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The Feast of Double Mirth

Disclaimer: see in the Foreword.

Author’s Notes:
Celebrían gets introduced to a very old tradition, now largely forgotten by the Elves of Middle-earth – and makes an interesting acquaintance.

The original description of the Feast of Double Mirth (without the changes and edits I made for my own purposes) can be found in “The Book of Lost Tales 1”, pp. 197-198, at least in my 1992 Del Rey edition.


7. The Feast of Double Mirth

The procession of Ailios’ household went around the house where a road had been laid towards the back gate in the hedge. It was paved with white stone and continued on on the other side of the back gate, towards a great forest of ancient oak-trees that lay southwest from the House of the Hundred Chimneys.

Many a gentle stream flowing from the far mountains crossed its path, and there it would leap into slender bridges, gracefully fenced with delicate balustrades that shone like pearls. At places the mighty trees grew close enough on either side to overshadow the road itself, or at places it would open to a glide and fountains spring as if by magic high into the air, shimmering like liquid silver in the starlight.

As they went on, still singing, more and more people joined them, coming through small, hidden paths from both sides of the road. Following the white-robed people of Ailios’ household, the throbbing of whose congregated harps beat the air most sweetly, came other Noldor, and the music of their viols and other instruments was sweet but sad like a memory of joys long gone.

And last came the people of the sores – the few Solosimpi who chose to remain on the Falassë Númëa after most of their kin had left – and their piping blent with voices brought the sense of tides and murmurous waves and the wailing cry of the coast-loving birds thus inland deep upon the plain… for the road led away from the shores and deeper into the forest with every stride.

“Where are we going?” asked Celebrían Ilverin, who once again chose to accompany her in their walk.

“To the dwelling of the Nos Galdon(1), the Tree People,” he answered readily. “The few of them who escaped the Fall of Gondolin chose to settle together in the oak forest of Eglavain(2), and we use this road to their woodland home when ever we celebrate one of the great feasts with a procession.”

“What kind of feast is Samírien?” asked Celebrían, and Ilverin gave her a slightly bewildered look.

“You never heard of it? How can it be? If no else, the Lady Artanis must have known of it. She attended Samírien often enough in her youth, or so Vainóni says.”

“That might be,” said Celebrían slowly, “yet she never spoke of her time in Valinor, not to me. I was not even taught the Ancient Tongue ‘til I married Elrond who is very good with languages, thank his foster father. And I could always talk to Glorfindel, of course – even though he likes to use very old words sometimes that no-one understands, just to tease the others.”

“Ai, Glorfindel!” laughed Ilverin merrily. “It seems he changed little, even during his time in the Halls – for he used to be the heart of every merry feast in Gondolin and no-one knew songs merrier and bawdier than he. Oh, those were great feasts in the halls of his House, if I may trust my grandsire’s memories. I hope when Glorfindel chooses to return to the West he will not forget to pay us a visit,” he blushed slightly and changed the topic hurriedly. “But you were asking about Samírien, my Lady.”

“I was indeed,” replied Celebrían mildly, though the image of Glorfindel as a boisterous warrior was a little… disturbing. Ilverin smiled, a little embarrassed over the slip of his tongue, and hurriedly went on explaining.

“Now, this was one of the greatest feasts in Valinor in the Time of the Trees, and I am surprised that it is now forgotten in the Outer Lands; for in the days of Gondolin it was not so. For know that the Eldar in Valinor made merry on one day every seventh year to celebrate their coming into Aman; and every third year a lesser feast to commemorate the coming of the white fleet of the Solosimpi to the shores of Eldamar. But every twenty-first year when both these feasts fell together they held one of the greatest magnificence, and it endured for seven days, and for this cause such years were called ‘Years of Double Mirth’; and these feasts all the Eldar wherever they might be in Arda still celebrated in the Elder Days.”

“Is this year one of Double Mirth then?” Celebrían asked. Ilverin nodded.

“It is, indeed… and it is a shame that no-one in the Outer Lands remembers it – or that those who might chose to forget.”

Celebrían thought of her mother and sighed. As much as she could understand why Galadriel chose to speak very little about her youth in Aman, she disliked being so clueless. She wished she had asked Glorfindel more about the Elder Days – at least the ancient Elf never avoided any questions. But she had not counted on leaving Middle-earth so soon, and now she had to find out everything on her own.

“Does this feast truly last seven days?” she asked. “Even now?”

That earned her a disbelieving look from Ilverin.

“Why certainly,” he answered as if he had been asked whether Anor would rise in the next morn or the stars would return by nightfall again. “There will be long processions, and dancing and singing under starlight; and the oldest tales of the Elder Days will be told. It will be as it has been since the Time of the Trees, and our hearts will be rejuvenated with joy once again.”

“But you, too, were born in Middle-earth,” said Celebrían. “How can you know of the great feasts of the Elder Days, unless your father’s father has the gift of the minstrels: to make the events they sing of visible for those who listen?”

“He has not,” laughed Ilverin, “nor does he need to; for this feast had been hold in the same fashion in Gondolin, and I attended to it many times in my youth. And there were true minstrels among Turgon’s people, who had marched before the Gate of Valmar, singing of their utmost joy beholding the face of the Valar and their renewed desire once more to enter Valmar and tread the Valar’s blessed courts. The Song of Light this hymn was called, for it told of the longing of the Elves for light, of their dread journey through the Dark of Arda led by the desire of the Two Trees. They say it was made and taught them by Lirillo(3) himself, whom some call Noldorin, because of his great love for the Noldor.”

“Is this song still sung during your feasts?” asked Celebrían, wishing very much to hear the ancient hymn created by one of the Maiar. But Ilverin shook his head in sorrow.

“Nay, not on the Lonely Island; not ‘til all the Exiles return. For how could we burst into a song of pure, untainted joy as long as many of our kin still live under the Shadow? Nowadays we sing a different song on Samírien – one full of longing and melancholy and sorrow. ‘Tis said that it was made by Finrod in the days of his exile and brought us through those few who escaped the Fall of Nargothrond; for they taught it Lintári, the wife of Inglor son of Finrod(4), and she taught it those who chose to remain on this Island. But this, too is said: that one day, when all the Exiles have returned, the Song of Light will be sung under the trees of Tol Eressëa again.”

He became silent and Celebrían asked no more, for she could see the longing on his face and understood what Ilverin had not spoken of – that during his years spent in Irmo’s gardens he must have attended to the great feast, the true one, once or twice, and though the Trees had been gone for Ages, the Feast in Tol Eressëa could never be compared with the Feast in Valinor. But Ilverin must have felt his curiosity and his longing to hear more, and after a while he continued.

“’Tis still custom in Aman that on the third day of Samírien all robe themselves in white and blue and ascend the heights of Taniquetil – after having long and merry feasts in all the great halls of Valmar, in the company of the Mánir(5) and the Súruli and even Varda herself – and there would Manwë speak to them of the Music of the Ainur and the glory of Ilúvatar, and of things to be and that had been. And on that day would Tirion and Valmar be silent and still, but the roof of the world and the slope of Taniquetil shine with the gleaming raiment of the Valar and Elves, and all the mountains echo with their songs and laughter. But afterwards, on the last day of merriment the Valar would come to Tirion and sit upon the slopes of its bright hill, gazing in love upon that beautiful town, and thereafter blessing it in the name of Ilúvatar would depart ere Ithil sails up to the sky; and so would end the days of Double Mirth.”

“Compared with that, the feasts of Tol Eressëa cannot be but pale shadows,” said Celebrían, slightly disappointed. Ilverin nodded.

“’Tis true, my Lady. But the dwellers of Elvenhome chose to be content with what they have here, as long as there still are Exiles in the Outer Lands. And at least this time we shall have the Súruli among us – oh, the merriment will be great during this year’s feast!”

While they were talking, the procession came to the edge of a great korin of huge and very ancient oak-trees, and Celebrían’s trained eye at once discovered the magnificent tree houses among the branches – beautifully-made telain in various shapes and sizes that blent so well with the trees themselves that one truly needed Elven eyesight to detect them. Her parents’ dwelling in the Golden Wood was like a simple hut of the woodland folk compared with these artful constructions.

The procession came to a halt, and at the word and sign of Ailios as one voice, all elves burst in unison into a sad an beautiful song that sounded strangely familiar to her, though the words she could not understand, for they were in the same old dialect of the Ancient Tongue that Glorfindel used sometimes and that no-one but Elrond still understood in Imladris(6).

Ai! Laurie lantar lassi súrinen
inyalemíne rámar aldaron
inyali ettulielle turme márien
Varda telúmen falmar kírien
laurealassion ómar mailinon.

Elentári Vardan Oilossëan
Tintallen máli rámar ortelúmenen
arkandavá-le qantamalle túlier
e falmalillon morna sindanórie
no mírinoite kallasilya Valimar.(7)

There was a symbolic gate, made of interwoven tree-branches, and under the arch of those living branches a tall Elf stood, clad all in white, with the crest of the Nos Galdon upon his breast: a long and tapering forest-green shield with the image of Silpion in the middle(8). His stronger build and long, pale golden hair marked him as a Nandor Elf(9), though his eyes were grey like a cold winter morning – and he extended his hands towards Ailios in a gesture of welcome and he smiled and spoke:

“Welcome and well met once again, Gilfanon a-Davrobel, Master of the House of the Hundred Chimneys! May your time here be a pleasant one and may our feast be as merry as we had them back in the Elder Days!”

“Well spoken, Lord of the House of the Trees,” replied Ailios. “Let the merriment begin!”

The ash blond Elf sang a short song softly, and while he was doing so, the arch of branches slowly unfolded itself above his head, as if the gate to the korin would be opened; and the bright company passed through, followed by the whispery laughter of the Súruli who were dancing around them unseen. Celebrían watched their host with interest.

“Who is this?” he asked Ilverin, for she had the strange feeling that she should know the blond Elf. Ilverin shrugged dismissively.

“Him? Oh, ‘tis just Legolas,” he said lightly, strolling forward to the middle of the lawn where long tables already had been set for the feast.


End notes:

(1) The people of Galdor in Gondolin. Originally they were conceived as Noldor, too, but I made them Sindar in my earlier stories, assuming that Turgon would not have enough Exiles to populate a whole city and thus sought allies among the Grey-Elves.

(2) A discarded name for Eldamar, which I recycled because I cannot make genuine Elven names all by myself.

(3) Salmar, a Maia of Ulmo. According to the Appendix of “The Lost Tales 1”, he dwelt with the Noldor in the Great Lands for a while, and it was he who brought them to Valinor. Of course, not much of this remained in the later incarnations of the mythology.

(4) Inglor son of Finrod (born from Amarië after Finrod left Valinor) and his Vanyarin wife, Lintári, are my own characters – and the parents of Gildor Inglorion from LOTR.

(5) Spirits of the air – attendant on Manwë and Varda, just like the Súruli.

(6) Early Quenya, actually.

(7) This early version of Galadriel’s song was taken from “The Treason of Isengard” (HoME 7), pp. 284-285.

(8) As the emblem of the House of the Tree (unlike several other Houses of Gondolin) is nowhere described, I had to improvise a little. I chose Silpion (=Telperion) for I associate the silver Moon with the Elves rather than the Sun, but that is purely personal.

(9) There is no canon fact that would support the idea that Nandor Elves would be generally ash blond. I developed it when I made Haldir & family Nandor Elves, because I found movie-Haldir interesting and wanted to keep him.


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