Thursday, September 09, 2010

Elbereth

The poem I previously posted, Lingard's "Hail, Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star," is usually seen as one of the major inspirations of another poem:

O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
by J. R. R. Tolkien


Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady clear!
O Queen beyond the Western Seas!
O Light to us that wander here
Amid the world of woven trees!

Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!
Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath,
Snow-white! Snow-white! We sing to thee
In a far land beyond the Sea.

O stars that in the Sunless Year
With shining hand by her were sown,
In windy fields now bright and clear
We see your silver blossom blown!

O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.

You can hear Tolkien reciting the poem here. People have sometimes set it to music; my favorite setting, the one I think captures the mood of the poem best (one you can imagine someone singing sadly under the stars), is that of Helen Trevillion. Unfortunately, while you can hear it at YouTube, it's always with bad mash-ups of the Lord of the Rings movies. But you can ignore the video and hear that version here.

In Tolkien's Sindarin, Elbereth and Gilthoniel are names of Varda; Elbereth means 'Star-Queen' and Gilthoniel means 'The One Who Kindled the Stars'. And in the mythology, she is the Power who set the stars in the sky and in whose face shines most brightly the light of the Creator.

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