Tolkien and Alliterative Poetry (II)

Tolkien was never to complete the "Lay of the Children of Hurin." According to Christopher Tolkien, “… the poem was composed while my father held appointments at the University of Leeds (1920-5); he abandoned it for the Lay of Leithian at the end of that time, and never turned to it again". Were he to have completed it, the "Lay of the Children of Hurin" could well have been one of his most important works. Certainly it would have taken, and for that matter in its unfinished state does take, the study of Tolkien's work to a different (and less populous?) plane.

That being a possibility, Professor Tolkien did use his alliterative poetry skills in “The Lord of the Rings”. Here we find a beautiful example, taken from the end of "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields":

We heard of the horns in the hills ringing,
the swords shining in the South-kingdom.
Steeds went striding to the Stoningland
as wind in the morning. War was kindled.
There Theoden fell, Thengling the mighty,
to his golden halls and green pastures
in the Northern fields never returning,
high lord of the host. Harding and Guthlaf,
Dunhere and Deorwine, doughty Grimbold,
Herefara and Herubrand, Horn and Fastred,
fought and fell there in a far country:
in the Mounds of Mundburg under mould they lie
with their league-fellows, lords of Gondor.
Neither Hirluin the Fair to the hills by the sea,
nor Forlong the old to the flowering vales
ever, to Arnach, to his own country
returned in triumph; nor the tall bowmen,
Derufin and Duilin, to their dark waters,
meres of Morthlond under mountain-shadows.
Death in the morning and at day's ending
lords took and lowly. Long now they sleep
under grass in Gondor by the Great River.
Grey now as tears, gleaming silver,
red then it rolled, roaring water:
foam dyed with blood flamed at sunset;
as beacons mountains burned at evening;
red fell the dew in Rammas Echor.

From LOTR “Return of the King”

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