Continuing the theme of love that I kinda talked about last time (>_>), I wanted to share a poem and a story of an epic romance that builds my very foundation of what love is.
*Points at title* That. Luthien and Beren are characters in Tolkien’s epic saga the Silmarillion, and are mentioned once in the Fellowship, by Aragorn.
"The leaves were long, the grass was green, The hemlock-umbels tall and fair, And in the glade a light was seen Of stars in shadow shimmering. Tinuviel was dancing there To music of a pipe unseen, And light of stars was in her hair, And in her rainment glimmering. There Beren came from mountains cold. And lost he wandered under leaves, And where the Elven-river rolled He walked alone and sorrowing. He peered between the hemlock-leaves And saw in wonder flowers of gold Upon her mantle and her sleeves, And her hair like shadow following. Enchantment healed his weary feet That over hills were doomed to roam; And forth he hastened, strong and fleet, And grasped at moonbeams glistening. Through woven woods in Elvenhome She lightly fled on dancing feet, And left him lonely still to roam In the silent forest listening. He heard there oft the flying sound Of feet as light as linden-leaves, Or music welling underground, In hidden hollows quavering. Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves, And one by one with sighing sound Whispering fell the beachen leaves In wintry woodland wavering. He sought her ever, wandering far Where leaves of years were thickly strewn, By light of moon and ray of star In frosty heavens shivering. Her mantle glinted in the moon, As on a hill-top high and far She danced, and at her feet was strewn A mist of silver quivering. When winter passed, she came again, And her song released the sudden spring, Like rising lark, and falling rain, And melting water bubbling. He saw the elven-flowers spring About her feet, and healed again He longed by her to dance and sing Upon the grass untroubling. Again she fled, but swift he came, Tinuviel! Tinuviel! He called her by her elvish name; And there she halted listening. One moment stood she, and a spell His voice laid on her: Beren came, And doom fell on Tinuviel That in his arms lay glistening. As Beren looked into her eyes Within the shadows of her hair, The trembling starlight of the skies He saw there mirrored shimmering. Tinuviel the elven-fair, Immortal maiden elven-wise, About him cast her shadowy hair And arms like silver glimmering. Long was the way that fate them bore, O'er stony mountains cold and grey, Through halls of iron and darkling door, And woods of nightshade morrowless. The Sundering Seas between them lay, And yet at last they met once more, And long ago they passed away In the forest singing sorrowless."
Luthien Tinuviel (J.R.R Tolkien)
Woah. First off, I absolutely adore this poem for the sheer joy reading it provides. Saying it out loud makes a guy who sounds like a cross between a ageing donkey and a wailing banshee sound good. Like, really really good.
I’m not going to talk about the poem though. It is a relatively uncomplicated affair which tells of how Beren son of Barahir fell in love with Luthien Tinuviel, the most beautiful elf of all. And how she loved him back. The result is a fairly typical story of how the guy chances upon the girl singing and dancing the girl and then he stalks her and she sees him stalking him and falls in love too.
But, with a difference. Luthien is an elf. Elves, in addition to being decidedly above human in almost every respect as regards looks, bravery, sensibility, talents, abs and languages also cannot die.
They cannot die.
But humans, this decidedly flawed race of raving lunatics falling in love with rings and whatnot get that gift. They wither with time and die, while elves live on like a family heirloom, shielded away from time, seasons and all the wrinkles and stuff.
So when a human falls in love with an elf, there arise, for lack of a better word, problems. The human dies, but the elf remains. Elves consider themselves superior, humans know they are superior so such unions don’t have much success.
But Beren fell in love with Tinuviel and she fell in love with him, and stuff like death doesn’t matter to them. Luthien’s dad was not very happy with this arrangement and wanted to kill Beren but couldn’t and so he sent him off on an impossible task.
Backtracking, lemme say a bit about the Silmarils. There are three of them, and they are the most beautiful and gorgeous jewels in existence. They are so bright that you cannot touch them or you get burned. And they are in the possession of this guy called Morgoth who is a dark lord and not someone who you want to meet.
Luthien’s dad sent Beren off to get him one. And Beren left, knowing it was a suicide mission, but found unlikely help in the form of two brothers who had sworn an oath to his father to always help him. Also, a curse wrought about by the dude who made the Silmarils means that they suffer from this insatiable need to possess the Silmarils. All fine?
Sauron the man we all know was a mere servant of Morgoth, so you can imagine how powerful Morgoth is. Was. Anyway, Beren and the main elf dude Finrod were captured by Sauron and imprisoned there. One by one this gigantic monstrosity of a werewolf defeated all their men until he attacked Beren. Then Finrod broke his chains and wrestled the werewolf until they both died.
Meanwhile Luthien followed Beren but was lured by two baddies into going to a different place where she would be married off to one of the baddies and therefore make an alliance with her father. Celegorm, the first baddie had the most powerful hound in existence, a… being called Huan. Huan had a lot of prophecies and stuff. For one, he would be able to speak only thrice in his life. For another, he would be defeated by none but the greatest and most powerful wolf in existence. He felt pity on Luthien and spoke for the first time with her, helped her escape and then joined her to Sauron’s fortress.
Sauron, knowing Huan’s reputation sent wolf after wolf and Huan dispatched them all of with the ease of a South Indian movie star till Sauron, being Sauron himself took wolf shape and fought Huan.
Huan kicked his sorry arse.
Then shit happened which doesn’t involve this story, but Luthien and Beren fell in trouble with Huan’s master again and Huan turned on him and saved their asses. He then gave them a plan, speaking a second time, where Luthien dressed as a bat and Beren as a werewolf and the two moved on to Morgoths fortress. There Luthien met the great wolf Carcharoth, a monster bred by Morgoth through perverted DNA spl– wait that’s Mewtwo. But yeah, he was bred by Morgoth to become the most powerful wolf in existence. While going in, Luthien sang a song that was so beautiful and calming that everyone went to sleep. Including Carcharoth. When Morgoth saw Luthien he was struck by her beauty, and she danced for him in her magic robes. Which sent him to sleep too. Morgoth is like a giant, so Beren climbed up and cut the Silmaril out of his crown, and then settled on another one, though he had been told to get one. This time his dagger broke and the shards of the dagger wounded Morgoth, wounding him (:/) and waking him up.
The two left ASAP but were confronted by Carcharoth, and as the wolf prepared to attack, Beren held out his hand with the Silmaril in it to ward the wolf away, but the wolf bit the hand out and swallowed the Silmaril. The Silmaril is a hot thing and burned away at his stomach which sent Carcharoth mad.
Meanwhile, Beren and Luthien returned and when Luthien’s dad asked for the Silmaril, Beren held out his stump of a hand. The King was very impressed and Luthien and Beren got married, I think.
Beren had to go, however, to stop Carcharoth who was destroying him. Huan joined him and Thingol, Luthiens dad and when they found the wolf, Huan and Beren fought him and killed him. Huan was badly wounded and died, speaking a last time and telling Luthien and Beren goodbye, and shortly afterwards Beren died too.
When the elves cut the stomach of the wolf they found the Silmaril lodged in Beren’s arms. And then a lot of things happened which does not matter.
However, Luthien loved Beren so much she forced herself to die, and when she came up to the great hall of judgement held by this almost god named Manwe, she sang such a great song of love that Manwe was moved by pity and restored both Luthien and Beren to life, as mortals.
Then Beren and Luthien lived once more for some time, having kids of which descended Elrond and Arwen. Beren fought in one last war, in which he again acquired that Silmaril, and then Luthien wore the Silmaril till she died. The combined brilliance of her beauty and the Silmaril was so strong it is believed they died faster because of it.
And then they died, together. Still in love.
I realise that this is an unedited story which is not one of my own, I have glossed over several of the points, including the part where Luthien’s mom is a god like thing, to the Silmarils themselves. However, that is because the tale is a layered and vast tale, spanning a lot of things, and I only wanted to focus on the love.My only worry is that in my unskilled hands the whole point of the story has been lost to the dear reader. If that happens, sorry. You should read the Silmarillion. That tale sounds like a ballad, but given a decent imagination you can very well think about how much this story means to the idea of love.
We have no dialogue for their love, no great poems which speak of their living, but then again, Luthien died for Beren. For me, dying is easy. Luthien must have had to work really hard for that. And their love was so strong, soperfectthat Morgoth, who is the second most powerful thing in existence, after God, is also cast aside. Their love spits on that most powerful and most heartless of foes, death, with the force of a Mumbaikar on the road with his/her mouth full of paan. It also brings out the choice she made, to become mortal, to leave behind her very being, her family, her home, her culture and becoming human. Their love was so strong even death did not deter them, and the fact that it is actually a fictional story does not change the message, that love is the strongest force in the world, that it can bring about change, bring about great deeds and great events, but those great events somewhat pale in comparison to the love itself.
So without a single romantic line and a very Bollywood plotline, Tolkien, in my opinion, weaved the greatest love story. Ever.
It even has a happy ending. :’)
Notes- This is unedited. I don’t have any time right now to ponder whether a beast canreallybe named Carcharoth. I am also confused as to the spelling of the Silmarils. As for the poem, I pasted it from a draft I had in my poetry blog, so I think there’s no problem with that.
Read that poem..
Roll those words around in your mouth.
I swear, it makes me sound like a nightingale. Huge boost to self esteem.
Two people clicked on that song last time. I hope you enjoyed it. ^_^