Elf Songs: Earendel Songs

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Elf Songs: Earendel Songs

The Bidding of the Minstrel

(There are four versions of this poem, which dates back to 1914. This comes from The Book of Lost Tales 2.)

Sing us yet more of Earendel the wandering,
Chant us a lay of his white-oared ship,
More marvellous-cunning than mortal man's pondering,
Foamily musical out on the deep.
Sing us a tale of immortal sea-yearning
The Eldar once made ere the change of the light,
Weaving a winelike spell, and a burning
Wonder of spray and the odours of night;
Of murmurous gloamings out on far oceans;
Of his tossing at anchor off islets forlorn
To the unsleeping waves' never-ending sea-motions;
Of bellying sails when a wind was born,
And the gurgling bubble of tropical water
Tinkled from under the ringed stem,
And thousands of miles was his ship from those wrought her
A petrel, a sea-bird, a white-winged gem,
Gallantly bent on measureless faring
Ere she came homing in sea-laden flight,
Circuitous, lingering, restlessly daring,
Coming to haven unlooked for, at night.

But the music is broken, the words half-forgotten,
The sunlight has faded, the moon is growing old,
The Elven ships foundered or weed-swathed and rotten,
The fire and the wonder of hearts is acold.
Who now can tell, and what harp can accompany
With melodies strange enough, rich enough tunes,
Pale with the magic of cavernous harmony,
Loud with shore-music of beaches and dunes,
How slender his boat; of what glimmering timber;
How her sails were all silvern and taper her mast,
And silver her throat with foam and her limber
Flanks as she swanlike floated past!
The song I can sing is but shreds one remembers
Of golden imaginings fashioned in sleep,
A whispered tale told by the withering embers
Of old things far off that but few hearts keep.

Eala Earendel Engla Beorhtast - The Last Voyage of Earendel.

(This was the first poem Tolkien wrote about Earendel. He wrote it in 1914. Its original title was "The Voyage of Earendel the Evening Star" (Old English "Scipfaereld Earendeles Aefensteorran). The poem went through five drafts. This is the latest undated draft. From Book of Lost Tales 2):

Earendel arose where the shadow flows
At Ocean's silent brim;
Through the mouth of night as a ray of light
Where the shores are sheer and dim
He launched his bark like a silver spark
From the last and lonely sand;
Then on sunlit breath of day's fiery death
He sailed from Westerland.

He threaded his path o'er the aftermath
Of the splendor of the Sun,
And wandered far past many a star
In his gleaming galleon.
On the gathering tide of darkness ride
The argosies of the sky,
And spangle the night with their sails of light
As the streaming star goes by

Unheeding he dips past these twinkling ships,
By his wayward spirit whirled
On an endless quest through the darkling West
O'er the margin of the world;
And he fares in haste o'er the jewelled waste
And the dusk from whence he came
With his heart afire with bright desire
And his face in silver flame.

The Ship of the Moon from the East comes soon
From the Haven of the Sun,
Whose white gates gleam in the coming beam
Of the mighty silver one.
Lo! with bellying clouds as his vessel's shrouds
He weighs anchor down the dark,
And on shimmering oars leaves the blazing shores
In his argent-timbered bark.

Then Earendel fled from that Shipman dread
Beyond the dark earth's pale,
Back under the rim of the Ocean dim,
And behind the world set sail;
And he heard the mirth of the folk of earth
And the falling of their tears,
As the world dropped back in a cloudy wrack
On its journey down the years.

Then he glimmering passed to the starless vast
As an isled lamp at sea,
And beyond the ken of mortal men
Set his lonely errantry,
Tracking the Sun in his galleon
Through the pathless firmament,
Till his light grew old in abysses cold
And his eager flame was spent.

An earlier alternate ending for the last three lines is:

And voyaging the skies
Till his splendour was shorn by the birth of Morn
And he died with the Dawn in his eyes.

Earendel at the Helm

(From The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays)

A white horse in the sun shining,
A white ship in the sea gliding,
Earendel at the helm;
Green waves in the sea moving,
White froth at the prow spuming
Glistening in the sun;
Foam-riders with hair like blossom
And pale arms on the sea's bosom
Chanting wild songs;
Taut ropes like harps tingling,
From far shores a faint singing
On islands in the deep;
The bent sails in the wind billowing,
The loud wind in the sails bellowing,
The road going on for ever,
Earendel at the helm,
His eyes shining, the sea gliding,
To havens in the West.

Earendel (Then Upon a White Horse Sailed Earendel)

(From The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays)

San ninqeruvisse lutier
kiryasse Earendil or vea,
ar laiqali linqi falmari
langon veakiryo ki­rier;
wingildin o silqelosseen
alkantameren urio
kalmainen; i lunte linganer,
tyulmin talali­nen aiqalin
kautaron, i suru laustaner.

Then upon a white horse sailed Earendel, upon a ship upon the sea, and the green wet waves the throat of the sea-ship clove. The foam-maidens with blossom-white hair made it shine in the lights of the sun; the boat hummed like a harp-string; the tall masts bent with the sails; the wind 'lausted' (not roared or rushed but made a windy noise).

The Shores of Faery - or (in Old English) Ielfalandes Strand, The Shores of Elfland

(This was one of the oldest poems about Tolkien's mythology. He wrote the first of 4 drafts in 1915. From The Book of Lost Tales 2).

East of the Moon, west of the Sun
There stands a lonely hill;
Its feet are in the pale green sea,
Its towers are white and still,
Beyond Taniquetil
In Valinor.

Comes never there but one lone star
That fled before the moon;
And there the Two Trees naked are
That bore Night's silver bloom,
That bore the globed fruit of Noon
In Valinor.

There are the shores of Faery
With their moonlit pebbled strand
Whose foam is silver music
On the opalescent floor
Beyond the great sea-shadows
On the marches of the sand
That stretches on for ever
To the dragonheaded door,
The gateway of the Moon,
Beyond Taniquetil
In Valinor.

West of the Sun, east of the Moon
Lies the haven of the star,
The white tower of the Wanderer
And the rocks of Eglamar.
There Wingelot is harboured,
While Earendel looks afar
O'er the darkness of the waters
Between here and Eglamar -
Out, out, beyond Taniquetil
In Valinor, afar.

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