Legacy YM

Canto 18 - Canto 18


Once wide and smooth a plain was spread,

where King Fingolfin proudly led

his silver armies on the green,

his horses white, his lances keen;

his helmets tall of steel were hewn,

his shields were shining as the moon.

There trumpets sang both long and loud,

and challenge rang unto the cloud

that lay on Morgoth's northern tower,

while Morgoth waited for his hour.

Rivers of fire at dead of night

in winter lying cold and white

upon the plain burst forth, and high

the red was mirrored in the sky.

From Hithlum's walls they saw the fire,

the steam and smoke in spire on spire

leap up, till in confusion vast

the stars were choked. And so it passed,

the mighty field, and turned to dust,

to drifting sand and yellow rust,

to thirsty dunes where many bones

lay broken among barren stones.

Dor-na-Fauglith, Land of Thirst,

they after named it, waste accurst,

the raven-haunted roofless grave

of many fair and many brave.

Thereon the stony slopes look forth

from Deadly Nightshade falling north,

from sombre pines with pinions vast,

black-plumed and drear, as many a mast

of sable-shrouded ships of death

slow wafted on a ghostly breath.


Thence Beren grim now gazes out

across the dunes and shifting drought,

and sees afar the frowning towers

where thunderous Thangorodrim lowers.

The hungry horse there drooping stood,

proud Gnomish steed; it feared the wood;

upon the haunted ghastly plain

no horse would ever stride again.

'Good steed of master ill,' he said,

'farewell now here! Lift up thy head,

and get thee gone to Sirion's vale,

back as we came, past island pale

where Thu once reigned, to waters sweet

and grasses long about thy feet.

And if Curufin no more thou find,

grieve not! but free with hart and hind

go wander, leaving work and war,

and dream thee back in Valinor,

whence came of old thy mighty race

from Tauros' mountain-fenced chase.'

There still sat Beren, and he sang,

and loud his lonely singing rang.

Though Orc should hear, or wolf a-prowl,

or any of the creatures foul

within the shade that slunk and stared

of Taur-nu-Fuin, nought he cared,

who now took leave of light and day,

grim-hearted, bitter, fierce and fey.

'Farewell now here, ye leaves of trees,

your music in the morning-breeze!

Farewell now blade and bloom and grass

that see the changing seasons pass;

ye waters murmuring over stone,

and meres that silent stand alone!

Farewell now mountain, vale, and plain!

Farewell now wind and frost and rain,

and mist and cloud, and heaven's air;

ye star and moon so blinding-fair

that still shall look down from the sky

on the wide earth, though Beren die

though Beren die not, and yet deep,

deep, whence comes of those that weep

no dreadful echo, lie and choke

in everlasting dark and smoke.

'Farewell sweet earth and northern sky,

for ever blest, since here did lie,


and here with lissom limbs did run,

beneath the moon, beneath the sun,

Lúthien Tinúviel

more fair than mortal tongue can tell.

Though all to ruin fell the world,

and were dissolved and backward hurled

unmade into the old abyss,

yet were its making good, for this

the dusk, the dawn, the earth, the sea

that Lúthien for a time should be!'

His blade he lifted high in hand,

and challenging alone did stand

before the threat of Morgoth's power;

and dauntless cursed him, hall and tower,

o'ershadowing hand and grinding foot,

beginning, end, and crown and root;

then turned to stride forth down the slope

abandoning fear, forsaking hope.

'A, Beren, Beren!' came a sound,

'almost too late have I thee found!

O proud and fearless hand and heart,

not yet farewell, not yet we part!

Not thus do those of elven race

forsake the love that they embrace.

A love is mine, as great a power

as thine, to shake the gate and tower

of death with challenge weak and frail

that yet endures, and will not fail

nor yield, unvanquished were it hurled

beneath the foundations of the world.

Beloved fool! escape to seek

from such pursuit; in might so weak

to trust not, thinking it well to save

from love thy loved, who welcomes grave

and torment sooner than in guard

of kind intent to languish, barred,

wingless and helpless him to aid

for whose support her love was made!'

Thus back to him came Lúthien:

they met beyond the ways of Men;

upon the brink of terror stood

between the desert and the wood.

He looked on her, her lifted face

beneath his lips in sweet embrace:

'Thrice now mine oath I curse,' he said,

'that under shadow thee hath led!

But where is Huan, where the hound

to whom I trusted, whom I bound

by love of thee to keep thee well

from deadly wandering unto hell?'


'I know not! But good Huan's heart

is wiser, kinder than thou art,

grim lord, more open unto prayer!

Yet long and long I pleaded there,

until he brought me, as I would,

upon thy trail a palfrey good

would Huan make, of flowing pace:

thou wouldst have laughed to see us race,

as Orc on werewolf ride like fire

night after night through fen and mire,

through waste and wood! But when I heard

thy singing clear (yea, every word

of Lúthien one rashly cried,

and listening evil fierce defied)

he set me down, and sped away;

but what he would I cannot say.'

Ere long they knew, for Huan came,

his great breath panting, eyes like flame,

in fear lest her whom he forsook

to aid some hunting evil took

ere he was nigh. Now there he laid

before their feet, as dark as shade,

two grisly shapes that he had won

from that tall isle in Sirion:

a wolfhame huge its savage fell

was long and matted, dark the spell

that drenched the dreadful coat and skin,

the werewolf cloak of Draugluin;

the other was a batlike garb

with mighty fingered wings, a barb

like iron nail at each joint's end

such wings as their dark cloud extend

against the moon, when in the sky

from Deadly Nightshade screeching fly

Thu's messengers.

'What hast thou brought,

good Huan? What thy hidden thought?

Of trophy of prowess and strong deed,

when Thu thou vanquishedst, what need

here in the waste?' Thus Beren spoke,

and once more words in Huan woke:

his voice was like the deeptoned bells

that ring in Valmar's citadels:

'Of one fair gem thou must be thief,

Morgoth's or Thingol's, loath or lief;

thou must here choose twixt love and oath!

If vow to break is still thee loath,

then Lúthien must either die

alone, or death with thee defie

beside thee, marching on your fate

that hidden before you lies in wait.

Hopeless the quest, but not yet mad,

unless thou, Beren, run thus clad

in mortal raiment, mortal hue,

witless and redeless, death to woo.


'Lo! good was Felagund's device,

but may be bettered, if advice

of Huan ye will dare to take,

and swift a hideous change will make

to forms most cursed, foul and vile,

of werewolf of the Wizard's Isle,

of monstrous bat's envermined fell

with ghostly clawlike wings of hell.

'To such dark straits, alas! now brought

are ye I love, for whom I fought.

Nor further with you can I go

whoever did a great hound know

in friendship at a werewolf's side

to Angband's grinning portals stride?

Yet my heart tells that at the gate

what there ye find, 'twill be my fate

myself to see, though to that door

my feet shall bear me nevermore.

Darkened is hope and dimmed my eyes,

I see not clear what further lies;

yet maybe backwards leads your path

beyond all hope to Doriath,

and thither, perchance, we three shall wend,

and meet again before the end.'

They stood and marvelled thus to hear

his mighty tongue so deep and clear;

then sudden he vanished from their sight

even at the onset of the night.

His dreadful counsel then they took,

and their own gracious forms forsook;

in werewolf fell and batlike wing

prepared to robe them, shuddering.

With elvish magic Lúthien wrought,

lest raiment foul with evil fraught

to dreadful madness drive their hearts;

and there she wrought with elvish arts

a strong defence, a binding power,

singing until the midnight hour.

Swift as the wolvish coat he wore,

Beren lay slavering on the floor,

redtongued and hungry; but there lies

a pain and longing in his eyes,

a look of horror as he sees

a batlike form crawl to its knees

and drag its creased and creaking wings.

Then howling undermoon he springs

fourfooted, swift, from stone to stone,

from hill to plain but not alone:

a dark shape down the slope doth skim,

and wheeling flitters over him.


Ashes and dust and thirsty dune

withered and dry beneath the moon,

under the cold and shifting air

sifting and sighing, bleak and bare;

of blistered stones and gasping sand,

of splintered bones was built that land,

o'er which now slinks with powdered fell

and hanging tongue a shape of hell.

Many parching leagues lay still before

when sickly day crept back once more;

many choking miles yet stretched ahead

when shivering night once more was spread

with doubtful shadow and ghostly sound

that hissed and passed o'er dune and mound.

A second morning in cloud and reek

struggled, when stumbling, blind and weak,

a wolvish shape came staggering forth

and reached the foothills of the North;

upon its back there folded lay

a crumpled thing that blinked at day.

The rocks were reared like bony teeth,

and claws that grasped from opened sheath,

on either side the mournful road

that onward led to that abode

far up within the Mountain dark

with tunnels drear and portals stark.

They crept within a scowling shade,

and cowering darkly down them laid.

Long lurked they there beside the path,

and shivered, dreaming of Doriath,

of laughter and music and clean air,

in fluttered leaves birds singing fair.

They woke, and felt the trembling sound,

the beating echo far underground

shake beneath them, the rumour vast

of Morgoth's forges; and aghast

they heard the tramp of stony feet

that shod with iron went down that street:

the Orcs went forth to rape and war,

and Balrog captains marched before.

They stirred, and under cloud and shade

at eve stepped forth, and no more stayed;

as dark things on dark errand bent

up the long slopes in haste they went.

Ever the sheer cliffs rose beside,

where birds of carrion sat and cried;

and chasms black and smoking yawned,

whence writhing serpent-shapes were spawned;

until at last in that huge gloom,

heavy as overhanging doom,

that weighs on Thangorodrim's foot

like thunder at the mountain's root,

they came, as to a sombre court

walled with great towers, fort on fort

of cliffs embattled, to that last plain

that opens, abysmal and inane,


before the final topless wall

of Bauglir's immeasurable hall,

whereunder looming awful waits

the gigantic shadow of his gates.

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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