Posts filed under ‘J.R.R. Tolkien’
The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinuviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering.
There Beren came from mountains cold.
And lost he wandered under leaves,
And where the Elven-river rolled
He walked alone and sorrowing.
He peered between the hemlock-leaves
And saw in wonder flowers of gold
Upon her mantle and her sleeves,
And her hair like shadow following.
Enchantment healed his weary feet
That over hills were doomed to roam;
And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,
And grasped at moonbeams glistening.
Through woven woods in Elvenhome
She lightly fled on dancing feet,
And left him lonely still to roam
In the silent forest listening.
He heard there oft the flying sound
Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
Or music welling underground,
In hidden hollows quavering.
Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,
And one by one with sighing sound
Whispering fell the beachen leaves
In wintry woodland wavering.
He sought her ever, wandering far
Where leaves of years were thickly strewn,
By light of moon and ray of star
In frosty heavens shivering.
Her mantle glinted in the moon,
As on a hill-top high and far
She danced, and at her feet was strewn
A mist of silver quivering.
When winter passed, she came again,
And her song released the sudden spring,
Like rising lark, and falling rain,
And melting water bubbling.
He saw the elven-flowers spring
About her feet, and healed again
He longed by her to dance and sing
Upon the grass untroubling.
Again she fled, but swift he came,
He called her by her elvish name;
And there she halted listening.
One moment stood she, and a spell
His voice laid on her: Beren came,
And doom fell on Tinuviel
That in his arms lay glistening.
As Beren looked into her eyes
Within the shadows of her hair,
The trembling starlight of the skies
He saw there mirrored shimmering.
Tinuviel the elven-fair,
Immortal maiden elven-wise,
About him cast her shadowy hair
And arms like silver glimmering.
Long was the way that fate them bore,
O’er stony mountains cold and grey,
Through halls of iron and darkling door,
And woods of nightshade morrowless.
The Sundering Seas between them lay,
And yet at last they met once more,
And long ago they passed away
In the forest singing sorrowless.
More Tolkien. This one a marvellous song that exemplifies Tolkien’s ear for verbal music. Taken by itself, each individual line in this poem is fairly trite, but the overall effect is compelling and lyrical, like listening to the lay of some ancient wandering bard. Lovely.
Ai! laurie lantar lassi surinen,
yeni unotime ve ramar aldaron!
Yeni ve linte yuldar avanier
mi oromardi lisse-miruvoreva
Andune pella, Vardo tellumar
nu luini yassen tintillar i eleni
Si man i yulma nin enquantuva?
An si Tintalle Varda Oiolosseo
ve fanyar maryat Elentari ortane,
ar ilye tier undulave lumbule;
ar sindanoriello caita mornie
i falmalinnar imbe met ar hisie
untupa Calaciryo miri oiale.
Si vanwa na, Romello vanwa, Valimar!
Namarie! Nai hiruvalye Valimar.
Nai elye hiruva. Namarie!
‘Ah! like gold fall the leaves in the wind, long years numberless as the wings of trees! The years have passed like swift draughts of the sweet mead in lofty halls beyond the West, beneath the blue vaults of Varda wherein the stars tremble in the song of her voice, holy and queenly. Who now shall refill the cup for me? For now the Kindler, Varda, the Queen of the Stars, from Mount Everwhite has uplifted hands like clouds, and all paths are drowned deep in shadow; and out of a grey country darkness lies on the foaming waves between us, and mist covers the jewels of Calacirya for ever. Now lost, lost to those from the East is Valimar! Farewell! Maybe thou shalt find Valimar. Maybe even thou shall find it. Farewell! ‘
You didn’t seriously think I was going to let this theme pass without including Tolkien did you? (Actually, I fully intend to include more than one poem by the man). There are very few people I would describe myself as being a fan of, but J.R.R. Tolkien is undoubtedly one of them. The man has an uncanny ability to set my imagination on fire, to reduce me to an excited schoolboy, eager to hear more.
Tolkien’s poetry is not entirely uncelebrated, though rightfully dwarfed by the magnitude of his achievements in prose. He isn’t a particularly deep poet – his images are trite, his themes cliched – but he brings to poetry the gifts that serve him so well in prose – an immaculate ear, a talent for sound and high speech, and an incomparable gift for mythmaking which lend to his words the resonance of legend.
Today’s poem is an exercise in nostalgia. The text of the poem is a lament for Valimar, for a land that is lost and may never be seen again. But the poem itself is a dirge for an imagined past, for the language of our elvish forerunners, that sweet and magical tongue that never really existed, and yet is a loss to us all.
 I freely admit to speaking no Quenya, so that the Quenya recording is really just a lark. I couldn’t resist the temptation of having Quenya show up in the categories on this blog.
Tolkien on Minstrels (scroll down)