Rare J.R.R. Tolkien Poem To Be Republished; Hints At The Dark Beginnings Of Galadriel

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A rare J.R.R. Tolkien poem called, The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun, will be republished after 70 years this November. It also introduces an early version of a Lord of the Rings character, the Elven Queen Galadriel.

The poem, which was written by Tolkien in 1930 and published in 1945, comes from ?the darker side? of his imagination. Verlyn Flieger,Tolkien scholar and professor emerita at the University of Maryland, is editing and introducing the upcoming edition. The new edition will also include a new preface by the author?s son, Christopher Tolkien.

According to The Guardian, Flieger said that the poem ?is worthy of publication now for several reasons.? ?He begins that it is firstly, ?a fine example of Tolkien?s poetic power and his ability to handle different verse forms.?

Flieger also said that The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun will give readers Tolkien?s ?most developed example of a folklore archetype I will call ?The Dark Lady,? the beautiful but malevolent fay or fairy who preys upon humans, and thus foreshadows his Guinevere, described as ?fair as fay-woman in the world walking for the woe of men?.?


Lady Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) from ‘Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’, Photo: OneRing.net

The Tolkien scholar describes the work as ?dark, powerful, compelling, a significant departure from the Tolkien we think we know.?

The poem, in long form in the tradition of medieval lay, is all about a couple, Aotrou and Itroun, who are desperate to have a child. It follows a well-known type of folkloric tale where a human enters the world of Faerie which is the ?perilous realm or Otherworld of enchantment? for Tolkien, and suffers the consequences.

The early version of Lady Galadriel, is called the Corrigan, a witch transformed into a beautiful woman, which is also a generic Breton term for someone who comes from the fairy race.

The publisher, HarperCollins, discussed more about this early version of the Elven Queen or the Corrigan. ?The sequence shows the Corrigan?s increasingly powerful presence, as she takes an ever more active role in the lives of Aotrou and Itroun? She would finally emerge, changed in motive and character but still recognisable, in The Lord of the Rings as the beautiful and terrible Lady of the Golden Wood, the Elven queen Galadriel.?

The new edition of J.R.R. Tolkien?s poem, The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun, comes this November.

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