A poem dedicated to an Aryan goddess, by J.R.R. Tolkien

In The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo and Sam find themselves traveling through the Old Forest when they encounter Gildor Inglorion and his band of Elves, who are heading West to the Grey Havens to venture to the Undying Lands beyond the Sea. It is time for the Elves to go home; they were called to do so by the Valar, the gods who lived beyond Middle Earth. The fairest, most noble and most beautiful of the Valar was Elbereth, whose skin shone light a sheet of snow and whose voice was as clear as the flow of a wild stream.

The below poem is sung by the elves in dedication to her. Later in Return of the King, Sam feels moved to sing in a language he does not now, praising Elbereth and her powers of light. Sam’s singing frightens the spider Shelob which allows Sam to rescue Frodo and destroy the Ring.

A portrait of the goddess Freyr, wife of Thorr

“Snow-white! Snow-white! O lady clear!
O Queen beyond the Western Sea!
O Light to us that wander here
Amid the world of woven trees!


Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!


Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath.
Snow-white! Snow-white! We sing to thee
In a far land beyond the Sea.

O stars that in the Sunless Year
With shining hand by her were sown,
In windy fields now bright and clear
We see your silver blossom blown.

O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.

Ah! Like gold fall the leaves in the wind,
Long years numberless as the wings of trees!
The long years have passed like swift draughts of the sweet mead
In lofty halls beyond the West
Beneath the blue vaults of Varda
Wherein the stars tremble in the song of her voice,
Holy and queenly.

Who now shall refill the cup for me?

For now the Kindler, Varda,
The Queen of the Stars, from Mount Everwhite
Has uplifted her hands like clouds,
And all paths are drowned deep in shadow;
And out of a grey country darkness lies on the foaming waves between us,
And mist covers the jewels of Calacirya for ever.
Now lost, lost to those from the East is Valimar!

Farewell! Maybe thou shalt find Valimar.
Maybe even thou shalt find it! Farewell!

Gilthoniel A Elbereth!
A Elbereth Gilthoniel
O menel palan-diriel,
Le nallon si dinguruthos!
A tiro nin, Fanuilos!

A! Elbereth Gilthoniel!
Silivren penna miriel
O menal aglar elenath,
Gilthoniel, A! Elbereth!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.”


John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

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