Monday, March 27, 2006

Sauron and Felagund

From Silmarillion:

Among the tales of sorrow and ruin that come down to us from the darkness of those days, there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death, light that endures. And of these histories most fair still in the ears of elves is the tale of Beren and Luthien. Of their lives was made the Lay of Leithian, Release from Bondage, which is the longest save one of the songs concerning the world of old.

Beren, son of Barahir renowned in wars against Morgoth, was of Mankind, and desired Luthien Tinuviel the fairest ever among both the children of Illuvatar to walk the earth. And she had a far greater lineage--her mother was none other than Melian the maia and her father, Elu Thingol, the Elven Lord of Doriath. When Beren asked Thingol for Luthien's hand, Thingol was enraged at this insolence, but Melian counselled him to forgo his wrath. He then said:

"I see the ring [of Barahir, an heirloom], son of Barahir, and I preceive that you are proud, and deem yourself mighty. But a father's deeds, even had his services rendered to me, avail not to win the daughter of Thingol and Melian. See now! I too desire a treasure that is withheld. For rock and steel and fires of Morgoth keep the jewel away that I would possess against all the powers of elf kingdoms.Yet I hear you say that bonds such as these do not daunt you. Go your way therefore! Bring to me in your hand, a Silmaril from Morgoth's crown; and then if she will, Luthien may set her hand in yours. Then you shall have my jewel; and though the fate of Arda lie within the Silmarils, yet you shall hold me generous."

Thus he wrought the doom of Doriath, and was ensnared within the curse of Mandos.

But Beren laughed. "For little price", he said, "do Elven-kings sell their daughters: for gems, and things made by craft. But if this be your will, Thingol, I will perform it. And when me meet again, my hand shall hold a Silmaril from the Iron Crown; for you have not looked the last upon Beren son of Barahir".

Forth went Beren from the halls of Thingol, and at length came to the King of Nargothrond, Finrod Felagund, the fairest of the house of Finwe. With ten other companions, they set out on a wondrously impossible quest to wrest a Simlaril from the Iron Crown of Morgoth. By the arts of Finrod, they passed unnoticed till they ventured into a pass guarded by a Tower, built in the past, by Finrod himself. Incidentally, it was named as Minas Tirith when it was built, but it fell into Morgoth's hands and was remaned as Tol-in-Gaurhoth. But that tower was now held by the most fell of all the servants of Morgoth-- Sauron, who of old was named Gorthaur, and he was now aware of them:

Thus befell the contest of Sauron and Felagund which is renowned. For Felagund strove with Sauron in songs of Power, and the power of the King was very great; but Sauron had the mastery, as is told in the Lay of Leithian:

He chanted a song of wizadry,
Of piercing, opening, of treachery,
Revealing, uncovering, betraying.
Then suddenFelagund there swaying,
Sang in answer a song of staying,
Resisting, battling against power,
Of secrets kept, strength like a Tower,
And trust unbroken, freedom, escape;
Of changing and, of shifting shape,
Of snares eluded, of broken traps,
The prison opening, the chain that snaps.
Backwards and forwards swayed their song.
Reeling and foundering, as ever more strong
The chanting swelled, Felagund fought
And all the magic and might he brought
Of Elvenesse into his words.
Softly in the gloom they heard the birds
Singing afar in Nargothrond,
The sighing of the sea beyond,
Beyond the western world, on sand,
On sand of pearls in Elvenland.
Then the gloom gathered; darkness glowing
In Valinor, the red blood flowing
Beside the sea where the Noldor slew
The Foamriders, and stealing drew
Their white ships and their white sails
From Lamplit havens. The wind wails,
The wolf howls. The ravens flee.
The ice mutters in the mouths of the Sea.
The captives sad in Angband mourn,
Thunder rumbles, the fires burn--
And Finrod fell before the throne.

Thus was Felagund imprisoned in dark pits of Tol-in-Gaurhoth along with Beren and the companions . The latter part of the tale has much to say on sacrifice, courage, and victory. The first union of Elf and Man was that of Luthien and Beren. Of this union sprang the lines of both Elves and Men. Both Elrond and Aragorn are from this same root.


Sketchy Self said...

A war of songs -- what an idea! but as Illuvatar created through music, it's all the more striking to imagine the Power level of that fight. Amazing, great find.
On a different note, this reminds me of a short story by Tagore featuring a poetry competition between a small country poet and the court poet, and the way their poetry is described...


Gandaragolaka said...

Everything about the silmarillion is exactly what everything about the hobbit is not about!
In that sense, I think we can say that Tolkien himself grew as the history of the Middle Earth unfolded in his fecund brain-- from the childlike and idyllic hobbit, to more manly LOTR, to almost divine and totally poetic and archaic silmarillion.


Gandaragolaka said...

By the way, that tower in which Beren and Finrod Felagund were imprisoned was build by Finrod himself, and was the original Minas Tirith.

The later Minas Tirith of Gondor was named in its memory.

yadbhavishya said...

Silmarillion, dint read.

But, yes I agree with the fact that Tolkien/his ideas grew as he wrote.

Hobbit is more of a happy picnic and unphilosophical compared to the three books. The first time Bilbo meets the "trolls" on his way to misty mountains is anything but serious and so are numerous other ilk.

Sketchy Self said...

I agree, the tone of Hobbit is exactly as if a hobbit were telling the story - all historical references of the other characters are downplayed. But the tone changes drastically with LOTR. It's tone is in keeping with the scope of its tale, as though Aragorn, Gandalf or Elrond (or as in the movie, Galadriel) were relating it. The Silmarillion (I read half :D) reads exactly like a history, albeit a poetic one, exactly as if it had been compiled by several scribes, both Elven and human.