The Bidding of the Minstrel

by JRR Tolkien, 1914
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
by JRR Tolkien, c. 1914
(This was the first poem Tolkien wrote about Earendel; 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.

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.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful