The book of lost tales p.., p.38
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       The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two, p.38

           J. R. R. Tolkien

  That mirrors beams forlorn and lights that fade;

  And sea goes washing round the dark rock where it stands,

  And fairy boats go by to gloaming lands 10

  All piled and twinkling in the gloom

  With hoarded sparks of orient fire

  That divers won in waters of the unknown Sun

  And, maybe, ’tis a throbbing silver lyre,

  Or voices of grey sailors echo up 15

  Afloat among the shadows of the world

  In oarless shallop and with canvas furled;

  For often seems there ring of feet and song

  Or twilit twinkle of a trembling gong.

  O! happy mariners upon a journey long 20

  To those great portals on the Western shores

  Where far away constellate fountains leap,

  And dashed against Night’s dragon-headed doors,

  In foam of stars fall sparkling in the deep.

  While I alone look out behind the Moon 25

  From in my white and windy tower,

  Ye bide no moment and await no hour,

  But chanting snatches of a mystic tune

  Go through the shadows and the dangerous seas

  Past sunless lands to fairy leas 30

  Where stars upon the jacinth wall of space

  Do tangle burst and interlace.

  Ye follow Earendel through the West,

  The shining mariner, to Islands blest;

  While only from beyond that sombre rim 35

  A wind returns to stir these crystal panes

  And murmur magically of golden rains

  That fall for ever in those spaces dim.

  In The Hiding of Valinor (I.215) it is told that when the Sun was first made the Valar purposed to draw it beneath the Earth, but that

  it was too frail and lissom; and much precious radiance was spilled in their attempts about the deepest waters, and escaped to linger as secret sparks in many an unknown ocean cavern. These have many elfin divers, and divers of the fays, long time sought beyond the outmost East, even as is sung in the song of the Sleeper in the Tower of Pearl.

  That ‘The Happy Mariners’ was in fact ‘the song of the Sleeper in the Tower of Pearl’ seems assured by lines 10–13 of the poem.

  For ‘Night’s dragon-headed doors’ see p. 273. The meaning of jacinth in ‘the jacinth wall of space’ (line 31) is ‘blue’ cf. ‘the deep-blue walls’ in The Hiding of Valinor (1.215).

  Many years later my father rewrote the poem, and I give this version here. Still later he turned to it again and made a few further alterations (here recorded in footnotes); at this time he noted that the revised version dated from ‘1940?’.


  I know a window in a Western tower

  that opens on celestial seas,

  and there from wells of dark behind the stars

  blows ever cold a keen unearthly breeze.

  It is a white tower builded on the Twilit Isles, 5

  and springing from their everlasting shade

  it glimmers like a house of lonely pearl,

  where lights forlorn take harbour ere they fade.

  Its feet are washed by waves that never rest.

  There silent boats go by into the West 10

  all piled and twinkling in the dark

  with orient fire in many a hoarded spark

  that divers won

  in waters of the rumoured Sun.

  There sometimes throbs below a silver harp, 15

  touching the heart with sudden music sharp;

  or far beneath the mountains high and sheer

  the voices of grey sailors echo clear,

  afloat among the shadows of the world

  in oarless ships and with their canvas furled, 20

  chanting a farewell and a solemn song:

  for wide the sea is, and the journey long.

  O happy mariners upon a journey far,

  beyond the grey islands and past Gondobar,

  to those great portals on the final shores 25

  where far away constellate fountains leap,

  and dashed against Night’s dragon-headed doors

  in foam of stars fall sparkling in the deep!

  While I, alone, look out behind the moon

  from in my white and windy tower, 30

  ye bide no moment and await no hour,

  but go with solemn song and harpers’ tune

  through the dark shadows and the shadowy seas

  to the last land of the Two Trees,

  whose fruit and flower are moon and sun, 35

  where light of earth is ended and begun.

  Last revisions:

  3 and there omitted

  blows ever cold] there ever blows

  17 mountains] mountain

  22 the journey] their journey

  29 While I look out alone

  30 imprisoned in the white and windy tower

  31 ye] you

  33–6 struck through

  Ye follow Eärendel without rest,

  the shining mariner, beyond the West,

  who passed the mouth of night and launched his bark

  upon the outer seas of everlasting dark. 40

  Here only comes at whiles a wind to blow

  returning darkly down the way ye go,

  with perfume laden of unearthly trees.

  Here only long afar through window-pane

  I glimpse the flicker of the golden rain 45

  that falls for ever on the outer seas.

  I cannot explain the reference (in the revised version only, line 24) to the journey of the mariners ‘beyond the grey islands and past Gondobar’. Gondobar (‘City of Stone’) was one of the seven names of Gondolin (p. 158).


  1 Falasquil was the name of Tuor’s dwelling on the coast (p. 152); the Oarni, with the Falmaríni and the Wingildi, are called ‘the spirits of the foam and the surf of ocean’ (I.66).

  2 Irildë: the ‘Elvish’ name corresponding to Gnomish Idril. See the Appendix on Names, entry Idril.

  3 ‘Elwing of the Gnomes of Artanor’ is perhaps a mere slip.

  4 For the Swan-wing as the emblem of Tuor see pp. 152, 164, 172, 193.

  5 The words ‘Idril has vanished’ replace an earlier reading: ‘Sirion has been sacked and only Littleheart (Ilfrith) remained who tells the tale.’ Ilfrith is yet another version of Littleheart’s Elvish name (see pp. 201–2).

  6 Struck out here: ‘The Sleeper is Idril but he does not know.’

  7 Cf. Kortirion among the Trees (I.36, lines 129–30): ‘I need not know the desert or red palaces Where dwells the sun’ lines retained slightly changed in the second (1937) version (I.39).

  8 This passage, from ‘Eärendel distraught…’, replaced the following: ‘[illegible name, possibly Orlon] is [?biding] there and tells him of the sack of Sirion and the captivity of Elwing. The faring of the Koreldar and the binding of Melko.’ Perhaps the words ‘The faring of the Koreldar’ were struck out by mistake (cf. Outline B).

  9 Earum is emended (at the first occurrence only) from Earam; and following it stood the name Earnhama, but this was struck out. Earnhama is Old English, ‘Eagle-coat’, ‘Eagle-dress’.

  37 Ye] You

  40 outer omitted

  41–3 struck through

  46 the] those

  Line added at end: beyond the country of the shining Trees.

  10 The two earliest extant texts date it thus, one of them with the addition ‘Ex[eter] Coll[ege] Essay Club Dec. 1914’, and on a third is written ‘Gedling, Notts., Sept. 1913 [error for 1914] and later’. My father referred to having read ‘Eärendel’ to the Essay Club in a letter to my mother of 27 November 1914.

  11 But rocks in line 27 (26) should read rock.

  12 According to one note it was written at ‘Barnt Green [see Biography p. 36] July 1915 and Bedford and later’, and another note dates it ‘July 24 [1915], rewritten Sept. 9’. The original workings are on the back of an unsen
t letter dated from Moseley (Birmingham) July 11, 1915; my father began military training at Bedford on July 19.



  In this final chapter we come to the most difficult (though not, as I hope to show, altogether insoluble) part of the earliest form of the mythology: its end, with which is intertwined the story of Eriol/Ælfwine—and with that, the history and original significance of Tol Eressëa. For its elucidation we have some short pieces of connected narrative, but are largely dependent on the same materials as those that constitute Gilfanon’s Tale and the story of Eärendel: scribbled plot-outlines, endlessly varying, written on separate slips of paper or in the pages of the little notebook ‘C’ (see p. 254). In this chapter there is much material to consider, and for convenience of reference within the chapter I number the various citations consecutively. But it must be said that no device of presentation can much diminish the inherent complexity and obscurity of the matter.

  The fullest account (bald as it is) of the March of the Elves of Kôr and the events that followed is contained in notebook C, continuing on from the point where I left that outline on p. 255, after the coming of the birds from Gondolin, the ‘counsels of the Gods and uproar of the Elves’, and the ‘March of the Inwir and Teleri’, with the Solosimpi only agreeing to accompany the expedition on condition that they remain by the sea. The outline continues:

  (1) Coming of the Eldar. Encampment in the Land of Willows of first host. Overwhelming of Noldorin and Valwë. Wanderings of Noldorin with his harp.

  Tulkas overthrows Melko in the battle of the Silent Pools. Bound in Lumbi and guarded by Gorgumoth the hound of Mandos.

  Release of the Noldoli. War with Men as soon as Tulkas and Noldorin have fared back to Valinor.

  Noldoli led to Valinor by Egalmoth and Galdor.

  There have been previous references in the Lost Tales to a battle in Tasarinan, the Land of Willows: in the Tale of Turambar (pp. 70, 140), and, most notably, in The Fall of Gondolin (p. 154), where when Tuor’s sojourn in that land is described there is mention of events that would take place there in the future:

  Did not even after the days of Tuor Noldorin and his Eldar come there seeking for Dor Lómin and the hidden river and the caverns of the Gnomes’ imprisonment; yet thus nigh to their quest’s end were like to abandon it? Indeed sleeping and dancing here…they were whelmed by the goblins sped by Melko from the Hills of Iron and Noldorin made bare escape thence.

  Valwë has been mentioned once before, by Lindo, on Eriol’s first evening in Mar Vanwa Tyaliéva (I.16): ‘My father Valwë who went with Noldorin to find the Gnomes.’ Of Noldorin we know also that he was the Vala Salmar, the twin-brother of Ómar-Amillo; that he entered the world with Ulmo, and that in Valinor he played the harp and lyre and loved the Noldoli (I.66, 75, 93, 126).

  An isolated note states:

  (2) Noldorin escapes from the defeat of the Land of Willows and takes his harp and goes seeking in the Iron Mountains for Valwë and the Gnomes until he finds their place of imprisonment. Tulkas follows. Melko comes to meet him.

  The only one of the great Valar who is mentioned in these notes as taking part in the expedition to the Great Lands is Tulkas; but whatever story underlay his presence, despite the anger and sorrow of the Valar at the March of the Elves (see p. 257), is quite irrecoverable. (A very faint hint concerning it is found in two isolated notes: ‘Tulkas gives—or the Elves take limpë with them’, and ‘Limpë given by the Gods (Oromë? Tulkas?) when Elves left Valinor’ cf. The Flight of the Noldoli (I.166): ‘no limpë had they [the Noldoli] as yet to bring away, for that was not given to the fairies until long after, when the March of Liberation was undertaken’.) According to (1) above Tulkas fought with and overthrew Melko ‘in the battle of the Silent Pools’ and the Silent Pools are the Pools of Twilight, ‘where Tulkas after fought with Melko’s self’ (The Fall of Gondolin, p. 195; the original reading here was ‘Noldorin and Tulkas’).

  The name Lumbi is found elsewhere (in a list of names associated with the tale of The Coming of the Valar, I.93), where it is said to be Melko’s third dwelling; and a jotting in notebook C, sufficiently mysterious, reads: ‘Lumfad. Melko’s dwelling after release. Castle of Lumbi.’ But this story also is lost.

  That the Noldoli were led back to Valinor by Egalmoth and Galdor, as stated in (1), is notable. This is contradicted in detail by a statement in the Name-list to The Fall of Gondolin, which says (p. 215) that Egalmoth was slain in the raid on the dwelling at the mouth of Sirion when Elwing was taken; and contradicted in general by the next citation to be given, which denies that the Elves were permitted to dwell in Valinor.

  The only other statement concerning these events is found in the first of the four outlines that constitute Gilfanon’s Tale, which I there called ‘A’ (I.234). This reads:

  (3) March of the Elves out into the world.

  The capture of Noldorin.

  The camp in the Land of Willows.

  Army of Tulkas at the Pools of Twilight……and [?many] Gnomes, but Men fall on them out of Hisilómë.

  Defeat of Melko.

  Breaking of Angamandi and release of captives.

  Hostility of Men. The Gnomes collect some of the jewels.

  Elwing and most of the Elves go back to dwell in Tol Eressëa. The Gods will not let them dwell in Valinor.

  This seems to differ from (1) in the capture of Noldorin and in the attack of Men from Hisilómë before the defeat of Melko; but the most notable statement is that concerning the refusal of the Gods to allow the Elves to dwell in Valinor. There is no reason to think that this ban rested only, or chiefly, on the Noldoli. The text, (3), does not refer specifically to the Gnomes in this connection; and the ban is surely to be related to ‘the sorrow and wrath of the Gods’ at the time of the March of the Elves (p. 253). Further, it is said in The Cottage of Lost Play (I.16) that Ingil son of Inwë returned to Tol Eressëa with ‘most of the fairest and the wisest, most of the merriest and the kindest, of all the Eldar’, and that the town that he built there was named ‘Koromas or “the Resting of the Exiles of Kôr”.’ This is quite clearly to be connected with the statement in that ‘Most of the Elves go back to dwell in Tol Eressëa’, and with that given on p. 255: ‘The wars with Men and the departure to Tol Eressëa (the Eldar unable to endure the strife of the world.’. These indications taken together leave no doubt, I think, that my father’s original conception was of the Eldar of Valinor undertaking the expedition into the Great Lands against the will of the Valar; together with the rescued Noldoli they returned over the Ocean, but being refused re-entry into Valinor they settled in Tol Eressëa, as ‘the Exiles of Kôr’. That some did return in the end to Valinor may be concluded from the words of Meril-i-Turinqi (I.129) that Ingil, who built Kortirion, ‘went long ago back to Valinor and is with Manwë’. But Tol Eressëa remained the land of the fairies in the early conception, the Exiles of Kôr, Eldar and Gnomes, speaking both Eldarissa and Noldorissa.

  It seems that there is nothing else to be found or said concerning the original story of the coming of aid out of the West and the renewed assault on Melko.

  The conclusion of the whole story as originally envisaged was to be rejected in its entirety. For it we are very largely dependent on the outline in notebook C, continuing on from citation (1) above; this is extremely rough and disjointed, and is given here in a very slightly edited form.

  (4) After the departure of Eärendel and the coming of the Elves to Tol Eressëa (and most of this belongs to the history of Men) great ages elapse; Men spread and thrive, and the Elves of the Great Lands fade. As Men’s stature grows theirs diminishes. Men and Elves were formerly of a size, though Men always larger.1

  Melko again breaks away, by the aid of Tevildo (who in long ages gnaws his bonds); the Gods are in dissension about Men and Elves, some favouring the one and some the other. Melko goes to Tol Eressëa and tries to stir up dissension among the Elves (between
Gnomes and Solosimpi), who are in consternation and send to Valinor. No help comes, but Tulkas sends privily Telimektar (Taimonto) his son.2

  Telimektar of the silver sword and Ingil surprise Melko and wound him, and he flees and climbs up the great Pine of Tavrobel. Before the Inwir left Valinor Belaurin (Palúrien)3 gave them a seed, and said that it must be guarded, for great tidings would one day come of its growth. But it was forgotten, and cast in the garden of Gilfanon, and a mighty pine arose that reached to Ilwë and the stars.4

  Telimektar and Ingil pursue him, and they remain now in the sky to ward it, and Melko stalks high above the air seeking ever to do a hurt to the Sun and Moon and stars (eclipses, meteors). He is continually frustrated, but on his first attempt—saying that the Gods stole his fire for its making—he upset the Sun, so that Urwendi fell into the Sea, and the Ship fell near the ground, scorching regions of the Earth. The clarity of the Sun’s radiance has not been so great since, and something of magic has gone from it. Hence it is, and long has been, that the fairies dance and sing more sweetly and can the better be seen by the light of the Moon—because of the death of Urwendi.

  The ‘Rekindling of the Magic Sun’ refers in part to the Trees and in part to Urwendi.

  Fionwë’s rage and grief. In the end he will slay Melko.

  ‘Orion’ is only the image of Telimektar in the sky? [sic] Varda gave him stars, and he bears them aloft that the Gods may know he watches; he has diamonds on his sword-sheath, and this will go red when he draws his sword at the Great End.

  But now Telimektar, and Gil5 who follows him like a Blue Bee, ward off evil, and Varda immediately replaces any stars that Melko loosens and casts down.

  Although grieved at the Gods’ behest, the Pine is cut down; and Melko is thus now out of the world—but one day he will find a way back, and the last great uproars will begin before the Great End.

  The evils that still happen come about in this wise. The Gods can cause things to enter the hearts of Men, but not of Elves (hence their difficult dealings in the old days of the Exile of the Gnomes)—and though Melko sits without, gnawing his fingers and gazing in anger on the world, he can suggest evil to Men so inclined—but the lies he planted of old still grow and spread.


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