The Lonely Isle

From Tolkien Gateway

The Lonely Isle is a poem written by J.R.R. Tolkien as he crossed the English channel with troops in June of 1916. It was published in 1924 within Leeds University Verse 1914-24. It was then republished in Tolkien and the Great War in 2003.

The poem

O glimmering island set sea-girdled and alone—
A gleam of white rock through a sunny haze;
O all ye hoary caverns ringing with the moan
Of long green waters in the southern bays;
Ye murmurous never-ceasing voices of the tide;
Ye plumèd foams wherein the shoreland spirits ride;
Ye white birds flying from the whispering coast
And wailing conclaves of the silver shore,
Sea-voiced, sea-wingèd, lamentable host
Who cry about unharboured beaches evermore,
Who sadly whistling skim these waters grey
And wheel about my lonely outward way -

For me for ever thy forbidden marge appears
A gleam of white rock over sundering seas,
And thou art crowned in glory through a mist of tears,
Thy shores all full of music, and thy lands of ease—
Old haunts of many children robed in flowers,
Until the sun pace down his arch of hours,
When in the silence fairies with a wistful heart
Dance to soft airs their harps and viols weave.
Down the great wastes and in a gloom apart
I long for thee and thy fair citadel,
Where echoing through the lighted elms at eve
In a high inland tower there peals a bell:
    O lonely, sparkling isle, farewell!

See also