Maglor, cursed wanderer, sings of his loss of the Silmaril. In blank verse unrhymed.
O undiminished Light! Thou first of Trees divine
by twin empyreal fruits did birth, and forth
By mighty craft distilled: their strands entwined
In mingled dawn. Silmarils your final form--
in hold impregnable, in shape and grace
so infinite did reside thy Light
Unfading. Light that wondrous love bestirred
In all who saw your cool unbroken sphere
whose substance pure did radiate within.
Though peerless the twin Trees of Valinor:
yet still unequaled shone their colors twain
in twilight joined. Their living hues did dance
a mutual flame; as vibrant strings their Light
did harp the heart, and set the very soul
in sundering song. By noble Fëanor’s hands
enjewelled and joined, as woven filaments
of threaded glass, and set in Silmarils
thy lucent wingéd Light that outshone all
other lamps and jewel. How paled the crafts
of lesser hands, before thy holiest Light!
Yet lost, yet lost! that lost I the Silmaril!
How moved thy Light, and how in poverty
of thy radiance my sight seems blind'd and vain.
For Light I lost has lost me all of light;
my eyes are orbs confined that harken not,
they bathe in the dawn yet pay no heed the morn
for levity false and joy offensive seem
before their robbéd memory.
I dwell, a houseless ghost: Of Sun and Moon
unfeeling, save their baleful cold. For what
is the Sun but a tainted shield, that daily dash
twixt ruddy courses, wearing burnished light
that shines as true Light marred and stained.
For same of the too inconstant Moon;
the Moon by whom unhappy mortal Men
do count their changes. Light of his but wax
and wane, and hold not the endless, flawless Light's
I wander i' vain,
in hopes of thee; perfection of thine
revisit yet. But having fallen thus,
the most in misery is mine, having gain'd
and lost our foremost holy Jewels and joy
immeasurable in earthly estimate.
What woes have hunted since the seven sons
of Fëanor! Ai! no prouder people since
has dwelt in yonder Valinor, Aman
no better sons. 'Tis true enough, that blood
our paths did stain, and treachery, and death,
yet think of us not faithless! For what faith
would come of breaking Oath paternal?
Constant most of all must oaths of sons
and brothers hold. So thereby we did take
the ships, and bloodied hands did steer their masts,
and angry minds their course; in wrathful flame
the swans were swallowed. Bad blood multiplied.
And few love we had for doubters e'er
of our thought and councils, who were slow
to action yet quick to words when we
were thus beset.
Yet once had we set foot
in cold and wildered Arda did not my heart
misgive, and looked I behind our ranks, where West
the wind came flying not, and Stars were veiled
in mourning or wrath. And long I sang
in that hour, to darkling Seas, of deed and glory!
yet ere I ended, slowly themes and chords
of grief and blood, our cruelty cold, and fears
unending, did twine and weave among
We warred for long in wrath
but were unwinning; splendid though we were!
a hill of frost our swords had seemed, and flame
their bites did temper. Shields of ours had gleamed
and held, as adamantine as resolve.
Yet all for naught! Before the hated gates
of the Enemy our father fell like a failing flame
in the ashes. Ai, vaunting Fate, unhappy Fate
who sent us thus against the reign and will
of the Valar; drawn into War unceasing long
and woes uncountable!
your allied spirits wander, i' pain or peace?
within a fiery depth has Maedhros gone,
and borne in him was one of the Jewels of art
incomparable: I felt it thus. For flame
had singed my thoughts, and yonder shone a Light
before my mind, exceeding bright among
a frond of stars. Into the earth's depths it
did plummet, now as in fire, and now as in hail.
What madness drove us? Torment eternal
my fate has won me: to roam disgraced the strands,
repentant, shamed, yet unreleased of Oath;
for ever burns my heart its dooméd words.
And so I do, and so I look: to West
as I had done before. Reprieve I've none
but memories of thy Light. How I have dreamt
of thee undimmed and blazing o'er the Sea
in streaks of gold and silver. Hark! thy Light
the very thieving waves do praiséd sing,
and caught twixt Sun and Moon do I perceive
the last of Three: at height unmoutable
above the livid waves in wrath of me.
Its Light caress's my eyes, yet faint its beams:
reduce by distance thus, across so wide
a space as 'tween the empyrean vault
where tremble the Stars of Varda, queen supreme,
and the earth so lowly 'neath. O chance, or fate,
or strength of will—wherefore that he, in blood
and kindred mixed, succeeds where mighty arms
have failed? For the children of noble Finwë
are scattered, and the sons of Fëanor dead.
O holy Light, be moved to pity me,
I stand on brink of the changed world still,
with muted tongue I sing, yet words I've naught
to mourn or praise your most beloved Light.
What hubris is this! While rereading The Silmarillion and Paradise Lost in quick succession I was struck with the mirror between Milton's Satanic host (and indeed, Shelly's Prometheus) and Tolkien's Noldor in Middle-Earth. That both stories are movingly told (in part) from the point of view of the guilty seemed not accidental. Anyway, there it is, for posterity's sake.