There are parts that need editing, especially near the middle and end, to make the rhyming couplets less…contrived-sounding, I guess, and I hope to expand this and make it a bit longer. But here you have it anyhow.
The world has passed beyond my ken,
The land has changed; the starry glen
Where first the Elven-eyes awoke
Has fallen ‘neath the stifling cloak
Of heedless Man and Man’s designs
To keep the earth within confines
Of his devising. Prisons made
For Middle-earth, with logic weighed;
Bound about by fact. No more
Does trust of aught that dwelt in lore
Live on in hearts of many a man.
Men now see only that which can
Be captured by supposed “truth,”
And train the minds of all their youth
To love no more the Elven days,
Nor seek to come on Elven ways
In darkling wood or starlit mead.
And so the Elven ways recede,
Hidden now from mortal sight
They pass away – into the night.
Where have gone the lords of old?
Where their wisdom vast, untold?
Where the kingly radiance
That shone from brow, or sped from glance?
Gilfanon of whom tales tell,
Noble lord of Tavrobel,
Does he now, in this cold land,
Wander, faded, on the strand?
Where is Ingil, who before
Dwelt upon the hill of Kôr?
Why is Ingwë’s noble son
Known now to only few, or none?
Tavrobel knows not its name,
And gone is all the shining fame
That laid once on the Elven hosts,
Who now are thought no more than ghosts
By them who know not what they say,
Living here in light of day.
Men now scoff, and jesting, ask,
“Who are these fairies? A false, bright mask
To cover lies to children told
By foolish men or women old.
Who are these fairies? Can none reply?”
And only few will answer, “Aye,
Memories faded dim, they are,
A wraith of loveliness, vanished far
‘Neath trees, a rustle of the grass,
A glint of dew; none see them pass.
A subtle sound of wind on leaf,
A puff of air, and silv’ry brief.”
Or others fewer there may be,
Who the Elven folk still see,
And who will answer soft and sad,
“Small they are, and in mists clad,
Delicate as Autumn’s chill,
Dwelling in this tired land still.
Their trumpets blow, unimagined small,
They ride still forth from faded hall
To hunt the elfin deer beneath
A paling sky and Winter’s teeth.
Like strands of wind beneath the trees,
Like mystic half-transparencies,
A music of forgotten feet
And wistful voices passing sweet,
A sudden bending of the grass,
A beam of light where’er they pass.
The hosts of Tavrobel ride on,
A gleam of leaves – and they are gone.”
These words I write here, with my pen
Belike will all be lost, and then
Who of the Elves will ever speak?
Who for their lore will ever seek?
None shall know again the days
Of old, when Elves trod earthly ways.
And so my pen I lay aside
And cease in Elven tales to stride.
I seal at last the worn inkwell
And so of fairies cease to tell.
This poem is based on a set of passages found near the end of The Book of Lost Tales Part Two. The names and places mentioned come from an earlier concept of Tolkien’s world – one which has not yet reached the same editorial stage as The Silmarillion. Kôr is equivalent to the city of Tirion in Valinor, and Ingil is presented as the son of Ingwë, the High King of all the Quendi. Tavrobel is a town on Tol Eressëa, of which the Elf Gilfanon is lord. Eriol, who is mentioned only in the title of this poem and from whose perspective this piece is written, is a man also known as Ælfwine, an Anglo-Saxon citizen of 10th century England. The poem takes place after the last Elven-ships have sailed to Valinor and only a very few Elves remain behind, in a world now dominated by Men who, for the most part, no longer believe in Elves. In short, by this point in Tolkien’s legendarium, Tol Eressëa has become what we know today as England, and Middle-earth as it was is lost.
“Very small and delicate are the fairies now, yet we have eyes to see and ears to hear, and Tavrobel and Kortirion are filled yet with this sweet folk. Spring knows them and Summer too and in Winter still are they among us, but in Autumn most of all do they come out, for Autumn is their season, fallen as they are upon the Autumn of their days. What shall the dreamers of the earth be like when their winter come…But behold, Tavrobel shall not know its name, and all the land be changed, and even these written words of mine belike will all be lost; and so I lay down the pen, and so of fairies cease to tell.”
– J. R. R. Tolkien, The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, p. 293-294