The meeting of Beren and Lúthien (told by Beren) by TinÃºmelÃ«
I stumbled into the woods, under the canopy of trees that stood tall above me, and so I entered Doriath, the hidden kingdom, where it was said no mortal foot had yet trodden. The slender white birches were all around me, and the fragrant grasses stirred, revealing clumps of white niphredil. Sometimes, when the breeze shifted the screens of leaves I could espy the bright stars high above in the twilight sky. At nightfall, there seemed always to be the trill of nightingales, their song echoing around the enchanted forest. Yet, the horror of the paths of Nan Dungortheb was still clear in my mind, and I thought the memory of the torment should drive me to madness. I wandered on, for I could not sleep or find rest as the shadows and monsters of my road plagued my dreams. I was heavy of heart and coming upon a river chanced to see my reflection in the clear waters. I was bowed with woe and my face was drawn and haggard, threads of grey were in my dark hair where none had been before. It seemed only my eyes were alive with a grim intense spirit, that all too clearly told of what I had suffered. After appeasing my thirst I continued onward: to where I knew not.
It was summer and I was roaming through the woods when the trees began to thin and I happened to come upon a glade, surrounded by tall white trees. I thought I saw a glimmering light then the clouds parted, the stars were unveiled and I saw the moon had risen. And peering through the hemlock leaves, I forgot my sorrows, forgot everything for I thought I beheld a dream or a vision. I saw a maiden dancing barefoot upon the grass, slender and graceful, and glistening with a shimmering radiance. Her flowing raiment was midnight blue, and shining with diamond dew of silver. I caught a flash of gold and saw flowers embroidered on her mantle and sleeves. A cloud of hair, night-dark fell past her waist and swirled with her fluid movements. Her face was turned up to the heavens and the moon rays lit her form so a mist of light was about her wherever she went.
I stood still, enchanted. I tried to speak but it seemed a spell was upon me for I could not utter a word. My weariness fell away like a shroud and at once I hastened forward, hands outstretched. But she saw me not, for on lissom limbs she lightly fled, with a flash of silver her dancing feet flicked the grass once, twice, and then she was gone. I was left alone in the silent woodland, listening. Then ever I sought her among the trees, wary and silent. It seemed sometimes I drew close, for I fancied I heard her light step and caught a glimmer of light. I called her Tinúviel in my heart: Nightingale, daughter of the twilight, for her name I did not know. As summer turned to autumn, and the linden-leaves began to fall, I saw her from afar in those months, among the windblown leaves. The year began to wane, the leaves lay upon the ground and the frosts carpeted the land. It was in winter, upon a snow tipped hill I saw her like a star, her mantle glinting.
On the eve of spring, I wandered the woods, which were still bound in the clutches of winter, and thus it was I saw her again. Upon a hill she was dancing with captivating grace, such that I felt my limbs stir and I almost made to climb the hill to dance beside her, when she began to sing. Then I was enchanted and I froze, for her voice was stirring, heart rending, and I was moved with such an emotion, as I did not understand. Her song was hauntingly beautiful, the interwoven melodies were filled with such a sadness and beauty, and each note was immeasurably soft and evocative. And it was in awe that as she sang I saw winter fading from the land: the snows were melting, and flowers rose from the earth that her feet had touched. The frosts began to thaw and the frozen waters started to flow again. Then I was released from the spell of silence that had held me, and I approached her and cried aloud:
The woodlands echoed the words, and to my wonder she did not flee as I had feared, but halted, and turned to where I now stood. I came closer, and still she did not move. I was drawn towards her and I slowly reached out and put my arms around her willowy form. She lay in my hold, and I saw her arms were like glimmering silver. Her shadowy hair was cast about me, long and dark it came down, falling about our shoulders. Looking through the long ripples of shining hair I finally saw her face. Her skin was fair, flawless and like snow compared to the delicate rose of her lips. But it was her eyes that entranced me. Her dusky grey eyes with starlight mirrored in their expressive depths. Her long dark lashes fluttered down and then up again, and I saw myself reflected in those beautiful eyes and we neither of us moved. Our faces were close together. I feared to let go, to speak lest this elusive creature would disappear as she had done so before. For I loved her, I realised that even as our eyes met, and I knew that she loved me, yet her face was filled with anguish, for our fates were now entwined.
But as the sudden shafts of dawn filled the sky, she slipped from my arms before I could grasp her and was gone as the rustling of the leaves. And I lay upon the grass, feeling joy and grief, happiness and sorrow, and I felt my consciousness ebbing away…
* * *
When I awoke, my mind was filled with shadow and I was cold, so cold, and there seemed to be a net of darkness about me. I felt great heartache, and in my mind was but one thought: to find this maiden before the darkness of my mind consumed me. I began to grope for I was blind and deaf to all but this light that had been mine for a brief moment. Day passed to night, to day again, yet of all time I was unaware, and it seemed an eternity that I wandered in my mind. And all hope had faded, when I felt a hand laid in mine. Then I felt free at last from shadows that had bound me and I stirred and looked into the eyes of Tinúviel. Brighter than the light of stars, fairer than the pearls of Eldamar, and more beautiful than mortal words can tell, she knelt beside me. And we knew that whatever would come, we were bound together and our paths were alike. And so it came to pass. Even in death, we could not be parted, for our spirits met again beyond the western sea and the choice of Lúthien was to forsake the immortal life, and so she was lost to elven kind. And thus, sorrowless, she will leave the world and pass away, accepting the fate of men.