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  • Updated 14 March 2017
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Song of Parting

Beren’s farewell to Lúthien

As the price of his daughter Lúthien's hand, her father Thingol set Beren a seemingly impossible challenge: to recover a Silmaril from Morgoth's Iron Crown. Beren's first attempt to fulfil this quest ended in disaster: captured by Sauron, all his companions were slain and he himself escaped only through Lúthien's magical aid. Together they wandered southward from the ruins of Tol-in-Gaurhoth, coming at last to Brethil and the borders of Lúthien's homeland of Doriath.

At that time they were attacked the brothers Celegorm and Curufin; these Sons of Fëanor were bested by Beren, but Curufin's parting shot, aimed at Lúthien, wounded Beren grievously. Healed by Lúthien, he determined to keep her safe from further danger and rode away northward alone. Entering the Pass of Sirion, he approached the edge of Anfauglith, the desert beyond which lay Morgoth's fortress of Angband. There he made a final Song of Parting for Lúthien, bemoaning his own fate and and recalling Lúthien's beauty, and he sang it before he set out to meet his own dark fate. But the parting did not come, for Lúthien had followed him and sang in answer as she came out of the woods towards him. They went on together to achieve the Quest of the Silmaril, taking one of the Jewels of Fëanor from the depths of Angband and returning it into the light.

A part of the text of the Song of Parting appears in Chapter 19 of Quenta Silmarillion, representing the second of the Song's two stanzas. The full text is to be found in The Lay of Leithian (lines 3306 to 3333) in volume 3 of The History of Middle-earth. Its first stanza has Beren bidding farewell to the light and lands of Middle-earth, and preparing for his own fate, while the second stanza (in The Silmarillion) is his farewell to Lúthien and her beauty.

The lines that make up the Song of Parting fit exactly within the metre and style of The Lay of Leithian, the greater poem that surrounds the Song. So, while Beren may indeed have made a Song of Parting at this point in his journey, it would seem that the exact wording must have been amended at least somewhat by the author of the Lay.

See also...

The Abyss

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