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Lie Down in the Darkness, Rise up from the Ash: 47. Discant
From the heart of the Dark Land, heart-notes rise – one clear, one high, and a dreadful dark descending shriek, as a golden note falls, strikes rock... and stays.
The world and its fate bend, as Darkness falls across the lands.
– The Lonely Mountain is shut; the dead fill Dale, and at Pelargir, the Swanship flies beside the city banner, as men of all southerly lands arm themselves within its walls, for –
- there is smoke and there is death, in the mountain vales, in the Golden Woods. Within the wreckage of a white city, an old man in black stands straight and tall, and lets fall the torchfire that will consume all. The crows are rising...
The gloom has gathered. Night falls beneath Mirkwood – we are in the dark. But from Rhosgobel to Dol Guldur strides the drab old man, with all the owls for his eyes –
The plains are burning, and the horses shriek. From the high, cold passes, she marks the flames: daughter of kings, now queen of hearts that beat still in their mourning –
– and in the West, the shadows lengthen; they outstay the seasons, grow long as years. The little lamps that light up the dark slowly pool in the Havens. Elves and Men and hobbitkind come to shelter on the shores – Mithlond fills with greying lives and still the storm advances.
Unbearable! Unbearable! – the chorus of the long lament – sings in every life, in every death – to what end?
Is there anything beyond the end?
Is there aught to answer what lives within the heart, when all other light and love go out?
Or do we cry out to nothing and to no one when cry we must? Does the utmost heart's desire at last deceive?
Or can it measure what even the Wise cannot foresee? Can we know?
The boy on the beach builds castles for the tides – Arrandir Ben-adar. He has a little starlight in his face – his mother's light, that never now shall go to Elvenhome. She stands still brave unbowed upon the strand and sings her sorrow to the sea. For if she laments not now, then there will surely be none to grieve them all later.
Peregrin Took, untimely grey salting his hair, wanders the shore hard by, and thinks the setting sun is wrathful. Red and wrathful – sign of the fire to come. Battle looms, and death haunts the streets of the Havens.
But in the shadows pooling by the Withywindle, old Tom Bombadil, lamenting his lost lilies, finds a tune on the western wind: an old song, from the days when Arda had been whole, and yet there is a new harmony in it. Present heads, bounded in a golden circle's bend, perhaps cannot hear it. The children, though, may learn it. He tips his hat to the Sickle...
... as on the beach, Peregrin Took cries out and points to shapes the sun disgorges: "Look!"
For, there are eagles on the air – great eagles, that dive and wing their way to shore on the sea-wind. All eyes in Mithlond fix upon them as they soar overhead. Their keening fills the air and every ear.
'Tis Arwen whose eye the rising Evenstar first draws, shining above the sea. And so she sees, and laughs, and cries aloud, and lifts her son to look upon the world remade.
For from the watchtower of the Havens the sentry's unlooked for tidings drift:
"Cîr! Cîr uin annûn! Ships from the West!"
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