The Lays of Leithian
Lay of Leithian by Tolkein
First Two strophes of the First Canto
A King there was in days of old :
ere men yet walked upon the mould
his power was reared in cavern’s shade,
his hand was over glen and glade.
His shields were shining as the moon,
his lances keen of steel were hewn,
of silver grey his crown was wrought,
the starlight in his banners caught ;
and silver thrilled his trumpets long
beneath the star in challenge strong ;
enchantment did his realm enfold,
where might and glory, wealth untold,
he wielded from his ivory throne
in many pillared halls of stone.
There beryl, pearl and opal pale,
and metal wrought like fishes’ mail,
buckler and corslet, axe and sword,
and gleaming spears were laid in hoard -
all these he had and loved them less
than a maiden once in Elfinesse ;
for fairer than are born to Men
a daughter had he, Lúthien.
Such lissom limbs no more shall run
on the green earth beneath the sun ;
so fair a maid no more shall be
from down to dusk, from sun to sea.
Her robe was blue as summer skies,
but grey as evening were her eyes ;
‘twas sewn with golden lilies fair,
but dark as shadows was her hair.
Her feet were light as bird on wing,
her laughter lighter than the spring ;
the slender willow, the bowing reed,
the fragance of a flowering mead,
the light upon the leaves of trees,
the voice of water more than these
her beauty was and blissfulness,
her glory and her loveliness ;
and her the king more dear did prize
than hand or heart or light of eyes.
Lay of Leithian
End of the Third Canto
A sparkle through the darkling trees,
a piercing glint of light he sees,
and there she dances all alone
upon a treeless knoll of stone !
Her mantle blue with jewels white
caught all the rays of frosted light.
She shone with cold and wintry flame,
as dancing down the hill she came,
and passed his watchful silent gaze,
a glimmer as of stars ablaze.
And snowdrops sprang beneath her feet,
and one bird, sudden, late and sweet,
shrilled as she wayward passed along.
A frozen brook to bubbling song
awoke and laughed : but Beren stood
still bound enchanted in the wood.
Her starlight faded and the night
closed o'er the snowdrops glimmering white.
A night there was when winter died ;
then all alone she sang and cried
and danced until the dawn of spring,
and chanted some wild magic thing
that stirred him, till it sudden broke
to madness sweet and brave despair.
He flung his arms to the night air,
and out he danced unheeding, fleet,
enchanted with enchanted feet.
He sped towards the hillock green,
the lissom limbs, the dancing sheen ;
he leapt upon the grassy hill
his arms with loveliness to fill :
his arms were empty an she fled ;
away, away her white feet sped.
But as she went he swiftly came
and called he with the tender name
of nightingales in elvish tongue,
that all the woods now sudden rung :
"Tinúviel ! Tinúviel !"
And clear his voice was as a bell ;
its echoes wove a binding spell :
"Tinúviel ! Tinúviel !"
His voice such love and longing filled
one moment stood she, fear was stilled ;
one moment only ; like a flame
he leaped towards her as she stayed
and caught and kissed that elfin maid.
As love there woke in sweet surprise
the starlight trembled in her eyes.
A ! Lúthien ! A ! Lúthien !
more fair than any child of men ;
O ! loveliest maid of Elfinesse,
what madness does thee now possess !
A ! lissom limbs and shadowy hair
and chaplet of white snowdrops there ;
O ! starry diadem and white
pale hands beneath the pale moonlight !
She left his arms and slipped away
just at the breaking of the day.
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