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Written some time in the Third Age1

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  • Updated 21 June 2003
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‘The Fall of Gil-galad

The tale of the last High King of the Noldor

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"But long ago he rode away,
and where he dwelleth none can say;
for into darkness fell his star
in Mordor where the shadows are."
From The Fall of Gil-Galad,
as translated by Bilbo Baggins
in The Fellowship of the Ring I 11 A Knife in the Dark

The lay that tells of the loss of Ereinion Gil-galad in the Siege of Barad-dûr at the end of the War of the Last Alliance. Sam sings the first lines of it in the The Lord of the Rings.

Little is known of the lay itself. According to Aragorn, it was originally written in 'an ancient tongue' (presumably Quenya), but Bilbo Baggins later translated it into the Common Tongue, and taught it to Samwise Gamgee in his younger days. It seems to have told the story of the War of the Last Alliance, at least to the point where Gil-galad aided in the overthrow of Sauron, and was himself slain. Its contents, though, are largely unknown: Sam confirms that it was a long poem, but apart from three introductory stanzas, the text of the lay is lost.


Notes

1

The Fall of Gil-galad refers to Gil-galad's loss at the end of the Second Age, and Bilbo's translation is recited by Sam Gamgee on 6 October III 3018, near the end of the Third, so it must have originated in that Age. The fact that it refers to the War of the Last Alliance as 'long ago' suggests that it was written some considerable time after the events it describes.

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