The book of lost tales p.., p.40
The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two, p.40J. R. R. Tolkien
Hark O my brothers, they shall say, the little trumpets blow; we hear a sound of instruments unimagined small. Like strands of wind, like mystic half-transparencies, Gilfanon Lord of Tavrobel rides out tonight amid his folk, and hunts the elfin deer beneath the paling sky. A music of forgotten feet, a gleam of leaves, a sudden bending of the grass,11 and wistful voices murmuring on the bridge, and they are gone.
But behold, Tavrobel shall not know its name, and all the land be changed, and even these written words of mine belike will all be lost; and so I lay down the pen, and so of the fairies cease to tell.
Another text that bears on these matters is the prose preface to Kortirion among the Trees (1915), which has been given in Part I 25–6, but which I repeat here:
(9) Now on a time the fairies dwelt in the Lonely Isle after the great wars with Melko and the ruin of Gondolin; and they builded a fair city amidmost of that island, and it was girt with trees. Now this city they called Kortirion, both in memory of their ancient dwelling of Kôr in Valinor, and because this city stood also upon a hill and had a great tower tall and grey that Ingil son of Inwë their lord let raise.
Very beautiful was Kurtirion and the fairies loved it, and it became rich in song and poesy and the light of laughter; but on a time the great Faring Forth was made, and the fairies had rekindled once more the Magic Sun of Valinor but for the treason and faint hearts of Men. But so it is that the Magic Sun is dead and the Lonely Isle drawn back unto the confines of the Great Lands, and the fairies are scattered through all the wide unfriendly pathways of the world; and now Men dwell even on this faded isle, and care nought or know nought of its ancient days. Yet still there be some of the Eldar and the Noldoli of old who linger in the island, and their songs are heard about the shores of the land that once was the fairest dwelling of the immortal folk.
And it seems to the fairies and it seems to me who know that town and have often trodden its disfigured ways that autumn and the falling of the leaf is the season of the year when maybe here or there a heart among Men may be open, and an eye perceive how is the world’s estate fallen from the laughter and the loveliness of old. Think on Kortirion and be sad—yet is there not hope?
At this point we may turn to the history of Eriol himself. My father’s early conceptions of the mariner who came to Tol Eressëa are here again no more than allusive outlines in the pages of the little notebook C, and some of this material cannot be usefully reproduced. Perhaps the earliest is a collection of notes headed ‘Story of Eriol’s Life’, which I gave in Vol. I.23–4 but with the omission of some features that were not there relevant. I repeat it here, with the addition of the statements previously omitted.
(10) Eriol’s original name was Ottor, but he called himself Wfre (Old English: ‘restless, wandering’) and lived a life on the waters. His father was named Eoh (Old English: ‘horse’); and Eoh was slain by his brother Beorn, either ‘in the siege’ or ‘in a great battle’. Ottor Wfre settled on the island of Heligoland in the North Sea, and wedded a woman named Cwén; they had two sons named Hengest and Horsa ‘to avenge Eoh’.
Then sea-longing gripped Ottor Wfre (he was ‘a son of Eärendel’, born under his beam), and after the death of Cwén he left his young children. Hengest and Horsa avenged Eoh and became great chieftains; but Ottor Wfre set out to seek, and find, Tol Eressëa (se uncúpaholm, ‘the unknown island’).
In Tol Eressëa he wedded, being made young by limpë (here also called by the Old English word líþ), Naimi (Éadgifu), niece of Vairë, and they had a son named Heorrenda.
It is then said, somewhat inconsequentially (though the matter is in itself of much interest, and recurs nowhere else), that Eriol told the fairies of Wóden, Þunor, Tíw, etc. (these being the Old English names of the Germanic gods who in Old Scandinavian form are Óðinn, Þórr, Týr), and they identified them with Manweg, Tulkas, and a third whose name is illegible but is not like that of any of the great Valar.
Eriol adopted the name of Angol.
Thus it is that through Eriol and his sons the Engle (i.e. the English) have the true tradition of the fairies, of whom the Iras and the Wéalas (the Irish and Welsh) tell garbled things.
Thus a specifically English fairy-lore is born, and one more true than anything to be found in Celtic lands.
The wedding of Eriol in Tol Eressëa is never referred to elsewhere; but his son Heorrenda is mentioned (though not called Eriol’s son) in the initial link to The Fall of Gondolin (p. 145) as one who ‘afterwards’ turned a song of Meril’s maidens into the language of his people. A little more light will be shed on Heorrenda in the course of this chapter.
Associated with these notes is a title-page and a prologue that breaks off after a few lines:
The Golden Book of Heorrenda
being the book of the
Tales of Tavrobel
Heorrenda of Hægwudu
This book have I written using those writings that my father Wfre (whom the Gnomes named after the regions of his home Angol) did make in his sojourn in the holy isle in the days of the Elves; and much else have I added of those things which his eyes saw not afterward; yet are such things not yet to tell. For know
Here then the Golden Book was compiled from Eriol’s writings by his son Heorrenda—in contrast to (5), where it was compiled by someone unnamed, and in contrast also to the Epilogue (8), where Eriol himself concluded and ‘sealed the book’.
As I have said earlier (I.24) Angol refers to the ancient homeland of the ‘English’ before their migration across the North Sea (for the etymology of Angol/Eriol ‘ironcliffs’ see I.24, 252).
(12) There is also a genealogical table accompanying the outline (10) and altogether agreeing with it. The table is written out in two forms that are identical save in one point: for Beorn, brother of Eoh, in the one, there stands in the other Hasen of Isenóra (Old English: ‘iron shore’). But at the end of the table is introduced the cardinal fact of all these earliest materials concerning Eriol and Tol Eressëa: Hengest and Horsa, Eriol’s sons by Cwën in Heligoland, and Heorrenda, his son by Naimi in Tol Eressëa, are bracketed together, and beneath their names is written:
(‘seo unwemmede Íeg’)
now called Englaland
and there dwell the Angolcynn or Engle.
Íeg is Old English, ‘isle’ seo unwemmede Íeg ‘the unstained isle’. I have mentioned before (I.25, footnote) a poem of my father’s written at Étaples in June 1916 and called ‘The Lonely Isle’, addressed to England: this poem bears the Old English title seo Unwemmede Íeg.
(13) There follow in the notebook C some jottings that make precise identifications of places in Tol Eressëa with places in England.
First the name Kortirion is explained. The element Kôr is derived from an earlier Qor, yet earlier Guor; but from Guor was also derived (i.e. in Gnomish) the form Gwâr. (This formulation agrees with that in the Gnomish dictionary, see I.257). Thus Kôr = Gwâr, and Kortirion = *Gwarmindon, (the asterisk implying a hypothetical, unrecorded form). The name that was actually used in Gnomish had the elements reversed, Mindon-Gwar. (Mindon, like Tirion, meant, and continued always to mean, ‘tower’. The meaning of Kôr/Gwâr is not given here, but both in the tale of The Coming of the Elves (I.122) and in the Gnomish dictionary (I.257) the name is explained as referring to the roundness of the hill of Kôr.)
The note continues (using Old English forms): ‘In Wíelisc Caergwâr, in Englise Warwíc.’ Thus the element War- in Warwick is derived from the same Elvish source as Kor-in Kortirion and Gwar in Mindon-Gwar.12 Lastly, it is said that ‘Hengest’s capital was Warwick’.
Next, Horsa (Hengest’s brother) is associated with Oxenaford (Old English: Oxford), which is given the equivalents Q[enya] Taruktarna and Gnomish *Taruithorn (see the Appendix on Names, p. 347).
The third of Eriol’s sons, Heorrenda, is said to have had his ‘capital’ at Great Haywood (the Staffordshire village where my parents lived in 1916
These notes conclude with the statement that ‘Heorrenda called Kôr or Gwâr “Tûn”.’ In the context of these conceptions, this is obviously the Old English word tún, an enclosed dwelling, from which has developed the modern word town and the place-name ending -ton. Tûn has appeared several times in the Lost Tales as a later correction, or alternative to Kôr, changes no doubt dating from or anticipating the later situation where the city was Tûn and the name Kôr was restricted to the hill on which it stood. Later still Tún became Tiriona, and then when the city of the Elves was named Tirion the hill became Timna, as it is in The Silmarillion; by then it had ceased to have any connotation of ‘dwelling-place’ and had cut free from all connection with its actual origin, as we see it here, in Old English tún, Heorrenda’s ‘town’.
Can all these materials be brought together to form a coherent narrative? I believe that they can (granting that there are certain irreconcilable differences concerning Eriol’s life), and would reconstruct it thus:
– The Eldar and the rescued Noldoli departed from the Great Lands and came to Tol Eressëa.
– In Tol Eressëa they built many towns and villages, and in Alalminórë, the central region of the island, Ingil son of Inwë built the town of Koromas, ‘the Resting of the Exiles of Kôr’ (‘Exiles’, because they could not return to Valinor); and the great tower of Ingil gave the town its name Kortinon. (See I.16.)
– Ottor Wfre came from Heligoland to Tol Eressëa and dwelt in the Cottage of Lost Play in Kortirion; the Elves named him Eriol or Angol after the ‘iron cliffs’ of his home.
– After a time, and greatly instructed in the ancient history of Gods, Elves, and Men, Eriol went to visit Gilfanon in the village of Tavrobel, and there he wrote down what he had learnt; there also he at last drank limpë.
– In Tol Eressëa Eriol was wedded and had a son named Heorrenda (Half-elven!). (According to (5) Eriol died at Tavrobel, consumed with longing for ‘the black cliffs of his shores’ but according to (8), certainly later, he lived to see the Battle of the Heath of the Sky-roof.)
– The Lost Elves of the Great Lands rose against the dominion of the servants of Melko; and the untimely Faring Forth took place, at which time Tol Eressëa was drawn east back across the Ocean and anchored off the coasts of the Great Lands. The western half broke off when Ossë tried to drag the island back, and it became the Isle of Íverin (= Ireland).
– Tol Eressëa was now in the geographical position of England.
– The great battle of Rôs ended in the defeat of the Elves, who retreated into hiding in Tol Eressëa.
– Evil men entered Tol Eressëa, accompanied by Orcs and other hostile beings.
– The Battle of the Heath of the Sky-roof took place not far from Tavrobel, and (according to (8)) was witnessed by Eriol, who completed the Golden Book.
– The Elves faded and became invisible to the eyes of almost all Men.
– The sons of Eriol, Hengest, Horsa, and Heorrenda, conquered the island and it became ‘England’. They were not hostile to the Elves, and from them the English have ‘the true tradition of the fairies’.
– Kortirion, ancient dwelling of the fairies, came to be known in the tongue of the English as Warwick; Hengest dwelt there, while Horsa dwelt at Taruithorn (Oxford) and Heorrenda at Tavrobel (Great Haywood). (According to (11) Heorrenda completed the Golden Book.)
This reconstruction may not be ‘correct’ in all its parts: indeed, it may be that any such attempt is artificial, treating all the notes and jottings as of equal weight and all the ideas as strictly contemporaneous and relatable to each other. Nonetheless I believe that it shows rightly in essentials how my father was thinking of ordering the narrative in which the Lost Tales were to be set; and I believe also that this was the conception that still underlay the Tales as they arc extant and have been given in these books.
For convenience later I shall refer to this narrative as ‘the Eriol story’. Its most remarkable features, in contrast to the later story, are the transformation of Tol Eressëa into England, and the early appearance of the mariner (in relation to the whole history) and his importance.
In fact, my father was exploring (before he decided on a radical transformation of the whole conception) ideas whereby his importance would be greatly increased.
(14) From very rough jottings it can be made out that Eriol was to be so tormented with home longing that he set sail from Tol Eressëa with his son Heorrenda, against the command of Meril-i-Turinqi (see the passage cited on p. 284 from The Chaining of Melko); but his purpose in doing so was also ‘to hasten the Faring Forth’, which he ‘preached’ in the lands of the East. Tol Eressëa was drawn back to the confines of the Great Lands, but at once hostile peoples named the Guiðlin and the Brithonin (and in one of these notes also the Rúmhoth, Romans) invaded the island. Eriol died, but his sons Hengest and Horsa conquered the Guiðlin. But because of Eriol’s disobedience to the command of Meril, in going back before the time for the Faring Forth was ripe, ‘all was cursed’ and the Elves faded before the noise and evil of war. An isolated sentence refers to ‘a strange prophecy that a man of good will, yet through longing after the things of Men, may bring the Faring Forth to nought’.
Thus the part of Eriol was to become cardinal in the history of the Elves; but there is no sign that these ideas ever got beyond this exploratory stage.
I have said that I think that the reconstruction given above (‘the Eriol story’) is in essentials the conception underlying the framework of the Lost Tales. This is both for positive and negative reasons: positive, because he is there still named Eriol (see p. 300), and also because Gilfanon, who enters (replacing Ailios) late in the development of the Tales, appears also in citation (5) above, which is one of the main contributors to this reconstruction; negative, because there is really nothing to contradict what is much the easiest assumption. There is no explicit statement anywhere in the Lost Tales that Eriol came from England. At the beginning (I.13) he is only ‘a traveller from far countries’ and the fact that the story he told to Vëannë of his earlier life (pp. 4–7) agrees well with other accounts where his home is explicitly in England does no more than show that the story remained while the geography altered—just as the ‘black coasts’ of his home survived in later writing to become the western coasts of Britain, whereas the earliest reference to them is the etymology of Angol ‘iron cliffs’ (his own name, = Eriol, from the land ‘between the seas’, Angeln in the Danish peninsula, whence he came: see I.252). There is in fact a very early, rejected, sketch of Eriol’s life in which essential features of the same story are outlined—the attack on his father’s dwelling (in this case the destruction of Eoh’s castle by his brother Beorn, see citation (10)), Eriol’s captivity and escape—and in this note it is said that Eriol afterwards ‘wandered over the wilds of the Central Lands to the Inland Sea, Wendelsæ [Old English, the Mediterranean], and hence to the shores of the Western Sea’, whence his father had originally come. The mention in the typescript text of the Link to the Tale of Tinúiel (p. 6) of wild men out of the Mountains of the East, which the duke could see from his tower, seems likewise to imply that at this time Eriol’s original home was placed in some ‘continental’ region.
The only suggestion, so far as I can see, that this view might not be correct is found in an early poem with a complex history, texts of which I give here.
The earliest rough drafts of this poem are extant; the original title was ‘The Wanderer’s Allegiance’, and it is not clear that it was at first conceived as a poem in three parts. My father subsequently wrote in subtitles on these drafts, dividing the poem into three: Prelude, The Inland City, and The Sorrowful City, with (apparently) an overall title The Sorrowful City; and added a date, March 16–18, 1916. In the only later copy of the whole poem that is
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 iris in the bowing reeds,
And many a sea of blossom turn to golden fruit
In walléd 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.
The Town of Dreams
Here many days once gently past me crept
In this dear town of old forgetfulness;
Here all entwined in dreams once long I slept
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