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Iúmonna Gold Galdre Bewunden

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Iúmonna Gold Galdre Bewunden is a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien first published in January 1923 within The Gryphon magazine, Vol. 3, No. 3, pg. 345. The poem is reprinted in Douglas A. Anderson's The Annotated Hobbit and it was also published in a revised form in the Oxford Magazine in March 1937 as well as within The Adventures of Tom Bombadil in 1916 as The Hoard. Both the 1923 and 1937 versions were then published in Beowulf and the Critics in 2002 along with two other intermediate versions.

1923 version

There were elves olden and strong spells

Under green hills in hollow dells

They sang o’er the gold they wrought with


In the deeps of time in the young earth,

Ere Hell was digged, ere the dragons’ brood

Or the dwarves were spawned in dungeons


And men there were in a few lands

That caught some cunning of their mouths

and hands.

Yet their doom came and their songs failed.

And greed that made them not to its holes


Their gems and gold and their loveliness,

And the shadows fell on Elfinesse.


There was an old dwarf in a deep grot

That counted the gold things he had got.

That the dwarves had stolen from men and


And kept in the dark to their gloomy selves.

His eyes grew dim and his ears dull.

And the skin was yellow on his old skull ;

There ran unseen through his bony claw

The faint glimmer of gems without a flaw.

He heard not feet that shook the earth.

Nor the rush of wings, not the brazen mirth

Of dragons young in their fiery lust:

His hope was in gold and in jewels his trust.

Yet a dragon found his dark cold hole,

And he lost the earth and the things he stole.


There was an old dragon under an old stone

Blinking with red eyes all alone.

The flames of his fiery heart burnt dim;

His was knobbed and wrinkled and bent of


His joy was dead and his cruel youth.

But his lust still smouldered and he had no



To the slime of his belly the gems stuck thick

And his things of gold he would snuff and lick

As he lay thereon and dreamed of the woe

And grinding anguish thieves should know

That ever set finger on one small ring;

And dreaming uneasy he stirred a wing.

He heard not the step nor the harness clink

Till the fearless warrior at his cavern’s brink

Called him come out and fight for his gold.

Yet iron rent his heart with anguish cold.


There was an old king on a high throne :

His white beard was laid on his knees of bone,

And his mouth savoured nor meat nor drink,

Nor his ears song, he could only think

Of his huge chest with carven lid

Where the gold and jewels unseen lay hid

In a secret treasury in the dark ground,

Whose mighty doors were iron-bound.

The swords of his warriors did dull and rust,

His glory was tarnished and his rule unjust,

His halls hollow and his bowers cold,

But he was king of elfin gold.

He heard not the horns in the mountain pass.

He smelt not the blood on the trodden grass.

Yet his halls were burned and his kingdom


In a grave unhonoured his bones were tossed.


There is an old hoard in a dark rock

Forgotten behind doors none can unlock.

The keys are lost and the path gone.

The mound unheeded that the grass grows on :

The sheep crop it and the larks rise

From its green mantle, and no man’s eyes

Shall find its secret, till those return

Who wrought the treasure, till again burn

The lights of Faery, and the woods shake,

And songs long silent once more awake.

1937 version

When the moon was new and the sun young
of silver and gold the gods sung:
in the green grass they silver spilled;
and the white waters they with gold filled.
Ere the pit was dug or Hell yawned,
ere dwarf was bred or dragon spawned,
there were elves of old, and strong spells
under green hills in hollow dells
they sang as they wrought many fair things,
the bright crowns of the Elf-kings.
But their doom fell, and their song waned,
by iron hewn and by steel chained.
Greed that sang not, nor with mouth smiled,
in dark holes their wealth piled,
graven silver and carven gold:
over Elvenhome the shadow rolled.

There was an old dwarf in a dark cave,
to silver and gold his fingers clave;
with hammer and tongs and anvil-stone
he worked his hands to the hard bone,
and coins he made, and strings of rings,
and thought to buy the power of kings.
But his eyes grew dim and his ears dull,
and the skin yellow on his old skull;
through his bony claw with a pale sheen
the stony jewels slipped unseen.
No feet he heard, though the earth quaked,
when the young dragon his thirst slaked,
and the stream smoked at his dark door;
the flames hissed on the dank floor.
He died alone in the red fire,
and his bones were ash in the hot mire.


There was an old dragon under grey stone;
his red eyes blinked as he lay alone.
His joy was dead and his youth spent,
he was knobbed and wrinkled, and his limbs bent
with the long years to his gold chained;
in his heart's furnace the lire waned.
To his belly's slime gems stuck thick,
silver and gold he would snuff and lick:
he knew the place of the least ring
beneath the shadow of his black wing.
Of thieves he thought on his hard bed

and dreamed that on their flesh he fed.

their bones crushed, and their blood drank;

his cars drooped and his breath sank.

Mail-rings rang. He heard them not.

A voice echoed in his deep grot:

a young warrior with a bright sword

called him forth to defend his hoard.

His teeth were knives, and of horn his hide,

but iron lore him, and his flame died.

There was an old king on a high throne:
 his white beard lay on knees of bone;
his mouth savoured neither meat nor drink,
nor his ears song; he could only think
of his huge chest with carven lid
where pale gems and gold lay hid,
in secret treasury in the dark ground
whose strong doors were iron-bound.
The swords of his thanes were dull with rust,
his glory fallen, his rule unjust,
his halls hollow, and his bowers cold,
but king he was of elvish gold.
He heard not the horns in the mountain-pass,
he smelt not the blood on the trodden grass,
but his halls were burned, his kingdom lost;
in a cold pit his bones were tossed.


There is an old hoard in a dark rock,
forgotten behind doors none can unlock;

that grim gate no man can pass.
On the mound grows the green grass;
there sheep feed and the larks soar,
and the wind blows from the sea-shore.
While gods wait and the elves sleep,
its old secret shall the earth keep.

See also