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J.R.R. Tolkien: The Bespelling of Morgoth: From The Lay of Leithian: Canto XIV: Weekend Reading

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Or is it the Vamping of Morgoth? "For Lúthien hath many arts/for solace sweet of kingly hearts..."

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lay of Leithian: Canto XIV:

There came a slow and shuddering change:
the batlike raiment dark and strange
was loosed, and slowly shrank and fell,
quivering. She stood revealed in hell.

About her slender shoulders hung
her shadowy hair, and round her clung
her garment dark, where glimmered pale
the starlight caught in elvish veil.

Dim dreams and faint oblivious sleep
fell softly thence, in dungeons deep
an odour stole of elven-flowers
from elven-dells where silver showers

Drip softly through the evening air;
and round there crawled with greedy stare
dark shapes of snuffling hunger dread.
With arms upraised and drooping head

Then softly she began to sing
a theme of sleep and slumbering,
wandering, woven with deeper spell
than songs wherewith in ancient dell

Melian did once the twilight fill,
profound, and fathomless, and still.
The fires of Angband flared and died,
smouldered into darkness; through the wide

And hollow halls there rolled unfurled
the shadows of the underworld.
All movement stayed, and all sound ceased,
save vaporous breath of Orc and beast.

One fire in darkness still abode:
the lidless eyes of Morgoth glowed;
one sound the breathing silence broke:
the mirthless voice of Morgoth spoke.


'So Lúthien, so Lúthien—
a liar like all Elves and Men!
Yet welcome, welcome to my hall!
I have a use for every thrall.

What news of Thingol in his hole
shy lurking like a timid vole?
What folly fresh is in his mind
who cannot keep his offspring blind
from straying thus—or can devise
no better counsel for his spies?'


She wavered, and she stayed her song:
'The road,' she said, 'was wild and long
but Thingol sent me not nor knows
what way his rebellious daughter goes.

Yet every road and path will lead
Northward at last, and here of need
I trembling come with humble brow
and here before thy throne I bow.
For Lúthien hath many arts
for solace sweet of kingly hearts.'


'And here of need thou shalt remain
now, Lúthien, in joy or pain—
or pain, the fitting doom for all
for rebel thief and upstart thrall.

Why should ye not in our fate share
of woe and travail? Or should I spare
to slender limb and body frail
breaking torment? Of what avail

Here dost thou deem thy babbling song
and foolish laughter? Minstrels strong
are at my call. Yet I will give
a respite brief, a while to live,

A little while, though purchased dear,
to Lúthien the fair and clear.
A pretty toy for idle hour.
In slothful gardens many a flower

like thee the amorous gods are used
honey-sweet to kiss, and cast then bruised,
their fragrance loosing, under feet.
But here we seldom find such sweet

Amid our labours long and hard,
from godlike idleness debarred.
And who would not taste the honey-sweet
lying to lips, or crush with feet

The soft cool tissue of pale flowers,
easing like gods the dragging hours?
Ah! Curse the Gods! Oh hunger dire,
oh blinding thirst's unending fire,
one moment shall ye cease, and slake
your sting with morsel I here take!'


In his eyes the fire to flame was fanned,
and forth he stretched his brazen hand.
Lúthien as shadow shrank aside.
'Not thus, oh king! Not thus,' she cried,

'Do great lords hark to humble boon!
For every minstrel hath his tune;
and some are strong and some are soft,
and each would bear his song aloft,

And each a little while be heard,
though rude the note, and light the word.
But Lúthien hath cunning arts
for solace sweet of kingly hearts.


Now hearken.' And her song she brought
then softly up, and swift as thought
slipped from his grasp, and wheeling round,
fluttering before his eyes, she wound

A heart-enthralling dance. She sang,
and ever clear the echoes rang;
and beauty filled from wall to wall
that great and vast and darkling hall.


Enchanting was her song, and soft
the melody she bore aloft,
and Morgoth's thought dwelt on her rare
enthralling beauty, frail and fair.


She slipped from sight; in shadows long
began anew a striking song
profound, of such surpassing power
he listened perforce, and in that hour

That fairest maid of Elvenesse
obscured his sight: its loveliness
beguiled great Morgoth. Light she caught
her wings then deftly up and sought

The vaulted shadows. Veiled, she sped
above his iron-crownéd head.
And as her song was sung anew
it soft came dropping like a dew

Down from on high in that domed hall
her voice bewildering, magical,
and grew to silver-murmuring streams
pale falling in dark pools in dreams.


She let her flying raiment sweep,
enmeshed with woven spells of sleep,
as round the dark void she ranged and reeled.
From wall to wall she turned and wheeled

In dance such as never Elf nor fay
before devised, nor since that day;
than swallow swifter, than flittermouse
in dying light round darkened house

More silken-soft, more strange and fair
than sylphine maidens of the Air
whose wings in Varda's heavenly hall
in rhythmic movement beat and fall.


Down crumpled Orc, and Balrog proud;
all eyes were quenched, all heads were bowed;
the fires of heart and maw were stilled,
and ever like a bird she trilled
above a lightless world forlorn
in ecstasy enchanted borne.


All eyes were quenched, save those that glared
in Morgoth's lowering brows, and stared
in slowly wandering wonder round,
and slow were in enchantment bound.

Their will wavered, and their fire failed,
and as beneath his brows they paled,
the Silmarils with living light
were kindled clear, and waxing bright
shone like the stars that in the North
above the reek of earth leap forth.


Then flaring suddenly they fell,
down, down upon the floors of hell.
The dark and mighty head was bowed;
like mountain-top beneath a cloud

The shoulders foundered, the vast form
crashed, as in overwhelming storm
huge cliffs in ruin slide and fall;
and prone lay Morgoth in his hall.

His crown there rolled upon the ground,
a wheel of thunder; then all sound
died, and a silence grew as deep
as were the heart of Earth asleep...