Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J. R. R .Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters that belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the private enjoyment of readers at FanFictionNet, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.
A Collection of Sindarin Tanka
(with English Translations)
Why tanka? And what are "tanka"?
"Tanka" is a modern name for a form of Japanese verse that dates back over twelve centuries. It is older than the more widely known "haiku" and also different in form and style. Tanka is considered to be one of the most important forms of Japanese poetry. By now western readers (and poets) have started to discover tanka and to explore what tanka may express in their own languages.
Tanka contain five syllabic units of altogether 31 syllables. In English they are mostly separated into five lines (5-7-5-7-7), while in Japanese they are often presented in one straight line.
Usually each unit of syllables represents one idea or image, text is not "wrapped" as it is common in English poetry. Its themes are wider than haiku, not only observations of nature, but all aspects of life.
I am fascinated with miniatures, tiny glimpses at life and the world in art and literature. In modern visual art the perfect example are the "icons" used in LiveJournals, blogs and messageboards. In literature, and especially in fan fiction, the drabbles. Tanka are even shorter than drabbles and thus more demanding. It is a real challenge to convey atmosphere in 31 syllables.
I like challenges, and that's how I came to write tanka.
If you want to know more about tanka, americantanka dot com is a good place to start.
But why in Sindarin and not in English?
First of all, of course, because Tolkien's "modern" Elvish language simply fascinates me. Even more than a writer and scholar, Tolkien was a linguistic genius and that is best expressed in the Sindarin language he developed.
But I also feel always a bit strange about transferring poetry from a language and culture that is so far away from my own into the words of my daily life, and so I decided to try writing Sindarin and not English tanka - and I was surprised how well they turned out.
My knowledge of Sindarin relies on Thorsten Renk's online course, the material to be found at the Fellowship of the Wordsmiths, the Hisweloke/Dragonflame dictionary and the two books (grammar, dictionary and language lessons) by Helmut W. Pesch.
Of course I'm no expert on Sindarin. There are only very few persons around who are! But I did work with some of the best material about Sindarin that is available at the moment and took pains to keep the Neo-Sindarin to a minimum. All mistakes are mine and I am grateful for any discussion about lenition you, my readers, might come up with!
I hope you enjoy my experiments with tanka and Sindarin.
Cîr vith vi gírbann.
Celebros sui gilraen
Lim vi fin gî⋅morn.
Rínnathach an nin ennas,
Rínnathach athra aer?
Grey ships (are) in the harbour.
Silver spray like a net of jewels
(Is) sparkling in your dark hair.
Will you remember me there,
will you remember on the other side of the ocean?
"rínna" is not recorded as a verb, but "rín" means "memory, remembrance", so I was very daring and decided that "rínna" might well be the form of the verb. It could also be a strong verb, then it would be "rín" and the correct form of the future tense would be "rínithach".
Pullim matho 'laur
Ir in-yrn edlodhier.
Si oltham o 'laur
Aníram ratho in⋅'ail
- Dan darim na-'rui Edhil.
To Dream of Light
We could touch light
When the trees flowered.
Today we dream of light
- but we remain only the people of the stars.
can, to be able to - "puli", "pul-" is referenced in the Hiswelókë dictionary as Neo-Sindarin
reach - "ratho", "ratha-" is also referenced as Neo-Sindarin in the Hiswelókë dictionary; derived from Quenya "rakta"
only - "na-erui" is also Neo-Sindarin (na + erui); I took poetic license and allowed the sounds to flow together.
Mithlond mi i-lum.
Amman in-chîr reviet,
No and, and andrann?
Ti reviet na Aman.
Na-erui ely darim.
Mithlond in the twilight.
Where did the ships sail to,
A long, long time ago?
They sailed to Aman.
Only dreams remain.
Lalaith nîn góras
An edrainn ú-rínnannen.
Meleth nîn góras
An lalaith sui lith gwannen.
Darim in Eä raen.
My smile belongs
To forgotten centuries.
My love belongs
To a smile passed away like dust.
I remain imprisoned in Eä.
Tûgat in ûl e⋅meril.
Flâd gîn morn flâd nîn.
Na⋅vathad nîn echadas
Elodhio meril gîn.
Wings of moonlight
Carry the scent of roses.
Your skin hot against my skin.
My touch makes
Your rose bloom.
Meneg en gelyn
Siriar na aear.
Dan ú-bant aer.
Meneg în bant en⋅nîn nîn.
Thousands of rivers
Flow down to the sea.
But the sea is never full.
Thousand years are filled with my tears.
They will fill the sea.
A/N: Based on an ancient Chinese proverb: "Thousands and thousands of rivers flow down to the sea, but the sea will never be filled. And even if men could turn stone to gold, they wouldnever be content."
Ortho flâd nîn an ethir
Nîn, born na faug gîn
Minno ydyn nîn thurin
Awartho ni, si a 'n-uir.
Drink the wine.
Raise my skin to your lips
Heated with thirst.
Enter my secret depths.
Give yourself to me, now and always.
Im ereb mi vôrn
Ir caim haill gódat enni.
Cuil na-erui ôl.
Ir i·hûl mabas i·lith,
Ú-nad daritha o·ni.
In the Darkness
I am alone in the darkness
When invisible hands reach for me.
Life is but a dream.
When the wind carries the dust away,
Nothing will remain of me.
hall - is really "veiled"; that was as close to "invisible" as I got
na-erui - is Neo-Sindarin according to Hiswelókë
mabo - to take (carry away) is Neo-Sindarin according to David Salo
ú-nad - "not a thing"; a construction of my very own
Please feel free to leave a comment!
Anything at all: If you noticed a typo, if you don't like a characterization or description, if you thought a line especially funny, if there was anything you particularly enjoyed …I am really interested in what my readers think about my writing.
You can either leave a public comment (signed or anonymous), send me a private message, visit my forums or mail me off-site: juno underscore magic at magic dot ms
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this story.