The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun

From Tolkien Gateway
The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun,
together with the Corrigan Poems
The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun.jpg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorVerlyn Flieger
ReleasedDecember 1945
Separate book: 3 November 2016
FormatHardcover; paperback

The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun, together with the Corrigan Poems is a book presenting a long poem written by J.R.R. Tolkien in 1930, first published in The Welsh Review in December 1945. It was published in its own volume in 2016, edited by Verlyn Flieger, together with two shorter poems.

Aotrou and Itroun are Breton words for "lord" and "lady". The poem is modelled on the genre of the "Breton lay" popular in Middle English literature of the 12th century, and it explores the conflict of heroic or chivalric values and Christianity, and their relation to the institution of marriage.

Source[edit | edit source]

A major source for the poem has been identified as the Breton song An Aotrou Nann hag ar Gorigann (Lord Nann and the Fairy), which Tolkien probably knew through Wimberly's Folklore in the English and Scottish Ballads (1928).[1] Tolkien adds to his source a stern moral – repudiation of all traffic with the supernatural.[2]

Theme[edit | edit source]

First folio of the manuscript

In the poem, Aotrou and Itroun are a couple of Breton nobility. They are childless, and Aotrou seeks the help of a witch. When Itroun is with child, the witch reappears, revealing herself as the Corrigan, and asks for Aotrou's love as payment. Aotrou sacrifices his knightly honour to Christian values, and breaks his word.

"I gave no love. My love is wed;

my wife now lieth in child-bed,
and I curse the beast that cheated me

and drew me to this dell to thee."

Cursed by the Corrigan to die in three days, Aotrou takes the consequences and places his trust in Providence:

In three days I shall live at ease

and die but when it God doth please
in eld, or in some time to come

in the brave wars of Christendom.

Aotrou died after three days, followed by his wife with a broken heart. They are buried together, and they do not live to see their offspring grow up.

Relation to the legendarium[edit | edit source]

While not being among Tolkien's works on the legendarium, The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun includes aspects which appear to have inspired his tales of Arda:

Publication history and gallery[edit | edit source]

Initially The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun was published in The Welsh Review vol.IV, no.4 in 1945.[5]

More than 50 years later, the poem was first reprinted as a bilingual (Serbian/English) standalone book Pesma o Otruu i Itrun in 2002, in a limited edition of 500 copies.[6] An expanded edition of it was published in June 2015.[7]

The poem was published fully in English on 3 November 2016, edited by Verlyn Flieger.

1945 Welsh Review vol. IV, no. 4  
2002 Serbian/
English edition  
2015 Serbian/
English edition  
2016 hardcover  
2019 paperback  

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]


A J.R.R. Tolkien book guide
Books by or mainly by Tolkien
Of Arda Authored by
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
(i.The Fellowship of the Ring · ii.The Two Towers · iii.The Return of the King) ·
The Road Goes Ever On · Bilbo's Last Song
Edited by Christopher Tolkien The Silmarillion · Unfinished Tales · The History of Middle-earth series
(i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand · iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow · vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated · x.Morgoth's Ring · xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth · Index) ·
The Children of Húrin · Beren and Lúthien · The Fall of Gondolin
Edited by others The Annotated Hobbit · The History of The Hobbit · The Nature of Middle-earth · The Fall of Númenor
Not of Arda Short stories
and poems
Leaf by Niggle · Farmer Giles of Ham · Smith of Wootton Major · The Adventures of Tom Bombadil ·
Letters from Father Christmas · Mr. Bliss · Roverandom ·
Tree and Leaf (compilation) · Tales from the Perilous Realm (compilation)
Fictional works The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún · The Fall of Arthur · The Story of Kullervo · The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Translations and academic works Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo · Finn and Hengest ·
The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays · Beowulf and the Critics · Tolkien On Fairy-stories ·
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary · A Secret Vice · The Battle of Maldon
Less known academic works A Middle English Vocabulary · Sir Gawain and the Green Knight · Ancrene Wisse · The Old English Exodus
Letters The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Books by other authors
Biographies J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography · The Inklings · Tolkien and the Great War
Reference works The Complete Guide to Middle-earth · The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
Scholarly studies The Road to Middle-earth · The Keys of Middle-earth · The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion ·
The Ring of Words · A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien · Tolkien's Lost Chaucer · Tolkien's Library
Scholarly journals Tolkien Studies · (The Chronology)
Other works by Tolkien
Linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar various issues · Parma Eldalamberon issue 11-22
Collections of artwork
and manuscripts
Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien · J.R.R. Tolkien: Life and Legend · J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator ·
The Art of The Hobbit · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth ·
Tolkien: Treasures · J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript
This list is only a selection of works, for a fuller bibliography of Tolkien see here or here. See also a timeline.