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Over the land there lies a long shadow

"Over the land there lies a long shadow" is a prophecy spoken by Malbeth the Seer in the days of Arvedui, the last King of Arnor. It is recounted by Aragorn in the Paths of the Dead in the chapter "The Passing of the Grey Company".

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[edit] Text

Over the land there lies a long shadow,
westward reaching wings of darkness.
The Tower trembles; to the tombs of kings
doom approaches. The Dead awaken;
for the hour is come for the oathbreakers:
at the Stone of Erech they shall stand again
and hear there a horn in the hills ringing.
Whose shall the horn be? Who shall call them
from the grey twilight, the forgotten people?
The heir of him to whom the oath they swore.
From the North shall he come, need shall drive him:
he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead.

[edit] Commentary

This prophecy is written in the Old English alliterative verse form, in which Tolkien was an expert, both as scholar and practitioner. Many examples of alliterative verse are included in The Lord of the Rings, but this is the only one not associated with the Rohirrim. The Rohirrim are depicted as using this verse form because Tolkien equated them to the ancestors of the English; but there is no apparent reason why a Númenórean would write in this form. The drafts published in The War of the Ring are all in rhyming verse.[source?]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

As Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli take the Dimholt Road into the mountains, Legolas recites a part of the prophecy after recounting the history of the Men of the Mountain and their broken oath to Isildur:

Who shall call them from the grey twilight, the forgotten people?
The heir of him to whom the oath they swore.
From the North shall he come, need shall drive him:
he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead.

[edit] See also