The book of lost tales p.., p.36
The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two, p.36J. R. R. Tolkien
Seventh part. In B the concluding part of the tale is merely summarised in the words ‘His voyage to the firmament’, with a reference to the other outline C, and in the latter we get some glimpses of a narrative. It seems to be suggested that the brightness of Eärendel (quite unconnected with the Silmaril) arose from the ‘diamond dust’ of Kôr, but also in some sense from the exaltation of his grief. An isolated jotting elsewhere in C asks: ‘What became of the Silmarils after the capture of Melko?’ My father at this time gave no answer to the question; but the question is itself a testimony to the relatively minor importance of the jewels of Fëanor, if also, perhaps, a sign of his awareness that they would not always remain so, that in them lay a central meaning of the mythology, yet to be discovered.
It seems too that Eärendel sailed into the sky in continuing search for Elwing (‘he sets sail on the oceans of the firmament in order to gaze over the Earth’); and that his passing through the Door of Night (the entrance made by the Gods in the Wall of Things in the West, see I.215–16) did not come about through any devising, but because he was hunted by the Moon. With this last idea, cf. I.193, where Ilinsor, steersman of the Moon, is said to ‘hunt the stars’.
The later of the two schemes for the Lost Tales, which gives a quite substantial outline for Gilfanon’s Tale, where I have called it ‘D’ (see I.234), here fails us, for the concluding passage is very condensed, in part erased, and ends abruptly early in the Tale of Eärendel. I give it here, beginning at a slightly earlier point in the narrative:
Of the death of Tinwelint and the flight of Gwenethlin [see p. 51]. How Beren avenged Tinwelint and how the Necklace became his. How it brought sickness to Tinúviel [see p. 246], and how Beren and Tinúviel faded from the Earth. How their sons [sic] dwelt after them and how the sons of Fëanor came up against them with a host because of the Silmaril. How all were slain but Elwing daughter of Daimord [see p. 139] son of Beren fled with the Necklace.
Of Tuor’s vessel with white sails.
How folk of the Lothlim dwelt at Sirion’s Mouth. Eärendel grew fairest of all Men that were or are. How the mermaids (Oarni) loved him. How Elwing came to the Lothlim and of the love of Elwing and Eärendel. How Tuor fell into age, and how Ulmo beckoned to him at eve, and he set forth on the waters and was lost. How Idril swam after him.
(In the following passage my father seems at first to have written: ‘Eärendel…….. Oarni builded Wingilot and set forth in search of….leaving Voronwë with Elwing’, where the first lacuna perhaps said ‘with the aid of’, though nothing is now visible; but then he wrote ‘Eärendel built Swanwing’, and then partly erased the passage: it is impossible to see now what his intention was.)
Elwing’s lament. How Ulmo forbade his quest but Eärendel would yet sail to find a passage to Mandos. How Wingilot was wrecked at Falasquil and how Eärendel found the carven house of Tuor there.
Here Scheme D ends. There is also a reference at an earlier point in it to ‘the messengers sent from Gondolin. The doves of Gondolin fly to Valinor at the fall of that town.’
This outline seems to show a move to reduce the complexity of the narrative, with Wingilot being the ship in which Eärendel attempted to sail to Mandos and in which he was wrecked at Falasquil; but the outline is too brief and stops too soon to allow any certain conclusions to be drawn.
A fourth outline, which I will call ‘E’, is found on a detached sheet; in this Tuor is called Tûr (see p. 148).
Fall of Gondolin. The feast of Glorfindel. The dwelling by the waters of Sirion’s mouth. The mermaids come to Eärendel.
Tûr groweth sea-hungry—his song to Eärendel. One evening he calls Eärendel and they go to the shore. There is a skiff. Tûr bids farewell to Eärendel and bids him thrust it off—the skiff fares away into the West. Eärendel hears a great song swelling from the sea as Tûr’s skiff dips over the world’s rim. His passion of tears upon the shore. The lament of Idril.
The building of Earum.9 The coming of Elwing. Eärendel’s reluctance. The whetting of Idril. The voyage and foundering of Earum in the North, and the vanishing of Idril. How the seamaids rescued Eärendel, and brought him to Tûr’s bay. His coastwise journey.
The rape of Elwing. Eärendel discovers the ravaging of Sirion’s mouth.
The building of Wingelot. He searches for Elwing and is blown far to the South. Wirilómë. He escapes eastward. He goes back westward; he descries the Bay of Faëry. The Tower of Pearl, the magic isles, the great shadows. He finds Kôr empty; he sails back, crusted with dust and his face afire. He learns of Elwing’s foundering. He sitteth on the Isle of Seabirds. Elwing as a seamew comes to him. He sets sail over the margent of the world.
Apart from the fuller account of Tuor’s departure from the mouths of Sirion, not much can be learned from this—it is too condensed. But even allowing for speed and compression, there seem to be essential differences from B and C. Thus in this outline (E) Elwing, as it appears, comes to Sirion at a later point in the story, after the departure of Tuor; but the raid and capture of Elwing seems to take place at an earlier point, while Eärendel is on his way back to Sirion from his shipwreck in the North (not, as in B and C, while he is on the great voyage in Wingilot that took him to Kôr). Here, it seems, there was to be only one northward journey, ending in the shipwreck of Earámë/Earum near Falasquil. Though it cannot be demonstrated, I incline to think that E was subsequent to B and C: partly because the reduction of two northward voyages ending in shipwreck to one seems more likely than the other way about, and partly because of the form Tûr, which, though it did not survive, replaced Tuor for a time (p. 148).
One or two other points may be noticed in this outline. The great spider, called Ungweliantë in C but here Wirilómë (‘Gloomweaver’, see I.152), is here encountered by Eärendel in the far South, not as in C on his westward voyage: see p. 256. Elwing in this version comes to Eärendel as a seabird (as she does in The Silmarillion, p. 247), which is not said in C and even seems to be denied.
Another isolated page (associated with the poem ‘The Bidding of the Minstrel’, see pp. 269–70 below) gives a very curious account of Eärendel’s great voyage:
Eärendel’s boat goes through North. Iceland. [Added in margin: back of North Wind.] Greenland, and the wild islands: a mighty wind and crest of great wave carry him to hotter climes, to back of West Wind. Land of strange men, land of magic. The home of Night. The Spider. He escapes from the meshes of Night with a few comrades, sees a great mountain island and a golden city [added in margin: Kôr]—wind blows him southward. Tree-men, Sun-dwellers, spices, fire-mountains, red sea: Mediterranean (loses his boat (travels afoot through wilds of Europe?)) or Atlantic.* Home. Waxes aged. Has a new boat builded. Bids adieu to his north land. Sails west again to the lip of the world, just as the Sun is diving into the sea. He sets sail upon the sky and returns no more to earth.
The golden city was Kôr and he had caught the music of the Solosimpë, and returns to find it, only to find that the fairies have departed from Eldamar. See little book. Dusted with diamond dust climbing the deserted streets of Kôr.
One would certainly suppose this account to be earlier than anything so far considered (both from the fact that Eärendel’s history after his return from the great voyage seems to bear no relation to that in B and C, and from his voyage being set in the lands and oceans of the known world), were it not for the reference to the ‘little book’, which must mean ‘Notebook C’, from which the outline C above is taken (see p. 254). But I think it very probable (and the appearance of the MS rather supports this) that the last paragraph (‘The golden city. was Kôr…’) was added later, and that the rest of the outline belongs with the earliest writing of the poem, in the winter of 1914.
It is notable that only here in the earliest writings is it made clear that the ‘diamond dust’ that coated Eärendel came from the streets of Kôr (cf. the passage from The Silmarillion cited on p. 257).
Another of the early Eärendel poems, ‘The Shore
Eärendel the Wanderer who beat about the Oceans of the World in his white ship Wingelot sat long while in his old age upon the Isle of Seabirds in the Northern Waters ere he set forth upon a last voyage.
He passed Taniquetil and even Valinor, and drew his bark over the bar at the margin of the world, and launched it on the Oceans of the Firmament. Of his ventures there no man has told, save that hunted by the orbed Moon he fled back to Valinor, and mounting the towers of Kôr upon the rocks of Eglamar he gazed back upon the Oceans of the World. To Eglamar he comes ever at plenilune when the Moon sails a-harrying beyond Taniquetil and Valinor.*
Both here and in the outline associated with ‘The Bidding of the Minstrel’ Eärendel was conceived to be an old man when he journeyed into the firmament.
No other ‘connected’ account of the Tale of Eärendel exists from the earliest period. There are however a number of separate notes, mostly in the form of single sentences, some found in the little notebook C, others jotted down on slips. I collect these references here more or less in the sequence of the tale.
(i) ‘Dwelling in the Isle of Sirion in a house of snow-white stone.’—In C (p. 254) it is said that Eärendel dwelt with Tuor and Idril at Sirion’s mouth by the sea ‘on the Isles of Sirion’.
(ii) ‘The Oarni give to Eärendel a wonderful shining silver coat that wets not. They love Eärendel, in Ossë’s despite, and teach him the lore of boat-building and of swimming, as he plays with them about the shores of Sirion.’—In the outlines are found references to the love of the Oarni for Eärendel (D, p. 259), the coming of the mermaids to him (E, p. 260), and to Ossë’s enmity (C, p. 254).
(iii) Eärendel was smaller than most men but nimble-footed and a swift swimmer (but Voronwë could not swim).
(iv) ‘Idril and Eärendel see Tuor’s boat dropping into the twilight and a sound of song.’—In B Tuor’s sailing is ’secret’ (p. 253), in C ‘Idril sees him too late’ (p. 254), and in E Eärendel is present at Tuor’s departure and thrusts the boat out: ‘he hears a great song swelling from the sea’ (p. 260).
(v) ‘Death of Idril?—follows secretly after Tuor.’—That Idril died is denied in C: ‘Tuor and Idril some say sail now in Swanwing…’ (p. 255); in D Idril swam after him (p. 260).
(vi) ‘Tuor has sailed back to Falasquil and so back up Ilbranteloth to Asgon where he sits playing on his lonely harp on the islanded rock.’—This is marked with a query and an ‘X’ implying rejection of the idea. There are curious references to the ‘islanded rock’ in Asgon in the outlines for Gilfanon’s Tale (see I.238).
(vii) ‘The fiord of the Mermaid: enchantment of his sailors. Mermaids are not Oarni (but are earthlings, or fays?—or both).’—In D (p. 259) Mermaids and Oarni are equated.
(viii) The ship Wingilot was built of wood from Falasquil with ‘aid of the Oarni’.—This was probably said also in D: see p. 260.
(ix) Wingilot was ‘shaped as a swan of pearls’.
(x) ‘The doves and pigeons of Turgon’s courtyard bring message to Valinor—only to Elves.’—Other references to the birds that flew from Gondolin also say that they came to the Elves, or to Kôr (pp. 253, 255, 257).
(xi) ‘During his voyages Eärendel sights the white walls of Kôr gleaming afar off, but is carried away by Ossë’s adverse winds and waves.’—The same is said in B (p. 253) of Eärendel’s sighting of Tol Eresseäa on his homeward voyage from Kôr.
(xii) ‘The Sleeper in the Tower of Pearl awakened by Littleheart’s gong: a messenger that was despatched years ago by Turgon and enmeshed in magics. Even now he cannot leave the Tower and warns them of the magic.’—In C there is a statement, rejected, that the Sleeper in the Tower of Pearl was Idril herself (see note 6).
(xiii) ‘Ulmo’s protection removed from Sirion in wrath at Eärendel’s second attempt to Mandos, and hence Melko overwhelmed it.’—This note is struck through, with an ‘X’ written against it; but in D (p. 260) it is said that ‘Ulmo forbade his quest but Eärendel would yet sail to find a passage to Mandos’. The meaning of this must be that it was contrary to Ulmo’s purpose that Eärendel should seek to Mandos for his father, but must rather attempt to reach Kôr.
(xiv) ‘Eärendel weds Elwing before he sets sail. When he hears of her loss he says that his children shall be “all such men hereafter as dare the great seas in ships”.’—With this cf. The Cottage of Lost Play (I.13): ‘even such a son of Eärendel as was this wayfarer’, and (I.18): ‘a man of great and excellent travel, a son meseems of Eärendel’. In an outline of Eriol’s life (I.24) it is said that he was a son of Eärendel, born under his beam, and that if a beam from Eärendel fall on a child newborn he becomes ‘a child of Eärendel’ and a wanderer. In the early dictionary of Qenya there is an entry: Eärendilyon ‘son of Eärendel (used of any mariner)’ (I.251).
(xv) ‘Eärendel goes even to the empty Halls of Iron seeking Elwing.’—Eärendel must have gone to Angamandi (empty after the defeat of Melko) at the same time as he went to the ruins of Gondolin (pp. 253, 255).
(xvi) The loss of the ship carrying Elwing and the Nauglafring took place on the voyage to Tol Eressëa with the exodus of the Elves from the Great Lands.—See my remarks, pp. 258–9. For the ‘appeasing’ of Mîm’s curse by the drowning of the Nauglafring see the Appendix on Names, entry Nauglafring. The departure of the Elves to Tol Eressëa is discussed in the next chapter (p. 280).
(xvii) ‘Eärendel and the northern tower on the Isle of Seabirds.’—In C (p. 255) Eärendel ‘sets sail with Voronwë and dwells on the Isle of Seabirds in the northern waters (not far from Falasquil)—and there hopes that Elwing will return among the seabirds’ in B (p. 253) ‘he sights the Isle of Seabirds “whither do all the birds of all waters come at whiles”.’ There is a memory of this in The Silmarillion, p. 250: ‘Therefore there was built for [Elwing] a white tower northward upon the borders of the Sundering Seas; and thither at times all the seabirds of the earth repaired.’
(xviii) When Eärendel comes to Mandos he finds that Tuor is ‘not in Valinor, nor Erumáni, and neither Elves nor Ainu know where he is. (He is with Ulmo.)’—In C (p. 255) Eärendel, reaching the Halls of Mandos, learns that Tuor ‘is gone to Valinor’. For the possibility that Tuor might be in Erumáni or Valinor see I.91 ff.
(xix) Eärendel ‘returns from the firmament ever and anon with Voronwë to Kôr to see if the Magic Sun has been lit and the fairies have come back—but the Moon drives him back’.—On Eärendel’s return from the firmament see (xxi) below; on the Rekindling of the Magic Sun see p. 286.
Two statements about Eärendel cited previously may be added here:
(xx) In the tale of The Theft of Melko (I.141) it is said that ‘on the walls of Kôr were many dark tales written in pictured symbols, and runes of great beauty were drawn there too or carved upon stones, and Eärendel read many a wondrous tale there long ago’.
(xxi) The Name-list to The Fall of Gondolin has the following entry (cited on p. 215): ‘Eärendel was the son of Tuor and Idril and ’tis said the only being that is half of the kindred of the Eldalië and half of Men. He was the greatest and first of all mariners among Men, and saw regions that Men have not yet found nor gazed upon for all the multitude of their boats. He rideth now with Voronwë upon the winds of the firmament nor comes ever further back than Kôr, else would he die like other Men, so much of the mortal is in him.’—In the outline associated with the poem ‘The Bidding of the Minstrel’ Eärendel ‘sets sail upon the sky and returns no more to earth’ (p. 261); in the prose preface to ‘The Shores of Faëry’ ‘to Eglamar he comes ever at plenilune when the Moon sails-a-harrying beyond Taniquetil and Valinor’ (p. 262); in outline C ‘he cannot now return to the world or he will die’ (p. 255); and in citation (xix) above he ‘returns from the firmament ever and anon with Voronwë to Kôr’.
In The Silmarillion (p.
This brings to an end all the ‘prose’ materials that bear on the earliest form of the Tale of Eärendel (apart from a few other references to him that appear in the next chapter). With these outlines and notes we are at a very early stage of composition, when the conceptions were fluid and had not been given even preliminary narrative form: the myth was present in certain images that were to endure, but these images had not been articulated.
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