Monday, October 04, 2004

'The Lay' Third Extract

A very different kind of Book Spoiler...

An extract from Tolkien's 'Lay'

Morgoth Falls:

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.

Beneath the vast and empty throne
the adders lay like twisted stone,
the wolves like corpses foul were strewn;
and there lay Beren deep in swoon:
no thought, no dream nor shadow blind
moved in the darkness of his mind.
'Come forth, come forth! The hour hath knelled,
and Angband's mighty lord is felled!


It might be interesting to compare this with Sauron's destruction in ROTK.

......"..Sam got up. He was dazed, and blood from his head dripped in his eyes. He groped forward, and then he saw a strange and terrible thing. Gollum on the edge of the abyss was fighting like a mad thing with an unseen foe...
.........The fires below awoke in anger, the red light blazed... ...Suddenly Sam saw Gollum's long hands draw upwards to his mouth; his white fangs gleamed, and then snapped as they bit. Frodo gave a cry, and there he was, fallen upon his knees at the chasm's edge."


......
"...Out from the beleaguered hills knights of Gondor, Riders of Rohan, Dúnedain of the North, close-serried companies, drove against their wavering foes, piercing the press with the thrust of bitter spears. But Gandalf lifted up his arms and called once more in a clear voice. 'Stand, Men of the West! Stand and wait! This is the hour of doom.'
......And even as he spoke the earth rocked beneath their feet. Then rising swiftly up, far above the Towers of the Black Gate, high above the mountains, a vast soaring darkness sprang into the sky, flickering with fire. The earth groaned and quaked. The Towers of the Teeth swayed, tottered, and fell down; the mighty rampart crumbled; the Black Gate was hurled in ruin; and from far away, now dim, now growing, now mounting to the clouds, there came a drumming rumble, a roar, a long echoing roll of ruinous noise.
......'The realm of Sauron is ended!' said Gandalf. 'The Ring-bearer has fulfilled his Quest.'
......And as the Captains gazed south to the Land of Mordor, it seemed to them that, black against the pall of cloud, there rose a huge shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned, filling all the sky. Enormous it reared above the world, and stretched out towards them a vast threatening hand, terrible but impotent: for even as it leaned over them, a great wind took it, and it was all blown away, and passed; and then a hush fell...."


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Greenwood Hobbit comments:

Well, that prose wins hands down over that extract of poetry - so much more dramatic and evocative. I always find the 'dedum dedum dedum dedum' gets in the way of the vision for me, when trying to describe something as awesome as that.

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Linkinpark Elf says:

B0th dramatic and poetic in their own way

though the destruction of Sauron seems more immediate and powerful as we are given the point of view of those witnessing the event, whereas the fall of Morgoth reads more like a recounting. Yet his fall seems at the same time more personal as he is described as a corporal being rather than a bodiless shadow.
Interesting read, Amatire. Where exactly is Morgoth's fall described? I'm not familiar with Tolkien's 'Lay'.

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It has a number of different names..

The Geste of Beren and Luthien
The Lays of Beleriand
The Lay of Leithian

The Lays of Beleriand is the title of the third History of Middle-earth book.

Well worth the read.
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Sandicomm:

I prefer the passage where Sam is running out of the forge (carrying Frodo? Can't remember) and it seems like he sees all of the courts of Sauron, and then the tower itself, crashing down. I'm afraid that I don't have the book with me, so I can't show it to y'all.

They are wonderful parallels, but I think there were meant to be, consciously, or subconsciously, parallels between the quest of Beren and the quest of Frodo.

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Squire's comments:

Brilliant connection!

How excellent! Morgoth's fall to Luthien's song, rendered in a metaphor of mountains collapsing (after all, his incarnate form was evidently gigantic compared to the Elves) -- in language that Tolkien echoed 20 years later in describing the fall of Sauron's mountaintop castle.

I don't have it with me, but you really should also look at Sam's vision of the collapse of Barad-dur as seen from the Sammath Naur. Similar language is used there too.

Also notice how even Hell must be a place, and the devil a physical being: Morgoth's throne room is ultimately just a room, populated with snakes and wolves; and Morgoth is a gargantuan, but physical, being. The poet uses metaphors of immensity and intensity to convey a level of horror belied by such mundane words as floor and throne.

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......"Sam ran to Frodo and picked him up and carried him out to the door. And there upon the dark threshold of the Sammath Naur high above the plains of Mordor, such wonder and terror came on him that he stood still forgetting all else, and gazed as one turned to stone.
......A brief vision he had of swirling cloud, and in the midst of it towers and battlements, tall as hills, founded upon a mighty mountain-throne above immeasurable pits; great courts and dungeons, eyeless prisons sheer as cliffs, and gaping gates of steel and adamant: and then all passed. Towers fell and mountains slid; walls crumbled and melted, crashing down; vast spires of smoke and spouting steams went billowing up, up, until they toppled like an overwhelming wave, and its wild crest curled and came foaming down upon the land. And then at last over the miles between there came a rumble, rising to a deafening crash and roar; the earth shook, the plain heaved and cracked, and Orodruin reeled. Fire belched from its riven summit. The skies burst into thunder and seared with lightening. Donw like lashing whips fell a torrent of black rain. And into the heart of the storm, with a cry that pierced all other sounds, tearing the clouds asunder, the Nazgul came, shooting like flaming bolts, as caught in the fiery ruin of hill and sky they crackled, withered, and went out."




good grief...!

It has so many elements that appear in both, the hero lying prone on the floor as one dead, his faithful friend coming to his rescue, the whole area crumbling around them...

..showing that it was the power and will of their evil opponant that held the whole thing together.

Time and again in Tolkien's work I see repeating themes. If I didn't know better, I'd say he was a firm believer in the addage "history always repeats itself!"

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He called it "eucatastrophe."

And yes, Tolkien loved to return to favorite themes, both dark and light, making them echo throughout his fictional history. Although as with history, Tolkien does not exactly repeat himself, he just rhymes. ~ Curious

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What Udun says:

it reminds me of a symphony, or probably more accurately, an opera..

With overtures and reccuring musical themes.

I remember (just to dumb it down a moment) the Composer who wrote the music for the first Harry Potter movie, saying that he had created themes for each different character, and also for different places or moods.

I imagine Tolkien having an 'Evil' theme, (and others I guess) that repeats itself many times over throughout the history of Middle Earth. Each time a little different, but still recognisable.

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