Saturday, July 16, 2016

Tolkien Poem to be Republished

It was recently announced that a rare Tolkien poem called The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun along with other short works will be republished on November 3rd.  The poem has been out of print for 70+ years, since it was first published in 1945 in a journal called The Welsh Review.

It is a long poem (508 lines) in the medieval style.  It tells the story of Aotrou and Itroun, a couple with no children, who make a deal with a Korrigan, a fairy.  The Korrigan agrees to enchant them and they conceive twins.  However, the Korrigan requests that Aotrou marry her in payment.  Aotrou refuses and subsequently dies.  His wife Itroun dies from grief and the twins become orphans.

The idea of widows dying from sheer grief is found a lot in Tolkien in stories such as Huor and Rian, and Beren and Luthien.  The same idea is found in this poem.  The element of the twins being left out in the wild reminded me of Elured and Elurin, the twin sons of Dior and Nimloth, who were taken by the Sons of Feanor at a young age and left to die in the wild.

The idea of the danger surrounding making agreements with faeries, or in this case, a Korrigan, is a common idea throughout medieval literature.  Treacherous agreements concerning children and child-bearing is also not uncommon; it brings to mind the tale of Rumpelstiltskin who planned to trick a lady into giving him her first born.

This poem, along with the other works concerning the Korrigan Tolkien wrote, will add to the collection of Tolkien poems including the story of Kullervo, his translation of Beowulf, and The Fall of Arthur.

Pre-order in the U.K. 


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