Poems early abandoned icon

Poems early abandoned



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POEMS EARLY ABANDONED


During his time at the University of Leeds my father embarked on five distinct poetical works concerned with the matter of the mythology; but three of these went no farther than the open­ings. This chapter treats each of them in turn.

(i) The Flight of the Noldoli

There do not seem to be any certain indications of the date of this brief poem in alliterative verse in relation to The Children of Hurin (though it is worth noticing that already is the earliest of three texts of The Flight of the Noldoli Feanor's son Cranthir is so named, whereas this form only arose by emendation of Cranthor in the typescript text of the Lay (line 1719)). However, both from its general air and from various details it can be seen that it comes from die same time; and since it seems unlikely that (on the one hand) my father would have embarked on a new poem in alliterative verse unless he had laid the other aside, or that (on the other) he would have returned to this mode once he was fully engaged on a long poem in rhyming couplets, I think it very probable that The Flight of the Noldoli comes from the earlier part of 1925 (see pp. 2, 94).

Each of the three manuscripts of the poem (A, B, and C) is differently titled: A has The Flight of the Gnomes as sung in the Halls of Thingol; B (pencilled in later) Flight of the Gnomes: C The Flight of the Noldoli from Valinor. A has emendations that are taken up in the text of B, and B has emendations taken up in C; almost all are characteristic metrical/verbal rearrangements, as for example in line 17:

A in anguish mourning, emended to me reading of B;

B and in anguish mourn, emended to the reading of C;

C mourning in anguish.

As generally in this book, earlier variants that have no bearing on names or story are not cited. Each text ends at me same point, but three further lines are roughly written in the margin of A (see note to line 146). •

I give now the text of the third version. C.


^ THE FLIGHT OF THE NOLDOU FROM VALINOR


A! the Trees of Light, tail and shapely,

gold and silver, more glorious than the sun,

than the moon more magical, o'er the meads of the Gods

their fragrant frith and flowerladen

gardens gleaming, once gladly shone. 5

In death they are darkened, they drop their leaves

from blackened branches bled by Morgoth

and Ungoliant the grim the Gloomweaver.


In spider's form despair and shadow

a shuddering fear and shapeless night 10

she weaves in a web of winding venom

that is black and breathless. Their branches fail,

the light and laughter of their leaves are quenched.

Mirk goes marching, mists of blackness,

through the halls of the Mighty hushed and empty, 15

the gates of the Gods are in gloom mantled.


Lo! the Elves murmur mourning in anguish,

but no more shall be kindled the mirth of Cor

in the winding ways of their walled city,

towercrowned Tun, whose twinkling lamps

are drowned in darkness. The dim fingers

of fog come floating from the formless waste

and sunless seas. The sound of horns,

of horses' hooves hastening wildly

in hopeless hunt, they hear afar,

where the Gods in wrath those guilty ones

through mournful shadow, now mounting as a tide

o'er the Blissful Realm, in blind dismay

pursue unceasing. The city of me Elves

is thickly thronged. On threadlike stairs

carven of crystal countless torches

stare and twinkle, stain the twilight

and gleaming balusters of green beryl.

A vague rumour of rushing voices,

as myriads mount the marble paths,

there fills and troubles those fair places

wide ways of Tun and walls of pearl.


Of the Three Kindreds to that clamorous throng

are none but the Gnomes in numbers drawn.

The Elves of Ing to the ancient halls 40

and starry gardens that stand and gleam

upon Timbrenting towering mountain

that day had climbed to the cloudy-domed

mansions of Manwe for mirth and song.

There Bredhil the Blessed the bluemantled, 45

the Lady of the heights as lovely as the snow

in lights gleaming of the legions of the stars,

the cold immortal Queen of mountains,

too fair and terrible too far and high

for mortal eyes, in Manwe's court 50

sat silently as they sang to her.


The Foam-riders, folk of waters,

Elves of the endless echoing beaches,

of the bays and grottoes and the blue lagoons,

of silver sands sown with moonlit, 55

starlit, sunlit, stones of crystal,

paleburning gems pearls and opals,

on their shining shingle, where now shadows groping

clutched their laughter, quenched in mourning

their mirth and wonder, in amaze wandered 60

under cliffs grown cold calling dimly,

or in shrouded ships shuddering waited

for the light no more should be lit for ever.


But the Gnomes were numbered by name and kin,

marshalled and ordered in the mighty square 65

upon the crown of C6r. There cried aloud

the fierce son of Finn. Flaming torches

he held and whirled in his hands aloft.

those hands whose craft me hidden secret

knew, that none Gnome or mortal 70

hath matched or mastered in magic or in skill.

'Lo! slain is my sire by the swords of fiends,

his death he has drunk at the doors of his hall

and deep fastness, where darkly hidden

the Three were guarded, the things unmatched 75

that Gnome and Elf and the Nine Valar

can never remake or renew on earth,

recarve or rekindle by craft or magic,

not Feanor Finn's son who fashioned them of yore—

the light is lost whence he lit them first, 80

the fate of Faerie hath found its hour


Thus the witless wisdom its reward hath earned

of the Gods' jealousy, who guard us here

to serve them, sing to them in our sweet cages,

to contrive them gems and jewelled trinkets, 85

their leisure to please with our loveliness,

while they waste and squander work of ages,

nor can Morgoth master in their mansions sitting

at countless councils. Now come ye all,

who have courage and hope! My call harken 90

to flight, to freedom in far places!

The woods of the world whose wide mansions

yet in darkness dream drowned in slumber;

the pathless plains and perilous shores

no moon yet shines on nor mounting dawn

in dew and daylight hath drenched for ever,

far better were these for bold footsteps

than gardens of the Gods gloom-encircled

with idleness filled and empty days.

Yea! though the light lit them and the loveliness

beyond heart's desire that hath held us slaves

here long and long. But that light is dead.

Our gems are gone, our jewels ravished;

and the Three, my Three, thrice-enchanted

globes of crystal by gleam undying

illumined, lit by living splendour

and all hues' essence, their eager flame—

Morgoth has them in his monstrous hold,

my Silmarils. I swear here oaths,

unbreakable bonds to bind me ever,

by Timbrenting and the timeless halls

of Bredhil the Blessed that abides thereon—

may she hear and heed— to hunt endlessly

unwearying unwavering through world and sea,

through leaguered lands, lonely mountains,

over fens and forest and the fearful snows,

till I find those fair ones, where me fate is hid

of the folk of Elfland and their fortune locked,

where alone now lies the light divine.'


Then his sons beside him, the seven kinsmen,

crafty Curufin, Celegorm the fair,

Damrod and Diriel and dark Cranthir,

Maglor the mighty, and Maidros tall

(the eldest, whose ardour yet more eager burnt

than his father's flame, than Feanor's wrath;

him fate awaited with fell purpose),

these leapt with laughter their lord beside,

with linked hands there lightly took

the oath unbreakable; blood thereafter

it spilled like a sea and spent the swords 130

of endless armies, nor hath ended yet:


'Be he friend or foe or foul offspring

of Morgoth Bauglir, be he mortal dark

that in after days on earth shall dwell,

shall no law nor love nor league of Gods, 135

no might nor mercy, not moveless fate,

defend him for ever from the fierce vengeance

of the sons of Feanor, whoso seize or steal

or finding keep the fair enchanted

globes of crystal whoso glory dies not, 140

the Silmarils. We have sworn for ever!’


Then a mighty murmuring was moved abroad

and me harkening host hailed them roaring:

'Let us go! yea go from the Gods for ever

on Morgoth's trail o'er the mountains of the world 145

to vengeance and victory! Your vows are ours!'

The poem ends here (but see note to line 146).


NOTES



41 starry gardens C, starlit domes A, B.

42 Tengwethil's A (with Trimbrenling written in margin),

Timbrenting's B, Timbrenting C (with Taingwethil

written in margin). See note to The Children of Hurin

(second version) line 812. 45 Bridhil A, B, C, emended in C to Bredhil so also at

line 112. 107 and all hues' essence: this half-line (in the form all

hue's essence) occurs also in the second version of

The Children of Hurin, line 381, where it is said of

the Silmaril of Beren. Ill Tengwethil A, Timbrenting B. C. .

134 that in after days on earth shall dwell: this line bracketed later in pencil in C.

146 There are three roughly-written lines in the margin of the last page of A which were not taken up in B and C, but which presumably follow on line 146:


But Finweg cried Fingolfin's son

when his father found that fair counsel,

that wit and wisdom were of worth no more;

'Fools


*****************************************************************************



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