Ere iron was found or tree was hewn

From Tolkien Gateway

Ere iron was found or tree was hewn is the first line of a short poem recited by Gandalf to King Théoden, when asked about what caused the summoning of the Huorns during the Battle of the Hornburg. Could it have been an act of "wizardry?", asked Théoden. Gandalf said that it was "a power far older", and went on to recite the poem. Théoden identified Gandalf's lines of verse as a riddle.[1]

The poem[edit | edit source]

Ere iron was found or tree was hewn,
When young was mountain under moon;
Ere ring was made, or wrought was woe,
It walked the forests long ago.

Composition[edit | edit source]

The poem contains four iambs in each line, and the lines rhyme in pairs.[2] Verlyn Flieger has described the poem as a piece of "folk verse".[3]

Name[edit | edit source]

Among fans, the poem is commonly called Gandalf's Riddle of the Ents.[4][5][6][2]

Inspiration[edit | edit source]

It has been noted that Tolkien re-used a phrase from his Lay of Aotrou and Itroun:[7]

ere fire was found or iron hewn,
when young was mountain under moon.
—vv. 299-300[8]

See also[edit | edit source]