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Ides ælfscýne
English
Old English – Tolkien
Tengwar

     ⸱      ⸱
Þa ǽr ic wæs cniht, þa cóm ic on pliht:
Before I was so much as a boy, I came into danger;
      ⸱
Sum mægden mé métte and mǽlde:
a maiden met me and said:
 ⸱  ⸱      
“Lá, léofa, wes hál! Sceal uncer gedál
“Greetings, my darling, from now on
      
nú nǽfre má weorðan on eorðan!”
the two of us must never be separated on earth” -
     :
Nó má weorðan on eorðan. (bis)
never be separated on earth. (bis)
    ⸱   ⸱   
Wá! ides ælfscýne, ond wá, wine míne!
Alas! elf-fair lady, and my friend,
      :
Sceal nǽfre má weorðan on eorðan.
alas! must never more be separated on earth.



    ⸱     ⸱
Héo cyste me sóna, þǽr líxte se móna;
She kissed me straight away, where the moon was shining,
      ⸱
on clommum me clypte ond sǽlde;
she embraced me and bound me in her grasp.
        ⸱
on ofste me nóm mid hire under glóm,
Quickly she took me with her under the gloom,
     ⸱
þǽr sceadugong ǽfre wæs wǽfre,
where the shadow-way always flickered -
    :
wælmist ǽfre wæs wǽfre. (bis)
where the death-mist always flickered. (bis)
    ⸱   ⸱   
Wá! ides ælfscýne, ond wá, wine míne!
Alas! elf-fair lady, and my friend, alas!
     :
þǽr sceadugong ǽfre wæs wǽfre.
where the shadow-way always flickered.



     ⸱     ⸱
Hwǽr wǽre hit ic nát: we stigon on bát,
I don’t know where I was, we stepped in a boat,
     :
þǽr murcnede mere on mealme.
where the sea moaned on the sand.
    ⸱     ⸱
Ofer lagu ic láð, ond módes ic máð,
I travelled over the ocean, and hid my thoughts to myself,
     ⸱
ac ǽfre me strongode longað,
but always my longing grew stronger -
   :
áwa strongode longað. (bis)
always longing grew stronger.
    ⸱   ⸱   
Wá! ides ælfscýne, ond wá, wine míne!
Alas! elf-fair lady, and my friend, alas!
     :
Þǽr ǽfre me strongode longað.
where longing always grew stronger.



    ⸱     ⸱
Þǽr gréne wæs grund, ond hwít hire hund,
There the ground was green, and her hound was white,
      ⸱
ond gylden wæs hwǽte on healme,
and the wheat on the stalk was golden
   ⸱    ⸱
on fyrlenum londe, on silfrenum stronde,
- in the far-off land, on the silver strand,
     ⸱
þǽr darode dweorg under beorgum,
where the dwarf lurked under the mountains -
    :
darode dweorg under beorgum. (bis)
the dwarf lurked under the mountains. (bis)
    ⸱   ⸱   
Wá! ides ælfscýne, ond wá, wine míne!
Alas! elf-fair lady, and my friend, alas!
     :
Þǽr darode dweorg under beorgum.
where the dwarf lurked under the mountains.



    ⸱  
To Gode ic gebæd, elþéodunga sæd
I prayed to God, tired of my exile
     :
be dimmum ond dréorigum wǽgum.
by the dim and dreary waves,
    ⸱   
Þǽr sunne ne scán, ac micel gimstán
where the sun did not shine, but a great gem-stone
       ⸱
on lyfte þǽr gléow mid his léomum,
glowed there in the sky with his beams -
     :
léohte gléow mid his léomum. (bis)
glowed brightly with his beams. (bis)
    ⸱   ⸱   
Wá! ides ælfscýne, ond wá, wine míne!
Alas! elf-fair lady, and my friend, alas!
       :
On lyfte þǽr gléow mid his léomum.
glowed there in the sky with his beams.



      
Ofer missera hund ic wǽdla ond wund
Fifty years later I returned again, poor and hurt,
      ⸱
eft cyrde to mennisce ond mǽgum:
to men and my family.
         ⸱
on moldan wæs nú se ðe cúðe me iú,
The one who had known me before was now in the mould,
      ⸱
ond hár ic nu wánige ána,
and now I dwindle, grey and alone -
   :
sáre wánige ána. (bis)
dwindle alone and in pain. (bis)
    ⸱   ⸱   
Wá! ides ælfscýne, ond wá, wine míne!
Alas! elf-fair lady, and my friend, alas!
      :
Ond hár ic nu wánige ána.
and now I dwindle, grey and alone.

Commentary
Ides ælfscýne “Elf-fair lady” is a poem composed by J. R. R. Tolkien and included in a collection called Songs of the Philologists. It is a scholars’ amusement made of comical verse – satirical poems, famous tunes, drinking songs – composed or translated in early Germanic languages. It was published privately in 1936 for Tolkien and his colleague and friend E. V. Gordon. A few have been published in T. A. Shippey’s critical essay The Road to Middle-earth, including this one with the modern translation given here. It is intended to be sung to the tune of Daddy Neptune.

We added to the text a few missing acute accents.

The text is transcribed in tengwar or “letters of Fëanor”. Tolkien created two different adaptations of the general use of the Third Age to Old English, presented in Sauron Defeated pp. 318-327. We especially attempted here to emulate the mode of the so-called “Text I”. We made use of Måns Björkman’s typeface Tengwar Eldamar.  Open this mode in Glaemscribe

References
Shippey, Thomas Alan. The Road to Middle-earth: How J. R. R. Tolkien created a new mythology. London: Grafton, 1992. 337 p. ISBN 0-261-10275-3.

The works of John Ronald Reuel and Christopher Tolkien are under the copyright of their authors and/or rights holders, including their publishers and the Tolkien Estate.
Quotations from other authors, editors and translators mentioned in the bibliography are under the copyright of their publishers, except for those whose copyright term has ended.
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