Alfirin was an Elvish name for the flower Men called simbelmynë (they also used the name uilos for the same flower). The name comes from its habit of growing thickly on the tombs of Men: it was found among the Kings' mounds in the Barrowfield of Edoras, and also on the Tomb of Elendil. Tolkien provided a description of "an immortelle, but not dry and papery: simply a beautiful bell-like flower, running through many colours, but soft and gentle." The white variety seems to have been the most common.
Alfirin is a Sindarin name, said to mean "not dying". While first said to consist of alph ("swan") + irin (unglossed), Tolkien amended the compound to consist of al- ("not") + fĭrin ("mortal"; see also Quenya firin).
In his comments in Unfinished Tales, Christopher Tolkien points out that Legolas' description of 'golden bells ... of mallos and alfirin', isn't quite in harmony with other descriptions, and he suggests that this particular use of the name may refer to a different flower altogether. Alternatively, the golden flowers of Lebennin might simply be a differently-coloured variety of the white alfirin commonly seen on Men's tombs.
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 312, (dated 16 November 1969)
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), pp. 100-1
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", Note 38