Song of Beren and Lúthien

From Tolkien Gateway
This article describes a concept which is mentioned in J.R.R. Tolkien's works, but was never given a definite name.

The tale of Tinúviel, or the song of Beren and Lúthien, is a poem found within the chapter "A Knife in the Dark" of The Fellowship of the Ring. A part of it is sung by Strider to the Hobbits upon Weathertop, explaining to them that it "is a song in the mode that is called ann-thennath among the Elves in our Common Speech, and this is but a rough echo of it".


The song consists of nine stanzas of eight lines each, rhymed ABAC BABC. The C rhyme in each stanza is triple: the sixth syllable of the fourth line rhymes with the sixth syllable of the eighth line, and the seventh and eighth syllables of the fourth line are identical (or nearly) to those of the eighth. The poem's metre is iambic tetrameter (four pairs of unstressed and stressed syllables).

Following Aragorn's words, Patrick Wynne and Carl F. Hostetter explain that the English metre tries to imitate what the Sindarin metre (ann-thennath) would have been in the original poem.

The song would be an extract translated from the Lay of Leithian, specifically Canto III.[1] It was also consistently influenced by Light as Leaf on Lindentree.[2] The original version of this poem is contained in The Return of the Shadow.[3]


The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinúviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering.

There Beren came from mountains cold,
And lost he wandered under leaves,
And where the Elven-river rolled
He walked alone and sorrowing.
He peered between the hemlock-leaves
And saw in wonder flowers of gold
Upon her mantle and her sleeves,
And her hair like shadow following.

Enchantment healed his weary feet
That over hills were doomed to roam;
And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,
And grasped at moonbeams glistening.
Through woven woods in Elvenhome
She lightly fled on dancing feet,
And left him lonely still to roam
In the silent forest listening.

He heard there oft the flying sound
Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
Or music welling underground,
In hidden hollows quavering.
Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,
And one by one with sighing sound
Whispering fell the beechen leaves
In the wintry woodland wavering.

He sought her ever, wandering far
Where leaves of years were thickly strewn,
By light of moon and ray of star
In frosty heavens shivering.
Her mantle glinted in the moon,
As on a hilltop high and far
She danced, and at her feet was strewn
A mist of silver quivering.

When winter passed, she came again,
And her song released the sudden spring,
Like rising lark, and falling rain,
And melting water bubbling.
He saw the elven-flowers spring
About her feet, and healed again
He longed by her to dance and sing
Upon the grass untroubling.

Again she fled, but swift he came.
Tinúviel! Tinúviel!
He called her by her elvish name,
And there she halted listening.
One moment stood she, and a spell
His voice laid on her: Beren came,
And doom fell on Tinúviel
That in his arms lay glistening.

As Beren looked into her eyes
Within the shadows of her hair,
The trembling starlight of the skies
He saw there mirrored shimmering.
Tinúviel the elven-fair,
Immortal maiden elven-wise,
About him cast her shadowy hair
And arms like silver glimmering.

Long was the way that fate them bore,
O'er stony mountains cold and grey,
Through halls of iron and darkling door,
And woods of nightshade morrowless.
The Sundering Seas between them lay,
And yet at last they met once more,
And long ago they passed away
In the forest singing sorrowless.


  1. Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth: Patrick Wynne and Carl F. Hostetter, "Three Elvish Verse Modes: Ann-thennath, Minlamad thent / estent, and Linnod", pp. 113-120
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "I. The Lay of the Children of Húrin: I. Túrin's Fostering"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The First Phase: X. The Attack on Weathertop", pp. 182-7