Vain Songs, The: 27. The Vain Singers

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27. The Vain Singers

Saying these things, Maglor fell silent.

For a while, we watch the smoke
curl out of his voice, make dragon's shapes in the sharpness of air
and demanifest.

The flames of his cigarette cast lengthening shadows on the walls
of the trees. The foam rises, the sea crashes. We breath it in.

A voice is heard, muttering "Fëanorians."
The shadow is long, very long.

"Good evening, Orpheus," Maglor says delightedly.
"How charming to see you. How is Eurydice?"

"Do not mock me!" Daeron cries.

"But I must. For whoever loved
that was not laughed at? You know, I used to laugh too.
But as I was telling these, well, these people, we're - "

"All Fingon and all Maedhros, in a way. Yes, I've heard that before."

"From me?"

"I don't know. But I think it is pitiful."

What the pity is, Daeron does not clarify,
whether it is that Maglor is a fool, or
whether it is that he tells the truth. Sometimes,
as people have said, the two are not
mutually exclusive.

"I was coming to Doriath," Maglor says. "I just had to stop
and take a breath."

"Why must you continue? Your hero is dead."

"One of them," Maglor says sharply. "Besides, this is a tragedy.

And a good tragedy ends not with death. You know this.
The tragedy is knowledge. Ask Eve. Ask Oedipus. Ask
my father,
for examples."

"Perhaps," Daeron says. "But your brother died an ignorant kinslayer,
all the same."

Maglor puts fingers in his ears and waggles them.

"Stark raving mad."

"I am, I am."

"And your brother died ignorant."

The minstrel's words speed through the air
like a spear. Maglor lowers his hands and says,

Night wakes. "It was my land he destroyed."

"I heard you left it long before we came."

"Shadows and countries
never let go. Let me tell the story."

"Great you are, but you are not kind."

"I will try to be truthful. And I will try
to be musical." A sigh. "It has been very long
since I made any song."

"Try," says Maglor. "And remember this-
he mourned those children."

"Did he? Did he know who whe mourned? Or as a shorn tree
holds out lightning-struck arms to catch leaves of other trees
to cover its own nakedness, a grasping autumn -
was he like that?"

"He was not like that," says Maglor with dignity.

"But then, you lack objectivity.

Let me tell the story. I promise if I
discover aught of his goodness, his justice,
his nobility in the telling, I will not keep it to myself."

"You must tell of his love."

Daeron kneels at Maglor's feet,
sifting ash from sand. "Enemy, I will."


As night falls, starlight hemming out fading gold,
Daeron claears his throat, hums, and states, hesitantly:

Maglor asks me
what he can do
but he cannot touch the choked
sea-floor of my


without drowning.

Now I will have to walk
the dripping forest
in my dreams, alone
with the little grey-elf boys
who left their shoes behind.

I am not coming back.

Pause. The palms bow,
and candles sniff.

"Proto-Imagism," says Maglor, and laughs
his ruined, roaring sea-laugh.
"Daeron, Daeron,
il miglior fabbro,
miglior fabbro mio!

Daeron bows stiffly and says, "I try."

"You don't. An artist should not try,
but be."

Pause for effect. "Did your father teach you that?"

"Yes," comes the answer. The candles melt into fire.
"My father taught me many things.

But how we engage in trivialities by the pound!

Come Daeron, if it please you,
and the ghosts of wood and murder comply,
we will hear you. Begin at the beginning -
not a device I am fond of, but begin -
let us hear of Doriath."


*the better craftsman, my better craftsman. T S Eliot dedicated The Wasteland to Ezra Pound as il miglior fabbro, a direct quote from Dante. The Pound-Eliot/Daeron-Maglor parallel pleases me greatly. :)

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Ëarmírë

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 1st Age

Genre: Poetry

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 07/14/04

Original Post: 08/02/03

Go to Vain Songs, The overview


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