Canto V

He lay upon the leafy mould,
his head upon earth's bosom cold,
adrift in mingled grief and bliss,
enchanted by an elvish kiss,
seeing within his darkened eyes(5)
a light that danced like silver flies,
a starlit face of tenderness
crowned by the stars of Elvenesse,
a loveliness that doth not fade,
though all in ashes cold be laid.(10)
Then folded in the mists of sleep
he sank into abysses deep,
drowned in an overwhelming grief
for parting after meeting brief;
a shadow and a fragrance fair(15)
lingered, and waned, and was not there.
Forsaken, barren, bare as stone,
the daylight found him cold, alone.

'Where art thou gone? The day is bare,
the sunlight dark, and cold the air.(20)
Tinúviel, where went thy feet,
oh wayward star, oh maiden sweet?
Oh flower of Elfland all too fair
for mortal heart! The woods are bare.
The woods are bare!' he rose and cried.(25)
'Ere spring was born, the spring hath died.'
And wandering in path and mind
he groped as one gone sudden blind,
who seeks to grasp the hidden light
with faltering hands in more than night.(30)

Thus began the anguish Beren paid
for that great doom upon him laid,
the deathless love of Lúthien,
too fair for love of mortal Men;
and in his doom was Lúthien snared,(35)
the deathless in his dying shared;
and Fate them forged a binding chain
of living love and mortal pain.

Beyond all hope her feet returned
at eve, when in the sky there burned (40)
the flame of stars; and in her eyes
there trembled the starlight of the skies,
and from her hair the fragrance fell
of elvenflowers in elven-dell.

Thus Lúthien, whom no pursuit(45)
no snare, no dart that hunters shoot
might hope to win or hold, she came
at the sweet calling of her name;
and thus in his her slender hand
was linked in far Beleriand;(50)
in hour enchanted long ago
her arms about his neck did go,
and gently down she drew to rest
his weary head upon her breast.

Ah, Lúthien, Tinúviel,(55)
why wentest thou to darkling dell
with shining eyes and dancing pace,
the twilight glimmering in thy face?
Each day before the end of eve
she sought her love, nor would him leave,(60)
until the stars were dimmed, and day
came glimmering eastward silver-grey.
There trembling-veiled she would appear
and dance before him, half in fear;
there flitting just before his feet(65)
she'd gently chid with laughter sweet:
'Come, dance now, Beren! Dance with me!
For fain thy dancing I would see.
Come, thou must woo with nimbler feet
than those who walk where mountains meet(70)
the bitter skies beyond this realm
of marvellous moonlit beech and elm.'

And there in far Beleriand
he learned the touches of her hand;
his feet grew swift as unseen airs,(75)
his laughter soft, and light his cares,
his voice like those in Doriath
where paved with flowers are floor and path.
The year thus on to summer rolled,
from spring to a summertime of gold.(80)

Thus fleeting fast their short hour flies,
while Daeron watches with fiery eyes,
haunting the gloom of tangled trees
all day, until at night he sees
in the fickle moon their moving feet,(85)
two lovers linked in dancing sweet,
two shadows shimmering on the green
where lonely-dancing maid had been.

'Hateful art thou, oh land of Trees!
May fear and silence on thee seize!(90)
My flute shall fall from idle hand
and mirth shall leave Beleriand;
music shall perish and voices fail
and trees stand dumb in dell and dale!'

It seemed a hush had fallen there(95)
upon the waiting woodland air;
and often murmured Thingol's folk
in wonder, and to their king they spoke:
'This spell of silence who hath wrought?
What web hath Daeron's music caught?(100)
It seems the very birds sing low;
murmurless Esgalduin doth flow;
the leaves scarce whisper on the trees,
and soundless beat the wings of bees!'

This Lúthien heard, and there the queen(105)
her sudden glances saw unseen.
But Thingol marvelled, and he sent
for Daeron the piper, ere he went
and sat upon his mounded seat -
his grassy throne by the grey feet (110)
of the Queen of Beeches, Hírilorn,
upon whose triple piers were borne
the mightiest vault of leaf and bough
from world's beginning until now.
She stood above Esgalduin's shore,(115)
where long slopes fell beside the door,
the guarded gates, the portals stark
of the Thousand echoing Caverns dark.

There Thingol sat and heard no sound
save far off footsteps on the ground;(120)
no flute, no voice, no song of bird,
no choirs of windy leaves there stirred;
and Daeron coming no word spoke,
silent amid the woodland folk.
Then Thingol said: 'Oh Daeron fair,(125)
thou master of all musics rare,
enchanted heart and wisdom wild,
whose ear nor eye may be beguiled,
who all that passes in this land
dost ever heed and understand,(130)
what omen doth this silence bear?
What horn afar upon the air,
what summons do the woods await?
Mayhap Lord Tauron from his gate
and tree-propped halls, the forest-god,(135)
rides his great stallion golden-shod
amid the trumpets' tempest loud,
amid his green-clad hunters proud,
leaving his deer and friths divine
and emerald forests? Some faint sign(140)
of his fierce onset may have come
upon the Western winds, and dumb
the woods now listen for a chase
that here once more shall thundering race
beneath the trees of Ennorath.(145)
Would it were so! An age now hath
gone by since Nahar trod this earth
in days of our peace and ancient mirth,
ere rebel lords of Eldamar
pursuing Morgoth from afar(150)
brought war and ruin to the North.
Doth Tauron to their aid come forth?
But if not he, who comes, or what?'
And Daeron said: 'He cometh not.
No feet divine shall leave that shore(155)
where the Outer Seas' last surges roar,
'till many things be come to pass,
and many evils wrought. Alas,
the guest is here. The woods are still,
but wait not; for a marvel chill(160)
them holds at the strange deeds they see,
though king sees not - yet queen, maybe,
can guess, and maiden doubtless knows
who ever now beside her goes.'

'Whither thy riddle points is plain'(165)
the king in anger said, 'but deign
to make it plainer! Who is he
that earns my wrath? How walks he free
within my woods amid my folk,
a stranger to both beech and oak?'(170)
But Daeron looked on Lúthien's face
and faltered, seeing his disgrace
in those clear eyes. He spoke no more,
and silent Thingol's anger bore.
Then Lúthien stepped lightly forth:(175)
'Far in the mountain-leaguered North,
my father,' said she, 'lies the land
the groans beneath King Morgoth's hand.
Thence came one hither, bent and worn
in wars and travail, who had sworn(180)
undying hatred of that king;
the last of Bëor's line, they sing,
and even hither far and deep
within thy woods the echoes creep
through the wild mountain-passes cold,(185)
the last of Bëor's house to hold
a sword unconquered, neck unbowed,
a heart by evil power uncowed.
No evil needst thou think or fear
of Beren son of Barahir!(190)
If aught thou hast to say to him,
then swear to hurt not flesh nor limb,
and I will lead him to thy hall,
a son of kings, no mortal thrall.'

Then long King Thingol looked on her(195)
while hand nor foot nor tongue did stir,
and Melian, silent, unamazed,
on Lúthien and Thingol gazed.
'No blade nor chain his limbs shall mar'
the king then swore. 'He wanders far,(200)
and news, mayhap, he hath for me,
and words I have for him, maybe.'
Now Thingol bade them all depart
save Daeron, whom he called: 'What art,
what wizardry of Northern mist(205)
hath this illcomer brought us? List!
Tonight go thou by secret path,
who knowest all wide Doriath,
and watch that Lúthien - daughter mine,
what madness doth thy heart entwine,(210)
what web from Morgoth's dreadful halls
hath caught thy feet and thee enthralls! -
that she bid not this Beren flee
back whence he came. I would him see!
Take with thee woodland archers wise.(215)
Let naught beguile your hearts or eyes!'

Thus Daeron heavyhearted did,
and the woods were filled with watchers hid;
yet needless, for Lúthien that night
led Beren by the golden light(220)
of mounting moon unto the shore
and bridge before he father's door;
and the white light silent looked within
the waiting portals yawning dim.

Downward with gentle hand she led(225)
through corridors of carven dread
whose turns were lit by lanterns hung
or flames from torches that were flung
on beasts there hewn in the cold stone
with jewelled eyes and teeth of bone.(230)
Then sudden, deep beneath the earth
the silences with silver mirth
were shaken and the rocks were ringing,
the birds of Melian were singing;
and wide the ways of shadow spread(235)
and into archéd halls she led
Beren in wonder. There a light
like day immortal and like night
of stars unclouded, shone and gleamed.
A vault of topless trees it seemed,(240)
whose trunks of carven stone there stood
like towers of an enchanted wood
in magic fast forever bound,
bearing a roof whose branches wound
in endless tracery of green(245)
lit by some leaf-emprisoned sheen
of moon and sun, and wrought of gems,
and each leaf hung on golden stems.

Lo, there amid immortal flowers
the nightingales in shining bowers (250)
sang o'er the head of Melian,
while water for ever dripped and ran
from fountains in the rocky floor.
There Thingol sat. His crown he wore
of green and silver, and round his chair(255)
a host in gleaming armour fair.
Then Beren looked upon the king
and stood amazed; and swift a ring
of elvish weapons hemmed him round.
Then Beren looked upon the ground,(260)
for Melian's gaze had sought his face,
and dazed there drooped he in that place,
and when the king spake deep and slow:
'Who art thou stumblest hither? Know
that none unbidden seek this throne(265)
and ever leave these halls of stone!'
no word he answered, filled with dread.
But Lúthien answered in his stead:
'Behold, my father, one who came
pursued by hatred like a flame!(270)
Lo, Beren son of Barahir!
What need hath he thy wrath to fear,
foe of our foes, without a friend,
whose knees to Morgoth do not bend?'

'Let Beren answer!' Thingol said.(275)
'What wouldst thou here? What hither led
thy wandering feet, oh mortal wild?
How hast thou Lúthien beguiled
or darest thus to walk this wood
unasked, in secret? Reason good(280)
'twere best declare now if thou may,
or never again see light of day!'

Then Beren looked in Lúthien's eyes
and saw a light of starry skies,
and thence was slowly drawn his gaze(285)
to Melian's face. As from a maze
of wonder dumb he woke; his heart
the bonds of awe there burst apart
and filled with the fearless pride of old;
in his glance now gleamed an anger cold.(290)
'My feet hath fate, oh king,' he said,
'here over the mountains bleeding led,
and what I sought not I have found,
and love it is hath here me bound.
Thy dearest treasure I desire;(295)
nor rocks nor steel nor Morgoth's fire
nor all the power of Elvenesse
shall keep that gem I would possess.
For, fairer than are born to Men,
a daughter hast thou, Lúthien.(300)

Silence then fell upon the hall;
like graven stone there stood they all,
save one who cast her eyes aground,
and one who laughed with bitter sound.
Daeron the piper leant there pale (305)
against a pillar. His fingers frail
there touched a flute that whispered not;
his eyes were dark; his heart was hot.
'Death is the guerdon thou hast earned,
oh baseborn mortal, who hast learned(310)
in Morgoth's realm to spy and lurk
like Orcs that do his evil work!'
'Death!' echoed Daeron fierce and low,
but Lúthien trembling gasped in woe.
'And death,' said Thingol, 'thou shouldst taste,(315)
had I not sworn an oath in haste
that blade nor chain thy flesh should mar.
Yet captive bound by never a bar,
unchained, unfettered, shalt thou be
in lightless labyrinth endlessly(320)
that coils about my halls profound
by magic bewildered and enwound;
there wandering in hopelessness
thou shalt learn the power of Elvenesse!'
'That may not be!' Lo, Beren spake,(325)
and through the king's words coldly break.
'What are thy mazes by a chain
wherein the captive blind is slain?
Twist not thy oaths, oh elvish king
like faithless Morgoth! By this ring -(330)
the token of a lasting bond
that Felagund of Nargothrond
once swore in love to Barahir,
who sheltered him with shield and spear
and saved him from pursuing foe(335)
on Northern battlefields long ago -
death thou canst give unearned to me,
but names I will not take from thee
of baseborn, spy, or Morgoth's thrall!
Are these the ways of Thingol's hall?'(340)
Proud are the words, and all there turned
to see the jewels green that burned
in Beren's ring. These Elves had set
as eyes of serpents twined that met
beneath a golden crown of flowers,(345)
that one upholds and one devours:
the badge Finarfin made of yore
and Felagund his son now bore.

His anger was chilled, but little less,
and dark thoughts Thingol did possess, (350)
though Melian the pale leant to his side
and whispered: 'Oh king, forgo thy pride!
Such is my counsel. Not by thee
shall Beren be slain, for far and free
from these deep halls his fate doth lead,(355)
yet wound with thine. Oh king, take heed!'
But Thingol looked on Lúthien.
'Fairest of Elves! Unhappy Men,
children of little lords and kings
mortal and frail, these fading things,(360)
shall they then look with love on thee?'
his heart within him thought. 'I see
thy ring,' he said, 'Oh mighty man!
But to win the child of Melian
a father's deeds shall not avail,(365)
nor thy proud words, at which I quail.
A treasure dear I too desire,
but rocks and steel and Morgoth's fire
from all the powers of Elvenesse
do keep the jewel I would possess.(370)
Yet bonds like these I hear thee say
affright thee not. Now go thy way!
Bring in thy hand one Silmaril
from Morgoth's crown, then if she will,
may Lúthien set her hand in thine;(375)
then shalt thou have this jewel of mine.'

Then Thingol's warriors loud and long
they laughed; for wide renown in song
had Fëanor's gems o'er land and sea,
the peerless Silmarils; and three(380)
alone he made and kindled slow
in the land of the Valar long ago,
three only, and in every one
the light that was before the sun;
and there on Túna of their own might(385)
they shone like marvellous stars at night,
in Elvish hoards, before the moon,
when Laurelin flowered, and Telperion's bloom
yet lit the land beyond the shore
where the Shadowy Sea's last surges roar,(390)
ere Morgoth stole them, and the Noldor roam,
seeking their glory, leaving their home,
ere Fëanor's sons in madness swore
their dreadful oath. But now no more
their beauty was seen, save shining clear(395)
in Morgoth's dungeons, vast and drear.
His iron crown they must adorn,
and gleam above Orcs and slaves forlorn,
treasured in Hell above all wealth,
more than his eyes; and might nor stealth (400)
could touch them, or even gaze too long
upon their glory. Throng on throng
of Orcs with reddened scimitars
encircled him, and mighty bars
and everlasting gates and walls,(405)
who wore them now amidst his thralls.

Then Beren laughed more loud than they
in bitterness, and thus did say:
'For little price do elven-kings
their daughters sell - for gems and rings(410)
and things of gold! If such thy will,
thy bidding I will now fulfill.
On Beren son of Barahir
thou hast not looked the last, I fear.
Farewell, Tinúviel, starlit maiden.(415)
Ere the pale winter pass snowladen,
I will return, not thee to buy
with any jewel in Elvenesse,
but to find my love in loveliness,
a flower that grows beneath the sky.'(420)
Bowing before Melian and the king
he turned, and thrust aside the ring
of guards about him, and was gone,
and his footsteps faded one by one
in the dark corridors. A guileful oath(425)
thus Thingol swore, for he had both
to blade and chain the flesh now doomed
in Morgoth's dungeons deep entombed
of Beren; but now welling tears
filled Lúthien's eyes, and hideous fears(430)
clutched at her heart. She looked away,
and later remembered that sad day
whereafter she then no more sang.
Then clear in the silence the cold words rang
of Melian: 'Counsel cunning-wise,(435)
oh king,' she said. 'Yet if mine eyes
lose not their power, 'twere well for thee
that Beren failed his errantry.
Well for thee, but for thy child
a dark doom and a wandering wild.'(440)

'I sell not to Men those whom I love'
said Thingol, 'whom all things above
I cherish; and if hope there were
that Beren should ever living fare
to the Thousand Caves once more, I swear(445)
he should not ever have seen the air
or light of heaven's stars again.'
But Melian smiled, and there was pain
as of far knowledge in her eyes;
for such is the sorrow of the wise.(450)