The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien


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  • Updated 7 February 2008
  • Updates planned: 2

Lay of Eärendil

The song of the Mariner

A lay of the Elder Days, that told the story of Eärendil's voyages in his ship Vingilot. Beginning with the building of the ship, it tells of his adventures sailing the Great Sea in search of the Valar. Those early voyages ended in failure, but he had many strange encounters among the Enchanted Isles. At last he abandoned his search and turned homeward, but as he approached the shores of Middle-earth, a white bird descended from the sky onto his deck. This was his wife Elwing, rescued by Ulmo from the attacking Sons of Fëanor, and she brought with her a Silmaril.

Eärendil set out once again, and through the power of the Silmaril he was able to find the shores of Aman at last. Before the Valar themselves, he spoke of the sufferings of Elves and Men in Middle-earth. In response, the Valar rose up against Morgoth, and so came about the War of Wrath in which the first Dark Lord was utterly defeated.

After that time, Eärendil and Elwing remained in the West, so the story of the lay could not have come directly from them. With Eärendil through all his adventures, though, were three mariners: Aerandir, Erellont and Falathar. These three were all returned to Middle-earth by the Valar, and so the lay would seem to be based on their accounts of their journeys with Eärendil.

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