After last week’s epic genealogy of the Elves, Tolkien gives us a reprieve of sorts in that this chapter is all of a page and a half. Still… you’ve no doubt heard the expression that dynamite comes in small packages. This chapter deals with the origins of the Sindar, aka the Grey-elves, the Elves of the Twilight.
One of the things I’m most enamored with in this world (or any other) is the hauntingly beautiful sound of the most exquisite voices ever raised in music. I regularly fall victim to the siren song in both fact and fiction. That’s part of what draws me to Middle-Earth in the first place, and to Arda as a whole. An entire realm created in the power of music? Yes, please! Of course Tolkien has ensured the music will be embodied from time to time. In this chapter we learn of Melian, the Maia who sings at the mingling of the light of the Two Trees. If there is a greater vision of beauty in the whole of Tolkien’s Legendarium, or indeed in the whole of literature, I want to know about it. I don’t such exists. Certainly Elwë agrees with me, for he abandoned his people to be with her and stayed in her presence to hear her music for ages ever after. Elwë, I salute your decision, not that you likely had any real choice in the matter. I’d have done the same.
Such love is always rewarded as Tolkien is nothing if not a romantic, and this will eventually lead to the greatest love story in the whole of Middle-Earth. Elwë becomes known as Elu Thingol, High King of the Sindar and the King of Doriath. From his union with Melian comes a daughter, Lúthien Tinúviel, as in Beren and Lúthien, the most important story in the whole of The Silmarillion, whose story would be echoed in Tolkien’s own life as well as in the Third Age with Aragorn and Arwen. The final line of this chapter leaves me with the burning notion that there is no artist that can truly illustrate for us the beauty of Tinúviel. “And of the love of Thingol and Melian there came into the world the fairest of all the Children of Ilúvatar that was or shall ever be.” It’s a description that Tolkien will apply again to Arwen, Tinúviel’s direct descendant who is said to greatly resemble her.