Canto X

In Wizard's Isle still lay, forgot,
enmeshed and tortured in that grot
cold, evil, doorless, without light,
and blank-eyed stared at endless night
two comrades. Now alone they were. (5)
The others lived no more, but bare
their broken bones would lie and tell
how ten had served their master well.
To Felagund then Beren said:
''Twere little loss if I were dead, (10)
and I am minded all to tell,
and thus, perchance, from this dark hell
thy life to loose. I set thee free
from thine old oath, for more for me
hast thou endured than e'er was earned.' (15)
'Ah, Beren, Beren hast not learned
that promises of Morgoth's folk
are frail breath. From this dark yoke
of pain shall neither ever go,
whether Sauron learn our names or no, (20)
with his consent. Nay, more, I think,
yet deeper of torment we should drink,
knew he that son of Barahir
and Felagund were captive here,
and even worse if he should know (25)
the dreadful errand we did go.'
A devil's laugh they ringing heard
within their pit. 'True, true the word
I hear you speak,' a voice then said.
''Twere little loss if he were dead, (30)
the outlaw mortal. But the king,
the Elf undying, many a thing
no man could suffer may endure.
Perchance, when what these walls immure
of dreadful anguish thy folk learn, (35)
their king to ransom they will yearn
with gold and gem and high hearts cowed;
or maybe Celegorm the proud
will deem a rival's prison cheap,
and crown and gold himself will keep. (40)
Perchance, the errand I shall know,
ere all is done, that ye did go.
The wolf is hungry, the hour is nigh;
no more need Beren wait to die.'
The slow time passed, then in the gloom (45)
two eyes there glowed. He saw his doom,
Beren, silent, as his bonds he strained
beyond his mortal might enchained.
But now the spells that Finrod spun
once more were wakened and begun; (50)
from chains and anguish release he sought:
now his enchantments were come full wrought.
Lo, sudden there was rending sound
of chains that parted and unwound,
of meshes broken. Forth there leapt, (55)
upon the wolvish thing that crept
in shadow, faithful Felagund,
careless of fang or venomed wound.
There in the dark they wrestled slow,
remorseless, snarling, to and fro, (60)
teeth in flesh, gripe on throat,
fingers locked in shaggy coat,
spurning Beren - who there lying
heard the werewolf shuddering, dying,
the struggle ceasing in the dark, (65)
then gasping breath and silence stark.
Then a voice he heard: 'Farewell!
On earth I need no longer dwell,
friend and comrade, Beren bold.
My heart is burst, my limbs are cold. (70)
Here all my power I have spent
to break my bonds, and dreadful rent
of poisoned teeth is in my breast.
I now must go to my long rest
in Aman, there beyond the shore (75)
of Eldamar for ever more
in memory to dwell.' Then silence fell,
and shadows black in his dark cell
surrounded him. So died the king,
as still the elven harpers sing. (80)
There Beren lies. His grief no tear,
his despair no horror has, nor fear,
waiting for footsteps, a voice, for doom.
Silences, profounder than the tomb
of long-forgotten kings neath years (85)
and sands uncounted laid on biers
and buried everlasting-deep,
slow and unbroken round him creep.
The silences were sudden shivered
to silver fragments. Faint there quivered (90)
a voice in song that walls of rock,
enchanted hill, and bar and lock,
and powers of darkness pierced with light.
He felt about him the soft night
of many stars, and in the air (95)
were rustlings and a perfume rare.
The nightingales were in the trees,
slim fingers flute and viol seize
beneath the moon, and one more fair
than all there be or ever were (100)
upon a lonely knoll of stone
in shimmering raiment danced alone.
Then in his dream it seemed he sang,
and loud and fierce his chanting rang,
old songs of battle in the North, (105)
of breathless deeds, of marching forth
to dare uncounted odds and break
great powers, and towers and strong walls shake;
and over all the silver fire
that once Men named the Burning Briar, (110)
the Seven Stars that Varda set
about the North, were burning yet,
a light in darkness, hope in woe,
the emblem vast of Morgoth's foe.
'Huan, Huan! I hear a song (115)
far under welling, far but strong;
a song that Beren bore aloft.
I hear his voice, I have heard it oft
in dream and wandering.' Whispering low
thus Lúthien spake. On the bridge of woe (120)
in mantle wrapped at dead of night
she sat and sang, and to its height
and to its depth the Wizards's Isle,
rock upon rock and pile on pile,
trembling echoed. The werewolves howled, (125)
and Huan, hidden, lay and growled,
watchful, listening in the dark,
waiting for battle cruel and stark.
Sauron heard that voice, and stood
wrapped in his cloak and sable hood (130)
in his high tower. He listened long,
and smiled, and knew that elvish song.
'Ah, little Lúthien! What brought
the foolish fly to web unsought?
Morgoth! A great and rich reward (135)
to me thou wilt owe when to thy hoard
the jewel is added.' Down he went,
and forth his messengers he sent.
Still Lúthien sang. A creeping shape
with bloodred tongue and jaws agape (140)
stole on the bridge; but she sang on
with trembling limbs and wide eyes wan.
The creeping shape leaped to her side,
was grasped, and silent fell and died.
And still they came, still one by one, (145)
and each was seized, and there were none
returned with padding feet to tell
that a shadow lurketh fierce and fell
at the bridge's end, and that below
the shuddering waters loathing flow (150)
o'er the grey corpses Huan killed.
A mightier shadow slowly filled
the narrow bridge, a slavering hate
and awful werewolf fierce and great:
pale Draugluin, the old grey lord (155)
of wolves and beasts of blood abhorred,
who fed on flesh of Man and Elf
beneath chair of Sauron himself.
No more in silence did they fight.
Howling and baying smote the night, (160)
'till back by the chair where he had fed
to die the werewolf yammering fled.
'Huan is there,' he gasped and died.
Sauron was filled with wrath and pride.
'Before the mightiest he shall fall, (165)
before the mightiest wolf of all,'
so thought he now, and thought he knew
how fate long spoken should come true.
Now there came slowly forth and glared
into the night a shape long-haired, (170)
dank with poison, with awful eyes
wolvish, ravenous; but there lies
a light therein more cruel and dread
than ever wolvish eyes had fed.
More huge were its limbs, its jaws more wide, (175)
its fangs more gleaming-sharp, and dyed
with venom, torment, and with death.
The deadly vapour of its breath
swept on before it. Swooning dies
the song of Lúthien, and her eyes (180)
are dimmed and darkened with a fear,
cold and poisonous and drear.
Thus came Sauron, as wolf more great
than e'er was seen from Angband's gate
to the burning south, than ever lurked (185)
in mortal lands or murder worked.
Sudden he sprang, and Huan leapt
aside in shadow. On he swept
to Lúthien lying swooning faint.
To her drowning senses came the taint (190)
of his foul breathing, and she stirred;
dizzily she spake a whispered word,
her mantle brushed across his face.
He stumbled, staggering in his pace.
Out leaped Huan. Back he sprang. (195)
Beneath the stars there shuddering rang
the cry of hunting wolves at bay,
the tongue of hounds that fearless slay.
Backward and forth they leaped and ran
feinting to flee, and round they span, (200)
and bit and grappled, and fell and rose.
Then suddenly Huan holds and throws
his ghastly foe; his throat he rends,
choking his life. Not so it ends.
From shape to shape, from wolf to worm, (205)
from monster to his own demon form,
Sauron changes, but that hard grip
he cannot shake, nor from it slip.
No wizardry, nor spell, nor dart,
no fang, nor venom, nor devil's art (210)
could harm that hound that hart and boar
had hunted once in Valinor.
Nigh the foul spirit, ancient made
and bent to evil shuddering strayed
from its dark house, Lúthien arose (215)
and shivering looked upon his throes.
'Oh demon dark, Oh phantom vile
to foulness brought, to lies and guile,
here shalt thou die, thy spirit roam
quaking back to thy master's home (220)
his scorn and fury to endure;
thee he will in the bowels immure
of groaning earth, and in a hole
everlastingly thy naked soul
shall wail and gibber - this shall be, (225)
unless the keys thou render me
of thy black fortress, and the spell
that bindeth stone to stone thou tell,
and speak the words of opening.'
With gasping breath and shuddering (230)
he spake, and yielded as he must,
and vanquished betrayed his master's trust.
Lo, by the bridge a gleam of light,
like stars descended from the night
to burn and tremble here below. (235)
There wide her arms did Lúthien throw,
and called aloud with voice as clear
as still at while may mortal hear
long elvish trumpets o'er the hill
echo when all the worlds is still. (240)
The dawn peered over mountains wan,
their grey heads silent looked thereon.
The hill trembled; the citadel
crumbled, and all its towers fell;
the rocks yawned and the bridge broke, (245)
and Sirion spumed in sudden smoke.
Like ghosts the owls were flying seen
hooting in the dawn, and bats unclean
went skimming dark through the cold airs
shrieking thinly to find new lairs (250)
in Deadly Nightshade's branches dread.
The wolves whimpering and yammering fled
like dusky shadows.
Out there creep
pale forms and ragged as from sleep,
crawling, and shielding blinded eyes: (255)
the captives in fear and in surprise
from dolour long in clinging night
beyond all hope set free to light.
A vampire shape with pinions vast
screeching leaped from the ground, and passed, (260)
its dark blood dripping on the trees;
and Huan neath him lifeless sees
a wolvish corpse - Sauron had flown
to Taur-nu-Fuin, a new throne
and darker stronghold there to build. (265)
The captives came and wept and shrilled
their piteous cries of thanks and praise.
But Lúthien anxious-gazing stays.
Beren comes not. At length she said:
'Huan, Huan, among the dead (270)
must we then find him whom we sought,
for love of whom we toiled and fought?'
Then side by side, from stone to stone
o'er Sirion they climbed alone.
Unmoving they him found who mourned (275)
by Felagund, and never turned
to see what feet drew halting nigh.
Without a sound, without a sigh,
her arms about him then she cast,
and fell down into darkness fast. (280)
Her touch such love and longing filled
he raised his eyes, his mourning stilled,
and felt his heart new-turned to flame
for her that through peril to him came.
'Oh Lúthien! Oh Lúthien, (285)
more fair than any child of Men!
Oh, loveliest maid of Elvenesse,
what might of love did thee posses
to bring thee here to terror's lair?
Oh, flower of Elfland ever fair!' (290)
She had found his arms, and swooned away
just at the rising of the day.