In the Seventh Age
In the darkness, he watched and wandered as ages passed. He saw the great kingdoms of the Second Age, the triumphs of the Elven-king Gil-galad and his downfall. He watched the human ships go over the sea to found Numenor, and he saw them return, many years later, bringing refugees from the downfallen island. Human kingdoms grew, the great realms of Gondor and Arnor. Then, in turn, they fell, and were rebuilt, and fell. Elves left the land, taking the last of their songs with them.
Human realms filled Middle Earth, first small principalities, then large, hulking realms exceeding even Numenor in power, although not in beauty. An empire was destroyed, another was built on its broken stones. Maglor son of Feanor watched as he wandered, singing songs of mourning and loss, and of longing and hope, to the children of his son Elros and his granddaughter Arwen. At times a minstrel would hear his song, and write it down, and believe it to be her own.
Ah! How she sits alone. The city, once great with people, how like a widow she has become.
At the dawn of the Seventh Age, the human children made their own farewells to the shores of Middle Earth. In the red light of the fading sun Maglor walked alone, through a world abandoned by Elves and Men. He saw the ruin of a city built on the ruins of a city that had once been Sirion. He touched the twisted metal of a railroad running through a field that had once been Doriath. He had watched the seas claim this land from the Elves, then return it to the Men. Now it was not sought by Elf or Man or sea.
Is this the city once called purest beauty, the song of the earth?
Maglor returned at last to the empty shore on which he had long wandered. It was night, and no created fire could dim the light of the star-filled sky. In the starlight, a hooded figure awaited him.
He did not recognize her at first. How could he? Seven ages had passed since they stood together at Alqualonde and began their lamentation. She threw back her hood, and her eyes were brighter than the stars. Then he remembered.
"Galadriel," he spoke her name.
She nodded. "Wife of Celeborn of Doriath."
Maglor remembered the burning houses, the shouts, the fire set by his hands. A child, alight like a torch. Doriath. How like a widow. But Galadriel's voice held no accusation.
"Why have you come?" he asked.
"Why have you remained?" she asked in reply.
He thought a moment. Then he gave his first answer, the answer that he had told himself for many years. "Such was my vow, to remain in everlasting darkness should I fail my father's Silmarils."
"Your vow was false, then, for no darkness is eternal, and no light. Maglor son of Feanor, why did you wander the shores of Middle Earth as the ages of Elves and Men have passed?"
"My children" he spoke hesitantly, "To watch their fate, and to sing their songs."
"And what have you seen?"
"I have seen how truly my sons learned the lessons I taught them." He spoke bitterly, but his voice held an echo of song. "To desire, and to be consumed by desire. To long for beauty, and to have it be their fall. To reach for what they should not have, inconsiderate of the cost." He remembered the darkened Silmaril burning his hands. He thought of Elrond at the window, begging to be freed. The Men who sent their fleets against Valinor and cast Numenor into the sea, had they wanted any more than he himself had taken? "I have seen cities burned, peoples slain, lands laid waste by my sons and their sons. I have seen vows kept that should have been broken, and lives broken in the name of vows. I have seen the last fell fruits of the kinslayings of the sons of Feanor."
He spoke, thus, as a measureless time passed. Galadriel listened, wordlessly, to the song of Maglor's lament. When it was completed, she asked again, "And what else have you seen?"
"I have seen cities built, brick by brick, and homes found for lost children. I have heard stories told, I have heard voices in song, I have witnessed the creation of beauty. I have seen longing fulfilled in the great towers of a city by the shore. I have seen the joy of finding, of making, of building in my children. I have watched them at night, as they dance their being of brightest fire."
"Truly, then, they have learned from you."
Maglor was silent for a long moment, and then answered, "Yes."
They stood together on the empty shore. The waves came almost to their feet. Maglor heard a call from the sea, the call that summons the Elven peoples to Valinor. He had never heard it before, but hearing it now did not surprise him. Then Galadriel spoke again.
"Your son still lives, who shares in the doom of the immortals. He names you Father, and sings your songs in the Blessed Realm. Will you not come to him?"
An si Tintalle Varda Oilosseo
Ve fanyar maryat Elentari ortane
Ar ilye tier undulave lumbule
Ar sindanoriello catia mornie
I falmalinnar imbe met, ar hisie
Untupa Calaciryo miri oiale
For now the Kindler, Varda, from Mount Everwhite has lifted up her hands like clouds, and all paths are drowned deep in shadow; and out of a grey country darkness lies on the foaming waves between us, and mist covers the jewels of Calacirya for ever.
Galadriel's voice shaped Maglor's song, that Elrond had taught her in a distant age. In her voice the longing remained, and yet there was a hope that Maglor had not imagined in his song. For though the mist had covered much, yet the song remains, and the singer.
"Will you not come to him?" she asked again.
Maglor remembered young Elros in his arms, and Elrond's small hand reaching out to him as he sang. How he had believed these children could save him. How cruel he had been to them, keeping them, demanding their love. Yet it was this love, alone, long after he had ceased to demand or even hope for it, that was left to bring him home.
"Did he send you to me?"
Galadriel shook her head. "He would have come for you himself, ages past, but the way was not opened for him."
"Why is it now open?"
"Would you have come before?"
He thought of all he had seen in his journeys. He thought of the vow, now empty, and of all that had replaced it in his heart. "No," he said, "I suppose not."
"Will you come now?" she asked. The stars seemed to speak with her, and the waves, echoing her call.
At once she let out a wordless song. She raised her hands, and a small boat came out of the west. It came right to the shore, following her voice. She stepped into it, and held out a hand to Maglor.
He looked around. Up and down the beach the shore was empty of all but sand. He turned one last time to the heart of Middle Earth, and sang to it one last song of farewell. Then he took Galadriel's hand, and stepped away from his long home.
They passed through the waves, moving westward. The road straightened, and they moved away from the curving surface of the earth. Soon they were among the stars. Maglor sang to the stars, and each light touched him, one by one. The soft light of a fading star kissed him, the piercing light of a flashing star nipped at his face. He saw the brightness of the Silmarils in every passing star, and knew the vow of the sons of Feanor was complete, and forgiven, and gone. As he sang, the stars returned the song, merging it with the song of Valinor, singing the song of the last son of Feanor, bringing him home.
The first italicized line is Lamentations 1:1 (from the Bible). The second is Lamentations 3:15.
Galadriel's song is from The Fellowship of the Ring. It is the same song that Maglor sings in chapter 2 of 'As Little Might Be Thought.'
As always, I bow to the Great Professor Tolkien and apologize for any misuse I have made of his characters.