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Finrod's Song : Attempt at English version

A couple of weeks ago, hhimring linked to this :

(I still don't know why Finrod has taken his shirt off in the snapshot. :-D)  The video is of good-but-amateur production, the resolution is low, the sound is a little dodgy in places, the story is not entirely canon and it is in Russian with no subtitles.   I think it is wonderful.

 I watched a bit, and thought 'this isn't bad.'  And then I played it in the background while I was working. And at some point it hijacked my brain and I decided that I MUST KNOW WHAT THE LYRICS SAID OR DIE IN THE ATTEMPT.r_blackcat very helpfully linked to the written lyrics in Russian.  They are not quite the same as the version in the video (one scene is different, and another is missing).   But most of it is the same in video and script.

After that I plunged into a series of epic battles involving Yandex translate, Google Translate, endless replays of Youtube, a Russian dictionary, and some essential vocabulary from r_blackcat (turns out the Russian for 'underpants' and the Russian for 'coward' is amusingly similar :-D ) .

I had an amazing time hacking English meanings out of the Russian script.  It became seriously addictive.  I woke up this morning at 5am, thinking: of course, if I translate государь as 'Majesty' it will scan better!!! I have now revised the English three times and am kind of woeful that I can't work out how to make it any better than this.  Unless I learn enough Russian to translate the scene that's not in the script direct from the video, of course.

Why did I fall in love with this?  Well, I'm still a bit mystified by that, but here are some reasons:

  • Sauron is perfect: his height, his face, his voice, the way his music is kind of lumpen and dark.

  • Finrod!  Finrod's quiet dignity!  and his voice is beautiful.

  • Beren apologising to Finrod for getting him into such a mess.   YES BEREN, APOLOGISE.

  • Luthien!  I had never thought particularly hard about Luthien, but the way her duel with Sauron is written here is a thing of beauty.  She literally won't let him get a word in, and turns all his attempts to overwhelm her back onto himself.  She's so strong!  And I love the way her successful song-battle reflects Finrod's failed one.

  • Galadriel!  The story is framed by two songs from Galadriel, mourning for her fallen brother Finrod. I like them a lot.  I think the implication in this version is that Galadriel doesn't actually know for sure what happens to Finrod when he dies, which seems an interesting idea : she is out of touch with the Valar, who knows exactly what they will do to rebellious Elves returning after death?

  • I also liked the idea of emphasizing the role of Finrod's lost love Amarie, who stayed in Valinor,  thus creating a parallel between him and Beren.

  • Although I don't have the full lyrics for all of Melian's songs, I was amused by the transition from loving wife to the revelation that Thingol is a bit of a twit. YES, HE IS, MELIAN.

  • The little Nargothrond elf who throws himself towards Finrod when  Finrod sings: " Those who love me, come follow me!" and is held back by the others.

  • Sauron's grey comedy minions.

  • Melian, foreseeing doom.

  • The way that this production, with no set and few props, somehow it has such heart. (there have been newer more 'professional' theatrical versions: I youtubed a few bits of a 2014 prodution but they just don't have the same charm.   Way too shouty, not in sympathy with the story and ultimately just... not very good. The 2009 perfomance is better, but I prefer the original. )

  • Hearing a familiar story in an unfamiliar language REALLY makes you think about every word.

I even warmed to Giant Comedy Thingol after a while, even though in this version he plots with the Feanorians in Nargothrond, which is not something canon Thingol would ever do.

The full version I made is in this public Google Doc, because it needed to be in three columns (to display the Russian version, a version in Roman letters so I could work out what lines they were singing,  and the English text in parallel).

I've left this doc open for comments, on the offchance that someone out there feels like being helpful by either suggesting ways the English version could scan or rhyme better, or correcting my attempt to understand Russian.  I feel very unsure that I have not misunderstood lines.

Below is just the English version.

The Ballad of Galadriel

Galadriel :
Tell me truly, heather,
Tell me, are your leaves summer-green?
Do your blooms hang lightly,
where my brother sleeps?
My beloved brother, who is forgiven all?

Tell the tale, O Memory,
How he threw in everything he had,
How he burned like a star?
As I foresaw, he took the dare
To risk our fate, the curse upon our lot?

Finrod :
See, sister, see, do not let your love leave a scar.
Do not be troubled, do not grieve. I do not lie there.

Galadriel :
but I said : Brother, our way still lies ahead.
Here the day wanes, but far away, sunrise lights the sky.
Tell me, O shores of the sea
how we renounced our gifts
how we lost our homes
And in the bitterness of loss
Went on, brother, my beloved brother.

Tell me, Glory, tell me,
Tell me what did you offer us?
We were led on by bright lies
promised riches in far lands
And looking back, I said to my brother:

See, sister, see, Pride is wed to death.
Here you must stay. I fear that I cannot help you.

But I said, Brother, I must still go on.
We have no hope, yet far away, sunrise lights the sky.

Tell me, Loyalty, tell me,
How did you conquer the heart?
How long must I wait until the end?
He was my only brother,
my beloved brother,
Is all forgiven, brother?

Tell me, Death,
Through the shadows and the snows
I hear your grim call?
But I was stronger
I hear thy wings, merciless wings.

See, my brother, see, the peaceful heart cannot find a way.
We have one soul, but how different our paths must be!
But there at the end of all partings, beyond all sorrow and adversity
our hands will meet once more in the light of a golden sunrise.

2. Oath of the sons of Fëanor
An ancient oath binds our family
An ancient oath binds us to another’s blood.
Our ancient oath is the strongest bond, stronger than Angband’s gates

But this is our fight.
This is our fight.
This is our fight.
The thief of the stones will die.

The star stones - our beacon, our gift, our shame.
Now they light only the defiled crown of the Enemy.
Bring the star stones into our hands.
We swore we would take them, Fëanor,
My brothers, is that not the end of it?
Tell me my brothers
When, my brothers
When will the thief repay all?
Crown of light in the vault of stars
By our father’s blood, in the name of our kin
We gave our oath, in the heart of Night
What our father began, we will end!
We sealed our oath on the Silmarils
And called the ancient power to witness!
We will shed all the blood in our veins
To bring the sacred things back to us!
Our curse shall fall on any hand
that choses to take or hold the stones!
heart shall hammer like a forge -
until we destroy that accursed crown!

Be our witness, West Wind
The oath is given!
Remember, ye bitter waves
the oath is given!
Be our banner, fierce flame
The oath is given!

Now we have but one hope
To hold on to our ground as long as we can...

One by one, this terrible oath claims our lives.
It was hard on the seven of us.
Bring the star stones into our hands, we swore we would take them, Fëanor,
And the ones that survive
the ones still alive
Fulfil our vow for the rest.

As hounds on a dark trail after our losses
Hopeless, yet following fate, we know this, brothers,
My brothers, is that not the end?
Tell me my brothers,
When shall we find them, my brothers?

4. Duet of Thingol and Melian

Fair my days passed in the woods
in Doriath at the ends of the earth,
With my wife Melian
with my beloved daughter safe away from war
But now my rest is broken
A certain Beren, a young hero
has captured the heart of my daughter
and so insulted my wife

My dear husband, do not rush to judge.
My marriage with you was unequal too
Water and fire cannot join
But love is stronger than rules

He is a churl of low estate
and soon he will be dead
he has the heart of a mouse
that hides behind a stone and yet his pride - ho-ho!

My dear husband, many years ago
you were just as proud, and broke all the rules
But I was charmed by your carefree glances
and after all love is stronger than rules

I completely disagree!
That was an exception
I am the immortal work of Eru
No Man is equal to me.

My dear husband, you're right, of course,
But they know nothing of it.
They are young and unruly
their fate lies ahead of them, otherwise...

I’ll send him on a journey
to carry out an impossible feat
To steal a star stone from the enemy’s crown
I’ll send him out.

My dear husband, my dear husband ...

I sent him away! I sent him away!

My dear husband, my dear husband ...

I sent him away! I sent him away!
Go away, go away!

5. The arrival of Beren at Nargothrond.

Is this not wonderful Nargothrond,
The name of which is famed, but few know the way there?
Is this not the great and gilded throne,
from which Finrod the illustrious reigns?

You have passed the border fenced by spells
on the other side is night and darkness

Tell me, where is your sovereign?

answer: a friend or foe are you, a friend or foe are you ?

I must see the King, I must see the King!

I ask your help, Majesty.
My father swore friendship with you
And you gave him your ring as a gift,
that his faithful service might not be forgotten.
I ask your help, Sire
My father saved you once in battle.
You gave him your ring as a gift and pledge,
I come to ask you to repay that debt.

I recognise your face
You are the son of the hero,
to whom in battle
I owe my life.

Bright and glorious you are, Majesty..
but your kinsman is bitter as a gadfly
For me, love came as a precious gift
For him, love is just an excuse.
I love his daughter with all my strength.
He does not want to see us together.

He demands as his price a Silmaril
Such is the price of his royal honour.

What do you ask of me,
O son of the younger people,
To whom I owe a debt
in time of grief and trouble?

I want to protect my love,
I want to fulfil this quest.
I'm ready to fight any battle
With the Lord of Darkness, Lord of Pain.
Give me troops to help me.
I’ll go to the Enemy on the iron throne.
across the stone desert to the ruler of the night,
Tear the Silmaril from his crown.

From doom there’s no escape...
How could I have known it?
Your plan leads us to ruin,
The curse comes back to haunt us!

You are neglectful, Your Majesty.
You live your endless life in happiness.
Here is your ring, a useless gift,
If you will not stir yourself to help me.

Your words are purest madness...
The hand of fate brings me the cup
My honour is dearer to me, than my life
but your idea will be our death.

Oh, if you only loved
I live and breathe that same love,
Ill-fated Silmaril
already bathed in blood!

6. The Ballad of Finrod to Amarië

At nightfall when the long shadows
cast their web of sleep,
I do not see the walls of stone,
because you still exist.
I know there can be no turning back,
My heart was frozen in the ice,
I know that we can meet,
only in waking memory.
I do not dare to curse at your choice,
You can’t regret that I was born to serve
just as much as I was born to love,
It’s far too late for lying to myself.

Between us lies the Grinding Ice.
Dyed red as blood by sunset light.
The trouble’s not that now I am alone -
the trouble is the song was never finished.

Between us - distance and the sea
Between us - the path into the night.
You simply called to me: No?
Have I lost you forever? Yes?
Now you are a symbol of hope.
Now you are an endless reproach
If not for the old discord,
perhaps our love would still exist
In the west, your wings are burning
Ah, if love did not know the rules!
Alas, that you were not my first choice.
If only I had not chosen to leave you.
Perhaps one day there will be no barrier between us.
Perhaps we will see the summer come again.
But as things are, I cannot come back -
It troubles me the song was never finished

7. The quarrel with the sons of Fëanor.

My people, who are loyal to me.
Now the time has come to fulfil my oath.
I know that my words are unwelcome,
Calling you back to the banners...
My people - you have not known sorrow
We feasted in the mountains’ shelter.
I did not want this black fate falling,
but beyond the forest, horns are calling!
Now at last it is our hour.
Those who are faithful - let them come!

Wait, oh king, hold your horses,
You’ll surely die at the Gates of Night
Wait, oh king, be sensible:
You have no right to lead them to ruin
Sworn to a mortal, you stand alone.
I will be neither your brother nor your paladin

You swore no words to me, oathtaker
You’re not my vassal, you don’t like mortals
But no-one is free to break their word
Neither king nor prince nor singer nor warrior:
We shall make ourselves into a song!
Those who love me, come follow me!

In this business I have a share:
My family felt the weight of the Enemy’s hand
We shed our blood, and we lost our land
Look O king, at the Enemy’s armies!
No, we cannot defeat this foe.
Those who go with you - will find only death!

So be it - you can decide for yourselves
Stay here if you like, and hoard your strength

Across the Sea, we took an oath
to reap revenge on our enemies!

Revenge - or die in the attempt!

I dreamed of no revenge, thanks be to Eru,
There is no blood upon my hands.
You who have shed friendly blood, the fear is yours

You have accused us twice of cowardice..
Curufin :
And we will have payment for each insult.

Finrod :
I will pay only the smallest fee.
You’re least of my troubles, you and your brothers!

You could speak with more restraint!

You could come with me and share my faith.
When my soul stands bare, yet
You won’t take up the sword, nor be my trusted shield

See, all of you, the king is mad!

Call to him, make him stay!

Without even being drunk, he wants to fight!

he abandons us to go with this tramp!

Finrod :
I bid you farewell, my people...

Both brothers:
Those who still love him, step forward!

In this kingdom that was my own I’m unwanted.
I leave here, as he was, a beggar
This was my home - and now it’s fetters
In the name of Eru, you have forgotten - who you are.

Beren : O my lord, I thank you...

Finrod: Here is the crown. I leave it all to you.!
8 Fight among the Feanorians

- Oh, what a fool, he’s like a child!
- Well, what sort of people have such manners!
- Let him go, since he took the throne he’s been unpleasant!
- Let him go, more room for us!
- Oh, what a hero! Ah, what a gesture!
- Don’t stand there like a stump - take the crown!

Finrod is mad - it is clear,
that such a king is dangerous!
With him around it’s just embarrassing!
We share power fairly
There is only room for us
This, my friends, is the idea!

I always thought I was worthy of a throne!
you’re too young to wear a crown!
I’m smarter than you and five years older!
What arrogance is this?
You want a fight?
Just say the word!
Your temper’s hotter than a flame!
I don’t have to agree with you!

Shall we share power fairly?
There’s no room for two, there’s only one place!
There’s no way out without a fight!
you forget in hot dispute

our oath to Feanor.

We cannot afford to hold back!

Our oath is held by the Silmarils
We called on the ancient power to witness!
we cursed the hands of all
who chose to take or hold the stones
the oath we took in the heart of night-
What our father started we will end!
Now we have but one hope.
To hold on to our ground as long as we can!

It’s death to take or hold a Silmaril
Those who get in the way of our oath, all must die!
Even King Felagund can’t stand against it - the doom will fall on him
Although his plan is madness - what if he should be lucky?!

Yes we beat Finrod!
But this insults us, brothers!
Know that for him there’s no escape!
He stands in the path of the curse!
At least call him back...
It’s just a pity to give up the crown!

9) Thingol and the Feanorians

What is all this fussing about?
It isn’t such a dramatic moment!
I have a scheme
to bring this tale, happily to its end.
I know just how to deal with this
If you bring back my daughter to me
I’ll give her to whoever
can pull her away from Beren.
Then together the two rulers
can live happy ever after
We’ll have a coronation
of he who rules Nargothrond watchfully!

Celegorm :
What! We already have a vacancy?

How shall we resolve this most amicably?

And then the two rulers
shall live happily ever after!

to miss this opportunity

to take the gem!

Both: That would be unforgivable!

My dear husband, what have you done!
You do not realise how foolish this is...
You would sell your daughter for the Silmaril.
My only hope left is the mercy of Eru!

10. Duet and Aria of Melian

With one wave of your hand
You have summoned doom upon us.
We are all - hostages of fate
Captives of destiny
None of us now have power to change this!

Now neither spells nor blades
can rescue your estate!
We are all hostages of fate
Captives of destiny
Fate does not know pity!

My king, how arrogant you are!
My king, how arrogant you are!
My king, how arrogant you are!

Remember that the hour is dark
The cursed stones of Feanor
His fate now comes upon us all
His fate now comes upon us all
Bringing endless sorrow!

I hear - it breaks the bonds of time!
I hear - the world go up in flames!
I see black banners wave,
I see black banners wave -
You have lost us this battle!

My king, how you were blind!
My king, how you were blind!
My king, how you were blind!

More than battles or blades
I care about my own daughter
Strong is a father’s love
strong, a father’s love
And my daughter will not choose...

Melian :
But you should not forget
That love is above the law
When we are once given love,
when we are once given love
We, the race of air and light!

She will follow only him,
who wounded her heart with love,
As on the sea a mastless ship
Their cursed Silmaril
Will be washed in their own blood!

My king! O what have you done!
My king! O what have you done!
My king! O what have you done!

Duet of Beren and Luthien

What care I for oaths of kings?
The wind
blows them away.
beneath the leaves of poplar trees
I slept
Days fled lightly...
You broke into my dreams, like a sunbeam.

Heed no duty, but let the heart decide.
The road, it is calling me, my love
So many years went racing past
I have awoken now at last
I shall win back now all that belongs to me.

...So sang the nightingale
at nightfall
When I was with my love.
And in the net of dark branches
Stars sang with us.

Oh, without your love I cannot breathe
Oh, without you there’s no ease
Day and Night, Life and Death
All there is in Middle Earth,
At least for a moment both you and I were here!

Know: that you gave me a thirst for life!
Know: you were my reason to exist.
from the river to the sky
Without you nothing makes sense,
Through you I see the world for what it is!

Let the wind go howling through steel chains!
This path will lead me to my love.
Stronger than sorrow or misery
And it is worth all our victories
We will risk one great battle - fought for love!

(Stronger than sorrow or misery
And it is worth all our victories
We will risk one great battle - fought for love! )

12 Halt

Beren :
Why are you not sleeping, Your Majesty?

Do not speak to me as if I were a sovereign
That time has passed like the autumn leaves
I was blind, but now I can see the light...

I managed to bring my love to ruin.
You opened up my heart to the truth, warrior
I will rejoin the struggle with all my power
Against the Lord of Darkness, the Lord of Pain.

An ancient oath leads me back to you, my kin.
It drives me to flight, to the place where I should be.
For the sake of the oath, I left the distant shore
I walked far across sea and ice -
I will pay my debt
I will pay my debt
It is my duty
Duty, not revenge.

The Havens in ashes, forsaken homes and dawn in Middle Earth,
My heart no longer weeps for that - nothing is given for nothing.

I look fearless into the eyes of fate,
And I do not wish that things were different.
but now at last, thanks to you,
I realise that love knows no rules
You bear a message that has rescued me
and brought an end at last to the old vows.
It doesn’t matter that we must pass through grief
nor that the song was never finished.
13. Sauron with his minions

Minions :
Lord of darkness and torment!
Your faithful servants
Yearn to save you from boredom
At this late hour.

I can’t help being surprised,
That my dungeons do lie empty
I have no-one left to play with
at this late hour!

Lord of darkness and shadow!
We fall to our knees.
Where can we get prisoners for you to enslave
at this late hour?
We have put ourselves into prison
for your entertainment,
We have turned ourselves grey
following your orders!

What’s the use in torturing you?
It just makes me more bored.
You are nothing but slaves and servants
Get out of my sight!

Lord, something strange is going on
on the border!
Nameless strangers
have crossed into your domain.

Oho! Unexpected joy
comes to me at nightfall...
If elves come sneaking into my land
That would be entertainment!
How dare you cross the border into my domain,
here where all creatures bow and scrape before me?
You have taken the form of a rootless minstrel,
but your blood smells of invaders out of the West
Truly, the peace of Arda has been shattered now -
Steel rings on steel, and rivers flow with blood.
Friends are false since they arrived here on the Hither Shore:
the world is cursed by that warmonger whose name is - Fëanor!

The song is not yet finished
Tell me no more prophecies,
Many vows were given,
And many words were said...
I make no excuses
I stand before you on the wings
of the Western Wind.
Lies are venomous
but there is no poison
stronger than is love
From these black crags
to the distant shores,
where peaks of ice
stand glorious in our songs,
death is no answer,
Where there’s no fear,
Death’s naught but tangled grasses
shackles turn to leaves
Crossbows turn all to ivy leaves
Bowstrings be transformed
this trail of blood is but a vine
Bitter curses become songs.
Curses become songs.

A poor likeness to the Creator’s first design -
But what little can you do, to force reality in line?
Creation’s song is powerful, and it has not been changed:
you are too far off, too estranged to twist the threads.
I see you losing everything, all you have been given.
Left with only bitter memory... Are you strong enough?

Where nothing is forgotten,
there on the stone curl runes,
The strings of the lyre
untouched by running years.
In my youth
Untainted peace
Filled the world with light.
Nothing’s forgotten,
Memory has such power,
that it keeps us from harm.
Memory is alive
And see, she is unstained,
Wraiths and lies
vanish, like a dream.
That is the law
of imperishable light
That fills the sky

I call upon the memory of
the Light before Sun and Moon
I lift my voice against you.
So that our strengths are matched
...our strengths are matched...

Power in this world belongs to one alone,
He alone strikes off the chains of slavery
Quendi - naught but servants and they are accursed
Weak parody of the people who are real
Things like you can’t play the games of darkness and of light,
I am free to do with you, anything I want.

My choice is made
my destiny is in the hands of Eru
Light and darkness
gifts in his hands
But I do not believe
in endless loss...

I see the fear in you.
fear that only slaves and cowards feel
You cannot face the bitter truth, that you are a traitor
The truth is that you are guilty before the Creator.

So be it.
But the most blame lies
with he who in a dark hour,
and with deceit,
taught us pride.

That was done to set you free.
With my power, I can change you as I wish.

You can only kill!

Thou speakest dangerous words: beware!
All that was woven can be ripped apart, can be remade,
but first...

First answer me:
Why you so adore the black throne
why are your eyes so fixed on it, Sauron?
As if the glittering crown of death
could rescue one who was never born...

... I choose my own form!
One who chooses shape,
is not trapped in nothingness.
If you are defender of Light,
Darkness will win, and the darkness, I am!

15. Feanoreans & Luthien
Thingol’s daughter, listen, we have nothing to lose
Will you go trustingly to defy your destiny?
Think about who you were born to be:
Choose the race of Fëanor, or this proud Man without a name? Answer.


The oath is taken and we are in its shadow
How can we tell ourselves apart in the dark?
Only what is written, truly matters.
Gripped tighter and tighter by cold hatred!
In this land we’ve known hardship,
How else to get revenge?
To one braver than us, the news has flown-
Gripped tighter and tighter by cold hatred!
Finrod, from now on thou art our sworn enemy.
Be thou accursed, as thou standest at the Black Gate!
Cursed, for your faith has brought us
closer to the heart of cold hatred!

I hear the earth tremble,
from now on - you shall be a sworn enemy.


O king, what have you done? You’ll perish at the Black Gate

Feanorians :
O king, what have you done? Your land will fall into darkness
O king, what have you done? Your throne will not survive

16. Captivity

In enchanted shackles
The cold
Burns like ice,
Fearsome, as darkness...
How it beats against us
Enemies surround us...

Which of them will accept that they are weakling slaves?
Which of them will break, crushed beneath the chains?
I have imprisoned many, but one of these is made of steel.
Keep their leader last of all, till all the rest are slain...

Our people kept their hopes
When we walked through the ice
We kept our word despite grief and feud,
Through the snow,
We cannot return again across
the sea
No ship will carry us...

This hero troubles me with feelings of unease,
How could his song have any strength to compare with mine?
I believe the others have no great power to boast-
But the last that I will kill shall be the leader of them all!

Like a brutal arrow in the throat
Cuts off words, breaks our thread..
Once I was king of a proud people,
What shall I call myself,
Now I am trapped here in the darkness?

How many have the courage to face their hour of death?
With each of his companions, he has died many times.
With every death he witnesses he suffers guilt and woe -
Such is the well-earned price of his cursed insolence!

The price of facing the Throne of Day,
is knowledge of the sorrows and the partings...
I beg you, let me take your place -
Bear witness to another’s promise.

Surely, my destiny must be accursed,
Forgive me that I did not know before...

It’s no misfortune that you were so bold,
I’m troubled that I leave you without hope.

17. Last Ballad of Finrod (Truth)

Arrow in flight

feathers gleaming...

what was the arrow’s mark?

Who knew its course?

Whose subtle hand

    through the clouds

       sped it to the target?

What whispered the archer

when he took aim

   and the bowstring sang?

Truth, over despair thou flyest, singing,

Pierce the shadows like an arrow!

I cross the threshold into the dark

But thou art stronger than death, stronger than Fate!

Forgetting home and kin,

forgetting my peace

I hear thy voice call

across the ridge of stones.

Here, abandoned in the snow

servant to anyone

My path unknown

I go to thee

To find out

what light kindles

in the eyes of those who follow

The riddles of bird-flocks were given me as a gift

but the greatest mystery

is the secret of the human heart

There, blind death beats

It cannot be overpowered,

cannot be appeased,

But in one blinding moment

he who obeys his heart


Golden dust is shining in the air

Sky-ships burn in the sunset

Blazing in the dark the accursed Jewels

But there is a fire that shines brighter yet.

Do not close the gates, take me,

Now at last I know thee, Truth!

Fulfilling the design, unaware of the price

My thanks, Truth, made known at last to me!

18. Luthien’s Duel with Sauron

What do I care for bars and locks, if my
love still lives?
What care I for the heavy steps
of the Lord of Darkness?
So it shall be
He will be released from bondage!

I have nothing more to lose, if
my love is dead.
I have exchanged the whole world
for only one day.
So be it
My fate will be decided here and now...

Know -
here all things bow down before me.
Here, my power knows no boundaries.

Do you fear to leave your prison gates?
Know that-
There, beyond your walls the spring wind blows
There, the morning dew stars the grass
And the nightingale at dawn

...That you will lose all you have been given!

I have nothing more to lose, for my beloved is not here.

Creation’s song is powerful, and it has not been changed:
you are too far off, too estranged to twist the threads.

I cannot see the threads of fate
But here I stand at your dark gates
I beseech you - give me back what belongs to me!

There is only one power in this world...

There is only one power in this world...

Who knows how to wait faithfully
Until love comes like spring sunshine
To banish evil dreams...

But the Quendi are naught but servants, and they are accursed!
Quendi - nothing but servants for lords!
Things like you can’t play the games of darkness and of light,
You can’t have the power to play the games!
Let him fall back into the dark abyss,
Love is the only vow that counts!

I’m free to do with you anything I want!

Know - love gives me a thirst to live,
Know - and give me the strength to die.
And even there in the land of shadows,
I am strongest of all
I will take back what belongs to me.

But the games of light and darkness...

Know - that love knows how to wait,
Know - that love knows how to win.
Let him fall back into the dark abyss,
Love is the only vow that counts!
The only law, for we who belong to love!

Sauron :
But the dark thread of fate...

Know - that love is stronger than you
Know - that naught shall bar her way!
Love will melt the spell of ice
And like the flood released in spring
will break the wall, will open all doors!

Let the wind howl through chains!
This path led me to my love.
It was worth sorrow and misery
Worth more than battle, more than grief
One single victory - won for love!

19. Finale

At nightfall in the long shadows
when dusk hides the marks,
I do not see the walls of stone,
Knowing, that you are no more.

Tell me, my heart, tell me,
Why must I weep for him?
Why does he sleep his fatal sleep?
Why did he pass into the sunset?
My beloved brother,
My brother, forgiven all?

Shall I know what was that last reply
In that fearful fight with fate?
What of we who are left behind
In a world where he is no more?

Ancient oath that destroys all who obey.
The ancient pride and glory of old kings.
Ancient pride that dwells in those who
don’t know sorrow or grief -
But time is strongest.
Is it not, brother?
There is no way back
Not yet, anyway:

We - must wait for ships to come to us,
You - have gone to meet the coming dawn.
Where stronger than steel chains
Stronger than vows, beyond all words
There is a single law - love itself.

We - are sea spray in the wind,
You - have love as great as all the world.
And if this world is truly such
that all is ruled by love -
We were only the foreword to the tale.

We - are gone, out of shadow sailing free,
You - grow in our place like April grass.
And if this world is truly such
that all is ruled by love -
We were the dawn, you are the midday sun.

We - stand guard upon your dreams
You - must go on through this wide world.
Even when the shadows fall
you shall be strongest of all,
Take your last gift - love itself.

I tried very hard to reflect both the rhythm and the rhymes of the original, and to use suitably Tolkienien language.  The rhymes were hardest and a lot of them don't work perfectly. The rhythm is out in places because I had to sacrifice it for meaning.   I substituted a few phrases: for example, there is a place where Finrod is told to 'hold his hounds' where in English we would say 'horses' so I used the familiar phrase.  And I changed Thingol's description of Beren, which I could sort of tell was uncomplimentary but didn't make much sense in English.

I'm really not sure about what I did with Finrod's last song, Truth, which is very abstract. But I did my best, and I did it with love, which should count for something :-D


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
27th Feb, 2016 23:09 (UTC)
Love is the spirit of it, and you got it perfectly.
28th Feb, 2016 09:12 (UTC)
Yay, thank you!
28th Feb, 2016 09:46 (UTC)
Wow! I had no idea of the consequences when I linked the video, but I'm really glad I did it now!
28th Feb, 2016 11:11 (UTC)
I'm so glad you did!

I do feel a bit like Bilbo, making verses about Earendil in the House of Elrond though. :-D
28th Feb, 2016 22:08 (UTC)
I think you've got me hooked too! It's definitely got something. And I think there's something about Russian which really suits the subject matter :). Thanks so much for all your work! I'm enjoying listening to it with the lyrics and your translation.
- N
29th Feb, 2016 08:59 (UTC)
It really has: I'm glad you see it too! I started out just trying to work out the meaning roughly, but it's too good for that, it cried out to be worked through properly.

I agree, Russian has that epic quality. (Plus having a language where 'brother' and 'duty/debt/vow' can be made to rhyme, and a single word that seems to be able to mean either 'so be it' or 'I accept my fate' or 'go for it' is an enviable advantage for this particular story :-D )
29th Feb, 2016 10:48 (UTC)
Your translation of the script has the same bloody-mindedness as the best Chinese wuxia epics (see, to give some examples off the top of my head, "Hero", "Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon" and "Saving General Yang"), all of which I highly recommend.

I have always felt that the Silmarillion would do best either as one of those epic 108-part Chinese TV dramas, or as Indian classical dance drama (they dance episodes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, so Tolkien should fit right in). Russian musical drama, obviously, suits too.
29th Feb, 2016 20:14 (UTC)
I am unfamiliar with Chinese wuxia epics, but at some point I will explore those!
29th Feb, 2016 03:42 (UTC)
I am so glad you did this and posted it! Time hasn't given me the leisure to read it yet (I don't want to flippantly skim through it, after the work that was put in), but I look forward to it.

A little part of me has wanted to do this with The Black Book of Arda, but that would be sheer lunacy with my lack of time/energy/fluency. :D
29th Feb, 2016 09:10 (UTC)
Well, I'd value any thoughts you may have, eventually, when you have time. I don't think this is entirely finished, but I wanted to post it because it had got to the stage where I needed to somehow show it to the internet, to tell me if the entire project was valid, or a disaster (and also in the hope of getting back at least some of my brain for mundane tasks such as work...)

Once you have your enormous pile of treasure, you can sit on top of it and translate the Black Book of Arda from there. :-D
1st Mar, 2016 04:13 (UTC)
I'm not sure whether I should be pleased or embarrassed to mention that I actually used your translation as just that (as a reference), last night, although I still haven't given it the nice close read it deserves. I ran into a sort of concert of all the songs (now linked on my LJ) from 2014, ended up listening to it as I was doing other stuff, and started to want...an English translation! And then I was like: "WAIT I KNOW JUST WHERE I CAN GO TO GET THAT."

1. You have done a genuinely useful thing!
2. ...Will eventually read it closer and try for "thoughts." :)
1st Mar, 2016 08:31 (UTC)
Well! Now I am pleased that last night I worked through r_blackcat's translation of 'Truth' (with periodic cries of YES! and NOW IT MAKES SENSE! :-D) and updated my post!

This thing is horrifyingly addictive and brilliant!

My friend the Neuromancer has also been infected, and has been helpfully working through the Google doc suggesting better meanings and things that need clarifying, so that's a work in progress. I'll update the LJ post with those changes once I've thought about them properly...

I probably need to listen to the whole thing through again and try for better rhyme/rhythm matches on the changed sections too.

This whole thing is the most fun I've had in ages. And I have this burning idea for a series of drawings I want to do for the Luthien / Sauron duel song...

29th Feb, 2016 04:24 (UTC)
This is extraordinary, both the original and the translation (the chap singing Sauron, my; especially now that I know what he is saying). Now I want to learn Russian. Thank you so much for doing this! Would AO3 allow it to be posted, with accreditation and everything?

The translation sounds so much more convincingly Middle-earthy than anything else I have ever read, in terms of trying to compose the actual songs, rather than just describe them. Someone seriously read the Athrabeth (and possibly did a post-graduate degree in philosophy) before composing Finrod's final song, and the Sons of Feanor are terrific (doom, doom, doom). I am very sympathetic to Melian (my husband is an idiot)too. And it is wonderful that they showed Luthien being as tough as she actually is in canon.

Arrogantemu in AO3 pointed out that Thingol was in effect conspiring with the Sons of Feanor, without their knowing it, or even possibly fully admitting it to himself. Because if Beren failed, Morgoth or his minions would kill him, and if Beren succeeded...the Feanorians would have a Silmaril within reach (more within reach than when it was in Angband). He just didn't think it through to the end.

Edited at 2016-02-29 04:26 (UTC)
29th Feb, 2016 09:56 (UTC)
I would like to put it on Ao3. Although this started as a fan production, so polite to ask permission to create 'works inspired by...', it is 15 years old and is out there as a professional product from which, presumably, a not-for-profit fanwork can now be reasonably produced without gaining explicit permission.

But having spent so much time tangled inside the words, I didn't feel entirely confident that what I'd made really made sense or did justice to the original, so I put it here first, in the hope that maybe someone would look at it and give me a feel for whether it worked! Thank you for the feedback, it's really encouraging to know that you thought it felt authentic.

Thank you for the pointer to the Athrabeth. I will read that and see if it gives me any ideas on changes to the version I've produced of 'Truth', as that is definitely the song where I felt most concerned that I'd missed something important. (I will skip the post-grad philosophy degree though. One must have some limits :-D)

The 2009 production has arguably better Sons of Feanor - or at least, more canonical ones. They only show Celegorm and Curufin (clearly this is the intention of the script anyway, I'm not sure what Caranthir is doing in the original video, unless they just had three people who wanted to play Feanorians :-D) They are shown more seriously, and their defeat in battle is shown, which helps better explain their caution about attacking Sauron. But I don't care for the 2009 production overall so much, personally.

I see the idea about Thingol, but I'm kind of of the opinion that Thingol didn't even consider the possibility that Beren might actually *get* a Silmaril. I think he just thought he was sending him to certain death. Actually, did Thingol even know about Beren's family connection with Finrod?
29th Feb, 2016 10:29 (UTC)
Lora Bocharova loves (I mean, as a play's director, role-plays'a director, musician etc) the guy who played Caranthir. She pushed him everywhere where she could, canon or no canon. That's why the Feanorians are mostly shouting or speaking instead of singing - Pavel Epifantsev can't sing... as in "at all". The first play of the group "The Tample" about Jacques de Molay - he was playing the main role - you should have seen it - they have arranged all the play around him so that he - the main character! - should not have to sing at all - he was shouting "no, no, no" in one scene, then "yes, yes, yes" in another, then he snarled and shouted his curse - and that was it! I love Pavel Epifantsev, the play is great (and actually better performed and recorded, than Finrod-Song) - but here we have 3 Feanorians instead of two! :D
29th Feb, 2016 20:19 (UTC)
Aha! Suddenly all becomes clear!

I suppose there is always Celebrimbor who should be hanging around Nargothrond too. I am much intrigued by Celebrimbor, but I can see that as he's not actually an oathtaker, it would confuse things to put him in.
29th Feb, 2016 10:29 (UTC)
I think he would have, once Beren identified himself. Barahir was a major leader of the Edain, with a deep connection to Finrod, who was Thingol's close relative and one of the few Noldor with whom he was on good terms.

Do you know if there is a DVD or anything like that available?

29th Feb, 2016 20:20 (UTC)
Good point, and now I think of it, doesn't Thingol actually say 'not even the House of Beor' when he bans Men from Doriath? So clearly he's aware of the family.
1st Mar, 2016 15:40 (UTC)
.... sorry, I kept thinking I'm sure someone mentioned 'DVD' and I only just came back to find that.

There is mention of one on the http://www.tample.ru/ website, but the links are at the moment are 'coming soon'.

I intend to keep an eye on it, because it's always great to buy music you like, to encourage the creators!
2nd Mar, 2016 01:58 (UTC)
Yes! Also, I like owning things, and being able to enjoy them even when I don't have an internet connection.
29th Feb, 2016 08:43 (UTC)
Wait, oh king, hold your horses,
And he presumably literally means hold your horses, i.e. literal horses, neighing and stamping, by the reins? Not as in the expression, "'Old yer 'orses, mate, steady on, I've only got one pair of 'ands!" OMG, did that come from Tolkien?

ETA: And then I came to your explanation! It was interesting to wonder, though.

I can't claim to understand, er... any of it, really. But the Elves sure are pretty. And your translation is, damn, so sad. (And Thingol is hilarious and deserves his own sitcom " - I completely disagree!
That was an exception
I am the immortal work of Eru
No Man is equal to me."

29th Feb, 2016 20:34 (UTC)
That's an interesting point. I'd been assuming it was metaphorical: I don't think there are supposed to be literal horses. Or, in the Russian, literal hounds. So I was assuming that is was a colloquialism, as in 'hold yer horses mate'. But in English hunting, the assumption tends to be that the dogs are under voice control or that of a hunting horn, whereas - I don' t know if this is right - the Russian phase made me think of huge borzois straining at the leash. I'm told borzois are not very good at being under voice control :-D

Lol yes, Thingol. And the fact that when his wife Melian sings 'you're right of course' he sings along "I'm right of course"!
29th Feb, 2016 10:10 (UTC)
I think you are a heroe! Right now I'm adread to read your translation or I would get lost with correction - maybe sometimes later. It takes me 2 days to deal with "Truth"! (Pity I didn't finish it in time to send you before you've completed your whole work.)
" The video is of good-but-amateur production, the resolution is low, the sound is a little dodgy in places, the story is not entirely canon and it is in Russian with no subtitles. I think it is wonderful." - that sounds great! I'd say it sounds a little like Russian :)

"They are not quite the same as the version in the video (one scene is different, and another is missing). ", "the scene that's not in the script " - what? Tell me about it. I didn't actually read the lyrics in this links. The scene 3 in the script is missing in the video, yes - but what is the scene that is not in the script? You may tell me the timing, I'll see and just write the Russian lyrics to you (and maybe even English if I'm not too lazy).

Edited at 2016-02-29 10:33 (UTC)
29th Feb, 2016 21:12 (UTC)
Hah! you did originally say 'but not the entire play' but if you can find time to suggest places I've gone wrong, that would be *brilliant*. Autotranslate and dictionaries can only go so far!

Why does it sound like Russian? I feel I'm missing something?

Scenes! I was hoping you might offer :-D

OK, in the video, from 43:23, to 44.12, Luthien has a solo where she sings on her own for a bit, and the Sons of Feanor stand behind her.

whereas in the written script she sings :
Славен твой род, но здесь - не твоя земля.
Видеть хочу я здешнего короля.
and then there's a bit of to and fro with Curufin and Celegorm singing lines too.

The script and the video come back together at 44.12 where the Feanorians sing:
Клятва дана, и над нами нависла тень ее.
Что различаешь ты в темноте? - Падение!

Then from 44:16 - 46:28 , when Thingol sings:
Я слышу, как дрожит земля,
Отныне ты - заклятый враг...

The script says that it should then be just the Feanorians, but in the video, it's more Thingol, the Feanorians, and Melian all swapping lines, and I don't think the lines are the same as the script?

All help most gratefully received!

1st Mar, 2016 09:56 (UTC)
About "sounds like Russian" - I'll try to explain if I can. "Ok, this thing have this shortcoming and that shortcoming, you'll miss this and that, and the quality is poor - and this is a great thing, go see it all of you" - is something (imo) a Russian can say. Not about this play, about anything. It may be interpreted like "loving something that is not made fine, without a reason", or "grasping some inner quality, not seen on the first glance". And yes, I maybe am just boasting that it's a russian trait :P
I'll look at the scenes.
1st Mar, 2016 11:44 (UTC)
Oh, I see!

Maybe it is Russian: it's not a very British attitude, I think :-D. Obviously, we also have many things with shortcomings, but we don't like to admit that whatever it is, in fact, great. Even if it's actually pretty good.

Instead, we grumble endlessly about the shortcomings and at most admit that the overall effect is 'not too bad'. :-D

1st Mar, 2016 04:20 (UTC)
that sounds great! I'd say it sounds a little like Russian :)

Is Russian theatre frequently rather minimalist? I do really like the style; it shows it's possible to do entertaining theatre/music without many resources beyond the actors themselves.

I remember learning about Grotowski's (well, not Russian, but...) "poor theatre" several years ago, and I keep thinking of that when I see these Tolkien musicals from Russia.
1st Mar, 2016 10:07 (UTC)
I believe at least some Russian tends to minimalism just by the absence of choice - not much money :) But I do hope that yes, Russians (not only Russians of course) can make a good play without expensive or any set or costumes just by putting all their heart in it.
I think Russian theatre is different. I can't say I know much about it, I seldom go to the theatre. Although the last play I've seen WAS minimalistic - without any set at all, with minimum costumes. It was good.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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