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Luthien Tinuviel -- J R R Tolkien

Guest poem sent in by Aseem Kaul
(Poem #1138) Luthien Tinuviel
 "The leaves were long, the grass was green,
 The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
 And in the glade a light was seen
 Of stars in shadow shimmering.
 Tinuviel was dancing there
 To music of a pipe unseen,
 And light of stars was in her hair,
 And in her rainment glimmering.

 There Beren came from mountains cold.
 And lost he wandered under leaves,
 And where the Elven-river rolled
 He walked alone and sorrowing.
 He peered between the hemlock-leaves
 And saw in wonder flowers of gold
 Upon her mantle and her sleeves,
 And her hair like shadow following.

 Enchantment healed his weary feet
 That over hills were doomed to roam;
 And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,
 And grasped at moonbeams glistening.
 Through woven woods in Elvenhome
 She lightly fled on dancing feet,
 And left him lonely still to roam
 In the silent forest listening.

 He heard there oft the flying sound
 Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
 Or music welling underground,
 In hidden hollows quavering.
 Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,
 And one by one with sighing sound
 Whispering fell the beachen leaves
 In wintry woodland wavering.

 He sought her ever, wandering far
 Where leaves of years were thickly strewn,
 By light of moon and ray of star
 In frosty heavens shivering.
 Her mantle glinted in the moon,
 As on a hill-top high and far
 She danced, and at her feet was strewn
 A mist of silver quivering.

 When winter passed, she came again,
 And her song released the sudden spring,
 Like rising lark, and falling rain,
 And melting water bubbling.
 He saw the elven-flowers spring
 About her feet, and healed again
 He longed by her to dance and sing
 Upon the grass untroubling.

 Again she fled, but swift he came,
 Tinuviel! Tinuviel!
 He called her by her elvish name;
 And there she halted listening.
 One moment stood she, and a spell
 His voice laid on her: Beren came,
 And doom fell on Tinuviel
 That in his arms lay glistening.

 As Beren looked into her eyes
 Within the shadows of her hair,
 The trembling starlight of the skies
 He saw there mirrored shimmering.
 Tinuviel the elven-fair,
 Immortal maiden elven-wise,
 About him cast her shadowy hair
 And arms like silver glimmering.

 Long was the way that fate them bore,
 O'er stony mountains cold and grey,
 Through halls of iron and darkling door,
 And woods of nightshade morrowless.
 The Sundering Seas between them lay,
 And yet at last they met once more,
 And long ago they passed away
 In the forest singing sorrowless."
-- J R R Tolkien
Jan 3rd was apparently Tolkien's eleventy-first birthday. So I figured the
best way to celebrate it was with his poetry.

Though this isn't perhaps the most adept of Tolkien's poems (the rhyme
pattern is fairly weak - for Tolkien [my problem with the form is that it
lays undue emphasis on the fourth and eighth lines of each stanza -
martin]), I love it for the mythic charm of the stanzas, for the way the
words roll of your tongue, so that you can almost imagine that the poem is
not in English, but in Quenya. The story of Beren and Luthien, with its
operatic ardour, has always been for me one of the most memorable parts of
the Silmarillion. And Tolkien here makes of it a song fit for the grandest
minstrel, so that I am left nostalgic not only for these two lovers but for
all the Eldar and all the lost and forgotten histories of Middle Earth.

Happy Birthday, JRRT. And thanks.

Aseem

45 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Daniel Bennett said...

I may be easily impressed and not overly familiar with Tolkien's other rhymes but a consistent pattern of
A
B
A
C
B
A
B
C
with all of the C's in all of the verses ending with "ing" impresses me.

I like this tale of manly pursuit of an ephemeral and coquettish beauty. Something mythic about the pursuit of truth, perhaps. O the depth of a pretty poem!

½É À±°æ said...

> Again she fled, but swift he came,

> Within the shadows of her hair,

Thanks a lot for sending this poem(I really like
Tolkien). I hope you'll excuse me for butting in. I
don't know how it happened, but some lines are
missing. After 'swift he came', there should be a
'paragraph' about their meeting. Perhaps I should have
sent this mail to Aseem-Kaul, but ... well... I feel
like a tossed-around potatoe sack right now and I
can't really think properly.

Newtown School Computer Room PC 35 said...

There was one just of Luthien I can't find on the net in the silmarillion, which I have at home but I can't get it right now... Well it says in it

Luthien tinuviel
More fair than mortal tongues can tell

The pattern is AA BB CC etc.
Just to tell you... I may put it in another time.
Thanks.

Elleth Fëannel Náriel said...

I love this poem; it might not be very consistent in rhyming but its still pretty. A note though:

Again she fled, but swift he came
Tinúviel! Tinúviel!
He called her by her elvish name
and there she halted listening.
One moment stood she, and a spell
his voice lay on her; Beren came,
and doom fell on Tinúviel
that in his arms lay glistening.

As Beren looked into her eyes,
within the shadows of her hair...

That's just from memory, and so it may not be exact, but I can remember that much of it. Also, in Quenta Silmarillion:

Farewell sweet earth and northern sky,
for ever blest, since here did lie
and here with lissom limbs did run
beneath the Moon, beneath the Sun
Lúthien Tinúviel
more fair than Mortal tongue can tell.
Though all to ruin fell the world
and were dissolved and backward hurled;
unmade into the old abyss
yet were its making good, for this -
the dusk, the dawn, the earth, the sea
that Lúthien for a time should be.

Also from memory, so the puncuation might not be correct, but I'm pretty sure that's the poem.
from Fëannel

Gabrielle Mardon said...

I just wanted to thank for sending in such a great poem; its on of my favourites, I love the way the written! -Guenivere

Alan Beeden said...

Tolkien freak...
Love his poems and think that this has some of his best descriptive
sentences.
Thanks for putting this in,
*Elanor*

Anita Larsson Friedenberg said...

No, as a poet, myself, with some poetry published, Tolkien has outdone himself with this poem about Tinuviel and Beren. The rhyme scheme is: as one as already said, "ABACBABC," and it sings to you, as musically as a "nightingale" which in High Elvish, I have been told does translate to
"Tinuviel."

Just envision the mists and silver, as well as Tolkiens own way of defining his many trees and leaves and how he uses them to define time passing. It is stunning. Plus, which, I have never heard anyone refer to beech tree leaves as "beechen." His ingenuity is awesome, and it is one of the most romantic poems I have ever stumbled across. A very dear friend sent it to me, and I will keep that poem forever.

If only my imagery were as vivid, and my "voice" so lyrical. This is a "magical" piece. Do not underestimate the ability of Tolkien to keep to a rhyme scheme; it is far better than a sonnet. The Romantic poets of British Literature such as Keats or Shelley are by far, no better, than Tolkien. He was a genius.

bekah said...

Thanks for posting this! It is a perfectly wonderful poem, overwhelming even to my philistine 8-yr old self. I could barely read, and I would carry around this book and ask grown-ups to read it to me again and again...

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