As Sam’s old gaffer would say, “It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish.” And it’s the poems that are unpublished that take longest to read.
“The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun”—a rare Tolkien poem that was published in 1945 in the literary journal The Welsh Review and has been out of print ever since—is officially getting republished this November, according to The Guardian. The poem comes from the “darker side of JRR Tolkien’s imagination” and hints at an early version of The Lord of the Rings‘ Galadriel. Written in the medieval lay tradition, “The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun” tells the story of a couple that desperately want a child. Aotrou, in his search, beseeches a witch “who span dark spells with spider-craft, / and as she span she softly laughed.” She grants his wish, but later the Corrigan (a Breton term for a fairy) appears to him as a beautiful woman and tells Aotrou he must marry her or die.
HarperCollins, who will publish the poem alongside other Tolkien poems on November 3, said: “The sequence shows the Corrigan’s increasingly powerful presence, as she takes an ever more active role in the lives of Aotrou and Itroun … She would finally emerge, changed in motive and character but still recognizable, in The Lord of the Rings as the beautiful and terrible Lady of the Golden Wood, the Elven queen Galadriel.”
Tolkien scholar Verlyn Flieger is editing and introducing the new edition, which she called “dark, powerful, compelling, a significant departure from the Tolkien we think we know.” It will also include a preface by Christopher Tolkien.
The upcoming arrival of “The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun” follows the discovery of two 79-year-old Tolkien poems that were found in Oxfordshire back in February. Again and again we are reminded of Tolkien’s inimitable prowess as writer and, this time, we even get to enrich our understanding of the greatest story ever told: The Lord of the Rings.
Is Galadriel anyone else’s favorite elven LOTR character? Let us know in the comments.
Image: Incantata courtesy of DeviantArt