Lay of Leithian Canto IV
(Well, four out of fourteen Cantos done...)
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:their beauty was seen, save shining clear
:their beauty was seen, save shining clear
:in Morgoth's dungeons vast and drear.
:in Morgoth's dungeons vast and drear.
Revision as of 15:03, 5 June 2006
|Lay of Leithian cantos|
This Canto first speaks of Beren and his bliss. Then it tells of Lúthien’s return and their dance, and how Dairon espied them, and as he loved Lúthien he betrayed them to Thingol. Then how Lúthien led Beren into Menegroth after Thingol promised her that his life would be spared. There he requested the hand of Lúthien, and Thingol, as he was bound to his oath not to harm Beren, in his wrath gave the bride-price as a Silmaril. Then Beren laughed as if it were a small thing, and left the hall with the promise to bring one back. This fourth canto can be considered the true beginning of the quest.
- He lay upon the leafy mould
- his face upon the earth’s bosom cold
- aswoon in overwhelming bliss
- enchanted of an elvish kiss
- seeing within his darkened eyes
- the light that for no darkness dies
- though all in ashes cold be laid.
- Then folded in the mists of sleep
- he sank into abysses deep
- drowned in an overwhelming grief
- for parting after meeting brief;
- a shadow and a fragrance fair
- lingered, and waned, and was not there.
- Forsaken, barren, bare as stone
- the daylight found him cold, alone.
- ‘Where art thou gone? The day is bare
- the sunlight dark and cold the air!
- Tinúviel, where went thy feet?
- O wayward star! O maiden sweet!
- O flower of Elfland all too fair
- for mortal heart! The woods are bare!
- The woods are bare!’ he rose and cried.
- ‘Ere spring was born, the spring hath died!’
- And wandering in path and mind
- he groped as one gone sudden blind
- who seeks to grasp the hidden light
- with faltering hands in more than night.
- And thus in anguish Beren paid
- for that great doom upon him laid,
- the deathless love of Lúthien,
- too fair for love of mortal Men;
- and in his doom was Lúthien snared,
- the deathless in his dying shared;
- and Fate them forged a binding chain
- of living love and mortal pain.
- Beyond all hope her feet returned
- at eve, when in the sky there burned
- the flame of stars; and in her eyes
- there trembled the starlight of the skies,
- and from her hair the fragrance fell
- of elvenflowers in elven-dell.
- Thus Lúthien, whom no pursuit,
- no snare, no dart that hunters shoot,
- might hope to win or hold, she came
- at the sweet calling of her name;
- and thus in his her slender hand
- was linked in far Beleriand;
- in hour enchanted long ago
- her arms about his neck did go,
- and gently down she drew to rest
- his weary head upon her breast.
- A! Lúthien, Tinúviel,
- why wentest thou to darkling dell
- with shining eyes and dancing pace,
- the twilight glimmering in thy face?
- Each day before the end of eve
- she sought her lover, nor would him leave,
- until the stars were dimmed, and day
- came glimmering eastward silver-gray.
- Then trembling-veiled she would appear
- and dance before him, half in fear;
- there flitting just before his feet
- she gently chid with laughter sweet;
- ‘Come! dance now, Beren, dance with me!
- For fain thy dancing I would see.
- Come! thou must woo with nimbler feet,
- than those who walk where mountains meet
- the bitter skies beyond this realm
- of marvelous moonlit beech and elm.’
- In Doriath Beren long ago
- new art and lore he learned to know;
- his limbs were freed; his eyes alight.
- kindled with a new enchanted sight;
- and to her dancing feet his feet
- attuned went dancing free and fleet;
- his laughter welled as from a spring
- of music, and his voice would sing
- as voices of those in Doriath
- where paved with flowers are floor and path.
- The year thus on to summer rolled,
- from spring to a summertime of gold.
- Thus fleeting fast their short hour flies,
- while Dairon watches with fiery eyes,
- haunting the gloom of tangled trees
- all day, until at night he sees
- in the fickle moon their moving feet,
- two lovers linked in dancing sweet,
- two shadows shimmering on the green
- where lonely-dancing maid had been.
- ‘Hateful art thou, O Land of Trees!
- May fear and silence on thee seize!
- My flute shall fall from idle hand
- and mirth shall leave Beleriand;
- music shall perish and voices fail
- and trees stand dumb in dell and dale!’
- It seemed a hush had fallen there
- upon the waiting woodland air;
- and often murmured Thingol’s folk
- in wonder, and to their king they spoke:
- ‘This spell of silence who hath wrought?
- What web hath Dairon’s music caught?
- It seems the very birds sing low;
- murmurless Esgalduin doth flow;
- the leaves scarce whisper on the trees,
- and soundless beat the wings of bees!’
- This Lúthien heard, and there the queen
- her sudden glances saw unseen.
- But Thingol marvelled, and he sent
- for Dairon the piper, ere he went
- and sat upon his mounded seat—
- his grassy throne by the grey feet
- of the Queen of Beeches, Hirilorn,
- upon whose triple piers were borne
- the mightiest vault of leaf and bough
- from world’s beginning until now.
- She stood above Esgalduin’s shore,
- where long slope sfell beside the door,
- the guarded gates, the portals stark
- of the Thousand echoing Caverns dark.
- There Thingol sat and heard no sound
- save far off footsteps on the ground;
- no flute, no voice, no song of bird,
- no choirs of windy leaves there stirred;
- and Dairon coming no word spoke,
- silent amid the woodland folk.
- Then Thingol said: ‘O Dairon fair,
- thou master of all musics rare,
- O magic heart and wisdom wild,
- whose ear nor eye may be beguiled,
- what omen doth this silence bear?
- What horn afar upon the air,
- what summons do the woods await?
- Mayhap the Lord Tavros from his gate
- and tree-propped halls, the forest-god,
- ride his wild stallion golden-shod
- amid the trumpets’ tempest loud,
- amid his green-clad hunters proud,
- leaving his deer and friths divine
- and emerald forests? Some faint sign
- of his great onset may have come
- upon the Western winds, and dumb
- the woods now listen for a chase
- that here once more shall thundering race
- beneath the shadoe of mortal trees.
- Would it were so! The Lands of Ease
- hath Tavros left not many an age,
- since Morgoth evil wars did wage,
- since ruin fell upon the North
- and the Gnomes unhappy wandered forth.
- But if not he, who comes or what?’
- And Dairon answered: ‘He cometh not!
- No feet divine shall leave that shore,
- where the Shadowy Seas’ last surges roar,
- and many evils wrought. Alas!
- the guest is here. The woods are still,
- but wait not; for a marvel chill
- them holds at the strange deeds they see,
- but kings see not—though queens, maybe,
- may guess, and maidens, maybe, know.
- Where one went lonely two now go!’
- ‘Whither thy riddle points is plain’
- the king in anger said, ‘but deign
- to make it plainer! Who is he
- that earns my wrath? How walks he free
- within my woods amid my folk,
- a stranger to both beech and oak?’
- But Dairon looked upon Lúthien
- and would he had not spoken then,
- and no more would he speak that day,
- Though Thingol’s face with wraith was grey.
- Then Lúthien stepped lightly forth:
- ‘Far in the mountain-leaguered North,
- my father,’ said she, ‘lies the land
- that groans beneath King Morgoth’s hand.
- Thence came one hither, bent and worn
- in wars and travail, who had sworn
- undying hatred of that king;
- the last of Bëor’s sons, they sing,
- and even hither far and deep
- within thy woods the echoes creep
- through the wild mountain-passes cold,
- the last of Bëor’s house to hold
- a sword unconquered, neck unbowed,
- a heart by evil power uncowed.
- No evil needst thou think of fear
- of Beren son of Barahir!
- If aught thou hast to say to him
- then swear to hurt not flesh or limb,
- and I will lead him to thy hall,
- a son of kings, no mortal thrall.’
- Then long King Thingol looked on her
- while hand nor foot nor tongue did stir,
- and Melian, silent, unamazed,
- on Lúthien and Thingol gazed.
- ‘No blade nor chain his limbs shall mar’
- the king then swore. ‘He wanders far,
- and news, mayhap, he hath for me,
- and words I have for him, maybe!’
- Now Thingol bade them all depart
- save Dairon, whom he called: ‘What art.
- what wizardry of Northern mist
- hath this illcomer brought us? List!
- Tonight go thou by secret path,
- who knowest all wide Doriath and watch that Lúthien—daughter mine,
- what madness doth thy heart entwine,
- what web from Morgoth’s dreadful halls
- that caught thy feet and the enthralls!—
- that she bid not this Beren flee
- back whence he came. I would him see!
- Take with thee woodland archers wise.
- Let naught beguile your hearts or eyes!’
- Thus Dairon heavyhearted did,
- and the woods were filled with watchers hid;
- yet needless, for Lúthien that night
- led Beren by the golden light
- of mounting moon unto the shore
- and bridge before her father's door;
- and the white light silent looked within
- the waiting portals yawning dim.
- Downward with gentle hand she led
- through corridors of carven dread
- whose turns were lit by lanterns hung
- or flames from torches that were flung
- on dragons hewn in the cold stone
- with jewelled eyes and teeth of bone.
- Then sudden, deep beneath the earth
- the silences with silver mirth
- were shaken and the rocks were ringing,
- the birds of Melian were singing;
- and wide the ways of shadow spread
- as into arched halls she led
- Beren in wonder. There a light
- like day immortal and like night
- of stars unclouded, shone and gleamed.
- A vault of topless trees it seemed,
- whose trunks of carven stone there stood
- like towers of an enchanted wood
- in magic fast for ever bound,
- bearing a roof whose branches wound
- in endless tracery of green
- lit by some leaf-imprisoned sheen
- of moon and sun, and wrought of gems,
- and each leaf hung on golden stems.
- Lo! there amid immortal flowers
- the nightingales in shining bowers
- sang o’er the head of Melian,
- while water for ever dripped and ran
- from fountains in the rocky floor.
- There Thingol sat. His crown he wore
- of green and silver, and round his chair
- a host in gleaming armor fair.
- Then Beren looked upon the king
- and stood amazed; and swift a ring
- of elvish weapons hemmed him round.
- Then Beren looked upon the ground,
- for Melian's gaze had sought his face,
- and dazed there drooped he in that place,
- and when the king spake deep and slow:
- 'Who art thou stumblest thither? Know
- that none unbidden seek this throne
- and ever leave these halls of stone!'
- no word he answered, filled with dread.
- But Lúthien answered in his his stead:
- 'Behold, my father, one who came
- pursued by hatred like a flame!
- Lo! Beren son of Barahir!
- What need hath he thy wrath to fear,
- foe of our foes, without a friend,
- whose knees to Morgoth do not bend?'
- 'Let Beren answer!' Thingol said.
- 'What wouldst thou here? What hither led
- thy wandering feet, O mortal wild?
- How hast thou Lúthien beguiled
- or darest thus to walk this wood
- unasked, in secret? Reason good
- 'twere best declare now if thou may,
- or never against see light of day!'
- Then Beren looked in Lúthien's eyes
- and saw a light of starry skies,
- and thence was slowly drawn his gaze
- to Melian's face. As from a maze
- of wonder dumb he woke; his heart
- the bonds of awe there burst apart
- and filled with the fearless pride of old;
- in his glance now gleamed an anger cold.
- 'My feet hath fate, O king,' he said,
- 'here over the mountains bleeding led,
- and what I sought not I have found,
- and love it is hath here me bound.
- Thy dearest treasure I desire;
- nor rocks nor steel nor Morgoth's fire
- nor all the power of Elfinesse
- shall keep that gem I would possess.
- For fairer than are born to Men
- A daugther hast thou, Lúthien.'
- Silence then fell upon the hall;
- like graven stone there stood they all,
- save one who cast her eyes aground,
- and one who laughed with bitter sound.
- Dairon the piper leant there pale
- against a pillar. His fingers frail
- there touched a flute that whispered not;
- his eyes were dark; his heart was hot.
- 'Death is the guerdon thou hast earned,
- O baseborn mortal, who hast learned
- in Morgoth's realm to spy and lurk
- like Orcs that do his evil work!'
- 'Death!' echoed Dairon fierce and low,
- but Lúthien trembling gasped in woe.
- 'And death,' said Thingol, 'thou shouldst taste,
- had I not sworn an oath in haste
- that blade nor chain thy flesh should mar.
- Yet captive bound by never a bar,
- unchained, unfettered, shalt thou be
- in lightless labrynth endlessly
- that coils about my halls profound
- by magic bewildered and enwound;
- there wandering in hopelessness
- thou shalt learn the power of Elfinesse!'
- 'That may not be!' Lo! Beren spake,
- and through the king's words coldly brake,
- 'What are thy mazes but a chain
- wherein the captive bound is slain?
- Twist not thy oaths, O elvish king,
- like faithless Morgoth! By this ring—
- that Felagund of Nargothrond
- once swore in love to Barahir,
- who sheltered him with shield and spear
- and saved him from pursuing foe
- on Northern battlefields long ago—
- death thou canst give unearned to me,
- but names I will not take from thee
- of baseborn, spy, or Morgoth's thrall!
- Are these the ways of Thingol's hall?'
- Proud are the words, and all there turned
- to see the jewels green that burned
- in Beren's ring. These Gnomes had set
- as eyes of serpents twined that met
- beneath a golden crown of flower,
- that one uphold and one devours:
- the badge that Finrod made of yore
- and Felagund his son now bore.
- His anger chilled, but little less,
- and dark thoughts Thingol did possess,
- though Melian the pale leant to his side
- and whispered: 'O king, forgo thy pride!
- Such is my counsel. Not by thee
- shall Beren be slain, for far and free
- from these deep halls his fate doth lead,
- yet wound with thine. O king, take heed!'
- But Thingol looked on Lúthien.
- 'Fairest of Elves! Unhappy Men,
- children of little lords and kings
- mortal and frail, these fading things,
- shall they then look with love on thee?'
- his heart within him thought. 'I see
- thy ring,' he said, 'O mighty man!
- But to win the child of Melian
- a father's deeds shall not avail,
- nor thy proud words at which I quail.
- A treasure dear I too desire,
- but rocks and steel and Morgoth's fire
- from all the powers of Elfinesse
- do keep the jewel I would possess.
- Yet bonds like these I hear thee say
- affright thee not. Now go thy way!
- Bring me one shining Silmaril
- from Morgoth's crown, then if she will,
- may Lúthien set her hand in thine;
- then shalt thou have this jewel of mine.'
- Then Thingol's warriors loud and long
- they laughed; for wide renown in song
- had Fëanor's gems o'er land and sea,
- the peerless Silmarils; and three
- alone he made and kindled slow
- in the land of the Valar long ago,
- and there in Tûn of their own light
- they shone like marvellous stars at night,
- in the great Gnomish hoards of Tûn,
- while Glingal flowerd and Belthil's bloom
- yet lit the land beyond the shore
- where the Shadowy Seas' last surges roar,
- ere Morgoth stole them and the Gnomes
- seeking their glory left their homes,
- ere sorrows fell on Elves and Men,
- ere Beren was or Lúthien,
- ere Fëanor's sons in madness swore
- their dreadful oath. But now no more
- their beauty was seen, save shining clear
- in Morgoth's dungeons vast and drear.
- His iron crown they must adorn,
- and gleam above Orcs and slaves forlorn,
- treasured in Hell above all wealth,
- more than his eyes; and might nor stealth
- could touch them, or even gaze too long
- upon their magic. Throng on throng
- of Orcs with reddened scimitars
- encircled him, and mighty bars
- and everlasting gates and walls,
- who wore them now amidst his thralls.
- Then Beren laughed more loud than they
- in bitterness, and thus did say:
- 'For little price do elven-kings
- their daughters sell—for gems and rings
- and things of gold! If such thy will,
- thy bidding I will now fulfill.
- On Beren son of Barahir
- though hast not looked the last, I fear.
- Farewell, Tinúviel, starlit maiden!
- Ere the pale winter pass snowladen,
- I will return, not thee to buy
- with any jewel in Elfinesse,
- but to find my love in loveliness,
- a flower that grows beneath the sky.'
- Bowing before Melian and the king
- he turned, and thrust aside the ring
- of guards about him, and was gone,
- and his footsteps faded one by one
- in the dark corridors. 'A guileful oath
- thou sworest, father! Thou hast both
- to blade and chain his flesh now doomed
- in Morgoth's dungeons deep entombed,'
- said Lúthien, and welling tears
- sprang in her eyes, and hideous fears
- clutched at her heart. All looked away,
- and later remembered the sad day
- whereafter Lúthien no more sang.
- Then clear in the silence the cold words rang
- of Melian: 'Counsel cunning-wise,
- O king!' she said. 'Yet if mine eyes
- lose not their power, 'twere well for thee
- that Beren failed his errantry.
- Well for thee, but for thy child
- a dark doom and a wandering wild.'
- 'I sell not to Men those whom I love'
- said Thingol, 'whom all thing above
- I cherish; and if hope there were
- that Beren should ever living fare
- to the Thousand Caves once more, I swear
- he should not ever have seen the air
- of light of heaven's stars again.'
- But Melian smiled, and there was pain
- as of far knowledge in her eyes;
- for such is the sorrow of the wise.