Rhymes of Lore

From Tolkien Gateway

The Rhymes of Lore were small poems that refer to ancient events of history.

History

On his way to Minas Tirith Gandalf mumbled some rhymes in many languages. Pippin was able to pick up a few lines from one about them:

Tall ships and tall kings
Three times three,
What brought they from the foundered land
Over the flowing sea?
Seven stars and seven stones
And one white tree.

When Pippin inquired about it, Gandalf suggested that Hobbits may have forgotten them all. To this, Pippin told him that they have their own rhymes which Gandalf would presumably not be interested in hearing,[1] such as Sam's rhyme of Oliphaunt.[2] After this, Gandalf explained that this particular rhyme refers to the Palantíri that were made long ago by the Noldor, possibly by Fëanor himself, and "they were remembered only in a rhyme of lore among the Dúnedain" of Arnor.[1]

The Long List of the Ents may also be an example of a Rhyme of Lore.[3]

Inspiration

The Rhyme that Gandalf muttered had been running through Tolkien's mind for some time, even before having thought of the palantíri or what the "seven stones" were. When finally he wrote about Wormtongue hurling the Orthanc-stone, he made the connection.[4]

Robert Foster theorized that the Rhymes of Lore were designed as a medium to aid in the retention of various ancient facts.[3] They are comparable to Gnomic Verses that preserve important ideas of the Anglo-Saxon society. Their rhyme make them easy to remember.[5]

Portrayal in adaptations

A musical version of this poem was recorded by the Tolkien Ensemble on their album A Night in Rivendell.

References