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Author Topic: The Lay of Leithian in prose
Atmospherium
Soldier of Gondor
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I love the richness and depth of the Gest of Beren and Lúthien (The Lays of Beleriand, Vol 3 of HoME), but I'm not big on reading poetry. So, for my own enjoyment, I've converted the entire poem (as far as it goes, that is) from verse into prose.

I've retained much of the poetic rhythm and archaic word order. Mainly I've reshaped the verses into sentences and paragraphs in a manner that I find most pleasing and readable. For example:

Now sank she weeping at the side
of Beren, and sought to stem the tide
of welling blood that flowed there fast.
The raiment from his breast she cast;
from shoulder plucked the arrow keen;
his wound with tears she washed it clean

becomes:

Now she sank weeping at the side of Beren, and sought to stem the tide of welling blood that flowed there fast. She cast the raiment from his breast, from shoulder plucked the arrow keen; she washed his wound clean with tears.

I did a bit of name editing here and there: Thû becomes Sauron, Thorndor is Thorondor, the Gods = the Valar. Strangely, I dislike Tolkien's "wolvish" and replaced it with "wolfish". But all Elfinesse, etc is of course replaced with Elvenesse, etc.

The word "hell" that pops up now and then doesn't fit my conception of Arda, so I've replaced it with "Angband" where appropriate, or worked around it: "a shape of hell" becomes "a hellish shape".

This has been a tedious project, but great fun, and once I finish revising and fine-tuning, I'll print out a nice copy to insert into my hardcover edition of The Silmarillion.

I had never read the entire poem before, but with this project I've really immersed myself in it...and fell in love with the story all over again. There are richly detailed scenes of intense emotion and excitement that are lacking in the compressed prose versions.

Probably my moment of greatest delight was reading for the first time Morgoth's priceless line: "Thy name, thou shrieking waif, thy name!"

Anyway, I just thought I'd share this tidbit from my little corner of the Tolkien world.

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Artaresto
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Sounds awesome!

Now I haven't read the Lay myself as I don't have vol. III. []

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Roll of Honor pi
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nice. any more?
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Atmospherium
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In the 1977 Silmarillion it is told that Beren first beheld Lúthien in the summer:
"...at a time of evening under moonrise, as she danced upon the unfading grass in the glades beside Esgalduin."

He is struck dumb with enchantment and wandered all winter, seeking her. The two finally meet when:
"There came a time near dawn on the eve of spring, and Lúthien danced upon a green hill; and suddenly she began to sing. Keen, heart-piercing was her song as the song of the lark that rises from the gates of night and pours its voice among the dying stars, seeing the sun behind the walls of the world."

In the "Lay of Leithian" Lúthien both danced and sang, to the pipes of Daeron, on that summer night when Beren first beheld her. Tolkien rewrote this portion of the poem, which I used as my main text, blending in a few nice elements from the original verses:

*****
Beyond the bounds of Arda far still shone the Legions, star on star, memorials of their long labour, achievement of Vision and of Song. And when beneath their ancient light was cloudless night on Middle-earth below, music in Doraith awoke; and there beneath the branching oak, or seated on the beech-leaves brown, Daeron the dark with ferny crown played on his pipes of Elvish art, unbearable by mortal heart. No other player has there been, no other lips or fingers seen so skilled, ‘tis said in Elven-lore, save Maglor son of Fëanor, forgotten harper, doomed singer, who was young when Laurelin yet bloomed, but who passed to endless lamentation and in the tombless sea was cast.

But Daeron in his heart’s delight yet lived and played by starlit night; until befell one summer-eve, as still the Elven harpers tell. Merrily then his piping trilled. Upon a lawn the grass was soft, the wind was stilled, the twilight lingered grey and cool in shadow-shapes upon the pool, standing still beneath the boughs of sleeping trees. About their knees a mist of hemlocks glimmered pale and faint, and ghostly moths with tiny eyes of fiery light went to and fro on frail lace-wings. Beside the mere, quickening, rippling, rising clear the piping called.

Then forth she came, as sheer and sudden as a flame of peerless white cleaving the shadows, leaving her maiden-bower on white feet. And as when summer stars arise radiant into darkened skies, her living light on all was cast in fleeting silver as she passed. There now she stepped in Elven pace, bending and swaying in her grace; then began to dance, to dance: in mazes ran bewildering, and a mist of white was wreathed about her whirling flight. Wind-ripples on the water flashed, and trembling leaf and flower were plashed with diamond-dews, as ever fleet and fleeter went her wingéd feet. With silken robe and silver shoon, the daughter of the deathless queen, half Elven-fair and half divine, danced upon the undying green. Her long hair as a cloud was streaming about her uplifted gleaming arms, as slow and white above the trees arose the Moon, in glory of the plenilune, and on the open glade its serene and clear light was laid.

Then suddenly her feet were stilled, and through the woven wood there thrilled, half wordless, half in Elven-tongue, her voice upraised in blissful song, that she once learned of nightingales and in her living joy had turned to heart-enthralling loveliness, unmarred, immortal, sorrowless:

“Ir Ithil ammen Eruchín
menel-vîr síla díriel
si loth a galadh lasto dîn!
A Hîr Annûn gilthoniel,
le linnon im Tinûviel!”

O Elven-fairest Lúthien, what wonder moved thy dances then? What doom of Elvenesse enchanted did thy voice possess that night? Such marvel there no more shall be on Middle-earth or West beyond the sea, at dusk or dawn, by night or noon, or beneath the mirror of the moon! On Neldoreth was laid a spell; the piping fell into silence, for Daeron cast his flute away and it lay unheeded on the grass. Bound in wonder he stood as stone, heart-broken in the listening wood. And still she sang above the night, as light returning into light, upsoaring from the world below.
*****

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Jon
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Awesome! I've actually done the opposite and adapted the poem to the later version of the story. You can check it out at:

http://layofleithian.blogspot.com/

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Atmospherium
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Great job, koriagin! I'm glad to see others digging into some of the more obscure and neglected works.

I got carried away and decided to compile the longest, most complete, version of the Tale of Beren and Lúthien that I could. I used material from not only the “Lay Of Leithian”, but also “The Quenta Silmarillion”, “The Grey Annals”, “The Lord of the Rings”, and even bits of “The Tale of Tinúviel” from the Book of Lost Tales.

I ended up with a work of 38,200 words. I set it aside for the summer, but I'll do the final tweaking and editing this winter.

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Jon
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Are you ever going to post it anywhere? It would be great to check out. I'd be curious to see how it came out.
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Atmospherium
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I will share it online once it's all done to my satisfaction. I want to make sure every i is dotted and every t crossed. Here is an excerpt from Canto VIII:

Huan the Hound

Hounds there were in Valinor, with silver collars. There in the green forests did go hart and boar, the fox and hare and nimble roe. Oromë was the lord divine of all those woods. The potent wine went in his halls and hunting song. The Noldor long named him anew Tauros, the Vala whose horns did blow over the mountains long ago; who alone of the Valar loved the world before the banners of Moon and Sun were unfurled; and shod with gold were his great horses. He possessed hounds untold of immortal race, baying in the woods beyond the West: grey and limber, black and strong, white with long silken coats, brown and brindled, swift and true as an arrow from a bow of yew; their voices like the deep-toned bells that ring in Valimar’s citadels, their eyes like living jewels, their teeth like ruel-bone. As sword from sheath they flashed and fled from leash to scent for Oromë’s joy and merriment.

In Oromë’s friths and green pastures Huan had once been a young whelp. He grew the swiftest of the swift, and Oromë gave him as a gift to Celegorm, who loved to follow the horn of the great Vala over hill and hollow. Alone of hounds of the Land of Light, Huan stayed beside his master when the sons of Fëanor took to flight and came to the North. He shared every raid and wild foray, and into mortal battle dared. Often he saved his Noldorin lord from Orc and wolf and leaping sword. A wolf-hound, tireless, grey and fierce he grew; his gleaming eyes would pierce all shadows and all mist, he found the moons-old scent through fen and bent, through rustling leaves and dusty sand; he knew all paths of wide Beleriand.

But wolves, he loved them best; he loved to find their throats and wrest their snarling lives and evil breath. The packs of Sauron feared him as death. No wizardry, nor spell, nor dart, nor venom brewed of devil’s art, had ever harmed him; for his fate was foretold. Yet he feared little that doom decreed and known to all: that he should fall before the mightiest wolf alone that was ever whelped in cave of stone.

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Jon
Soldier of Gondor
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Nice. You might find some of the notes in my website useful. For example: Tauron is the Sindarin version of Orome's name given in the Silmarillion, slightly changed from the earlier version present in the poem (Tavros - later emended to Tauros).

Happy writing!

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Atmospherium
Soldier of Gondor
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Christmas Day, 2011. I finally finished the Tale of Beren and Lúthien. You can download it here:

Beren and Luthien

My original intention of adapting the verse Lay of Leithian into prose evolved into a desire to compile the fullest, most complete prose version I could, using all the materials available to me. Towards the end I found myself selecting and rearranging text with a pretty free hand, so I decided to wrap up the project as it stood before I succumbed to the temptation to rewrite anything. You have my assurance that every word is Tolkien's. (With one sole exception; see if you can spot it.)

I hope you enjoy the tale. Feel free to download and share.

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Atmospherium
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And in true Tolkienesque fashion, I've already made a few niggling changes to the text and updated the downloadable files.
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Jon
Soldier of Gondor
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One thing I stumbled across recently that I thought you might find interesting: there exists a prose version of the Tale of Beren & Luthien that Tolkien wrote, told in great detail and following very closely the recommenced version of the Lay, which proceeds all the way to the point where Dairon reveals the presence of Beren in Doriath to Thingol. It was never published, but is noted on p. 295 (I think) of The Lost Road. I think that the work is likely very important for reasons that I've outlined in the commentary to Canto IV on my sight. There's a citation there.

Just figured you'd be interested.

-J

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