Lay of Leithian Canto I

From Tolkien Gateway
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 first Canto of the Lay of Leithian tells of Elu Thingol, and Lúthien Tinúviel and Doriath. It runs to 98 lines, the shortest canto save the last, unfinished one.

Concerning the Canto

This canto starts out with one of the more popular paragraphs, concerning Thingol.

A king there was in days of old:
ere Men yet walked upon the mould...

The descriptions of jewels is contrasted with the love of his daughter, whose description soon follows.

There beryl, pearl, and opal pale
and metal wrought like fishes' mail
all these he had and loved them less
than a maiden once in Elfinesse;
for fairer than are born to Men
a daughter had he, Lúthien.

Then it introduces Endor and orients the reader.

To North there lay the Land of Dread
whence only evil pathways led
to South the wide earth unexplored
to West the ancient Ocean roared,
unsailed and shoreless, wide and wild
to East in peaks of blue were piled...

Note the reference below to fairies, not uncommon in older works. One thing about the Lay is that it commonly connects Beleriand and Faërie.

Esgalduin that fairies call
in many a tall and torchlit hall

Note also that the name of Dairon is spelt here with an "i", as opposed to Daeron of later works.

When leaves were long and grass was green
then Dairon with his fingers lean,
as daylight melted into shade,
a wandering music sweetly made...

It ends on a note of change, signifying the end of the introduction and the beginning of the tale.

...until a day beneath the sun,
when many marvels were begun.