the Great Hall
by heated laughter….
faces tied tight with
heads weary from too much ale,
too many helpings of Cook's fine, thick mid-winter stew.
It is Cook's gift to my Lord and Lady,
who, on this day
(poised betwixt one year and the next), have been granted an heir,
The mid-wife spoke
all hushed, in the hall-way and wrung her hands (not knowing I could hear):
this bairn must be the only
child of aunt Esme's body.
An only child.
not like me at all.
My other uncle,
the one who lives inside a Hill, has brought me a toy from a far-off land.
smelling of ink and age, soft star-letters of words I cannot read twining their spines.
I rub my thumb over them,
picturing in my mind the worlds which wait within the circle of their words.
From the edge of my small desk,
where a ray of unexpected Sun drifts, sudden movement calls me.
Glass, it is, and clear as any crystal water might be,
rounded, in shape like the mushrooms that grow down-cellar.
And inside this hollow sphere,
like a spear thrust deep into the earth.
And flags upon it…..
like the windlass upon the hill.
do they stop when I hold the glass in my hand,
from the confusing prism of the sun?
soft and faint ink-stained, hold mine,
lift my chin so my eyes meet his.
I am not a babe that I should cry so
at the breaking of a toy.
and replaces the sun-castle upon the light-scattered desk.
Like clouds rushing before a wind,
tiny vanes turn.
It is not Magik,
Uncle explains (though even his words makes it seem thus):
the white flag
the black flag
each love the Sun,
(though not each other)
and when they have each
upon her warmth,
and chase each the other,
the little ones of the Hall playing at Hide and Seek.
I smile into the dimming light:
The whirl of black-and-white,
The hearth-fire was friendly today.
Its little smoke curled soft
and grey within my study
and feet quiet down the hall.
It is not so much,
not too much,
the light which lies
in bright prisms over the face of the desk…….
glancing and breaking
over book and parchment,
over ink and quill
like gold, spilling….
running in fractured lines
upon my hands…..
The plain, dark earth of the road
is comforting against my feet….
soft shadows lying beneath
I walk on for some time
before cold rain begins to fall.
Like stars it looks upon the face of the little river….
like stars and the dance of mum's
needle, darting swift in the banked fire-light of an evening….
The chain of grey rock is all but drowned beneath the rain as I cross
the green-grey wash of water to where my summer fishing spot lies.
If I close my eyes
I can feel the sun hot against my back, the pull of a fish upon the line, the quiet dappling light within the water.
Even in the wild midst of storm,
ducks float serene upon her face, blue-green-blue heads turning to mark my intrusion,
orange-webbed feet moving slow against the chill.
seeming colder, even, than the fierce snow of Silvertine., slide like tears upon my face.
The hood of my cloak lies against my back.
In these lands,
I need not cover my face,
in these lands,
the only foot-prints on the road
will ever be those of un-booted feet.
The King has said so.
Crystal drops fall with
ice'd abandon from my hair, my face…..
like the sky's life-blood,
they drip upon the Road.
And the Road runs with this
brown-grey earth washing insistent
about my feet.
I shall rest here tonight,
here where the stars lie close and sharp
upon the edge of the hill,
here where the rain sings like far-off Elven
voices upon the small quiet of the water.
It is dark now,
so very dark.
I cannot even see my hand
before my eyes.
That is a comfort.
I have brought no tinder-box
to distress the companionable arms of the circled trees.
Their skins shine,
oiled-wet in the small light of the Sickle.
The smell of home-fires
touches me as I spread my cloak upon leaf-veined ground.
What lost breath of night-wind
has borne this bit of comfort such a long way?
Of a sudden, I realize:
have I been entirely alone upon the Road at night,
never slept unaccompanied
beneath the wide dark beauty of the sky.
I shall not now.
Upon the vast Sea of night
jeweled prow bright
and steady upon his course.
wings to the West,
until World's end by the soft fire of Telperion….
I watch them until the press of the night
pulls them from me,
washes their song from my ears.
Sweet sleep is pushing upon me.
I close my eyes and dream
of white-crystal stars
and coal-black nights.
I dream of sun-castles.
*** the sun-castles that Frodo is playing with as a child are what we call radiometers: a closed globe of glass, similar to a light-bulb, with vanes of alternating black and white. The sunÙs light, hitting these “opposing” vanes, causes them to turn, “running” in essence, from each other. The vanes turn because the air near the black surface (which absorbs the light) becomes hotter and exerts greater pressure on it than the air near the white surface (the light reflecting on the white surface being mostly reflected away)
~~~Wilwarin is a bright star, whose name means “butterfly”, Soronume, a constellation traced by Varda into the sky with the dews of Telperion. It's name means “eagle of the west”.