Thursday, 15 July 2010

Morgoth's Ring...

I can't be bothered with Liturgy at the moment so a nice Tolkien post will do...

The Silmarillion, containing the vast corpus of the canonical history of Middle-earth and Valinor, is really the compromise of a compromise - narratives, some of them very beautiful, being curtailed or missed out altogether, often for the sake of publication, sometimes because one manuscript or typescript doesn't agree with a later one, or the published Lord of the Rings etc. One such story is that of the making of the Sun and Moon - in The Book of Lost Tales it comprises a whole lengthy chapter, whereas in the published Silmarillion the whole narrative is cut down, many ancient (and to a certain extent theological) elements have been lost, to the detriment of the Tale, and the whole feel of the later version is rather compendious and succinct. As such, I prefer The History of Middle-earth to the canonical stuff - which, by comparison, is often quite ''boring'', and to a certain extent reflects the growing tendency in Tolkien's later work (cf. Myth's Transformed, Volume 10 of The History of Middle-earth) to ''rationalize'' everything.

One such story, which I shall relate here in part, is that of The Darkening of Valinor, which is quite at variance with what you'll find in The Silmarillion.

When Manwë heard of the ways that Melkor had taken, it seemed plain to him that Melkor purposed to escape to his old strongholds in the North of Middle-earth, as was indeed his most likely course. Though there was little hope in this, Oromë and Tulkas with many of their folk went with all speed northward, seeking to overtake him if they might; but they found no trace or rumour of him beyond the shores of the Teleri, and in the unpeopled wastes that draw near to the Ice they could hear no tidings even from the birds. Therefore at length they returned, but the watch was redoubled along all the northern fences of Aman.

This indeed Melkor had expected; but he had other things to do before he would return to Middle-earth, and ere the pursuit set out, indeed ere the messengers came to Valmar, he had turned back and in great secrecy passed away far to the South. For Melkor was yet as one of the Valar, and he could still (though with pain) change his form, or walk unclad, as could his brethren; though that power he was soon to lose for ever.

Thus unseen he came at last to the region that once was called Avathar, beneath the eastern feet of the Pelóri; a narrow land it had become, eaten away by the Sea, and was long forsaken. There the shadows are deepest and thickest in the world. In Avathar, secret and unknown save to Melkor, dwelt Ungoliantë, and she had taken spider's form, and was a weaver of dark webs. It is not known whence she came, though among the Eldar it was said that in ages long before she had descended from the darkness that lies about Arda, when Melkor first looked down in envy upon the light in the kingdom of Manwë. But she had disowned her Master, desiring to be mistress of her own lust, taking all things to herself to feed her emptiness. To the South she had fled, and so had escaped the assaults of the Valar and the hunters of Oromë, for their vigilance had ever been to the North, and the South was long unheeded. Thence she had crept towards the light of the Blessed Realm; for she hungered for light and hated it.

In a ravine she lived and wove her black webs in a cleft of the mountains. All light she sucked up and spun it forth in dark nets of gloom. But now she was famished, and in great torment; for all living things had fled far away, and her own webs shut out from her all light that could come to her dwelling, whether through passes in the walls of Aman, or from the heavens above. Yet she had no longer the strength or will to depart.

Now Melkor sought for her, and he put on again the form that he had worn as the tyrant of Utumno: a dark Lord, tall and terrible. In that form he remained ever after. And when Ungoliantë saw him coming she was afraid, knowing his hatred for all who tried to escape from him. She shrank into her deepest lair, and tried to shroud herself in new shadow; but such darkness as in her famine she could weave was no defence against the eyes of Melkor, Lord of Utumno and Angband.

''Come forth!'' he said. ''Thrice fool: to leave me first, to dwell here languishing within reach of feasts untold, and now to shun me, Giver of Gifts, thy only hope! Come forth and see! I have brought thee an earnest of greater bounty to follow.'' But Ungoliantë made no answer, and retreated deeper into the cloven rock. Then Melkor was angered, for he was in haste, having reckoned his times to a nicety. ''Come forth!'' he cried. ''I have need of thee and will not be denied. Either thou wilt serve me, or I will bury thee here and under black stone thou shalt wither into naught.'' Then suddenly he held up in his hands two shining gems. They were green, and in that lightless place they reflected the dreadful light of his eyes, as if some ravening beast had come hunting there. Thus the great Thief set his lure for the lesser.


  1. I didn't know this story. Hope you could complete this, Patricius.

  2. I'm glad you liked it Julio. I may complete it when I get time.