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Lay of Leithian Canto V

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 speaks of Lúthien Tinúviel after the departure of Beren and how she went to her mother Melian and friend Dairon, begging for aid, from the first foresight and from the second music. Melian said that Beren was in the dungeons of Thû, and Dairon refused to play any music. A second time Dairon betrayed her, this time out of love, to her father Thingol, who placed her in a guarded treehouse. But by magic she grew out her hair and made a robe and rope of it "a magic dress/that all was drenched in drowsiness". Lowering the rope she put to sleep her guards and escaped.

The Canto

So days drew on from the mournful day;
Lúthien escapes the Treehouse by Ted Nasmith
the curse of silence no more lay
on Doriath, though Dairon's flue
and Lúthien's singing both were mute.
The murmurs soft awake once more
about the woods, the waters roar
past the great gates of Thingol's halls;
but no dancing step of Lúthien falls
on turf or leaf. For she forlorn,
where stumbled once, where bruised and torn,
with longing on him like a dream,
had Beren sat by shrouded stream
Esgalduin the dark and strong,
she sat and mourned in a low song:
'Endless roll the waters past!
To this my love hath come at last,
enchanted waters pitiless,
a heartache and a loneliness.'


The summer turns. In branches tall
she hears the pattering raindrops fall,
the windy tide in leafy seas,
the creaking of the countless trees;
and longs unceasing and in vain
to hear one calling once again
the tender name that nightingales
were called of old. Echo fails.
'Tinúviel! Tinúviel!'
the memory is like a knell,
a faint and far-off tolling bell:
'Tinúviel! Tinúviel!'


'O mother Melian, tell to me
some part of what thy dark eyes see!
Tell of thy magic where his feet
are wandering! What foes him meet?
O mother, tell me, lives he still
treading the desert and the hill?
Do sun and moon above him shine,
do the rains fall on him, mother mine?'


'Nay, Lúthien my child, I fear
he lives indeed in bondage drear.
The Lord of wolves hath prisons dark,
chains and enchantments cruel and stark,
there trapped and bound and languishing
now Beren dreams that thou dost sing.'
'Then I alone must go to him
and dare the dread in dungeons dim;
for none there be that will him aid
in all the world, save elven-maid
whose only skill were joy and song,
and both have failed and left her long.'
The nought said Melian thereto,
though wild the words. She wept anew,
and ran through the woods like hunted deer
with her hair streaming and eyes of fear.
Dairon she found with ferny crown
silently sitting on beech-leaves brown.
On the earth she cast her at his side.
'O Dairon, Dairon, my tears,' she cried,
'now pity for our old days' sake!
Make me a music for heart's ache,
for heart's despair, and for heart's dread,
for light gone dark and laughter dead!'

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