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Old 04-11-2022, 07:59 PM   #567
Galadriel55
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An Aside (with music)

This is a total aside from the Zong, it is only related... well, to be perfectly honest, it isn't. But ever since the Zong I have been spending more time learning about the great Tolkien bards of the last three decades, and some strings are a little dangerous to pull because they aren't just a ball of yarn, they are a whole freaking tapestry, and good luck unwinding that. Needless to say, I have enriched my repertoire with a few choice songs of escalating obscurity, and two of them are very Tolkienesque, so I thought I would share them.

The first one is a rendition of A Elbereth Gilthoniel - one that I heard performed by Aire and Saruman way back but was not impressed, and am still not impressed by their version. But I happened to hear it on this track and it blew me out of my chair (don't click on the main track of the page, go to the one on the bottom left, with the title "A Элберет Гилтониэль"). Why didn't I like Aire's? For one thing, that version misses 3 stanzas, one in Elvish and two in RL language, and it's the last two stanzas which really make the song something. I actually heard a number of people sing the short version, including Lora Bocharova, but only this one had the full length. Second, Aire makes the melody more classic - proper beat and classical cadence, as opposed to the more medieval bard style of Firnwen & co. What do I do when I like a song? Translate it, obviously. Except that I am missing a bunch of Elvish from the second stanza - it is nowhere to be found on the internet! The only offerings were sound-alike gibberish which had even fewer actual Elvish words than my take. So here goes, and, as they say, forgive the Elvish.

A Elbereth Gilthoniel,
Silivren penna miriel
O menel aglar elenath!
Na-chaered palan-diriel
O galadhremmin ennorath,
Fanuilos, le linnathon
Ve linde le ca Valimar
Nef aear, si nef aearon!

A Elbereth Gilthoniel
Mimonien an diriel, [mi moni emyn?]
A calad amon in fanyar
Nu coe lome gil estel
Nu remmirath an mortiel
An tunyer aman calion [araman? ancalion?]
??? ve don tariel
Nef aear, si nef aearon!

A Elbereth Gilthoniel,
Who sees all roads on which I tread,
Shine in the dungeons of the night -
A ray of hope amid the dread.
Two western wings, as white as snows,
Have raised the lands of kings to soar
Above the web of twilit roads
On this side, on the Hither Shore.

A Elbereth Gilthoniel,
Whose gaze can pierce through darkest night,
Unlatch a gate among the clouds
Into the sheen of starry light.
Who’d look beneath the ash of years?
My journey numbers many leagues.
And yet the heart stays always here,
On this side of the Sund’ring Seas.

Through fear and pain, through night and war
Lead me, my star, and guide me true.
For those who followed me before
I now hold answer before you.
The cold is fierce, and dark our road,
Our home abandoned, door is sealed,
But let my song become my shield,
Your silver ray - become my sword.

Illuminate our weary roads
Upon this distant earth, Starbright!
Defy the clouds, the dark and cold,
Shine in the sky in their despite.
Our time has come, our doom awaits,
And, ever guided by your light,
I now accept this battle, like
The steel accepts the sheath’s embrace.

(Maybe I've had altogether too much Finrod in my life lately, but I can't help but think that if this was sung by a specific rather than a generic Noldo, it has to be Finrod. ^.^)


The other song I did not translate, because thankfully someone else did! It's a very good translation, though it does deviate a tiny bit. I am sort of glad to see I am not the only crazy Bilbo around, that other people are also digging up incredibly geeky texts and translating them into the Common Speech. Meet The Ballad of Fingolfin, also known by many other names (translation lyrics in the comments). Musically, I rather like Saruman's take here (yes, from Aire and Saruman). More literally, the lyrics are:
Do not ask me to praise him -
Day would not be brightened by a candle.
And what is glory but rust on a name…
Listen, here is what I will say about my king -

How he was generous in friendship,
How he knew how to laugh,
How he loved mirth,
And sang better than any minstrel!

How he knew how to keep his word,
How he paid for another’s sin,
How faithful a brother he was,
And how by a brother he was betrayed.

How we walked in the frigid night
And hewed graves in the ice with our swords,
How the hilts were welded to our hands
And tears froze in our eyes,

How the tattered silk of our proud banners
Framed the calmness of dead faces,
How curses froze like ice upon our lips,
And words of prayer died in our hearts…

From sliced open palms, like from goblets,
We drank our blood on the funerals like wine -
And our liege wept and sang with us,
He was always one with us in everything.

Let another sing of victories -
I will sing to you of woes.
He saw his people dying
And cursed his bitter oath.

We have lost everything - only honour remains,
And the glory of futile battles,
And the tinsel flattery of lavish tales,
And the empty lies of songs of praise…

We lost everything to the glory of the gods -
And their curse has become our reward.
Our reward was loss and pain,
Oblivion of the dead, exile of the living.

And when he left for his final battle,
I knew that he would not return.
He said that he will avenge everything - alone.
I could not look him in the eye.

I only saw how his steed bore him northward,
How his sky-blue cloak flew behind him,
How beat the flame of the golden locks
And his battle horn sang farewell…

Let another lie about the number of wounds,
Let another lie about every blow,
Let him lie that the Foe was mighty as a mountain,
And that my king was weak before him -

I will say only this - I was not there.
I will say - I cannot forgive myself now.
I will say… Well, what can I say…
Do not ask me to praise him…

I love this song because it is so perfect... Of that duel Orcs do not boast and Elves do not sing - so how do you write a song about Fingolfin that says everything, without saying any of this? Well, this is how. I love it. Now, Fingolfin didn't have blond hair, and I'm not sure what the "glory of the gods" means, but details aside I thought it's brilliant.

(This is also probably the reason I haven't posted any new Zongian music lately... So now you know.)
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You passed from under darkened dome, you enter now the secret land. - Take me to Finrod's fabled home!... ~ Finrod: The Rock Opera
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