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Narn Hathaldir ah Aerlin - Aris Katsaris

(Tale of Hathaldir and Aerlin)

Have you not heard of Hathaldir the young
whose courage with many competed; though youth
he was in the body in skill of the bow
most mortals surpassed; and with might the spear
he used when needed and often it was.
A Beoring his father, his mother brave and free
a Haladin daughter; but Hathaldir grew
in the land of Ladros; though lithe and shorter
than the people of Beor he learned there wisdom
and pity he had and in love would hold
the creatures of Arda. Half-elven some called him
for mighty he was among the sons of Men.

When evil came in a cold night
and Dagor Bragollach was kindled and death
the Orc-legions gave to those unprepared
with pitiless cruelty his parents were killed.
Thus Hathaldir learned woe and he would be slain
but his skill saved him and the sword of Barahir,
the father of Beren and Bregor's son.
And because Hathaldir from Beor descended
and a long friendship he once had with his father
Barahir took him as son and Beren as brother.
When Barahir bold with twelve brave companions
alone was left not least among them
was Hathaldir in courage and near Aeluin wan
from boy to manhood he grew in mind and body.
When Doom came at last and Death called them
the faithful Men there Hathaldir fell
but last by his king he was to be killed
and bid the world farewell. Freedom he found
beyond the bounds of Eä and the bars of Time.

The birds brought the news from the bitter North
that Barahir was slain and Bregolas' sons,
that Gildor and Ragnor, Radhruin and Gorlim,
Dairuin and Arthad and Urthel and Dagnir
and Hathaldir had fallen their home defending
the filled now with foes: Dorthonion's forest.
The minstrels would make many dirges for them
but among the Halethrim one mourned for Hathaldir
above all the others: Aerlin the lonely.
No comfort she knew and now she lay
trying to forget folded in two
her knees embracing and mourning Hathaldir.
Then a sleep of grief slowly there came
enfolding her sorrow embracing her soul
leading her mind to hills and meadows
to days in Dorthonion ere Death had come.

When spring was green like children would play
there hand-holding she and Hathaldir
and lightly laughing on the grass would lie
or softly singing would gaze at the stars;
Then sleep would come and slowly take them
and love was born before the light of morn.
All these the figure of Aerlin the fair
saw and remembered but sudden her smile
died and strictly she bid to her dream:
"Vanish, oh vision," her voice demanded
"Nor make me further to fall into mourning
by reminding me things best not remembered,
both fair and vanished, broken by violence.
Your hand I will hold never again, Hathaldir!"
Like thunders they echoed the words of her anger
the dream demolishing destroying the vision...
back in the land of Brethil bereft of joy or light
enfolded in loneliness Aerlin was left.

The new Sun arose now with the sound
of the rain falling on fragrant flowers.
Refreshing and cool it came to her body
with the tears mingling of the mourning maid;
the weather was trying to comfort her woe.
A calling for courage by a kind Nature.
The rain stopped. The rays of the Sun
to her beautiful body, the burdened with sorrow,
came shining clear in silent condolence.
Then slowly waking from woeful sleep
her face she turned to Taur-nu-Fuin
the haunt of horror the grave of Hathaldir.
"Our hope was high but hollow and grim
comes now the morning to these cold meadows.
Mighty the hand of Morgoth, Hathaldir,
that the realm of Ladros he laid to ruins.
Yet still you remained through years and sorrow
in hopeless efforts your homes to hold from him.
My ways were other but no less woe was mine."

When woe first came the winter was cold
but colder fell yet the awful year that followed.
A spear from foes had slain her father,
dauntless Belegarth, both brave and dear.
But more would follow of mourning and woe:
Her mother fell ill with fever of anguish
while sleepless Aerlin stayed at her side.
As the news of war arrived worse and worse
Emeldir would lead them all to the South.
Her land she left and her love behind,
the brown-haired boy, brave Hathaldir.
Under skies of lead they said that they loved
but faithfulness kept by kissing farewell
(a comfort too cold for such a cruel parting)
and embracing wept and went to their ways;
she by her mother, by Barahir Hathaldir.
But ere much passed of the mournful path
the boy seemed to be but just a distant shadow.
Then smitten by anguish she suddenly cried
filled with foreboding and frightened calling:
"Will I hold your hand ever again, Hathaldir?"
And hearing then the hopeless echoes
back on the barren hills he broke into tears.
"I'll see you once more I swear it by Manwë!
We'll turn the woe to joy and wipe away our tears!"

Through pain and hunger and paths filled with horror
where water is poison and madness walks with might
Emeldir then led them to the land of Brethil
where sweeter the air and bright still the stars.
But evil the voyage and vain for Aerlin:
her mother had died in the dreadful hills;
A Haladin hunter adopted her then.
In dreaming the deeds of daring Hathaldir
against the Orc-legions of the evil lord
she found some comfort and flight from sorrow
for always their minds met ere evening fell,
until the birds said the bright-eyed boy had died.

Westward the Sun was slowly sinking
and staining with red Aerlin's white raiment.
A minute she stood moveless as statue
both slender and fair but shining clothed in fire.
In loneliness left loudly she cried
radiant and tall terrible in wrath of sorrow.
"You said and swore you'd see me again
and wipe my tears and turn our woe to mirth.
But never more now will night change to morning
with the birds singing above the sleeping children.
Your hand I won't hold ever again Hathaldir."
The flame of the Sun and silence fell.

A wind from the west came wild and free
arising in the lands where rule the Lords that care.
It fell on the woods with such a wrathful fury
as if the world to shatter but softly and warm
it blew to her body and her heart embraced.
Alone stood Aerlin in wonder and awe
while wailing around her was raging the wind
and breaking the world by bending the rules.
A lightning struck the hill that stood beside her
and sudden the wind fell into slow whisper.
A figure stood there fair and shining
in the soft breeze beneath the bright starlight.
She deemed him so tall as to tower above her
than Thingol of Doriath she thought him more kingly,
than Noldo or Maia more mighty and noble.
His eyes surpassed the stars of the skies
holding the splendour of the high heaven.
A spear he bore, a sword and a bow,
and a grey cloak glittering clothed him
above the white armor and the warrior's arms,
but barefoot he walked while blossoming flowers
sprang as he went wherever he stepped
softly and silent approaching Aerlin slowly.

She suddenly fell for awe surpassed her pride
and filled her heart with strange and high fear.
Then direly trembling Aerlin dared to ask:
"Who are you, my Lord? From the lands of Aman
I deem that you come, from the Deathless shores.
A king of the Eldar are you but above
what the Noldorin songs that I know have said?
A Lord of the Maiar; or among the Mighty?"
But to her feet lightly laughing he lifted her
softly and gently, saying soothingly
"Just plain Hathaldir your playmate of old."
Backwards starting she stumbled astonished
but Hathaldir caught her with caring hands.
"Your eyes grew dimmer in despair's grief."
Then lifting her face she looked at his eyes
and saw there within the starlight that shimmered
as thousand dewdrops that dance ere daybreak.
But she deeper still searching beyond
delight and laughter and light undimmed,
she found the form of a fair lady
-mirrored in beauty unbearable but true-
attired like a queen and upwards looking.

My song now falters for mirth and for sorrow.
Too weak are my words to weave into verses
the lore revealed and renewed love
of that wondrous night. Never would woe
again defeat Aerlin. As dawn arrived
its marvellous hues of hope and magnificence
embraced her body. Bright and beautiful
stood she glistening shining in glorious
joy and loveliness; like jewels of light
fell to her feet her flowing tears.
Thus woke Aerlin from this world of woe
and softly a song slowly began
whose rising power passed o'er rivers
o'er meadows and hills, and mountainous heights
and realms of shadows. Sheer and renowned
to heights incredible and the hearkening ears
of Manwë Sulimo it managed to rise
in elven-words bright, unbittered and woeless.

Of mortal minstrels mightiest was she!
A messenger of light modest and little
that came to countries cold and beleaguered
and offered her services in exchange for shelter.
The sick she healed and the sad heartened,
tales told to children and tended the wounded.
But her songs defeated despair's darkness,
her voice the fear of forgetfulness vanquishing,
till Hathaldir she found in the fields of hope,
beyond the bounds of Eä and the bars of Time.
Renowned she is, remembered she'll be,
and her words I await at the world's ending.

–Aris Katsaris

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