Among so many other things, one element of J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings that stands out is that so many characters sing songs – with the full and sometime several-page-long lyrics in the books – rather than him simply writing so-and-so person sung a song about such-and-such. Tolkien actually goes the full mile, being the perfectionist he is, and yet these songs are so often ignored! I know that, until recently, I skipped them entirely in my eagerness to get back to the story. Yet when they are not ignored they still go unappreciated, I feel, since we cannot hear them sung they deserve to be.
Until we can. Here is the funeral song sung by Aragorn and Legolas for Boromir:
Rohan over fen and field where the long grass grows
West Wind comes walking, and about the walls it goes.
news from the West, O wandering wind, do you bring to me tonight?
you seen Boromir the Tall by moon or by starlight?
saw him ride over seven streams, over waters wide and grey,
saw him walk in empty lands until he passed away
the shadows of the North, I saw him then no more.
North Wind may have heard the horn of the son of Denethor,
Boromir! From the high walls westward I looked afar,
you came not from the empty lands where no men are.’
the mouths of the Sea the South Wind flies, from the sandhills and the stones,
wailing of the gulls it bears, and at the gate it moans.
news from the South, O sighing wind, do you bring to me at eve?
now is Boromir the Fair? He tarries and I grieve.
not of me where he doth dwell – so many bones there lie,
the white shores and the dark shores under the stormy sky,
many have passed down Anduin to find the flowing Sea.
of the North Wind news of them the North Wind sends to me!’
Boromir! Beyond the gate the seaward roads runs south,
you came not with the wailing gulls from the grey sea’s mouth’.
Aragorn sang again:
the Gate of the Kings the North Wind rides, and past the roaring falls,
clear and cold about the tower its loud horn calls.
news from the North, O mighty wind, do you bring to me today?
news of Boromir the bold? For he is long away.’
Amon Hen I heard his cry. There many foes he fought,
cloven shield, his broken sword, they to the water brought.
head so proud, his face so fair, his limbs they laid to rest,
Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, bore him upon its breast.
Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze,
Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days.
"You left the East Wind to me," said Gimli, "but I will say naught of it."
"That is as it should be," said Aragorn. "In Minas Tirith they endure the East Wind, but they do not ask it for tidings"