Éalá Éarendel Engla Beorhtast

From Tolkien Gateway

Éalá Éarendel Engla Beorhtast is an early poem by J.R.R. Tolkien (according to Christopher Tolkien "the first of the mythology"[1]:271). It is published in full in The Book of Lost Tales Part Two.[1]:267-269

The poem was originally titled The Voyage of Éarendel the Evening Star (with the Old English version Scipfæreld Éarendeles Ǽfensteorran) and was written at Phoenix Farm in September 1914, inspired by a line from the Crist of Cynewulf.[2][3] Under this title Tolkien read the poem at the Oxford Essay Club in the November of the same year, as referenced in Letter 2. By the latest revision, written at an unknown date but "substantially later" than the first, the newer title was given in its Old English form only. This Old English title was taken from the poem that inspired it, rendered in modern English as The Last Voyage of Eärendel.[1]:267

It was the first poem on the subject of Eärendil and describes his voyage from "Westerland", through "the darkling West" and ultimately beyond the world itself. The fourth verse describes the movements of the Sun and Moon in a way which anticipates cosmology of the The Hiding of Valinor and the The Tale of the Sun and Moon.

The poem

Éarendel arose where the shadow flows
at Ocean's silent brim;
through the mouth of night as a ray of light
where the shores are sheer and dim
he launched his bark like a silver spark
from the last and lonely sand;
then on sunlit breath of day's fiery death
he sailed from Westerland.

He threaded his path o'er the aftermath
of the splendour of the Sun,
and wandered far past many a star
in his gleaming galleon.
On the gathering tide of darkness ride
the argosies of the sky,
and spangle the night with their sails of light
as the streaming star goes by.

Unheeding he dips past these twinkling ships,
by his wayward spirit whirled
on an endless quest through the darkling West
o'er the margin of the world;
and he fares in haste o'er the jewelled waste
and the dusk from whence he came
with his heart afire with bright desire
and his face in silver flame.

The Ship of the Moon from the East comes soon
from the Haven of the Sun,
whose white gates gleam in the coming beam
of the mighty silver one.
Lo! with bellying clouds as his vessel's shrouds
he weighs anchor down the dark,
and on shimmering oars leaves the blazing shores
in his argent-timbered bark.

Then Éarendel fled from that Shipman dread
beyond the dark earth's pale,
back under the rim of the Ocean dim,
and behind the world set sail;
and he heard the mirth of the folk of earth
and the falling of their tears,
as the world dropped back in a cloudy wrack
on its journey down the years.

Then he glimmering passed to the starless vast
as an isléd lamp at sea,
and beyond the ken of mortal men
set his lonely errantry,
tracking the Sun in his galleon
through the pathless firmament,
till his light grew old in abysses cold
and his eager flame was spent.

See also