Antipodean Writer: Song of the Elf-King

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King Felagund


In this retelling from The Lay of Lethian, King Felagund combats Sauron in a magical duel on the eyot of Tol Sirion.

The Elf king stood in hidden shape.
Around the throne of Sauron gape
The maws of werewolves. Sauron’s eyes
Glow red. The elf king can’t disguise
Himself before the Tower’s lord.
So in that citadel he poured
High elven sorcery into song
Word-weaving truths potent and strong
Of Valar light and Noldor power
That saw the birth the very hour
The Trees in Valinor up-grew.
He sang of virtues that are true:
Of steadfastness, of truth and love
The Vala showered from above.

Then Sauron laughed. His counter-spell
On other themes he chose to dwell
Like: deception, secrets betrayed,
Of friends turned traitor, trusts that fade
To apathy, of vengeance dire,
Consuming hate like molten fire.

The Elf King’s song increasing rose
The will of Sauron to oppose
By singing of fair Valinor
Secure from devastating war
Where gardens lush and flowers rare
Perfume the pure and fragrant air.
Where dance and feasting, rhyme and jest
Preserve forever all that’s best
In Elvenhome across the sea.

But Sauron chanting ceaselessly
Spoke of shackles, dungeons cold,
Of fettered elves, of pledges sold,
Of feuds familial, civil wars,
Suspicions breeding open sores
Of mistrust, fear, and gnawing doubt.

The Elf King counters, singing out
Of the good realms in Middle Earth
Built to endure, of friends and mirth
And song and gifts and open-hands
Of kinship throughout many lands
After the elves left Valinor –

Sauron quickly perceived the flaw
And sang The Oath Fëanor made
Which had its oath-takers betrayed!
He sang of elven arrows winging
To kin-slay as long elf-blades ringing
Gained white swan-ships seized by theft,
Of weeping maidens all bereft,
Of corpses floating on the sea,
Allies abandoned mercilessly,
Of burning ships, of deadly snow,
And grinding ice and treacherous floe.
Then Mandos’ Doom and Mandos’ Curse
Sauron next chooses to rehearse.

Deep pain transfixed the elf-king’s heart
As though impaled with a dart.
The Elf King sways, is overcome.
Resistance vain! Struck mute and dumb
Collapsing to the hard stone floor.
The desperate band appear before
Sauron now in their natural guise
With elfin shape and elfin eyes.
The werewolves slaver as they howl
While Sauron under his dark cowl
Laughs in despite at their despair
And throws them in the dungeons where
He threatens each one with slow death
And torture, lest with eager breath
They tell him what he wants to know.
Shall they die quickly? Or die slow?
Tell him their names. Why their disguise?
What goal informed their enterprise?
Each locks their lips and each elf shows
Grim resignation. None disclose,
None beg for release from their cell –
As none will yield and none will tell.

Sauron enraged throws each in chains,
In prisons dark, where bitter pains
With thirst ferocious, hunger fell.
Yet none will yield and none will tell.

Still Felagund recalls the oath
He swore to Beren’s father. Both
Remain alive – the rest are dead.
The Elf King fulfilled all he said.
For Beren’s sake he had been strong,
Faithful to death, in suffering long.
Though nought remains to do or say
Neither the other will betray.
Nothing remains but to die well.
Both neither will yield, nor will tell.

The werewolf snarled and closer crept
Ready to kill. But as it leapt
King Felagund his bonds snapped through
And with bare hands the werewolf slew
Taking himself a mortal wound
Falling in that place underground
At Beren’s feet. As he lay dying,
Beren, helpless, fettered, crying,
The Elf King spoke and Beren blessed
Relinquished then the forlorn quest.
His spirit left his corpse behind.
Beren alone remains confined
Till death devoured his life as well.
Yet he yields not, and will not tell.


This poem was first posted on Antipodean Writer.

Antipodean Writer


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