The Complaint of Mîm the Dwarf

From Tolkien Gateway

The Complaint of Mîm the Dwarf is a short poem accompanied by a more extensive prose text about the petty-dwarf Mîm, written by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Description[edit | edit source]

The poem consists of twenty-six lines of verse, and then continues with six paragraphs of prose, all of which composes one fictional work. It is a tale about the aging Mîm, lonely and bitter, and how he struggles with not being able to forgive.[1]

It is unknown when Tolkien wrote The Complaint of Mîm the Dwarf,[1] as well as where the manuscript is kept.

Nonetheless, while the dating of the texts is never explicitly shown, it might be possible that the prose text, at least, dates from the 1950s or later. This is based on the appearance of the term "Tarn Aeluin" within the prose text, which first appears in the Grey Annals[2] and The Lay of Leithian Recommenced,[3] both of which date from the 1950s.

However, it is also possible that the term "Tarn Aeluin" makes its first appearance in the prose text, potentially being even older than both the Grey Annals and The Lay of Leithian Recommenced.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Mîm the petty-dwarf, at least 200 years old, was homeless. He claimed that everything he ever owned was taken from him and lamented that his last abode was found by unnamed assailants, who burned it.

Mîm then reflected on the wonderful things he had made throughout his life, especially when he was younger. He concluded that he poured himself into his craft, and that without any tangible works left, there was not much Mîm left. He then resolved to build a great chest to hide and protect future works.

Mîm subsequently built an intricate chest with many features, including dragon guards in its ornate structure. After completing his chest, Mîm slept. Upon waking, he discovered that he had once again been found and that his newest dwelling had been ransacked and burned. Mîm was only able to recover a tattered cloak, his poisoned blade, and a small sack of tools.

Mîm then brooded, frequently sharpening his knife. He complained that his work was always taken and used for various pursuits he despised. Mîm finally resolved to start his work anew, hoping to recapture something of his former skill. However, he recognized that his skill had diminished with age and that he could not forgive others.

Publication history[edit | edit source]

The original text has never been published, but a German translation was included in Klett-Cotta's anniversary volume Das erste Jahrzehnt 1977–1987: Ein Almanach (pp. 302-5), titled as "Mîms Klage" (translated from English by Hans J. Schütz). A one-paragraph summary of the poem and prose text was included in the second edition of The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide.[1]

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide Revised and Enlarged Edition (2017), p. 261
  2. Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: I. Chronology, entry ?Summer 1951-?early 1952, p. 377
  3. Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: I. Chronology, entry ?Late 1949-1950, p. 355