Monday, March 5, 2012

The Syngvia Arunï, Song of the North

Today I have a poem from the world of Arunë rather than an essay. It was written in the Fifth Age about the Fourth Age emperor, Tallëor Twice-born and his conquest of the last trollish kingdoms. It begins with a common formula that recounts the creation of the world up until the point of the poem's narrative.

Syngva Arunï (Song of the North)
The world was dark, and whole, and dead
when Mother Night reared up her head,
from seas of ageless timeless doubt
she came within from without. 
Upon the world walked many things:
Giants who were mighty kings
and the Wyrms whose very walk was dread
and the Trolls from shadows led
and strove they all with spell and stone
but victors were the tombs alone.

In farthest north a seedling grew
and blossomed forth something new.
A tree it was, tall and proud, that
knit the world from stone to Shroud.

Then came the Gods to gardens high,
above the endless sweep of sky.
So mused they in timeless thought
and so they spoke of spells they’d brought.

The Aeliö beheld the world
and how the darkness ‘bout it curled
and of their number one did speak
saying that the rest should seek
to people the seething darkened land
with creatures made of soul and sand.

Each God betook a mighty task.
Each did as Avauna asked,
each save for Galos, Lord of Light,
who’s pride was malice and was spite,
and rather did he make a glimm’ring gift.

To Avauna he then gave the stone
that was his heart, now hers alone.
The Etoillë, the star-stone bright
that peeled back the endless night.
Green it glowed, and bridged the rift

That lay between the Heav’nly place
and that darkling earthly space.
But Avauna spurned this lordly prize
and shattered it before his eyes.

Haeron came then after he
to present, on bended knee,
the works he’d hammered with his will;
she did not look upon him ill.

The laws he’d forged for Men of old,
from ore of iron and ore of gold.
And down to men he did descend
to lead them from the souther-land.

The golden laws that Hieros held
in the hearts of men then dwelled.
The First Men came to rocky shore
and then they wandered nevermore.

Galos Sarnon struck before
his work could be made to lore,
for Sarnon wove the cloth-of-time
that could reveal his plannéd crime.

Avauna also took her gold
and with cunning began to fold
that best of ores into a light
to hang on high and drive off Night.

Galos felt the lamp most bright.
His star-stone eyes were set alight
and from the sky he could no longer spy
as long as sun was in the sky.

So up to the heavn’s marched he
and, standing perched on branch of tree,
pulled he then Avauna’s lamp
and it sank into the sea.

Eminia, then, of silver wrought
a great deep dish and she sought
to replace the lanthorn’s light
when it was not in mortal sight.

Galos spoke a mighty word
and, as though the dish had heard,
it slipped and fell from its place,
water bleeding from its face.

So we have the moon and sun
and their waxing, waning run.

And lo we toiled beneath the sky,
and as mortals doomed grow old and die.
In Miles was raised the pillar tall,
to spear the heavens and lift the hall
of the sun and moon and stars
no matter what the Trickster mars.

But in the north there grew a fear
of darkness that had not come from here,
of unmade evil old and dread
that gainst Miles was cruelly sped.

The elves they spoke of ancient lore
of Trollish lands in days of yore
and Giants too of Cloudly home
said in the north they feared to roam.

The house of Mother Night was built
on fears and dreams and nightmare-silt
and Tallëor the Ymeron
spake that a war was well begun.

In council sat the Ardon Ry
with elves and dwarves to guide him by.
Ancient dwarvish council spoke
of Mother Night’s foul spells that choke,
and the Giants, faithless friends,
on whom no Man should depend.
Elves gave wisdoms in their turn
telling Men that they must burn
the houses of the darkling Night
to put an end to the plight
that now beset the land of Men
and Tallëor cried war, again.

Then Feánwy spoke in that royal hall
and warned he then of pride’s long fall.
His flowing beard he pulled and tore
as he sorrowfully spoke of lore
old and dark in evil steeped
that from Trollish lands had creeped.

“Be you ware, o Lord of men,
he who falls riseth not again.
Tallëor, change thy grim road,
stray you not to death’s abode.”
But Tallëor was manly bold
and he could not be for-told
nor warned of his mortal doom
for man thinks not on eternal gloom.
Proud he was and mighty strong
and many a harpist sang his song;
Goblins and the orc-kin held
him in fear, greater numbers felled
he of their kind across the earth
and proved in blood his manly worth.

The dwarf-prince stood after Feánwy spoke
and he said for all his folk,
“We have seen your battle strength
cross the mighty breadth and length
of our home to put to steel
all those that defied our will.
Goblins, Giants, and Troll-things vile
you have slain and all the while
pledged your mighty arm was true.
Therefore, we shall follow you.”

Mighty lord of doughty Men
called up his spears and swords again.
Light glinted from the shields they bore
and from the shimmering coifs they wore.
The black-gold banner of the Pillar flew
and all who saw its glory knew
that no darkness could o’ercome their King
though he into shadows darkening
rode with his loyal thousand-host.
They would stand ‘gainst flesh or ghost.

From the city that band went
like an arrow quickly spent.
They passed through field and meadow down
through the vill and through the town.
Elf and dwarf were in his train,
following his bright flowing mane.
Wise men there also came,
and priests of Hammer-god the same.
Beat the drums! Blow the horns!
As he comes he shadow warns!
Ware thee darkling awful thing,
for here rides the Mannish King!

Armor made of light of sun,
shield from when the earth was young.
Blade of fire of the sky,
helm with which no man may die.
Crown wrought of gold and gem,
silver robes with ruby hem,
all of these and more he bore
into darkness, into war.

And with the wise men, near the back
came a cauldron of metal black.
Stolen from the wizard kings,
all wrought about with cunning things.
The wise men said it power held
that from nether realms had welled.
Elf was loathe to look upon
and loathe was dwarf to walk yon.
But the Ardon Ry had been told
that if he was like kings of old,
he would bring the thing in tow
though it were grim and full of woe.

As north and northerly they went
messages from Greyholme sent
arrived at last with dwarven host
to set further weapons ‘gainst the ghost.
Came King Arnr clad in mail
and his clan in full health hale.
So did swell the battle line,
most wond’rous strong of its time.

The hills grew high, the sky grew deep
and men did stir in dreamless sleep.
From the hollows in the stone
sometimes came a chilling moan.
As the army marched and moved
they found stones hoary old, and grooved
by the hand of no man nor elf
but by Trollish work itself.
The borders of that fearsome land
they had passed, as they had planned.

Arnr spake with kingly gait
as the Ardon Ry did wait;
“Trolls as these have been our foe
and I carry Axe of Woe.
No threat of fear nor magic’s choke
can we afford to slow our stroke.
My dwarves will fight until they die
and lay here with you beneath the sky.”

But Feánwy shook his white-haired head
and to Ardon Ry he said,
“Avauna and the Hammerer
blessed be him, blessed her,
do not wish our lives to waste
by making this untimely haste.”

Came the seer of the Law,
who spoke no more than what he saw.
“Haeron has given us his hope
that we might be the hangman’s rope
to end this accursed Trollish rite,
to drive from these hill the Mother Night.”

Now let me speak of heroes three
who led this shining company.
Feánwy was a priest of elves,
steeped in lore and wise with spells.
Lord was he of woodlands vast
and friend of many man-kings past.
He was born in Greatwood land,
and raised he was with priestly hand
when Miles was young and Men were new.
He’d given Galos cause to rue
the armies that ancient God had called.
With long dead king he’d Galos walled
in chains of spells and webs of light
so the God could not get up and fight.
Hero of the Plains of Prate
where the stood the armies at Lumiä’s gate.

Arnr-king was known full well
all throughout the Arinnfel
and through the Greyholme, Harnholme too,
for he would fight before he’d woo.
When mountains came to civil war
Arnr ‘twas who marked the score
and did battle with the Queen of Stone
only to fall for her alone.
In his youth he struck her low,
but love for him had ‘gun to grow,
and so the two were winsome wed,
he conquered army and marriage bed.
And when the orcs again had raged below
he took up the Axe of Woe
and sent them tumbling to their doom,
hero of both hall and womb.

Tallëor with Giants strove,
to their knees the mighty drove.
Pernag and then Umbrinor
felt the bite of Mannish war.
He’d promised he would sweep the north
and make of it a place of worth,
and so they sat in shadowed hills
before a sea of nameless ills.

Now hark you listener to me!
The army camped in shadow’s lee
waited for the stroke to fall
that would carry them to death’s bright hall.
But Tallëor and Arnr-king
and Feánwy did their weapons bring
and strode they forth from silver stand
into the dark and fearsome land.

Blade unlimbered, Axe set free
words prepared of destiny
from the armies side they went
into darkness, full intent
to find the gates in hollow hills
where there dwelled the Trollish ills.
At last they found a crumbling door
and Arnr blew his horn of war
and onward pressed those leaders three
into shadow deeper than deepest sea.
Behind them came the shining spears
of elves who’d seen a hundred years
of dwarves who’d fought in tunnels deep
of men woken from a troubled sleep.
The army passed beneath the moon
marching, brave, to meet their doom.
Beneath the stone of doorway vast
that armor-girded comp’ny passed.

The light fell from their shining mail;
the moon behind was wan and pale.
At the van Feánwy sang
words that in the shadow rang.
Light leapt forth from fingertips
and mage-song faded on his lips.
The pallid light of magic speech
extends no further than a hand may reach.
The flashing gems of kingly gown
were dull and lifeless under ground.
No bright rings did Arnr wear,
for the shadows dimmed their flare.

Now forward steps the Ardon Ry
though mannish urge is fast to fly.
Forward marches dwarven king
and forward elf-priest glimmering.
Stone upon stone is piled
beneath those hills, in the wild.
Each was carved in Trollish tongue,
hammered when the world was young.
Chambers vaulted passed they through
as their grim deed they sought to do.
Far behind trailed men and elves
and dwarves, all grumbling to themselves.
And down the tunnel far ahead
walked the trio kingly led.

On Tallëor’s armor there was etched
a scene of battle on his breast.
The plate was hammered silvered steel
mined with aid of dwarven wheel.
His sword was of the starlight wrought,
lightning in the metals caught.
His shield marred with shadow was
and moving shadow was the cause.
Arnr gave a mighty shout
as from the darkness there came out
a shade long of limb and face,
shrieking in that awful place.

The distant army hearing, quailed,
but the King was well availed
by Arnr’s bellowed fearful word
and brought up his brilliant sword.

Fire spits! Thunder cracks!
Lo, the spirit’s driven back!
And through its body cleaves the king,
straining fair and grimacing.
The creature is well split in twain;
and of its form, there’s no remain.

And now here are the soldiery
in waves of fear come desperately.
To the side of kings they come
as from the deeps a mighty thrum
sounds a note: a distant drum.
And the three are stricken dumb,
for this is a sign of war.
Where no Trolls had been before

now the Trolls through darkness scream endlessly, a fever dream,
a nightmare born from bowels of hell,
ne’er was bravery quite so well
tested than against this tide.
There were no shadows in which to hide,
for shadows too were killing-things.
They flew about on misty wings
swooping ‘mongst the men and elves
shrieking awfully to themselves.
And where shadowed touch did light
flesh was torn as though from bite
of wolf or warg or dragon’s teeth
and even death brought no relief
for into rotten bodies crept
the shadows that had long slept
and with those forms of bone and flesh
they became fiends afresh.
Against companions old friends turned,
their breath was foul, their eyes burned.
The chill bleak kiss of unlife
ended many a soldier’s strife.
But lo! Admist the carnage there
stands the king with flowing hair!
And by his side Feánwy calls,
spellfire searing through the halls.
And there too an Axe does sing
watching o’er the mannish king.
Tallëor, he marks the slain
with his sword, his Shadow-bane.

Towards the city of the Troll
the armies fight, with dreadful toll
paid for every step they take,
advances paid in blood to make.
Beyond the ancient Trollish gates
a lord of Trollish people waits,
atop a temple on a hill
looking out from window sill
the lord of Trolls observes the men
emerge from darkened hills again.
From the tunnels burst the three
and all their faithful company.
The shadow run, the shadows part,
the lord of Trolls knows in his heart
that beneath the hills is lost
the battle; indeed, men have crossed
into his land from secret ways.
This could be his end of days.
Tallëor from hillside door
rumbles with his threats of war.
  • -
The lord of Trolls was ancient-wise
had seen things no other mortal eyes
had ever seen since dawn of Sun,
secret since the world begun.
Into the central chambers went
that lord of Trolls, all-hells bent
on calling forth one last ghost
to defeat the allied host.

But as from darkness men forth-came,
slaying, calling Haeron’s name,
and as they stood before the wall
fast advance turned to a crawl.
And from the gates was flung a dart
that entered Tallëor’s fair heart.
A troll atop the wall had drawn
and cast his spear at Tallëon.
Ev’n as Arnr won the gate
word of Tallëor’s evil fate
spread throughout the armies brash,
they pulled away from the clash
of swords and screams and Trollish claws
and for a moment, they did pause.

Beneath the wav’ring moon they saw
perversion of the highest law.
For they yet lived while king was slain
and for all his royal train
there was no hope to give him breath,
bound he was for land of Death.
From sinewed hand fell silver shield
and from his right, his sword he yield.
Then fell they onto the field;
the potent blade he could not wield.

“Come to! Come to!” Arnr sang
and clashed his axe with mighty clang,
against his very shield rim
and, screaming out a battle-hymn,
cleared a space before the wall
and set the Trolls to fleeing, all.
Behind their city gates they fled
while armored host did fill with dread
at the loss of leader fair,
the mighty king with flowing hair.

Feánwy came unto that place
a look of sorrow on his face
and thus he said with heavy voice
“He made himself this foul choice
when out he set from Miles-town
to cast the Trollish darkness down.”

But from the bloodied battered ranks
there came forth men who had no thanks
for words of wisdom of the elves
but kept their wisdom to themselves;
the wise-men of the Pillar-land
came with black cauldron there in hand.
The ancient pot from south-land took
that had on it an evil look
and was wrought with cunning things
“Fit for men, fit for kings,”
said the oldest, wisest man.
He then revealed his awful plan.
“Things that die may yet return
when placed within this potent urn,”
said ancient man with evil eye,
“Why then must our lord king die?”
Feánwy old man’s path he crossed.
“You mean waters of Valingas!
You’ve stolen from the font of life,”
“Come, let there not be strife
between the men and the elves!”
And the dwarves all murmured to themselves.
“Let grief not drive to madness thee!”
the dwarf-king Arnr desperately
begged the wizened wizard old.
“The king is not yet even cold
and you would work magic foul
to steal his spirit from the owl
that must guide him to his bed
in the land of peaceful dead!”
The wizard’s friends were quick to take
the body up for cauldron’s sake.
And many men came with them as well
as they called Tallëor from hell.
But first the sorcerer required
a thing to get the cauldron fired.
“Six men,” he said in wavery voice
“must make of their free choice
a trade between their life and his.
That is the magic; thus it is.”
And every man about him glanced
at who would take this deadly chance
to return their long-haired king
from realms of death and ever-spring.
And one by one the six stood forth
slowly preparing to prove their worth.
And one by one into the pot
the six men where slowly brought.
As their heads ‘neath water sank
the cauldron belched forth stenches rank,
of grave and sulphur, charnel-smell
vapors rose as though from hell.
The waters in the evil pot
roiled and bubbled and grew hot
and the blinking troubled king
rose to his feet as though the sting
of Trollish spear had not been sent
through his heart; all ailment
seemed to melt speedily away
as though the dawn of new day
had driven off the fear of death.
Tallëor again drew breath.
“To the gate!” he howling cried
and as though he’d never died
the war resumed against the Night
and more men fell to gain the height
of the temple in city vast
where the Troll lord had then passed
after gate was hewn to ground
with a creaking crashing sound.

The three companions stood full tall
inside the Troll lord’s ancient hall.
Across the chambers stood he there
facing king with flowing hair.
Great, the troll lord’s figure was
towering, with mighty claws,
and garments sewn from glitt’ring cloth.
As they came he was full wroth
and the final words of evil song
he chanted then, and they long
listened to the things he’d said
their hearts full filling up with dread.
“When the sun does pass away
and moon dies at end of day
and all that live are put to flight
what remains is Mother Night!”

A wind now blows inside the hall
and the heroes, one and all,
feel the creeping nameless doom
that has come into the room!
A thousand mouths, a thousand eyes,
a thousand hands, a thousand sides,
a thousand feet, a thousand throats
sing a thousand striving notes!
One thousand times one thousand years
are man’s oldest deepest fears!
Then silence reigns there in that place
while a thousand eyes without a face
turn to look upon the three
who now at edge of destiny
stand there in the Troll-lord’s hall
and one by one the voices call
“Doomed to die, ye mortals be!
You know you must, on bended knee
but speak my name and pledge to me
and pay just once this little fee.”
But no one spoke of fealty.
Spake Tallëor, “But we can see,
through the lie and falsehood bold,
your time has come, O creature old
and of the endless nighttime born.”
Then sounded Arnr’s battle-horn.
Into the mass of shadow’s deep
the king he makes a mighty leap!

His blows come fast as falling rain
and flicker-flashes Shadow-bane.
The beast it howls in shrieking pain
but the wounds heal fast again.

Dwarves are marching without the hall
and trumpeting sweet victories’ call.
But victory is far from won
for when it seems the fight is done
the Trolls who fell begin to groan
and one by one they rise and moan.
Severed arm and severed head
does not mean a Troll is dead!
Dwarves are quick with fiery brands
and elves too have speedy hands
but many men still blinking are
when the Trolls, by light of star,
rend their flesh and tear their skin
while the lords still strive within
the hall against the Night
and still goes on that awful fight.

Feánwy calls out all the spells
ever known to men or elves.
Lightening forks, fires burns,
but still the hungry Shadow yearns
to snap their limbs and their hearts
to rip into a million parts.
Exhausted, pained, he falls now back
but Arnr doubles his attack.

In his hand is Axe of Woe
and lo! It cuts right through the foe!
Tendrils sliced and shadows shred
the beast soon seems far less dread.
The ancient Axe made by godly might
seems the answer to their plight.
But the lord of Trolls opes his jaws
and words fall fast like scrabbling claws.
He speaks in Tongue of darkling Night
and take they forms that blind the sight,
horrible to gaze upon
but elf-priest sings out of the Dawn.
And in his voice is Noronë’s own
the Troll lord shrinks, he turns to stone
in terror as the elf steps forth
and elf-priest burns with light of North.
And once the Troll is cowering in fear
Arnr comes with his Axe dear
and Tallëor with burning light
drives his blade into the Night.

The beast calls out! The beast is done!
The battle in the temple’s won!
The city soon was swept of foes
and cheering men stood in rows
to greet the kings who from the hall
emerged atop the highest wall.
The Lamp of Sun began to rise
and Noronë gazed with loving eyes
upon the men, and dwarves, and elves
who’d sacrificed their very selves.

Thus the last Troll kingdom fell,
and lived the north without them well.
And Tallëor in days lived long
and many deeds were set to song
in after times. But no more
did elves or dwarves by him set store.
In his strangely lengthened years
never once again in tears
or happiness came Feánwy
or Arnr that fair king to see.
For his life was bought with foulest art
and six had died to give his heart
the years he lived. So ever more
the elves and dwarves recalled that store
of evil magic in his veins
and never once with their pains
did they return to Miles-town
while Tallëor lived in renown.
So grew he old and sad of limb
for closest friends would see not him.

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