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Old 05-23-2009, 12:55 PM   #1
Aran e-Godhellim
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Updated Narn in Alliterative Verse

Hey guys, I hope this doesn't distract from the project, but I am working on an updated version of Tolkien's "Narn i·Chîn Húrin" in alliterative verse, and I was hoping you guys could give me a hand by critiquing my verses and pointing out any updates I miss.

My source texts are the Children of Húrin, Manuscript II up to the taunting of Orgof/Orgol, Manuscript I up to Túrin's stay in Nargothrond, and the Narn and Grey Annals after that. I've only finished updating the Prologue so far, but I'll post each section as I finish it. Updated or added verses will be in bold, with the originals in italics. Bracketed words are excluded. I'll also give each updated or added verse a number (U_ or A_) for easy referencing, unless the update involves only a regular name-change (i.e., Orgof < Orgol, Finweg < Fingon) or a word altered for coherence.

Here's the Prologue:


Ye Gods who girt your guarded realms / Ye Valar veiled in vast domains (U1)
with/past moveless pinnacles, mountains pathless,
o'er shrouded shores sheer uprising
of the Bay of Faery/the Elves on the borders of the World! (U2)
Ye Men unmindful of the mirth of yore,
wars and weeping in the worlds of old,
of Morgoth's might remembering nought!
Lo! hear what Elves with ancient harps,
lingering forlorn in lands untrodden,
fading faintly down forest pathways,
in shadowy isles on the Shadowy Seas
sing still in sorrow of the son of Húrin,
how his webs of doom were woven dark
with Níniel's sorrow: names most mournful.

A! Húrin Thalion in the hosts of battle
was whelmed in war, when the white banners
of the ruined king were rent with spears,
in blood beaten; when the blazing helm
of Finweg/Fingon fell in flame of swords,
and his gleaming armies' gold and silver
shields were shaken, shining emblems
in darkling tide of dire hatred,
the cruel Glamhoth's countless legions,
were lost and foundered - their light was quenched!
That field yet now the folk name it
Nirnaith Ornoth/Nirnaeth Arnediad, Unnumbered Tears:
the seven chieftains of the sons of Men
fled there and fought not, the folk of the Elves
betrayed with treason. Their troth alone
unmoved remembered in the mouths of hell
Thalion Erithámrod/the Thalion, Húrin, and his thanes renowned. (U3)
Torn and trampled the triple standard
of the house of Hithlum was heaped with slain.
In host upon host from the hills swarming
with hideous arms, the hungry orcs
enmeshed his might, and marred with wounds
pulled down the proud Prince of Hithlum
at Bauglir's/Baugron's bidding they bound him living;
to the halls of Hell neath the hills builded,
to the Mountains of Iron, mournful, gloomy,
they led the lord of the Lands of Mist,
Húrin Thalion, to the throne of hate
in halls upheld with huge pillars
of black basalt. There bats wandered,
worms and serpents enwound the columns;
there Bauglir's/Baugron's breast was burned within
with blazing rage, baulked of purpose:
from his trap had broken Turgon the mighty,
Fingolfin's son; Fëanor's children,
makers of [the] magic and immortal gems. (U4)
For Húrin standing storm unheading,
unbent in battle, with bitter laughter
his axe wielded - as eagle's wings
the sound of its sweep, swinging deadly;
as livid lightning it leaped and fell,
as toppling trunks of trees riven
his foes had fallen. Thus fought he on,
where blades were blunted and in blood foundered
the men of Mithrim; thus a moment stemmed
with sad remnant the raging surge
of ruthless Orcs, and the rear guarded,
that Turgon the terrible towering in anger
a pathway clove with pale falchion
from swirling slaughter. Yea! his path was plain
through the hosts of Hell, as hay that is laid
on the lea in lines, where long and keen
goes sweeping scythe. Thus seven kindreds,
a countless company, that king guided
through darkened dales and drear mountains
out of ken of his foes - he comes no more
in the tale of Túrin. Triumph of Morgoth
thus to doubt was turned, dreams of vengeance,
thus his mind was moved with malice fathomless,
thoughts of darkness, when the Thalion stood
bound, unbending, in his black dungeon.

Said the dread Lord of Hell: 'Dauntless Húrin,
stout steel-handed, stands before me
yet quick a captive, as a coward might be!
Then knows he my name, or needs be told
what hope he has in the halls of iron?
The bale most bitter, Balrog's torment!'

Then Húrin answered, Hithlum's chieftain -
his shining eyes with sheen of fire
in wrath were reddened: 'O ruinous one,
by fear unfettered I have fought thee long,
nor dread thee now, nor thy demon slaves,
fiends and phantoms, thou foe of Gods/Manwë!' (U5)
His dark/golden tresses, drenched/grimy and tangled, (U6)
that fell o'er his face he flung backward,
in the eye he looked of the evil Lord -
since that day of dread to dare his glance
has no mortal man had might of soul.
There the mind of Húrin in a mist of dark
neath gaze unfathomed grouped and foundered,
yet his heart yielded not nor his haughty pride.
But Lungorthin Lord of Balrogs
on the mouth smote him, and Morgoth smiled:
'Nay, fear when thou feelest, when the flames lick thee
and the whistling whips thy white body
and wilting flesh weal and torture!'
Then hung they helpless Húrin dauntless
in chains by fell enchantments forged
that with fiery anguish his flesh devoured,
yet loosed not lips locked in silence
to pray for pity. Thus prisoned saw he
on the sable walls the sultry glare
of far-off fires fiercely burning
down deep corridors and dark archways
in the blind abysses of those bottomless halls;
there with mourning mingled mighty tumult
the throb and thunder of the thudding forges'
brazen clangour; belched and spouted
flaming furnaces; there faces sad
through the glooms glided as the gloating Orcs
their captives herded under cruel lashes.
many a hopeless glance on Húrin fell
for his tearless torment many tears were spilled.

[Lo! Morgoth remembered the mighty doom,
the weird of old, that the Elves in woe,
in ruin and wrack by the reckless hearts
of mortal Men should be meshed at last;
that treason alone of trusted friend
should master the magic whose mazes wrapped
the children of Côr, cheating his purpose,
from defeat fending Fingolfin's son,
Turgon the terrible, and the troth-brethren
the sons of Fëanor, and secret, far,
homes hid darkly in the hoar forest
where Thingol was throned in the Thousand Caves.
] (U7)

Thus Thalion sat in slow torment
for darkling days, drear and long.
Then the Lord of Hell, lying hearted
to where Húrin hung hastened swiftly,
and the Balrogs about him brazen-handed
with flails of flame and forgéd iron
there laughed as they looked on his lonely woe;
but Baugron said: 'O bravest of Men,
'tis fate unfitting for thus fellhanded
warrior warfain that to worthless friends
his sword he should sell, who seek no more
to free him from fetters or his fall avenge.
While shrinking in the shadows they shake fearful
in the hungry hills hiding outcast
their league belying, lurking faithless,
he by evil lot in everlasting
dungeons droopeth doomed to torment
and anguish endless. That thy arms unchained
I had fainer far should a falchion keen
or axe with edge eager flaming
wield in warfare where the wind bloweth
the banners of battle - such a brand as might
in my sounding smithies on the smitten anvil
of glowing steel to glad thy soul
be forged and fashioned, yea, and fair harness
and mail unmatched - than that marred with flails
my mercy waiving thou shouldst moan enchained
neath the brazen Balrog's burning scourges:
who art worthy to win reward and honour
as a captain of arms when cloven is mail
and shields are shorn, when they shake the hosts
of their foes like fire in fell onset.
Lo! recieve my service; forswear hatred,
ancient enmity thus ill-counselled -
I am a mild master who remembers well
his servants' deeds. A sword of terror
thy hand should hold, and a high lordship
as Baugron's champion, chief of Balrogs,
to lead o'er the lands my loud armies,
whose royal array I already furnish;
on Turgon the troll (who turned to flight
and left thee alone, now leaguered fast
in waterless wastes and weary mountains)
my wrath to wreak, and on redhanded
robber-folk, rebels, and roaming Elves,
that forlorn witless the Lord of the World
defy in their folly - they shall feel my might.
I will bid men unbind thee, and thy body comfort!
Go follow their footsteps with fire and steel,
with thy sword go search their secret dwellings;
when in triumph victorious thou returnst hither,
I have hoards unthought-of' - but Húrin Thalion
suffered no longer silent wordless;
through clenched teeth in clinging pain,
'O accursed king', cried unwavering,
'thy hopes build not so high, Bauglir;
no tool am I for thy treasons vile,
who tryst nor troth ever true holdest -
seek traitors elsewhere.' ___
and through clenched teeth his cozening mocked:
'Thou art blind, Baugron, and blind wilt remain;
thou knowest e'en now nought of Men's hearts.
And foolish he who with the Foe barters;
for price procured the promise doth fail.
Death and darkness thou deignest to be
my only reward for the Elven king.'

___ Then returned answer
Morgoth amazed his mood hiding:
'Nay, madness holds thee; thy mind wanders;
my measureless hoards are mountains high
in places secret piled uncounted
agelong unopened; Elfin silver
and gold in the gloom there glister pale;
the gems and jewels once jealous-warded
in the mansions of the Gods, who mourn them yet,
are mine, and a meed I will mete thee thence
of wealth to glut the Worm of Greed.'
Then Morgoth laughed, in mirth replying:
'Lo! Beg thou may yet for the boon of swift death!'
And Húrin was hauled at the hest of Morgoth
through death and reek to Haudh-en-Dengin,
the Hill of the Slain, e'en Haudh-en-Nirnaeth
the Mound of Weeping. And once set thereon
the Thalion, bound, was bidden look westward
to Hithlum, his home, and his house consider.
Then cruelly said Baugron: 'See how thy kin
now dwelleth within my domains and lands.
Behold how they live of my hand's mercy!'

Then Húrin, hanging, in hate answered:
'Canst not learn of thy lore when thou look'st on a foe,
O Bauglir unblest? Bray no longer
of the things thou hast thieved from the Three Kindreds!
In hate I hold thee. Thou art humbled indeed
and thy might is minished if thy murderous hope
and cruel counsels on a captive sad
must wait, on a weak and weary man.
'To the hosts of Hell his head then he turned:'
let thy foul banners go forth to battle,
ye Balrogs and Orcs; let your black legions
go seek the sweeping sword of Turgon.
Through the dismal dales you shall be driven wailing
like startled starlings from the stooks of wheat.
Minions miserable of master base,
your doom dread ye, dire disaster!
The tide shall turn; your triumph brief
and victory shall vanish. I view afar
the wrath of the Gods roused in anger.'
This Thalion mocked: 'No mercy hast thou,
but this thing I say; of the secrets of Turgon
they know none at all, for nought did I tell
of the hiding place of the heir of Fingolfin.'

Then tumult awoke, a tempest wild;
[in rage roaring that rocked the walls;] (U8)
consuming madness seized on Morgoth,
yet with lowered voice and leering mouth
thus Thalion Erithámrod he threatened darkly:
'Thou hast said it! See how my swift purpose
shall march to its mark unmarred of thee,
nor thy aid be asked, overweening
mortal mightless. I command thee gaze
on my deeds of power dreadly proven.
Yet if little they like thee, thou must look thereon
helpless to hinder or thy hand to raise,
and thy lidless eyes lit with anguish
shall not shut for ever, shorn of slumber
like the Gods shall gaze there grim, tearless,
on the might of Morgoth and the meed he deals
to fools who refuse fealty gracious.'
thus Thalion's house he threatened darkly:
'Then watch how my will unwavering shall lie
on thy kin and self a curse unceasing.
To the bounds of Arda, bitter in working,
my hate shall hound thy hapless kin.'

To Thangorodrim was the Thalion borne,
that mountain that meets/those mountains that meet the misty skies (U9)
on high over the hills that Hithlum sees
blackly brooding on the borders of the North.
There stretched on the stone of steepest peak
in bonds unbreakable they bound him living;
there the lord of woe in laughter stood,
there cursed him for ever and his kindred all
that should walk and wander in woe's shadow
to a doom of death and dreadful end.
There the mighty man unmovéd sat
but unveiled was his vision that he viewed afar
with eyes enchanted all earthly things,
and the wierd of woe woven darkly
that fell on his folk - a fiend's torment.

Last edited by Aran e-Godhellim; 05-23-2009 at 01:28 PM.
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