In very ancient times, the Valar set up two great Lamps in the north and south of the World, and settled on the island of Almaren in Middle-earth. Living things throughout the World began their first growth, and so that time was known as the Spring of Arda. However, Melkor destroyed the Lamps and the dwellings on Almaren, driving the Valar away from Middle-earth and into the West. The living things of Middle-earth were left in darkness, and so Yavanna protected them by setting them to sleep until light should come again. That happened many centuries later, after the Darkening of Valinor and the loss of the Two Trees, when the rising of the Sun finally returned light to Middle-earth.
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