The Song of Eriol

From Tolkien Gateway

The Song of Eriol is a poem written by J.R.R. Tolkien in 1917. It uses the opening segment from his 1916 poem, The Sorrowful City.[1]

The poem

Eriol made a song in the Room of the Tale-fire telling how his feet were sect to wandering, so that in the end he found the Lonely Isle and that fairest town Kortirion.

In unknown days my fathers' sires
came, and from son to son took root
among the orchards and the river-meads
and the long grasses of the fragrant plain:

many a summer saw they kindle yellow fires
of flaglilies among the bowing reeds,
and many a sea of blossom turn to golden fruit
in walled gardens of the great champain.

There daffodils among the ordered trees
did nod in spring, and men laughed deep and long
singing as they laboured happy lays
and lighting even with a drinking-song.

There sleep came easy for the drone of bees
thronging about cottage gardens heaped with flowers;
in love of sunlit goodliness of days
there richly flowed their lives in settled hours -
but that was long ago,
and now no more they sing, nor reap, nor sow;
and I perforce in many a town about this isle
unsettled wanderer have dwelt awhile.

Wars of great kings and clash of armouries,
whose swords no man could tell, whose spears
were numerous as a wheatfield's ears,
rolled over all the Great Lands; and the Seas

Were loud with navies; their devouring fires
behind the armies burned both fields and towns;
and sacked and crumbled or to flaming pyres
were cities made, where treasuries and crowns,

Kings and their folk, their wives and tender maids
were all consumed. Now silent are those courts,
ruined the towers, whose old shape slowly fades,
and no feet pass beneath their broken ports.

There fell my father on a field of blood,
and in a hungry siege my mother died,
and I, a captive, heard the great seas' flood
calling and calling, that my spirit cried

For the dark western shores whence long ago had come
sires of my mother, and I broke my bonds,
faring o'er wasted valleys and dead lands
until my feet were moistened by the western sea,
until my ears were deafened by the hum,
the splash, and roaring of the western sea -
but that was long ago
and now the dark bays and unknown waves I know,
the twilight capes, the misty archipelago,
and all the perilous sounds and salt wastes 'tween this isle
of magic and the coasts I knew awhile.

See also