Antipodean Writer: On Durin’s Bridge

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Gandalf vs Balrog


In Khazad-Dûm did Gandalf fall,
Duelling the Balrog in the hall
Of stone where Durin’s folk had stayed –
Though dwarven strength is long decayed.
Gandalf astride the bridge did stand
A staff and sword gripped in each hand.
The demon Balrog stalked him there
Its winglike darkness filled the air
While goblins all about them roared!
Gandalf no further could afford
To flee – self-sacrifice dear bought –
The Balrog his defiance caught:
“You shall not pass! Know that I wield
The flame of Anor, nor will yield!”

The Balrog’s fire dimmed, but yet upon the bridge of stone he stepped –
His darkling wings the cavern fill. Yet Gandalf to his station kept
As Glamdring answered Balrog-sword and demon flame smote wizard-fire
While Gandalf’s staff with levin cracked defiance of the Balrog ire.
When Gandalf broke the bridge: it fell! Its whip ensnagged the wizard’s limb
Entangled it in coiling flame to pull the wizard after him
To plummet down to ever-dark, where endless times uncounted flow
By mountain root, by ancient stone, which none but primordial creatures know.
The Balrog’s fires are quenched. He strikes as Gandalf hews back with Glamdring.
Beneath the earth they grapple on: each pierce, each thrust, each countering
To trade another blow beneath eld Durin’s Bridge in the abyss
As hand to claw they grapple in a land of cold stone and darkness.
When suddenly – the Balrog flees! Retreating into tombs of night
With Gandalf clutching at its heel it panicked in a heedless flight
To climb the Endless Stair from mountain base to high peak Silvertine
To break upon the earth day once more, out into the day-bright sunshine
And whenceupon its flames renew! So Gandalf closes and their duel
Then recommenced upon the top of Celebdil. Their combat cruel
Made lightnings blaze and fires roar with demon-flame: shrouding from view
Two foes who battled to the death in mortal combat locked. But few
Would later hear how mountain ranges smashed, when they began to quake,
As all around the shattered cliffs were riven, while their summits break
Till finally his naked power robbed the Balrog of its breath
And thrown down it lashed its frenzied limbs in the last throes of death.
Its claws are still. A silence falls. Gandalf, the victor, stands but seems
To weaken, to collapse, now spent completely. Then his waking-dreams
Take him outside of Middle Earth, as days and nights pass swiftly by
While sunlight, moonlight, starlight in their paths yet walk across the sky.
The wizard’s spirit beyond space and time long wandered far from home:
And what he heard, and what he saw, Gandalf kept to himself alone.
Thus of his soaring, spirit’s journey, none on Middle Earth did learn.
And Gandalf’s body lies there, waiting, till its spirit should return.


This poem was first posted on Antipodean Writer.

Antipodean Writer


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