Geste a little more....
another extract from the Ballad of Beren and Luthien
This is a spectacular moment, full of terror and excitement. During this part of the story, Beren, disguised as a wolf, slinks into the halls of Angband, to steal the silmarils from Morgoth's crown...
Morgoth sleeps after a battle of words, wit and song with Lúthien desguised as a bat. But Oh! as our hero levers one silmaril from the crown, his blade breaks and flicks at Morgoth, thus awaking him! Alas, rather than flee, Beren's greed prevails, and he tries to take another...
About him sat his awful thanes,
the Balrog-lords with fiery manes,
redhanded, mouthed with fangs of steel;
devouring wolves were crouched at heel.
And o'er the host of hell there shone
with a cold radiance, clear and wan,
the Silmarils, the gems of fate,
emprisoned in the crown of hate.
Lo! Through the grinning portals dread
sudden a shadow swooped and fled;
and Beren gasped—he lay alone,
with crawling belly on the stone:
a form bat-wingéd, silent, flew
where the huge pillared branches grew,
Then comes Carcaroth, the Red Maw, the Werewolf of werewolves who attacks Beren...
I don't know if you remember a few weeks ago I posted some information about Anglo-Saxon traditions. A warrior was expected to take on the wiles of a wolf: its bravery, its cunning, its wild nature, its hunting spirit, and even, if you were so fortunate, become so like a wolf that you were transformed into one.
I always find it fascinating that Tolkien used a wolf as his disguise here.
What grabs you about the poem? How does it compare with the story in the Silmarillion?
Just a brief comment on last weeks portion from one of the poem's biggest fans:
"The description of Lúthien has been too often and too justly praised to encourage the mere commentator in intruding".
You can read the rest of C.S. Lewis' review at the beginning of the book of "the Lays of Beleriand" if you wish to know more.