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Things of Middle-earth

Laurelin

Type: Plants

Meaning: song of gold

Other Names:
the Golden Tree
the Tree of Gold
Malinalda 'tree of gold'
Culúrien

HoME only:
Tulukhedelgorūs (Valarin)
Galadloriel
Lindeloksë
Glewellin 'song of gold'
Lasgalen 'green of leaf'
Melthinorn 'tree of gold'

Description:

The Golden Tree, younger of the Two Trees of Valinor; its last fruit was made into the Sun:
And as [the Valar] watched, upon the mound there came forth two slender shoots.... Under [Yavanna's] song the saplings grew and became fair and tail, and came to flower; and thus there awoke in the world the Two Trees of Valinor....

The one had leaves of dark green that beneath were as shining silver.... The other bore leaves of a young green like the new-opened beech; their edges were of glittering gold. Flowers swung upon her branches in clusters of yellow flame, formed each to a glowing horn that spilled a golden rain upon the ground; and from the blossom of that tree there came forth warmth and a great light. Telperion the one was called...; but Laurelin the other was, and Malinalda, and Culúrien, and many names in song beside.

In seven hours the glory of each tree waxed to full and waned again to naught; and each awoke once more to life an hour before the other ceased to shine. Thus in Valinor twice every day there came a gentle hour of softer light when both trees were faint and their gold and silver beams were mingled.... Therefore at the sixth hour of the First Day, and of all the joyful days thereafter, until the Darkening of Valinor, Telperion ceased his time of flower; and at the twelfth hour Laurelin her blossoming. And each day of the Valar in Aman contained twelve hours, and ended with the second mingling of the lights, in which Laurelin was waning but Telperion was waxing. But the light that was spilled from the trees endured long, ere it was taken up into the airs or sank down into the earth; and... the rain that fell from Laurelin Varda hoarded in great vats like shining lakes, that were to all the land of the Valar as wells of water and of light.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 1, Of The Beginning of Days

And the dews of Telperion and the spilth 1 of Laurelin Varda let hoard in great vats....

Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 3, Chapter 2, Of Valinor and the Two Trees

Thus there awoke in the world the Two Trees of Valinor, of all growing things the fairest and most renowned, whose fate is woven with the fate of Arda.... Laurelin the younger Tree was called; its green leaves were edged with gold, and its flowers were like to clusters of yellow flame, and a rain of gold dripped from them to the ground. From those Trees there came forth a great light, and all Valinor was filled with it. Then the bliss of the Valar was increased; for the light of the Trees was holy and of great power, so that, if aught was good or lovely or of worth, in that light its loveliness and its worth were fully revealed; and all that walked in that light were glad at heart.

Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 2, The Annals of Aman

Yet even as hope failed and [Yavanna's] song faltered, Telperion bore at last... one great flower of silver, and Laurelin a single fruit of gold.

These Yavanna took; and then the Trees died.... Aulë and his people made vessels to hold them and preserve their radiance.... These vessels the Valar gave to Varda, that they might become lamps of heaven, outshining the ancient stars...; and she gave them power to traverse the lower regions of Ilmen....

...Anar the Fire-golden, fruit of Laurelin, [the Vanyar of old] named the Sun.

The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Ch 11, Of the Sun and Moon and the Hiding of Valinor

[No] likeness remained in Middle-earth of Laurelin the Golden.

The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Númenor, Footnote

I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew:
Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches blew.
Beyond the Sun, beyond the Moon, the foam was on the Sea,
And by the strand of Ilmarin there grew a golden Tree.
Beneath the stars of Ever-eve in Eldamar it shone,
In Eldamar beside the walls of Elven Tirion.
There long the golden leaves have grown upon the branching years,
While here beyond the Sundering Seas now fall the Elven-tears.

From I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold
The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 8, Farewell to Lórien


The Earliest Versions of the Legend
Now in the midmost vale they digged two great pits.... In the one did Ulmo set seven rocks of gold brought from the most silent deeps of the sea, and a fragment was cast thereafter of the lamp that had burned awhile upon Helkar in the South. Then was the pit covered with rich earths that Palúrien devised, and Vána came.... There sang she the song of spring upon the mound, and danced about it, and watered it with great streams of that golden light that Ulmo had brought from the spilled lakes....

Then after a time there came at last a bright gleam of gold amid the gloom, and a cry of joy and praise was sent up by the Valar and all their companies. Behold from that place that had been watered from Kulullin 2 rose a slender shoot, and from its bark pale gold effulgence poured; yet did that plant grow apace so that in seven hours there was a tree of mighty stature, and all the Valar and their folk might sit beneath its branches. Of a great shapeliness and goodly growth was that stock, and nought was there to break its smooth rind, which glowed faintly with a yellow light, for a vast height above the earth. Then did fair boughs thrust overhead in all directions, and golden buds swelled from all the twigs and lesser branches, and from these burst leaves of a rich green whose edges shone. Already was the light that that tree gave wide and fair, but as the Valar gazed it put forth blossom in exceeding great profusion, so that all its boughs were hidden by long swaying clusters of gold flowers like a myriad hanging lamps of flame, and light spilled from the tips of these and splashed upon the ground with a sweet noise.

Then did the Gods praise Vána and Palúrien and rejoice in the light, saying to them: 'Lo, this is a very fair tree indeed, and must have a name unto itself,' and Kémi said: 'Let it be called Laurelin, for the brightness of its blossom and the music of its dew,' but Vána would call it Lindeloksë, and both names remain.

The Book of Lost Tales 1, HoME Vol 1, Ch 3, The Coming of the Valar and the Building of Valinor


Etymology
laure  'gold' (but of light and colour, not of the metal) in Laurelin; the Sindarin forms in Glóredhel, Glorfindel, Loeg Ningloron, Lórindol, Rathlóriel....

lin-  This root, meaning 'sing, make a musical sound', occurs in Ainulindalë, Laurelin, Lindar, Lindon, Ered Lindon, lómelindi 3.

The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names


Notes
1On the carbon copy of LQ 2, which otherwise received no emendations, my father added the following note to the word spilth in the last sentence:
meant to indicate that Laurelin is 'founded' on the laburnum. 4 'jocund spilth of yellow fire' Francis Thompson — who no doubt got the word from Timon of Athens (his vocabulary was largely derived from Elizabethan English)
The reference is to Francis Thompsons's Sister Songs, The Proem:
Mark yonder, how the long laburnum drips
Its jocund spilth of fire, its honey of wild flame!
Cf. the original description of Laurelin in the Lost Tales (1.72):

'all its boughs were hidden by long swaying clusters of gold flowers like a myriad hanging lamps of flame, and light spilled from the tips of these and splashed upon the ground with a sweet noise.' In the earlier versions (from Q through to the first typescript of the 1951 revision) Laurelin was expressly likened to 'those trees Men now call Golden-rain' — that being a name of the laburnum, and the words 'a golden rain' are used in the final form of the passage.... — The reference to Timon of Athens is to Act II, Scene 2, 'our vaults have wept / With drunken spilth of wine'.

Morgoth's Ring, HoME Vol 10, Part 3, Chapter 2, Of Valinor and the Two Trees, Commentary

2Kulullin The cauldron of golden light in Valinor. Note that, in contrast to the final form of the legend, this vat of light existed before the Two Trees grew.

Commentary by Elena Tiriel

3lómelindiQuenya word meaning 'dusk-singers': nightingales.

The Silmarillion, Index of Names

4
Common Laburnum (Laburnum anagyroides).
Common Laburnum or golden chain tree, Laburnum anagyroides: this is the inspiration for Laurelin, the Golden Tree of Valinor.
Laburnum is a genus of two species of small trees in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae, Laburnum anagyroides (Common Laburnum) and L. alpinum (Alpine Laburnum). They are native to the mountains of southern Europe from France to the Balkan Peninsula....

They have yellow pea-flowers in pendulous racemes 10-30 cm (4-12 in) long in spring, which makes them very popular garden trees. In L. anagyroides the racemes are 10-20 cm (4-8 in) long, with densely packed flowers; in L. alpinum the racemes are 20-30 cm (8-12 in) long, but with the flowers sparsely along the raceme.

The leaves are trifoliate, somewhat like a clover, the leaflets typically 2-3 cm (¾-1¼ in) long in L. anagyroides and 4-5 cm (1½-2 in) long in L. alpinum.

Most garden specimens are of the hybrid between the two species, Laburnum x watereri (Voss's Laburnum), which combines the longer racemes of L. alpinum with the denser flowers of L. anagyroides; it also has the benefit of low seed production (Laburnum seed toxicity is a common cause of poisoning in young children, who mistake the seeds for peas).

The yellow flowers are responsible for the old poetic name 'golden chain tree' (also spelled golden chaintree or goldenchain tree).

All parts of the plant are poisonous and can be lethal if consumed in excess....

"Laburnum." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 30 Nov. 2007.
<Wikipedia.org en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laburnum>.

Contributors:
Elena Tiriel 10Oct07, 30Nov07, 7Mar10

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