Tolkien and Alliterative Poetry (I)

The "Lay of the Children of Hurin" was among Tolkien's earlier creative works, begun while he was at the University of Leeds. One may speculate that in addition to its status as an early form of the tales that would later form The Silmarillion, the "Children of Hurin" was an attempt to capture the mood and atmosphere of Anglo-Saxon poetry in the Modern English language while being freed from the constraints of remaining faithful to the works of the Anglo-Saxon canon.

Here is a short extract from “The Lay of the Children of Hurin":

Like a throbbing thunder in the threatening deeps
of cavernous clouds, o'ercast with gloom
now swelled on a sudden a song most dire,
and their hellward hymn their home greeted;
flung from the foremost of the fierce spearmen,
who viewed mid vapours vast and sable
the threefold peaks of Thangorodrim,
it rolled rearward, rumbling darkly,
like drums in distant dungeons empty.

"Lay of the Children of Hurin" (lines 994-1002)

1 comment:

Gerry Blair said...

I am not expert in the topic only a casual reader. I wonder though is it common for some one to translate a poem from old English and then try to make their translation alliterate? I would think it may change the message of the original to search for words to alliterate and mean the same as the word being replaced?