My discussion with Aegthil (the self acclaimed greatest Minstel Gondor has ever produced) prompted some thoughts about the great bards of Gondolin. There are three that most people will have heard of, Ecthelion, Erelindë and Maigon.
Ecthelion was a great singer, songwriter, and history teller, perhaps of all bards, his tales are the most written. This is not confirmed, however, for he rarely put his name to a song. His authorship is suggested by writing style.
Ecthelion was renowned as one of the fairest singers in Gondolin and, whether or not this is true, many of his songs have been long preserved by the Eldar of “Undomë” and the “Awakening”, and their nights upon the shores of Eldamar. He also wrote many a song of Gondolin, which though it is painful for the Eldar to remember that place, such songs were passed on and kept by Men in the libraries that would later become the Records of Minas Tirith in the latter Third Age.
Of his songs, he is well remembered and told of, and many men learned much from his verses, passed to Men by Finrod Felagund.
Erelindë was one of the Firstborn. He was not known by name until a name was given to him of the gift Eru gave to him – a voice of beauty and power. His name is not often told, though many of his works were integrated into teachings of children.
He was a warrior of the House of the Golden Flower in ancient Gondolin, dark of hair and known in all the lands around Gondolin for his clarity of voice. An accomplished hunter of honeycomb also, Erelindë perished in a last desperate battle to free the peoples of Gondolin as they exited the Secret Way, fighting the Balrog slain by Glorfindel after Erelindë’s own death upon the high rocks in the cavern. It is not spoken often of by those who dwelt there; a secret death to be known only of by Glorfindel, to whom he was beloved.
Songs credited to him include the short songs of creatures such as “Busy Little Bee” or of events and places such as in “The Seedlings”, or the longer collections of historical verse, the most famous being the epic “Creation”, in which there were eight parts, and only five remembered in writing.
Maigon lived during the mid-First Age and is perhaps my favourite. Maigon is not often sung of, for he was not a particularly prolific writer, and many of his works speak of times of light and darkness alike. In the destruction of Nargothrond, his verses were lost among the verses of Ecthelion and others who experimented with writing down their works. The verses of Maigon were often confused with those of Ecthelion. This was straightened out in the archives of Gondor, when a specific rhythmic pattern was attributed to Maigon.
Perhaps the most famous of his verses is the song “Of Ending Time”, the verse telling of the coming and hinting of the sullying of the Eldar.
Maigon’s words were remembered best archived in the Library of Minas Tirith, and the Archives of Cirbann (the Grey Havens).
I give you below the words of Of Ending Time. We don’t know the tune he used and I am trying to work some of my own. I am not having much luck so far; I have a basis but the structure is not yet right.[audio https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D6066819_8194963_677551] Of ending time there was ago Far past the sea Far past the prow Of darkness past and darkness full In beings of the night Alone we were Alone we came No stars were old No brightness faint We set our foot upon this earth And breathed the fresh air Again, again The One He came Down to the earth Down on the wind To greet his trees And seeing we, he blessed us free We were to speak From then, from then Of ending time there was ago Called to come Called to go In darkness upon the earth remained we Captive to a serpent’s woe