The Happy Mariners

I know a window in a western tower
That opens on celestial seas,
And wind that has been blowing round the stars
Comes to nestle in its tossing draperies.
It is a white tower builded in the Twilight Isles,
Wher Evening sits for ever in the shade;
It glimmers like a spike of lonely pearl
That mirrors beams forlorn and lights that fade;
And sea goes washing round the dark rock where it stands,
And fairy boats go by to gloaming lands
All piled and twinkling in the gloom
With hoarded sparks of orient fire
That divers won in waters of the unknown Sun –
And, maybe, ‘tis a throbbing silver lyre,
Or voices of grey sailors echo up
Afloat among the shadows of the world
In oarless shallop and with canvas furled;
For often seems there ring of feet and song
Or twilit twinkle of a trembling gong.

O! happy mariners upon a journey long
To those great portals on the Western shores
Where far away constellate fountains leap,
And dashed against Night’s dragon-headed doors,
In foam of stars fall sparkling in the deep.
While I alone look out behind the Moon
From in my white and windy tower,
Ye bide no moment and await no hour,
But chanting snatches of a mystic tune
Go through the shadows and the dangerous seas
Past sunless lands to fairy leas
Where stars upon the jacinth wall of space
Do tangle burst and interlace.
Ye follow Earendel through the West,
The shining mariner, to Islands blest;
While only from beyond that sombre rim
A wind returns to stir these crystal panes
And murmur magically of golden rains
That fall for ever in those spaces dim.

– J.R.R. Tolkien (1915)

Water Shows the Hidden Heart

From the City of Constellations
to the wanderer
and a Place of Rains
he journeys on…
…the City of hesitation and doubt
the Island of the house of the colour of the sea
the Plain of Mementoes
he journeys on to find his love…
…the Valley of lost time
the City of End and Endlessness
the Isle of Revenants
he journeys on…
…the City of Solitudes
the City of the distance from you
the City of Words of blue
and yellow and red and green
he journeys on to find his love…

…where the road takes him through
the City of Sleep
the thinking that does not end is within him
Then he dreams
the road takes him
this man who is searching
it brings him
in silence through the night

where the Cities that do not Exist, exist
It brings him
in silence through the night
close to the City of Realisations;
it is here one finds the way…
…Mount Orison
the City of Days
the Tree of the lost
he journeys on…
…north of his love
a road through a valley of darkness
the islands that are not of this world
he journeys on to find his love…

It is a long way through darkness
to the way of the eremite
the eremite sings of the world and of
the journey of love, which is not lost in eternity
…the Valley where the moon is caught in the trees
water shows the hidden heart
endlong into midnight
he journeys on…
…the parable of day
the Room of Books
where the winds come to him and say…

– Enya, Amarantine (2005)

Wichita Lineman

I am a lineman for the county
And I drive the main road
Searching in the sun for another overload

I hear you singing in the wire
I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita Lineman
Is still on the line

I know I need a small vacation
But it don’t look like rain
And if it snows that stretch down south
Won’t ever stand the strain

And I need you more than want you
And I want you for all time
And the Wichita Lineman
Is still on the line

– Jimmy Webb


Here’s something a little different. While most of you (I’d hope) have read FotR and recall Bilbo’s poem in Rivendell, less have probably read “Errantry” from Adventures of Tom Bombadil. Both are offshoots of a poem Tolkien worked extensively on–”Eärendillinwë”, the Short Lay of Eärendil. Much of the material I found fascinating wasn’t included in either published version, so I’ve gone through the different variants (of which there are over twenty) and constructed something new. This is an edit which includes the material most distinct from the published versions, and all of the “good stuff” I liked from the drafts. The result is necessarily a tad incongruous, drifting from whimsy into established canon and back again. Still, if you like this sort of thing… enjoy.
– Tevildo.

There was a gallant passenger
a messenger, a mariner:
he built a boat and gilded her
and silver oars he fashioned her;
her woven sails were white as snow,
as flying foam her banner flowed;
her prow he fashioned like a swan
that white upon the Falas goes.

He floated from a haven fair
of maiden-hair and everfern;
the waterfalls he proudly rode
where loudly flowed the Merryburn;
and dancing on the foam he went
on roving bent from Hitherland,
through Evermorning journeying,
while murmuring the River ran
to valleys in the Gloaming-fields;
and slowly then on pillow cool
let fall his head, and fast asleep
he passed the Weepingwillow Pools.
The windy reeds were whispering,
and mists were in the meadowland,
and down the River hurried him
and carried him to Shadowland.

The Sea beside a stony shore
there lonely roared, and under night
a wind arose and wafted him
a castaway in hapless flight.

He woke again forlorn afar
by shores that are without a name,
and by the Shrouded Islands o’er
the Silent Water floating came.
The winds of fear came driving him,
and blindly in the foam he fled
from west to east and errandless,
unheralded he homeward sped.

In wrath the Fëanorians
that swore the unforgotten oath
brought war into Arvernien
with burning and with broken troth;
and Elwing from her fastness dim
then cast her in the waters wide,
but like a bird was swiftly borne,
uplifted o’er the roaring tide.
Through hopeless night she came to him,
and flame was in her carcanet,
more bright than light of diamond
was fire that on her heart was set.
The Silmaril she bound on him,
and crowned him with the living light,
and dauntless then with burning brow
he turned his prow at middle-night.
Beyond the world, beyond the Sea,
then strong and free a storm arose,
a wind on high in Tarmenel;
by paths that seldom mortal goes
from Middle-earth on mighty breath
as flying wraith across the grey
and long-forsaken seas distressed
from East to West he passed away.

Through Evernight then borne afar
by waters dark beyond the Day
he saw the Lonely Island rise
where twilight lies upon the Bay
of Valinor, of Elvenhome,
and ever-foaming billows roll;
he landed on the elven-strands
of silver sand and fallow gold,
beneath the Hill of Ilmarin
where glimmer in a valley sheer
the lights of Elven Tirion,
the city on the Shadowmere.

He tarried there his errantry,
and melodies they taught to him,
and lays of old, and marvels told,
and harps of gold they brought to him.
Of glamoury he tidings heard,
and binding words of sigaldry;
they spoke of wars with Enemies
that venom used and wizardry.

In coat that came from ancient kings
of serried rings they armoured him;
his shield they writ with elven-runes
that never wound did harm to him.
His bow was made of dragon-horn,
his arrows shorn of ebony,
of triple steel his habergeon,
his scabbard of chalcedony.
His sword was like a flame in sheath,
with gems was wreathed his helmet tall,
an argent flame upon his crest,
upon his breast an emerald.

His boat anew for him they built
of mithril and of elven-glass;
the Silmaril was hanging bright
as lantern light on slender mast;
and eagle-wings they made for her,
and laid on her a mighty doom
to sail the seas of wind and come
where glimmering runs the gliding moon.

From Evereven’s lofty hills
where softly spill the fountains tall,
he passed away, a wandering light,
beyond the mighty Mountain Wall
and unto Evernight he came,
and like a flaming star he dropped:
his javelins of diamond
as fire into the darkness shot.
Ungoliant abiding there
in Spider-lair her thread entwined;
for endless years a gloom she spun
the Sun and Moon in web to wind.
She caught him in her stranglehold
entangled all in ebon thread,
and seven times with sting she smote
his ringéd coat with venom dread.
His sword was like a flashing light
as flashing bright he smote with it;
he shore away her poisoned neb,
her noisome webs he broke with it.
Then shining as a risen star
from prison bars he sped away,
and borne upon a blowing wind
on flowing wings he fled away.

To Evernoon at last he came,
and passed the flame-encircled hill,
where wells of gold for Melineth
her never-resting workers build.
The seven-branchéd Levin-tree
on Heavenfield he shining saw
upflowering from its writhen root;
a living fruit of fire it bore.
The lightning in his face was lit,
ablaze were set his tresses wan,
his eyes with levin-beams were bright,
and gleaming white his vessel shone.
From World’s End then he turned away
and yearned again to seek afar
his land beneath the morning light
and burning like a beacon star
on high above the mists he came,
a distant flame, a marineer
on winds unearthly swiftly borne,
uplifted o’er the Shadowmere.

He passed o’er Calacirian,
where Tirion the Hallowed stands;
the sea far under loudly roared
on cloudy shores in Shadowland.
And over Evermorn he passed,
and saw at last the haven fair,
far under by the Merryburn
in everfern and maidenhair.
But on him mighty doom was laid,
till moon should fade and all the stars,
to pass, and tarry never more
on hither shore where mortals are,
till end of Days on errand still,
a herald bright that never rests,
to bear his burning lamp afar,
the Flammifer of Westernesse.

Endless Journey

Amazon the Liffey and the shimmer and the ripple
The Volga and the Fergus the Tagus and the Nile
Uisce in the Shannon and the Chico Colorado
Waikato Rio Grande the ripple in the tide

The gully and a-gushing and an ebbing and a-flowing
Irrawaddy Pilcomayo Mississippi and the Lee
Trickly-oozing in the Lagan Orinoco and Zambezi
Ubangi and the Congo the Mackenzie to the Sea

A-pooling and a-pouring and a-flooding and a-flushing
From the Purus to Parana from the Tigris to the Thames
Guadiana Guadalquiver Brahmaputra Colorado
And the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee and the Seine

Surging and a-showering and a-spouting and a-spilling
In the Albany the Oder the Ural and the Ooze
Dordogne and the Danube and the Dnieper and the Dodder
Paraguay and Tokachi and Shinano Vera Cruz

Amazon the Liffey and the shimmer and the ripple
The Volga and the Fergus the Tagus and the Nile

The Heart will find a Home, the Ship will find a Harbour
A haven for the soul until the storms subside
But when the warmer wind blows
And when that golden light glows
We face the dawn and float out on the tide

We sail into the sun, our hope is the horizon
And just as we’ve begun, it seems that we’ve arrived
An everlasting journey
A hungering and yearning
Around the river runs and rushes through our lives

Fire may burn and the sky may thunder
Heroes crumble and the sun may fall
As the river circles on its endless journey
I will follow you

– Bill Whelan, Riverdance (1995)

The Wanderer

Ah, the Wanderer is ever restless.

He roams the Ages, sailing through time and space, lingering but a season, never content, always seeking a new horizon. The great Sky River is his domain, the stars are steadfast guardians over his fleeting, meandering presence.

And they whisper: lo! there passes the drifting comet, the exile who seeks a haven where he can rest from his ceaseless travels, the pilgrim who is journeying to his home. The lonely voyager, watching upon the ship of stars as he sails into eternity.