The Ring of the Ancient Mithrandir

(based on "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel T. Coleridge)


It is an ancient Wizard friend,
And he stoppeth here for me.
'By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?

'For Bilbo's door is opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May'st hear the merry din,'

He holds me with his aged hand,
"There was a Ring,' quoth he,
'Hold off! unhand me, the meal's soon!'
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

He held me with his glittering eye -
The Ringbearer stood still,
And listened like a three years' child:
The Wizard hath his will.

The Ringbearer sat on a stool:
He cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient mage,
The bright-eyed Mithrandir:

"The Ring was lost, but now is found,
Verily did it drop
Beneath the caves, below the hills,
Below the mountain top.

Bilbo came up and then he left,
Out of the caves came he!
The Ring shone bright, he held it tight
As he traveled free."

Longer and longer every hour,
Shining Elven lamps at night -
The Ringbearer here beat his breast,
For he heard the loud delight.

But his staff he's placed across the hall,
Blocking the door is he;
Nodding his head as on he goes,
Thus they tarry miserably.

The Ringbearer he beat his breast,
Yet he cannot choose but hear;
And thus spake on that ancient mage,
The bright-eyed Mithrandir.

'And now dark Sauron came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong;
He started plans for o'ertaking things,
And chased me West along.

With soaking hat and dripping brows,
Dark spies pursued me, in rain and cold
Still threads of shadows from this foe,
Seek outward, bending down my head,
Though I rode fast, thinking on the past
As North and West I fled.

And now I found I'd missed the point:
I need Gollum's story told.
Soon slime, knee-high, was floating by,
As green as emerald.

The land of slime and of fearful sounds, where
no living thing was to be seen.
For through the bogs and mossy clogs
He sent a dismal keen:
No shape of man nor beast I ken -
For slime was all between.

The slime was here, the slime was there,
The slime was all around
It glurped and slurped, and bubbled and burped,
Such noises did resound!

At length did I find Aragorn;
Through the bog he came;
As if he had been a-seeking for me,
I hailed him by his name.

He caught the sneak, it ne'er would eat,
And round the ground it crawled,
And slime it spit with a coughing-fit;
How Gollum sneered and bawled!

And a trail of tales sprung up behind;
But Aragorn did follow,
Through every day, no food or play,
Til his cheeks became most hollow!

It'd twist or snivel both truth and drivel,
We'd catch it's whisp'ring whine;
Sobs all the while, through fish-breath vile,
How it hates even moonshine.

'Ah yes,' says ancient Mithrandir,
How this fiend had found and long had borne
This Ring of gold -Now that I know,
He could leave with Aragorn.


'The Sun now rose upon my right:
Out of the mists came he,
Still I went Northwest, and on my left
It went down behind the trees.

It was good that they were left behind,
And so Aragorn did follow
Our plan to take it toward the Lake
To the elves deep dungeons hollow.

But I knew now what hellish thing,
Had come to bring our woe:
For I averred that I knew the words
That would show up in the fire.
Ah wretched! said I, this test to try,
To know this Ring so dire!

Nor dim nor cool, it was Sauron's tool,
This glorious Ring of fear:
Then all averred, I'd read the words
That brought the darkness near.
'Twas dread, I knew, what that Ring would do,
To bring the darkness near.

The fair breeze blew, the long miles flew,
His hill-home I could see;
I was the worst that ever burst
Into his private tea.

Down dropt the news, the tale dropt down,
'Twas sad as sad, this thing;
And he did plead, did we really need
The testing of his Ring!

All in a hot and copper fire,
The evil Ring would heat.
Right into fire I cast that band,
I barely kept my seat.

Spark after spark, spark after spark,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion:
A-waiting for a glowing rune
To write an evil notion.

Fire, fire, everywhere,
And all the flames did grow;
Fire, fire, everywhere,
It seemed to heat too slow.

The very deed did wroth my mind
That ever this should be!
Yea, runic things did crawl with fire
Upon it, we could see.

Aflame, aflame, in fiery name
The rune-fires danced that day;
To speak the language was a toil,
Left feeling old and grey.

And so in flames assured we were
Of the spirit that plagued us so;
No place to hide: it would follow us
And would find its Ring, I know.

My very tongue, its utterance done,
Felt withered at the root;
We did not speak, no more than if
We had been choked with soot.

Ah! Terrible day! The frightened looks
From my friend my heart stung!
A burdensome thing, that the evil Ring
About his neck was hung.


A weary time! a weary time!
How gazed our eyes so tired,
We'd had much speaking, since I had
Thrown that thing in the fire.

At first it seemed to him a plan,
And then it seemed amiss;
We planned and planned, until at last I
Did a certain time insist.

Except, amiss, he waits so long!
And danger nears and nears:
For tho' he dodged the leaving-time,
There's no hope it would veer.

With throat unslaked, some black lips spake
His name and uttered a wail;
Through all the land they search for him!
I came again, I urged him on,
And cried, "You flee or fail!"

With throat well slaked, with wine and cakes,
He slowly heeds my call.
Mercy! He sold his home, prepared to roam
And finally his pack drew on,
As if he were leaving all.

Run! Run! (I cried) You've time no more!
Hither I will see you well:
Move on to Bree, I'll hope to meet,
And "Underhill's"name to tell!

Saruman of Rings knew all;
Known for his great insight.
At once I rode to Isengard
Where dwelt the wizard White;
For Radagast brought word to me
From Saruman the White.

And straight away I sought advice,
(Elbereth send me grace!)
For I did not understand his sneers
Nor his proud, bright flashing face.

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
How proud he grows and grows!
Are these his plans, to grasp at Power,
In many-colored robes?

Are those his hands that seek the Ring,
To wear, and thus to rule?
And is that Power all he craves?
Is this his Choice? We have our staves,
To face a wizard's duel!

His fire was red, his words were fierce,
I flashed a yellow fire-ball:
Like stars of the night, his eyes did pierce,
In Nightmare Life-and-Death did we
Clash with our staffs, our all!

His naked greed outpowered me,
Tower's top-most held me trapt;
"The game is done! I've won, I've won!"
Quoth he, and fingers snapt.

Long the passing of the Days.
My hopes did dip; was the Ring out,
Was it safe? or caught in dark?
The far-heard wails came o'er the wind,
Ill news, those specters stark!

I listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life blood seemed to sip!
The stars seem'd dim, and thick the night,
When an Eagle's call came with sudden flight;
From the tower top did grip -
And clomb above the mountain far.
Night's cool Moon, with sweet bright stars
Lighted my nighttime trip, one after another,
One after one, by the star-dogged Moon
So quickly did we fly,
Each turned his face with a twinkling ray,
And comforted my eyes.

Far leagues he did carry me,
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
Then heavy thump, to land I jump'd,
He'd brought me, O but time did fly, -
Did I run to hope or woe?
And Eagle's wing, it passed me by
Like the whizz of a cross-bow!'


I feared the wand'ring Ringbearer
Would put it on his hand!
The way art long and dark, alone
He'd be; this we hadn't planned!

I feared him lost and glittering Ring,
On his hobbit hand, so small, -
Fear not, fear not, thou Ringbearer!
I'm coming soon! I call.

Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone in the wide wide trees!
His wizard not there to keep
His soul from agony.

So many miles, both dry and wet;
E'en through the Marsh to ride:
And a thousand thousand neeker things
Lived on; and so did I.
I came upon the town of Bree,
And knew not what occur'd;
I looked into the Pony Inn,
And there was Butter-bur.

He looked a-frighted, and tried to say;
But or ever a word had gushed,
A whimpered whisper came, and made
My heart as dry as dust.

I closed my lids, and kept them close,
As his words like pulses beat;
"They've gone with Strider, tho' to stop I tried,"
This swept a great load off my weary eye,
And the Innkeeper off his feet.
The cold sweat melted from my limbs,
Not alone, and safe were they!
The look with which he looked on me
He'd never passed my way.

For Butterbur would remember well
My silence, then my cheer;
But oh! more memorable than that
Was my good word for his beer!
Several days, several nights, the hobbits had gone;
Strider would keep them near.

To Rivendell I began to ride,
And nowhere did stop or abide:
Quickly I was moving on,
With a hope or two beside -

I reached before the Bearer did,
Crost border waters spread;
But when crost Ringwraith Shadows - nay!
The charmed water rose alway
To fill the river bed!

When came the flooding of the Ford,
Horse-shape the water takes:
They moved in froth of shining white,
And when they reared, the elven light
Fell off in horsey flakes.

And all the Shadows, they did slip
I heard them screech and sink:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They flailed and drowned; and every trick
They tried in vain, I think.

O happy, he yet lives! no tongue
This beauty might declare;
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I gathered him unaware:
Til the kind Elves who heal came for him,
And gave him to their care.
And from my neck so free
A weight of care fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.


Oh sleep! it is a gentle thing,
Beloved from pole to pole!
To Lord Elrond should praise be given
He sent a gentle sleep, Halfelven,
To heal that little soul.

The sleeping hobbit in the bed,
Asleep quite long remained,
He dreamed while strength returned anew;
Though he awoke still drained.

His arm was warm, his eyes were clear,
He was, at first, confused;
For all seem'd faded like a dream,
Beyond recall, he mused.

I moved, and could not hold my tongue:
In great delight I laughed,
To think he'd almost died indeed, and
That danger now was past.

And soon he heard my long, long tale;
I made him bend his ear;
Though the fine sound of feasting hailed
Fine meals they're known for here.

How my tongue burst into life!
And a hundred word-wags came,
To and fro it was waggled about!
And to and fro, and in and out,
Til he thought me insane.

Though the coming meals did smell so good,
Still I talked and talked some more;
And the words poured out and swirled about;
I'd had to block the door.

To think that he would leave, and still
Had not heard all its sides:
My words shot as from some high crag,
No excuse, not even a crying jag,
Would keep my tale inside.

Aloud I sometimes paused a snip,
Yet now my tongue moved on!
Beneath the endless flowing Tale
The hobbit groaned anon.

He groaned, he stirred, he once uprose,
I spake, and held his eyes;
For my delight, even as a dream,
Was to make my long tale fly.

The hobbit sat, the tale moved on;
With never a pause it grew;
For Mithrandir, he can work his words,
When he is wont to do;
His captive sat like a lifeless tool
And was looking ghastly too.

This wizard in that hobbit's room
Could speak on, hour by hour:
My mind and body carried on,
I held him by word-power.

'I'm hungry, ancient Mithrandir!'
'Be calm, thou Ringbearer!
'Twas not the end, I say again,
Where was I? of course!' I spoke again.
And he droop'd down th' floor.

And when it dawned, I dropt my arms,
And looked around at last;
Sweet snores rose slowly from his mouth,
As breath from body passed.

Indeed, indeed, I knew he'd need
My story told again;
Surely he'd listened late in vain,
For Sleep had stolen in.

Sunlight a-dropping from the sky -
I heard the skylarks sing;
Trees full of all little birds that are,
How they seemed to fill the room and air
With their sweet jargoning!

My voice played like an instrument,
I loved to hear it toot;
So once again, my story long
I start, lest I be mute.

He woke; and still I was telling on
Through that pleasant afternoon,
My noise was like a babbling brook
As I told again of runes,
And in the sleeping house all night
Regaled him with my news.

Again, til noon I carried on,
No more protests did he breathe:
Slowly and surely went my lips,
Moving onward without reprieve

Sometimes he keeled over in sleep,
But my hand would wake him anew,
He slowly slid down to the floor
But I'd prop him, as a rule.
The fourth noon he fell off his stool,
And my lips fell open too.

Then, like a flopping doll let go,
He made a whimpered peep:
It was the last sound he made,
As he fell down in a heap.

How long he in that same fit lay,
I have not to declare;
For no more living breath returned,
I heard and in my soul discerned
A fell voice in the air.

"Is it he?" quoth this, "Is this the one?
That's he who died from words,
He has in him no strength for breath -
Such a cruel fate he was laid full low
For Mithrandir talked him to death!

- Primula