Legacy YM

Canto 19 - Canto 19


In that vast shadow once of yore

Fingolfin stood: his shield he bore

with field of heaven's blue and star

of crystal shining pale afar.

In overmastering wrath and hate

desperate he smote upon that gate,

the Gnomish king, there standing lone,

while endless fortresses of stone

engulfed the thin clear ringing keen

of silver horn on baldric green.

His hopeless challenge dauntless cried

Fingolfin there: 'Come, open wide,

dark king, your ghastly brazen doors!

Come forth, whom earth and heaven abhors!

Come forth, O monstrous craven lord,

and fight with thine own hand and sword,

thou wielder of hosts of banded thralls,

thou tyrant leaguered with strong walls,

thou foe of Gods and elvish race!

I wait thee here. Come! Show thy face!'

Then Morgoth came. For the last time

in those great wars he dared to climb

from subterranean throne profound,

the rumour of his feet a sound

of rumbling earthquake underground.

Black-armoured, towering, iron-crowned

he issued forth; his mighty shield

a vast unblazoned sable field

with shadow like a thundercloud;

and o'er the gleaming king it bowed,

as huge aloft like mace he hurled

that hammer of the underworld,

Grond. Clanging to ground it tumbled

down like a thunder-bolt, and crumbled

the rocks beneath it; smoke up-started,

a pit yawned, and a fire darted.

Fingolfin like a shooting light

beneath a cloud, a stab of white,

sprang then aside, and Ringil drew

like ice that gleameth cold and blue,

his sword devised of elvish skill

to pierce the flesh with deadly chill.

With seven wounds it rent his foe,

and seven mighty cries of woe

rang in the mountains, and the earth quook,

and Angband's trembling armies shook.

Yet Orcs would after laughing tell

of the duel at the gates of hell;


though elvish song thereof was made

ere this but one when sad was laid

the mighty king in barrow high,

and Thorondor, Eagle of the sky,

the dreadful tidings brought and told

to mourning Elfinesse of old.

Thrice was Fingolfin with great blows

to his knees beaten, thrice he rose

still leaping up beneath the cloud

aloft to hold star-shining, proud,

his stricken shield, his sundered helm,

that dark nor might could overwhelm

till all the earth was burst and rent

in pits about him. He was spent.

His feet stumbled. He fell to wreck

upon the ground, and on his neck

a foot like rooted hills was set,

and he was crushed not conquered yet;

one last despairing stroke he gave:

the mighty foot pale Ringil clave

about the heel, and black the blood

gushed as from smoking fount in flood.

Halt goes for ever from that stroke

great Morgoth; but the king he broke,

and would have hewn and mangled thrown

to wolves devouring. Lo! from throne

that Manwë bade him build on high,

on peak unscaled beneath the sky,

Morgoth to watch, now down there swooped

Thorondor the King of Eagles, stooped,

and rending beak of gold he smote

in Bauglir's face, then up did float

on pinions thirty fathoms wide

bearing away, though loud they cried,

the mighty corse, the Elven-king;

and where the mountains make a ring

far to the south about that plain

where secret Gondolin did reign,

embattled city, at great height

upon a dizzy snowcap white

in mounded cairn the mighty dead

he laid upon the mountain's head.

Never Orc nor demon after dared

that pass to climb, o'er which there stared

Fingolfin's high and holy tomb,

till Gondolin's appointed doom.

Thus Bauglir earned the furrowed scar

that his dark countenance doth mar,

and thus his limping gait he gained;

but afterward profound he reigned

darkling upon his hidden throne;

and thunderous paced his halls of stone,

slow building there his vast design

the world in thraldom to confine.

Wielder of armies, lord of woe,

no rest now gave he slave or foe;


his watch and ward he thrice increased,

his spies were sent from West to East

and tidings brought from all the North,

who fought, who fell; who ventured forth,

who wrought in secret; who had hoard;

if maid were fair or proud were lord;

well nigh all things he knew, all hearts

well nigh enmeshed in evil arts.

Doriath only, beyond the veil

woven by Melian, no assail

could hurt or enter; only rumour dim

of things there passing came to him.

A rumour loud and tidings clear

of other movements far and near

among his foes, and threat of war

from the seven sons of Fëanor,

from Nargothrond, from Fingon still

gathering his armies under hill

and under tree in Hithlum's shade,

these daily came. He grew afraid

amidst his power once more; renown

of Beren vexed his ears, and down

the aisled forests there was heard

great Huan baying.

Then came word

most passing strange of Lúthien

wild-wandering by wood and glen,

and Thingol's purpose long he weighed,

and wondered, thinking of that maid

so fair, so frail. A captain dire,

Boldog, he sent with sword and fire

to Doriath's march; but battle fell

sudden upon him: news to tell

never one returned of Boldog's host,

and Thingol humbled Morgoth's boast.

Then his heart with doubt and wrath was burned:

new tidings of dismay he learned,

how Thu was o'erthrown and his strong isle

broken and plundered, how with guile

his foes now guile beset; and spies

he feared, till each Orc to his eyes

was half suspect. Still ever down

the aisled forests came renown

of Huan baying, hound of war

that Gods unleashed in Valinor.

Then Morgoth of Huan's fate bethought

long-rumoured, and in dark he wrought.

Fierce hunger-haunted packs he had

that in wolvish form and flesh were clad,

but demon spirits dire did hold;

and ever wild their voices rolled

in cave and mountain where they housed

and endless snarling echoes roused.

From these a whelp he chose and fed

with his own hand on bodies dead,


on fairest flesh of Elves and Men,

till huge he grew and in his den

no more could creep, but by the chair

of Morgoth's self would lie and glare,

nor suffer Balrog, Orc, nor beast

to touch him. Many a ghastly feast

he held beneath that awful throne,

rending flesh and gnawing bone.

There deep enchantment on him fell,

the anguish and the power of hell;

more great and terrible he became

with fire-red eyes and jaws aflame,

with breath like vapours of the grave,

than any beast of wood or cave,

than any beast of earth or hell

that ever in any time befell,

surpassing all his race and kin,

the ghastly tribe of Draugluin.

Him Carcharoth, the Red Maw, name

the songs of Elves. Not yet he came

disastrous, ravening, from the gates

of Angband. There he sleepless waits;

where those great portals threatening loom

his red eyes smoulder in the gloom,

his teeth are bare, his jaws are wide;

and none may walk, nor creep, nor glide,

nor thrust with power his menace past

to enter Morgoth's dungeon vast.

Now, lo! before his watchful eyes

a slinking shape he far descries

that crawls into the frowning plain

and halts at gaze, then on again

comes stalking near, a wolvish shape

haggard, wayworn, with jaws agape;

and o'er it batlike in wide rings

a reeling shadow slowly wings.

Such shapes there oft were seen to roam,

this land their native haunt and home;

and yet his mood with strange unease

is filled, and boding thoughts him seize.

'What grievous terror, what dread guard

hath Morgoth set to wait, and barred

his doors against all entering feet?

Long ways we have come at last to meet

the very maw of death that opes

between us and our quest! Yet hopes

we never had. No turning back!'

Thus Beren speaks, as in his track

he halts and sees with werewolf eyes

afar the horror that there lies.

Then onward desperate he passed,

skirting the black pits yawning vast,

where King Fingolfin ruinous fell

alone before the gates of hell.


Before those gates alone they stood,

while Carcharoth in doubtful mood

glowered upon them, and snarling spoke,

and echoes in the arches woke:

'Hail! Draugluin, my kindred's lord!

'Tis very long since hitherward

thou camest. Yea, 'tis passing strange

to see thee now: a grievous change

is on thee, lord, who once so dire,

so daunt1ess, and as fleet as fire,

ran over wild and waste, but now

with weariness must bend and bow!

'Tis hard to find the struggling breath

when Huan's teeth as sharp as death

have rent the throat? What fortune rare

brings thee back living here to fare

if Draugluin thou art? Come near!

I would know more, and see thee clear.'

'Who art thou, hungry upstart whelp,

to bar my ways whom thou shouldst help?

I fare with hasty tidings new

to Morgoth from forest-haunting Thu.

Aside! for I must in; or go

and swift my coming tell below!'

Then up that doorward slowly stood,

eyes shining grim with evil mood,

uneasy growling: 'Draugluin,

if such thou be, now enter in!

But what is this that crawls beside,

slinking as if 'twould neath thee hide?

Though winged creatures to and fro

unnumbered pass here, all I know.

I know not this. Stay, vampire, stay!

I like not thy kin nor thee. Come, say

what sneaking errand thee doth bring,

thou winged vermin, to the king!

Small matter, I doubt not, if thou stay

or enter, or if in my play

I crush thee like a fly on wall,

or bite thy wings and let thee crawl.'

Huge-stalking, noisome, close he came.

In Beren's eyes there gleamed a flame;

the hair upon his neck uprose.

Nought may the fragrance fair enclose,

the odour of immortal flowers

in everlasting spring neath showers

that glitter silver in the grass

in Valinor. Where'er did pass

Tinúviel, such air there went.

From that foul devil-sharpened scent

its sudden sweetness no disguise

enchanted dark to cheat the eyes

could keep, if near those nostrils drew

snuffling in doubt. This Beren knew


upon the brink of hell prepared

for battle and death. There threatening stared

those dreadful shapes, in hatred both,

false Draugluin and Carcharoth

when, lo! a marvel to behold:

some power, descended from of old,

from race divine beyond the West,

sudden Tinúviel possessed

like inner fire. The vampire dark

she flung aside, and like a lark

cleaving through night to dawn she sprang,

while sheer, heart-piercing silver, rang

her voice, as those long trumpets keen

thrilling, unbearable, unseen

in the cold aisles of morn. Her cloak

by white hands woven, like a smoke,

like all-bewildering, all-enthralling,

all-enfolding evening, falling

from lifted arms, as forth she stepped,

across those awful eyes she swept,

a shadow and a mist of dreams

wherein entangled starlight gleams.

'Sleep, O unhappy, tortured thrall!

Thou woebegotten, fail and fall

down, down from anguish, hatred, pain,

from lust, from hunger, bond and chain,

to that oblivion, dark and deep,

the well, the lightless pit of sleep!

For one brief hour escape the net,

the dreadful doom of life forget!'

His eyes were quenched, his limbs were loosed;

he fell like running steer that noosed

and tripped goes crashing to the ground.

Deathlike, moveless, without a sound

outstretched he lay, as lightning stroke

had felled a huge o'ershadowing oak.

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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