Canto VII

When Morgoth in that day of doom
had slain the Trees and filled with gloom
the shining land of Valinor,
there Fëanor and his sons then swore
the mighty oath upon the hill (5)
of tower-crowned Túna, that still
wrought wars and sorrow in the world.
From darkling seas the fogs unfurled
their blinding shadows grey and cold
where Laurelin had bloomed with gold (10)
and Telperion spread its silver flowers.
The mists were mantled round the towers
of the Elves' white city by the sea.
There countless torches fitfully
did start and twinkle on the stair (15)
that led to the wide echoing square.
There Fëanor mourned his jewels divine,
the Silmarils he made. Like wine
his wild and potent words them fill;
a great host harkens deathly still. (20)
But all he said both wild and wise,
half truth and half the fruit of lies
that Morgoth sowed in Valinor,
in other songs and other lore
recorded is. He bade them flee (25)
from lands divine, to cross the sea,
the pathless plains, the perilous shores
where ice-infested water roars;
to follow Morgoth to the unlit earth
leaving their dwellings and olden mirth; (30)
to go back to the Outer Lands
to wars and weeping. There their hands
they joined in vows, those kinsmen seven,
swearing beneath the stars of Heaven
by Varda, the Holy, that them wrought (35)
and bore them each with radiance fraught
and set them in the deeps to flame.
Taniquetil's holy height they name,
whereon are built the timeless halls
of Manwë Súlimo. Who calls (40)
these names in witness may not break
his oath, though earth and heaven shake.
Curufin, Celegorm the fair,
both Amrod and Amras were there,
Caranthir dark and Maedhros tall (45)
(whom after torment should befall),
and Maglor the mighty, who like the sea
with deep voice sings yet mournfully.
'Be he friend or foe, or seed defiled
of Morgoth Bauglir, or mortal child (50)
that in after days on earth shall dwell,
no law, nor love, nor league of hell,
not might of Valar, not moveless fate
shall him defend from wrath and hate
of Fëanor's sons, who takes or steals (55)
or finding keeps the Silmarils,
the thrice-enchanted globes of light
that shine until the final night.'
The Noldor's wars and wandering
this tale tells not, though some still sing (60)
how they fought and laboured in the North.
Fingon daring alone went forth
and sought for Maedhros where he hung;
in torment terrible he swung,
his wrist in band of forgéd steel (65)
from a sheer precipice where reel
the dizzy senses staring down
from Thangorodrim's stony crown.
The song of Fingon Elves yet sing,
captain of armies, Noldorin king, (70)
who fell at last in flame of swords
with his white banners and his lords.
They sing how Maedhros free he set,
and stayed the feud that slumbered yet
with children proud of Fingolfin. (75)
Now joined once more they hemmed him in,
even great Morgoth, and their host
beleaguered Angband, 'till they boast
no Orc nor demon ever dare
their leaguer break or past them fare. (80)
Then days of solace woke on earth
beneath the new-lit Sun, and mirth
was heard in the Great Lands where Men,
a young race, spread and wandered then.
That was the time that songs do call (85)
the Siege of Angband, when like a wall
the Noldor's swords did fence the earth
from Morgoth's ruin, a time of birth,
of blossoming, of flowers, of growth;
but still there held the deathless oath, (90)
and still the Silmarils were deep
in Angband's darkly-dolven keep.
An end there came, when fortune turned
and flames of Morgoth's vengeance burned,
and all the might which he prepared (95)
in secret in his fastness flared
and poured across the Thirsty Plain;
and armies black were in its train.
The leaguer of Angband Morgoth broke;
his enemies in fire and smoke (100)
were scattered, and the Orcs there slew
and slew, until the blood like dew
dripped from each cruel and crooked blade.
Then Barahir the bold did aid
with mighty spear, with shield and men, (105)
Felagund wounded. To the fen
escaping, there they bound their troth,
and Felagund deeply swore an oath
of friendship to his kin and seed,
of love and succour in time of need. (110)
Of Finarfin's sons, those four,
were Angrod slain and proud Aegnor.
Felagund and Orodreth then
gathered the remnant of their men,
their maidens and their children fair; (115)
forsaking war they made their lair
and cavernous hold far in the south.
On Narog's towering bank its mouth
was opened, which they hid and veiled;
and mighty doors, that unassailed (120)
'till Túrin's day stood vast and grim,
they build, by trees o'ershadowed dim.
And with them dwelt a long time there
Curufin, and Celegorm the fair;
and a mighty folk lived neath their hands (125)
in Narog's secret halls and lands.
Thus Felagund in Nargothrond
still reigned, a hidden king whose bond
was sworn to Barahir the bold.
And now his son through forests cold (130)
wandered alone as in a dream.
Esgalduin's dark and shrouded stream
he followed, 'till its waters frore
were joined to Sirion, Sirion hoar,
pale silver water wide and free (135)
rolling in splendour to the sea.
Now Beren came unto the pools,
wide shallow meres where Sirion cools
his gathered tide beneath the stars,
ere chafed and sundered by the bars (140)
of reedy banks a mighty fen
he feeds and drenches, plunging then
into vast chasms underground,
where many miles his way is wound.
Aelin-uial, Twilight Meres, (145)
those great wide waters grey as tears
the Elves then named. Through driving rain,
from thence across the Guarded Plain,
the Hills of Hunters Beren saw
with bare tops bitten bleak and raw (150)
by western winds; but, in the mist
of streaming rains that flashed and hissed
into the meres, he knew there lay,
beneath those hills, the cloven way
of Narog, and the watchful halls (155)
of Felagund beside the falls
of Ringwil tumbling from the wold.
An everlasting watch they hold,
the Noldor of Nargothrond renowned,
and every hill is tower-crowned, (160)
where wardens sleepless peer and gaze
guarding the plain and all the ways
between Narog swift and Sirion pale;
and archers whose arrows never fail
there range the woods, and secret kill (165)
all who creep thither against their will.
Yet now he thrusts into that land
bearing the gleaming ring on hand
of Felagund, and oft doth cry:
'Here comes no wandering Orc or spy, (170)
but Beren son of Barahir
who once to Felagund was dear.'
He went with arm and hand held high;
the ring there gleamed beneath the sky.
So ere he reached the eastward shore (175)
of Narog, that doth foam and roar
o'er boulders black, those archers green
came round him. When the ring was seen
they bowed before him, though his plight
was poor and beggarly. Then by night (180)
they led him northward, for no ford
nor bridge was built where Narog poured
before the gates of Nargothrond,
and friend nor foe might pass beyond.
To northward, where that stream yet young (185)
more slender flowed, below the tongue
of foam-splashed land that Ginglith pens
when her brief golden torrent ends
and joins the Narog, there they wade.
Now swiftest journey thence they made (190)
to Nargothrond's sheer terraces
and dim gigantic palaces.
They came beneath a sickle moon
to doors there darkly hung and hewn
with posts and lintels of ponderous stone (195)
and timbers huge. Now open thrown
were gaping gates, and in they strode
where Felagund on throne abode.
Fair were the words of Narog's king
to Beren, and his wandering (200)
and all his feuds and bitter wars
recounted soon. Behind closed doors
they sat, while Beren told his tale
of Doriath; and words him fail
recalling Lúthien dancing fair (205)
with wild white roses in her hair,
remembering her elven voice that rung
while stars in twilight round her hung.
He spake of Thingol's marvellous halls
by enchantment lit, where fountain falls (210)
and ever the nightingale doth sing
to Melian and to her king.
The quest he told that Thingol laid
in scorn on him; how for love of maid
more fair than ever was born to Men, (215)
for Tinúviel, for Lúthien,
he must essay the burning waste,
and doubtless death and torment taste.
This Felagund in wonder heard,
and heavily spake at last this word: (220)
'It seems that Thingol doth desire
thy death. The everlasting fire
of those enchanted jewels all know
is cursed with an oath of endless woe,
and Fëanor's sons alone by right (225)
are lords and masters of their light.
He cannot hope within his hoard
to keep this gem, nor is he lord
of all the flok of Elvenesse.
And yet thou saist for nothing less (230)
can thy return to Doriath
be purchased? Many a dreadful path
in sooth there lies before thy feet -
and after Morgoth, still a fleet
untiring hate, as I know well, (235)
would hunt thee from heaven unto hell.
Fëanor's sons would, if they could,
slay thee ever thou reached his wood
or laid in Thingol's lap that fire,
or gained at least thy sweet desire. (240)
Lo, Celegorm and Curufin
here dwell this very realm within,
and e'en though I, Finarfin's son,
am king, a mighty power have won
and many of their own folk lead. (245)
Friendship to me in every need
they yet have shown, but much I fear
that to Beren son of Barahir
mercy or love they will not show
if once thy dreadful quest they know.' (250)
True words he spake. For when the king
to all his people told this thing,
and spake of the oath to Barahir,
and how that mortal shield and spar
had saved them from Morgoth and from woe (255)
on Northern battlefields long ago,
then many were kindled in their hearts
once more to battle. But up there starts
amid the throng, and loudly cries
for hearing, one with flaming eyes, (260)
proud Celegorm with gleaming hair
and shining sword. Then all men stare
upon his stern unyielding face,
and a great hush falls upon that place.
'Be he friend or foe, or demon wild (265)
of Morgoth, Elf, or mortal child,
or any that here on earth may dwell,
no law, nor love, nor league of hell,
no might of Valar, no binding spell,
shall him defend from hatred fell (270)
of Fëanor's sons, whoso take or steal
or finding keep a Silmaril.
These we alone do claim by right,
our thrice enchanted jewels bright.'
Many wild and potent words he spoke, (275)
and as in Tirion awoke
his father's voice their hearts to fire,
so now dark fear and brooding ire
he cast on them, foreboding war
of friend with friend; and pools of gore (280)
their minds imagined lying red
in Nargothrond about the dead,
did Narog's host with Beren go;
or haply battle, ruin, and woe
in Doriath, where great Thingol reigned, (285)
if Fëanor's fatal jewel he gained.
And even such as were most true
to Felagund his oath did rue,
and thought with terror and despair
of seeking Morgoth in his lair (290)
with force or guile. This Curufin
when his brother ceased did then begin
more to impress upon their minds;
and such a spell he on them binds
that never again till Túrin's day (295)
would Noldor of Narog in array
of open battle go to war.
With secrecy, ambush, spies and lore
of wizardry; with silent leaguer
of wild things wary, watchful, eager, (300)
of phantom hunters, venomed darts,
and unseen stealthy creeping arts;
with padding hatred that their prey
with feet of velvet all the day
followed remorseless out of sight (305)
and slew then unawares at night -
thus they defended Nargothrond,
and forgot their kin and solemn bond
for dread of Morgoth that the art
of Curufin set within their heart. (310)
So would they not that angry day
King Felagund their lord obey,
but sullen murmured that Finrod
nor yet his kin were like a god.
Then Felagund took off his crown (315)
and at his feet he cast it down,
the silver helm of Nargothrond:
'Yours ye may break, but I my bond
must keep, and kingdom here forsake.
If hearts here were that did not quake, (320)
or that to Finrod's word were true,
then I at least should find a few
to go with me, not like a poor
rejected beggar scorn endure,
turned from my gates to leave my town, (325)
my people, and my realm and crown.'
Hearing these words there swiftly stood
beside him ten tried warriors good,
men of his house who had ever fought
wherever his banners had been brought. (330)
One stooped and lifted up his crown,
and said: 'Oh king, to leave this town
is now our fate, but not to lose
thy rightful lordship. Thou shalt choose
one to be steward in thy stead.' (335)
Then Felagund upon the head
of Orodreth set it: 'Brother mine,
'till I return this crown is thine.'
Then Celegorm no more would stay,
and Curufin smiled and turned away. (340)