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Lay of Leithian Canto II

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Lay of Leithian cantos
  1. Canto I
  2. Canto II
  3. Canto III
  4. Canto IV
  5. Canto V
  6. Canto VI
  7. Canto VII
  8. Canto VIII
  9. Canto IX
  10. Canto X
  11. Canto XI
  12. Canto XII
  13. Canto XIII
  14. Canto XIV

This Canto of the Lay of Leithian tells how Barahir lived as an outlaw. It tells of the snaring of Gorlim the unhappy by a phantom of his lost wife, and how he revealed the secret hiding of Barahir. Then how Thû slew him, and his ghost appeared to Beren, Barahir's son, who happened to be away, and told him of his treachery. Beren upon returning found his father and all his outlaw companions dead. He recaptured the Ring of Barahir from an orc who ironically was speaking of lying to Thû and keeping the ring. There the Canto ends. This Canto includes one of the most praised paragraphs of the Lay, describing Morgoth, recounted below.

Concerning the Canto

This canto may be considered one of the darkest and most morbid cantos, with first a vivid description of the horrors of Morgoth, one of the most famous paragraphs in the Lay.

There sat a king: no Elfin race
nor mortal blood, nor kindly grace

Then comes the hope of Barahir, and the stumbling of Gorlim the Unhappy.

But still there lived in hiding cold
undaunted, Barahir the bold
of land bereaved, of lordship shorn
who once a prince of Men was born

The carrion-crows add to the effect of horror, and the sense of panic and hatred is full. Then comes the curse and despair of Beren, and when in the last he leaves the grave of his father, and heads south. Finally, the famous lines:

Beleriand, Beleriand
the borders of the faëry land

end the Canto and leave its tragic spell hanging.