never a rose

forlorn, so frail and fragrant blows.

Guard her from wind and frost, and hide

from hands that seize and cast aside;

keep her from wandering and woe,

for pride and fate now make me go.'

The horse he took and rode away,

nor dared to turn; but all that day

with heart as stone he hastened forth

and took the paths toward the North.

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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