The gates are dark-streaked with weather,
The chains gnarled with rust,
Cold and heavy-laden
amid the tall-growing grass
With six hundred years of frost and rain
And winds from the distant sea...
Six hundred years in solitude.
Six hundred years and the key still fits,
Time-untouched, gold glinting
Against the thick-gnarled iron, the rust's weight.
Still it turns,
With a soft click.
Link by link the unwilling chains
clatter to the ground,
Inch by inch the creaking hinges,
Shuddering and groaning the heavy-laden gates
swinging open inward, so slowly,
Shuddering and crying the strings drawn near to the breaking
Of this exiled heart.
Are those voices I hear rising
within the gates joyous to greet me?
So many voices fair and melodious
rising merrily and mingling;
I discern each one of them,
recall the owner of each by face and name.
I stand beyond the threshold
silent and still--
Fearing to intrude.
A band of singers at the open window above
is weaving a sweet festival air,
To the ripple of silver lutes, and my mother--
I recognize her just by the playing--at the harp.
A pair of lovers wander in the garden
hand in hand;
They speak in tender whispers,
and then they speak no longer with words.
In the workshop the master smith
instructs the young apprentice;
I hear him among the rhythmic beating of the hammers.
Down in the courtyard the grooms and stable-lads
suddenly burst out uproariously laughing;
I hear my father's laughter among theirs.
And above all those voices a child shouting with glee,
Running down the steps,
black hair streaming.
Mother, father, I am going out to the city,
To the market-terrace and
the crystal streets.
I won't be gone long, just a little while,
I will be home
before the mingling of the lights.
Mother, father, I am home,
I was not gone long, the light's just fading--
Upon the path the briar-rose
twists and entwines its luxuriant thorns,
and the snow of blown petals whirling thick.
On the steps the grass grows lush,
deep like a river, deep-green
with six hundred springs
of rain and dreams.
The lilac bushes have been spreading wild-flames,
Their rich branches over-brimming with many thousands of blossoms,
A full wavering bank of blossoms to hide the walls.
And there's the proud oak with outspread boughs,
Well I remember
the slender sapling outside my bedroom window:
Six hundred autumns its leaves withered and fell.
And everywhere the dark tangled ivy,
Trailing from the strong-grooved trunks,
Trailing from the eaves and the windowsills.
No one but the silence answers me,
no one but the endless leaves rustling,
the scent of verdure, the mirage's shadow.
of the merriment and the songs
and the sweet and passionate voices,
Only echoes of my footfall and my faltering cries,
Only echoes in the wind.
O my father,
My father handsome and brave,
The smile upon his face playing with the shadows,
The white steed flying, the laughter, the long gait,
The strong arms lifting me up high into the air.
My mother's eyes were the blue-grey of storms,
Lit with gladness, proud and fair.
She took me by the hand and walked with me,
telling me the names of all the trees and flowers.
She stopped a moment and gazed at me,
her long hair windswept;
She was more beautiful than the description of words.
O my father, O my mother!
O the craftsmen and the tall youths,
the keepers of the arbours and the gardens,
The singers and the riders,
The maidens and the gentle lovers,
So many went out of these gates, so many together,
And now I alone return.
Lamps of Tirion below me,
below this dusty and deserted tower,
Rising against the gathering twilight,
against the heart heavy-laden with mourning.
Each one a reflected star
in a vast pool of stars,
Each one a reflected long-gone tear.
You who went from this house
and from this land,
You who sinned and suffered,
fought and wept,
You for whom I sinned and suffered,
fought and wept,
You whom I love,
Now that I am returned home
I would have you by my side.
Another pool of lamps against the night,
Pale and faint against the sky without stars.
beneath the blackness of a Night black beyond mere night,
Until the glow of the lamps turned to pyres.
A silver-haired child crouched in the middle of the street,
Next to two bodies lying cold and crumpled on the pavement,
Clutching at their lifeless arms and shaking them hard;
Her keening voice was strange but I understood her.
O my father, O my mother,
Your eyes are wide open,
Look at me, I am here.
Hear me, I am crying and crying,
I am here, right here.
O father, mother!
Why will you not answer me?
Why will you not wake?
It was my father that slew the fisherman
And then the fisherman's wife;
She'd flung herself blindly at him,
her hair loose and flying wild, unarmed;
She must have gone mad with grief.
His sword entered her chest
and came out the back.
And my father lay only a little distance from them,
just down the street,
His eyes were wide open,
but for the red reflections of flames.
A small puddle of blood was forming under him,
Spreading slowly from the spot he'd fallen,
Pierced with two arrows.
A black-haired child crouched in the hold of the ship,
Shaking with every toss of the storm,
With every shout hoarse and angry above,
The hail thudding against the planks,
And in every direction the infinite wrathful waves.
Out of the dimness, my mother's face,
Amid the whirling confusion of torches,
The mass of faces tumultuous with fear on the shore,
Her hair loose and drenched with briny spray
and her eyes filled with shadows,
With a knowledge I did not recognize,
Pleading with strangers.
Take her with you, please, my lord,
Take my child in the ship.
She is so small and slender;
She'll take so little space
in the ship, almost none at all.
Please, my lord, please be kind,
She is so young and I fear for her.
Take care of her, please,
O you're so kind my lord,
I shall never know
how to repay your debt;
O please take care of my child...
They told me that my mother died
at the edge of a snowy precipice,
That her bones still are lying
In the icy water, many fathoms down.
They told me that she kept on repeating
Just a few sentences, and later
just a few words.
And later, towards the end,
She could form no more words,
But she kept on repeating, kept on pleading,
As if someone who mattered
Could still hear her.
Take my child with you my lord, please,
She is so small and innocent;
She is so young and I fear for her.
Please, my lord, please be kind,
Please take care of my child.
How shall I speak to you,
Silent stars above me
and twinkling pool of lamps below me,
How shall I tell you
Of the downfallen, the tortured, the proud,
Of those who betrayed
and those who were betrayed,
And those who turned from the road?
How shall I speak
To the twilight over-brimming with sweet-scented lilac
and with deep flowing grass,
To the halls trailing with ivy and with echoes,
To you, childhood home, blessed land, deathless land,
Of those who laboured in the shadow
and those who were lost in the shadow,
How shall I speak of Endorë?
How shall I speak of the dead?
If I have the words I would speak of them,
I would tell you so much about them.
I would tell you that they were beautiful
even unto the end,
I would tell you
there was great love within them.
But the words will not come to me.
No words left in me
No words for them
in this abandoned house,
among Tirion's hills,
in this unstained land
this childhood home of mine.
Radiant with the silence of the stars,
The city glimmering
with secret dreams,
The hills rank upon rank undulating,
And in the distance the tender cradle
of white Pelóri's arms.
The unseen hand that touches gently the tattered curtains,
The fragrance of lilac and of briar-rose in the evening-breeze
in deep verdant spring,
Pushing aside the curtains and turning the pages
of the books still open on the table,
The brushes and pens lying haphazard where they last fell,
The walls and pillars dark-green and rustling with strands of ivy,
The shimmering dust
upon the lutes and the lonely harp
With all their strings broken.
If I have the words
I would tell you of tears raining
For the grief of sundering, for all that were lost,
But not only of tears and of the lost.
I would tell you of love
that flared with the lightning and burned with the grass,
love that fell and rose with the white-plumed tides,
love that bled into the stony roots of mountains--
I would even tell you something of joy.
Sirion's waves rolling silver,
Swelling with the mountain-storm,
with each drop of dew upon the plain,
Carrying Brethil's leaves and petals, the journeying skiff,
the boulders crumbling of cliffs and towers,
and voices whispering hope, memories, blood,
Carrying the broken and burnt bodies of the slain out to the blue sea,
Carrying the music of jubilation and the deep dirges,
The spring-melt rich with the smell of pine-needles
and of high winds,
Rising from the caverns of the earth, the chasm's mouth,
From the multitudinous hills draped kingfisher green,
From Mithrim in the twilight, from the reflections
of the calling sun, and the calling moon,
From the cloud-dappled grassland, bestarr'd with flowers,
The thunderous passage, manes flying,
The long days' ride--
And the traveller came home glad and weary
to the city gates awash with the dawn,
Past the many-spired fortress and the first flash of the fountain,
Wending with the white-paved lanes,
Past the fading lamps at market,
the women and girls in the gardens,
The lovers tremulous, lingering still...
To the rhythmic shouts of the stone-cutters and masons
and the answering shouts above,
To the proud and beautiful lady at the window, her eyes grave,
Remembering a dead parent or brother or child,
To thread and shuttle, the sad and sinuous lay,
The turbulent heart seeking
light, glory, and a world to call its own,
The lonely singer seeking an answer in empty places,
And the abandoned one that stood defiant upon the road
seeking neither pardon nor return;
No road returned
but to Thangorodrim's gate,
Dark with the tattooing of drums, the trumpets' blare,
And the crimson glint of the spear
as the young warrior marched away
without a glance back,
To the field of blades, to the dragons,
The sky afire and convulsing with arrows,
Surrounded upon the knoll
with all his comrades dead and the steed beneath him dying,
And the banner silver and blue
stained and in tatters upon the splinter'd staff;
Or to the slaying of his kinsmen and women
For a ravaged mid-winter light,
Once again to death and the making of death,
But of these deeds I cannot speak and will not sing,
Only of the distant smoke, seen through bare branches,
By the glow of stars, always the same stars
that shone down on Valinor's songs,
As the wanderer many days alone in the forest
with no hope nor refuge,
Stopped to gaze with blurred sight
Upon the footprints behind him, a single uneven row, knee-deep,
With here and there drops of blood marking the snow--
While in Tirion's courtyards the lilac and the briar-rose
spread and bloomed wild
White and red.
The song unloosed within me,
An exile's song of no returning,
Halting, discordant song,
Song of Endorë, a marred song,
Out of the midnight's heart of sorrow.
Those who carried demons upon their shoulders
each moment, each step,
each lick of the flame, each lash of the soul,
Yet still went on,
Those who survived
bodies torn and emaciated, haunted, blind
Yet still went on;
Those who died in fields and in cities
and in unlit underground places,
Those who died together with all their families
and those who died alone,
Their voices are unloosed within me,
Flying with the briar-rose blown white and red,
Sinking with the dust;
And the voices of Tirion's dreams
are rising from all the lamps silver and gold,
Gathering in the song and receiving it
In loving reply.
Past the walls and the blowing flowers,
Past the fallen eaves and gate-stones of my childhood home,
A soul exiled with no returning
reaches forth and descends
step by step
After the unloosed voices, the unloosed song,
Tentative, unwilling yet, ever further, ever closer
To the shining pool, the tender and mournful city,
To the tears and dreams, silver and gold.
I see lights innumerable in the windows,
I see scenes of gladness
and scenes of heartbreak,
The flashing recognition, the embraces, arms clinging,
Choked, trying to speak, guilty, pardoned, blameless:
I see their eyes, all of them,
and all their voiceless thoughts.
I see a warrior of many swift fell deeds,
Lingering fearful and hesitant by a slender gate.
He lifts his hand to knock, lowers it again--
Surely, surely she would have long been wed...
I see a girl sitting in the garden,
Solitary, arms wrapped about her knees.
The light of the stars
is raining down
Upon her shoulders, and her face wet with shame
For the wounds of her body,
For being frail and sad,
For the nightmares
Out of the deep ruins of the dungeon
beneath Angband, where they found her.
She remembers so little of the stars, and of the open air.
I see lamps streaming bright, the doors thrown open
Warm and joyful before the sweet silvery night.
The vigil ended, she comes running--and stops
Atop the steps, suddenly
motionless, perfectly straight,
Eyes still searching, one pale hand
gripping hard the jamb.
This tall soldier, her son
Home, a boy no longer,
Standing living and real upon the path,
But O the turn of his face--the stricken night,
The halted step, alone, and his eyes
dark, not meeting hers.
It was the final battle upon the northern plain,
The night before Thangorodrim fell.
The enemy desperate, the earth itself
Writhed in flames, and thrice our standard
Wavered, but held its ground.
Father was in the vanguard, the first rank...
Stumbling, she rushes down the steps,
To take her child in her arms.
The words in her ears are broken and faint,
Not yet the full rending,
Not yet the anguished cry,
Not yet the flooding memories
of the last parting, from husband and son.
I see a babe asleep in the cradle,
To the crooning notes of a lullaby.
Newly arrived, wondrous,
His father was born of white Gondolin
before its fall,
And his mother of Doriath, teeming, deep-rooted,
before its fall.
And the child was born of the crossing,
The ocean's passage from lost Beleriand,
While the waves frolicked, lapping the ship's sides,
and the mariners sang.
The newborn infant dreams in the cradle
Of dancing clouds and gleaming green.
And in the lullaby's notes, the low caressing tune
Comes another music stranger and greater:
The winds of the sky, and the tides of the sea.
All the voices,
The voices rapt and eloquent of the dead whisper to me,
The infinite outpouring music of the living washes over me,
The radiant subtle silence of the last stars and the first dawn
calls before me.
In the mingling of innumerable lights,
I see a child
Running and skipping, shouting with glee,
Out from these gates heavy and dark-streaked with weather,
Black hair flying.
Take my hand mother, take my hand father,
Come with me to the city, the stairs of jasper
and the crystal streets,
Come quick, tell me the names
Of all the trees and flowers, and all the marvels
Of Tirion the Bright, snow-fair,
Let go the proud visions,
Let go the flowing and ebbing song of grief,
The lonely question shouted from the shadows,
And the replies whisper'd of the deathless hills.
I am with the forsaken and the lost,
I am with those with low-bowed heads,
I am with those who still are dreaming and wandering.
Never to return, yet ever returning,
my voice cries unto thee
Childhood home, and the home of those I love,
With the pool of tears glimmering, fading,
With the endless wind bringing the sunrise from the distant sea,
With the leaves verdant,
With the briar-rose entwined and the lilac fragrant upon the air,
white and red flying,
In Tirion's splendid spring.
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.