HASA Resources

Things of Middle-earth

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky

Type: Songs & Stories

Other Names:
Verse of the Rings (LoTR index only)

Description:

A verse describing the Rings of Power, the leitmotif of The Lord of the Rings:
'Hold it up!' said Gandalf. 'And look closely!'

As Frodo did so, he now saw fine lines, finer than the finest pen-strokes, running along the ring, outside and inside: lines of fire that seemed to form the letters of a flowing script. They shone piercingly bright, and yet remote, as if out of a great depth.

Ring Inscription.

'I cannot read the fiery letters,' said Frodo in a quavering voice.

'No,' said Gandalf, 'but I can. The letters are Elvish, of an ancient mode, but the language is that of Mordor, which I will not utter here. But this in the Common Tongue is what is said, close enough:

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

It is only two lines of a verse long known in Elven-lore:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 2, The Shadow of the Past

In the... war between Sauron and the Elves Middle-earth, especially in the west, was further ruined. Eregion was captured and destroyed, and Sauron seized many Rings of Power. These he gave, for their ultimate corruption and enslavement, to those who would accept them (out of ambition or greed). Hence the 'ancient rhyme' that appears as the leit-motif of The Lord of the Rings,

Three Rings for the Elven-Kings under the sky....

The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Edited by Humphrey Carpenter, Letter 131 to Milton Waldman, late 1951?

Contributors:
~Nessime 16Jul03
Elena Tiriel 14Mar08, 25Aug10

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