Light as Leaf on Lindentree

From Tolkien Gateway

Light as Leaf on Lindentree is a poem written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in June 1925 in The Gryphon magazine, Vol. 6 No. 6 on page 217. It was incorporated into the second version of The Lay of the Children of Húrin.[1] The third Canto of The Lay of Leithian was written after the poem's publication and was inspired by it.[2]

After many emendations it became the Song of Beren and Lúthien that Strider chanted to the hobbits on Weathertop, whose original version is contained in The Return of the Shadow.[3]

Poem[edit | edit source]

'Tis of Beren Ermabwed brokenhearted,
How Luthien the lissom he loved of yore
In the enchanted forest chained with wonder.
Tinúviel he named her, than nightingale
More sweet her voice, as veiled in soft
And wavering wisps of woven dusk
Shot with starlight, with shining eyes,
She danced like dreams of drifting sheen,
Pale twinkling pearls in pools of darkness.

The grass was very long and thin,
The leaves of many years lay thick,
The old tree-roots wound out and in,
And the early moon was glimmering.
There went her white feet lilting quick,
And Dairon's flute did bubble thin,
As neath the hemlock umbels thick
Tinúviel danced a-shimmering.

The pale moths lumbered noiselessly,
And daylight, died among the leaves,
As Beren from the wild country
Came thither wayworn sorrowing.
He peered between the hemlock sheaves,
And watched in wonder noiselessly
Her dancing through the moonlit leaves
And the ghostly moths a-following.

There magic took his weary feet,
And he forgot his loneliness,
And out he danced, unheeding, fleet,
Where the moonbeams were a-glistening.
Through the tangled woods of Elfinesse
They fled on nimble fairy feet,
And left him to his loneliness
In the silent forest listening,
Still hearkening for the imagined sound
Of lissom feet upon the leaves,
For music welling underground
In the dim-lit caves of Doriath.

But withered are the hemlock sheaves,
And one by one with mournful sound
Whispering fall the beechen leaves
In the dying woods of Doriath.
He sought her wandering near and far
Where the leaves of one more year werestrewn,
By winter moon and frosty star
With shaken light a-shivering.

He found her neath a misty moon,
A silver wraith that danced afar,
And the mists beneath her feet were strewn
In moonlight palely quivering.
She danced upon a hillock green
Whose grass unfading kissed her feet,
While Dairon's fingers played unseen
O'er his magic flute a-flickering;
And out he danced, unheeding, fleet,
In the moonlight to the hillock green:
No impress found he of her feet
That fled him swiftly flickering.

And longing filled his voice that called
'Tinúviel, Tinúviel,'
And longing sped his feet enthralled
Behind her wayward shimmering.
She heard as echo of a spell
His lonely voice that longing called
'Tinúviel, Tinúviel':
One moment paused she glimmering.

And Beren caught that elfin maid
And kissed her trembling starlit eyes,
Tinúviel whom love delayed
In the woods of evening morrowless.

Till moonlight and till music dies
Shall Beren by the elfin maid
Dance in the starlight of her eyes
In the forest singing sorrowless.
Wherever grass is long and thin,
And the leaves of countless years lie thick,
And ancient roots wind out and in,
As once they did in Doriath,
Shall go their white feet lilting quick,
But never Dairon's music thin
Be heard beneath the hemlocks thick,
Since Beren came to Doriath.

See also[edit | edit source]