The Moments Before Dawn



As derived from "The Silmarillion", as translated by J. R. R. Tolkien.



Your doom now comes on the eternal shore –

Rise up unstained, the Morning Star!

*****Ithilwen, "Songs of Arda Marred"



She came to me as if in a dream, white against the dark heavens, beautiful in her outspread wings, defiant against the night, pale and flawless, haunted and proud, bearing upon her breast a jewel of brightest radiance.

She came to me from the heavens, from the unforgiving sky, from the stars that did not hear our prayers. She came from shores beloved and terrible, from ruin to the cold sea, bearing light into the dark. She came, she came to me, glowing in a light forgotten, falling, torn from the sky, down onto Vingilot's deck.

She came and I took her in my arms, so white, so pure…

Now she lies unmoving, sleeping, lost in peaceful dreams, her dark hair cascading down my chest, onto the deck, her face on my hand, the other hand stroking her, comforting. She lies dreaming, light blazing from her, brightening the last moments before dawn. White and pure…

Oh, Elwing! Why did you come here?

The sea wind rises from the west, winds of change and renewal, the Vingilot tackling them, headfirst into the wind, away from a raging storm, into another's eye. The wind nips at her hair, playing in it, playing with her white dress, chilling her soft, still body. I hold her closer as she moans and shudders, as close as I can, to defend her, to warm her, to hide her from the cold of the world. Anar starts to rise slowly, her light beckons it, but her light is brighter. The Jewel is upon her, and brighter she shines. Oh, Elwing, my radiant Elwing…

Oh, Elwing! Why have you left Sirion? Why have you left our sons? Why have you left whatever little peace you had there, whatever little joy?

My radiant Elwing's hands are cold, she mutters in her sleep, her dreams disturbed, yet unwilling to wake. I let her head rest on my chest, I move so that she may be comfortable, I abandon the ship to be adrift in the wind. For a while my quest, my useless quest can wait, for a while until she is at peace, until she feels the sunlight.

Oh, Elwing, were that I could give you peace…

Were that I could give you light, were that I could give you something more than my body to rest against, something more than my voice to sing you as you sleep. Were that I could give you confidence, were that I could give you hope…

Her eyes are closed, not even blinking. She is beautiful as she lies upon the cold deck, her dark hair spread, moist and unkempt, her white dress torn in places, her face reflecting sorrow unimaginable. She is beautiful, radiant, my star, my sun, were that I could let her shine…

Oh, Elwing! Were that things have been different, were that Doriath never burned, that you have never come to Sirion, never seen my face. Were that I could give you your home back, were that I could take you to mine…

The waves rock Vingilot, it sways gently, but it will not sink. In this at least I am sure, this I have no fear. It is a good ship, Vingilot. My own hands have carved its body. In this I trust, this I know, this is all I have that I am sure of, a small ship, small and tumbling in the endless sea, bearing me to fate I no longer think I know, me and Elwing.

Oh, Elwing! Why did you choose this fate? Was it not easier to stay behind, to wait for my return? Did you think I would not return?

Oh Elwing, my pure Elwing, were that I didn't…

Slowly the sun rises; slowly it warms her as I could not. The sea is silent, unwilling to disturb us, the sea that was my friend and my father's before me, that I could trust my life to, but my life alone. The waves rise up and down, sea waves washing under Vingilot, wind washing over it, the world moving, rising and falling in waves. We are here upon the waves, cast and barely holding on. Oh, Elwing, were that I could make the sea hold still for you…

Still in the distance, I see no land.

But what land did I ever hope to see? Oh, Elwing, what made my hopes rise so, why did I not stay, why did I not let myself be swept, instead insisted on braving the storm? Oh, Elwing, were that I never have, were that I have stayed instead to build you a shelter.

But slowly, ever so slowly, again there is light, a light from without us, from without her and the Jewel, the accursed Jewel, the beautiful Jewel she has brought here. Its deadly light, the light that led the world astray, now I see how it can guide us now. Slowly the wind gives way, and the horizon is colored gold, and the world toys with me, pretending that there is hope. And in my arms she stirs, and it seems to me that she is smiling…

Oh, Elwing, were that I could see you smile in waking…

What will I say when she wakes? What is there left to say, once all the questions are asked, once all the tears are shed? What more dreams have I to offer her, my radiant Elwing, here lost among the waves, here in the company of a doomed visionary who saw his doom from the beginning? Oh, Elwing, were that you never had to wake to this world anymore, were that you could dream pleasant dreams forever, that I could give them to you, dreams of Sirion, dreams of Gondolin, dreams of Doriath…

Dawn is golden and red, the waves dark blue, awakening to life. Dawn rises in the sea as it rose in Sirion, as it rose in our homes, long ago, but dawn no longer rises there. But in the sea, the world moves on, never changing, in the sea and maybe beyond the sea, but that I will never discover.

Dawn, it may be my last dawn, her last dawn. It could be, they all could have been, they all can yet be, here, outside, beyond…

Oh, Elwing! Why did you not forget me?

I stroke her hair, her face, her body, I feel her next to me, I draw hope from her presence. Wherever she may be, I will have hope. But I wish, I wish I could give her hope, I wish I could give her the life the world could not, I wish I could be free to do that, to seek her laughter instead of dreams…

Oh, Elwing, I wish I could give you more than my love…

I wish I could lie to you and tell you I do not need to do this…

I wish I could, but I cannot, and it's too late, too late now. Dawn has risen.

So I carry her to a soft bed and lay her down to dream her dreams, and taking the Jewel I clasp the weight of the world upon my brow, and go to guide the ship onward.



~~End~~