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Lay of Leithian Canto III

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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 starts out with the tale of Thingol and Melian. Then it gives a description of Lúthien their daughter, and tells how Beren watched in amazement. Dairon warns Lúthien, and she hides, but Beren touches her arm by accident. Again Beren searches, and months later catches her again, naming her Tinúviel. Below is recounted the second meeting.

Concerning the Canto

This canto, in contrast to the previous one, shows peace and hope, and the beauty of Doriath.

. . .the rocks were ringing
the birds of Melian were singing

It tells of the meeting and love of Thingol and Melian, mirroring in a way the future meeting and love of Beren and Lúthien; one elf to maia, the other man to elf.

There after but an hour, him seems,
he finds her where she lies and dreams'
pale Melian with her dark hair
upon a bed of leaves. Beware!
there slumber and a sleep is twined!
he touched her tresses and his mind
was drowned in the forgetful deep
and dark the years rolled o’er his sleep.

This canto also includes the short paragraph about the minstrels: Tinfang Gelion, Maglor, and Dairon, the first of which has only this place laid aside for him in all the known writings of Tolkien.

Tinfang Gelion who still the moon
enchants on summer nights of June
and kindles the pale firstling star;
and he who harps upon the far
forgotten beaches and dark shores
where western foam for ever roars
Maglor whose voice is like the sea;
and Dairon, mightiest of the three.

Beren's mixture of sorrow and bliss and the fleeing of Lúthien is shown, and at the last when he catches her in the vivid description of her dancing it culumnates.

‘Tinúviel! Tinúviel!’
His voice such love and longing filled
one moment stood she, fear was stilled;
one moment only; like a flame
he leaped towards her as she stayed
and caught and kissed that elfin maid.

Then is a paragraph unlike the rest of the Lay, unless it were Thingol's thoughts of pity on Lúthien; a sort of cry from the poet to the one he writes about, asking her why she took her doom, and left elven immortality.

A! Lúthien! A! Lúthien!
more fair than any child of Men;
O! loveliest maid of Elfinesse
what madness does thee now possess!

On a final note, she slips away "just at the breaking of the day".