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Athrabeth Elrond ah Arwen - By Barbara L. Diaz

"Mell Adar a Naneth nín, darion an aderthad vín."1

Elrond Arwenna:
The waxing moon pulls strong on me tonight.
Its tides roll through my blood; they crest and wane.
Adrift here in my chair I feel its light
Wash over me and flood my heart with pain.

My friends have sought to comfort me in vain,
For mute am I and deaf to all their charms.
Their pity runnels down like icy rain
On stone no winter sunlight ever warms.

An age it seems since first you filled my arms;
A child you were, though woman you are now.
Beneath fair Ithil's glow I named the stars
And tender kisses rained upon your brow.

Upon your sleeping face as white as snow
Bright Anor's rays would seldom drop caress,
For in your haste to feel her golden glow
Upon your cheeks you rose at dawn to dress.

Your Nan would comb your hair and plait each tress
So like a grownup lady you could be
When at first light of day you broke your fast
With oranges while perched upon my knee.

Child, who will plait your hair when night is past
And all your songs become one sad refrain,
When moon and stars and sun have burned their last
And nothing salves the grief or dulls the pain?

Arwen Elrondo:
Like Lúthien the Fair a price I paid;
For happiness I traded all I know.
I gave my love to him; my choice is made.
I cannot, will not, think upon it now.

Elrond Arwenna:
Remember when you gathered blooms to press
With Nan, and set the best apart for me?
All chores I cast aside; my cares seemed less
When through my workroom door you burst in glee.

She might as well have sought to curb the sea,
Poor Nan, as tried to stay you from your course,
For when you wanted to be near to me
Your will could not be swayed by any force.

Undaunted, unencumbered by remorse,
Though Nana called you made no move to leave
But crouched upon the Council Chamber floors
Like some bedazzled bird beneath my sleeve.

Yet it was not to me that you would cleave
When some imagined foe loomed in the night;
In Nana's arms alone you could believe
That even darkest dreams must yield to light.

Alas for Nan, she was not always right;
At times the greatest peril hides from sight.
Though for her mother's arms she cried in fright
They struck her down, the monsters in the night.²

Child, who will shelter you from winter's blight
When night lies chill and silent on the land,
When all that kept you safe has taken flight
And Nana is not there to hold your hand?

Arwen Elrondo:
Like Lúthien the Fair a price I paid;
I have my mother's blessing -- this I know.
Though parted we must be, my choice is made.
I cannot, will not, think upon it now.

Elrond Arwenna:
The day that Estel asked me for your hand,
I turned him down with haughty words and cold.
He held my gaze with eyes bright as a brand
And challenged me with speech both wise and bold.

'Be not like him of Doriath of old,³
O you who raised me with a father's love!
A daughter's heart cannot be bought or sold,
And he who hoards may lose both cote and dove. '

Leaves drifted down upon us from above
As silence filled the glade, and my heart bled.
Hot anger and despair within me strove,
And long I thought upon the things he said.

Then premonition filled me full of dread
And pierced my righteous spirit with its dart.
As Estel, courage failing, bowed his head,
I felt the hand of Mandos grip my heart.

'Though foster-son you be and Elven bred,
O Estel, yet but Mortal Man I see.
Until a wingèd crown adorns your head,
My Arwen wife to you will never be!'

Child, who will hold you when farewells are said
And at the tomb's door he leaves you alone,
When all you lingered for is cold and dead
And you live on when all you loved is gone?

Arwen Elrondo:
Like Lúthien the Fair a price I paid;
On Cerin Amroth I gave him my vow.
Though one day he must die, my choice is made.
I cannot, will not, think upon it now.

Elrond Arwenna:
When first he came to me a boy untried,
I cut him deep, yet bright his spirit shone.
He went into the wild in hope, in pride,
To do this mighty task, to seek his throne.

When next he came he was a man full grown,
A boy no more, but fair and tall and fell,
Made strong and proud by deeds of far renown,
Though naught of name nor sire the bards could tell.

When last he trod the vale of Rivendell,
His brow and mouth were carven, stone-imbued.
In him I saw a tale of years told well;
In him I saw a lineage renewed.

But mortal lives are fleeting, sorrow-hued;
Their hard-won glories fade as e'er they must,
For even should his hopes all come to fruit,
One day his world will crumble into dust.

His kingly helm and crown will fall to rust;
The cloak of death will cover hearth and hall.
To whom, then, will you turn; whom will you trust
When gone are mother, father, brothers, all?

Child, who will comfort you when shadows fall
And Círdan of the Havens sets his oar,
When Elven ears no longer hear you call,
Bereft, a mortal maid upon the shore?

Arwen Elrondo:
Like Lúthien the Fair my doom is laid;
For mortal life I traded all I know.
There is no turning back; my choice is made.
I love you well, but you must let me go.

Elrond Arwenna:
How bitterly I rue that it were so!
What brings you happiness brings me despair.
Though queen you be of Elves and Men, I know
That last farewell is more than I can bear!

In dreams I see you battered down with care,
A tree that twists and moans in autumn's chill.
In dreams I see you turn from Anor's glare
And lay you down on Amroth's tree-crowned hill.

The sweet grass there is watered by a rill
That long ago filled lovers' hearts with cheer,
But on that golden bed, try as you will,
No respite do you find from doubt and fear.

How sweet the dreams you dreamed ere dreams were dear!
Your future shimmered bright, its purpose clear.
But darkling are your paths, at last, and drear,
And lonely are the roads that lead you here.

The sun retires; the moon and stars appear
And linger on your hair, now silver-shot.
A birch of many summers, fair but sere,
Cut down at last by grief, you heed them not.

Child, who will comfort you when death is near
And tears fall thick and fast in sorrow deep,
When naught is left of all that you hold dear
And none are there to sing you into sleep?

Arwen Elrondo:
Though choices we may make and pledges keep,
Our fates are wrought without vast Arda's frame.
May Mandos in his halls be moved to weep
When with my final breath I speak your name!

Elrond Arwenna:
On whom, my daughter, would you lay the blame?
The cote is opened; out has flown the dove.
On Mortal, Elf, or Vala, just the same,
It falls to me to yield up all I love.

¹ "Dear Father and Mother, I wait for our reunion."
2 Arwen's mother, Celebrían, was captured and tortured by Orcs while travelling to visit her mother, Galadriel, in far-away Lothlorien. Elrond was able to heal her in body but not in spirit. No longer desiring to remain in Middle Earth, she passed West, leaving her husband and children behind.
3 King Thingol of Doriath, great-great grandfather of Elrond, who, in his scorn for the mortal who sought his daughter's hand, named as Lúthien's bride price one of the Silmarils in the crown of the demon Morgoth, thereby setting in motion the events leading not only to the loss of his daughter and his kingdom, but also his life.

Poem copyright 2003 by Barbara L. Diaz

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