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IV - Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldaliƫ - Named Elves Settling

More on transposed islands, geneologies and the vital importance of shiny things.

So some of the elves waiting for Thingol give up after a few years and are ferried over towards the other continent, but plead for a halt once in distant sight of shore because the concept of days/light too strong to see stars is daunting and the ocean is beautiful. I wonder if they had gulls by then, though it's not mentioned...white shapes ghosting about in the pre-sun dark. If not it would be eerily quiet when the Teleri weren't singing: just waves and waves out into the dark. For all his talent with shiny things, I don't think I've ever encountered an author who could capture the desaturated beauty of grey things as well as Tolkien: of Northern beaches by twilight or starlight, of the warming weave of a cloak, of beechbark and slow mist and silvered things.

Meanwhile, the Noldor and Vanyar tribes are digging in - not too near the Trees, because days are still a bit much, but in a good mountain spot to both see the pretty light-trees and plenty of stars. It gently amuses me that none of Tolkien's elves, whether those that lived at the feet of the Valar or those that stayed behind, ever fully lost this crepuscular-to-nocturnal streak - all the hauteur and grace of the most civilised and self-possessed creatures that ever walked, and the biorhythms of something that jumps on deer out of trees. It's noted that the elves thrive in these conditions and the Valar are very happy to play with their embodied younger-sibling-spirits.

Curiously, and presumably because they have less all-affecting power than the Valar and thus a less Song-limited existence, the Noldor outstrip their teachers in craft relatively quickly, and start inventing and making things. The Teleri over on the Lonley Isle eventually get curious about the shiny on the mainland/bored of each other and are shown how to make decent ships by their grumpy Maiar buddy (Tolkien's equivalent of the Old Man Of The Sea), who gives them a bunch of swans in lieu of sails. It's not clear whether the sea was just 'windless' at that time, or whether wind had yet to be invented, which in turn would beg the question of what was making the waves, there being no moon to move the water (Ulmo, presumably, circling down in the black depths, massive and of no clear shape...). At any rate, they get over there and catch up with folk, though they're still not keen to settle inland. Noldor gift them with shiny things, which they endearingly put in the Best Places rather than in boxes, because there is no-one to tell them putting shinies in boxes/not leaving gifts everywhere is a Done Thing. The Noldor don't seem to mind, because this is the start of things and Melkor's been chained up and put away for a bit so no-one knows about stealing yet. The scribe remarks that the beaches/rock pools/random crannies where Teleri kids could climb to were all dotted with pretty things in those days.

The Teleri also continue to live on seafood and amass a lot of pearls, which they use to make their lamplit halls shiny. I assume a little poetic licence in describing the buildings as 'of pearl', since that'd be a lot of years living under boats eating oysters in the meantime, but that just makes my mental image prettier: semi-natural/tree-adapted stave-church-like spaces with lots of inlay, glittering with firelight.

There's a bunch of begats and begots and a quick sketch of folk who're going to be major players here, with a couple of mentions that due to longevity and kin-based colony formation (probably extended families sharing hall-houses, if we follow the Norse flavour of the tales) elven cousins tend to form sibling-like relationships. It's smoothly glossed that not a lot happens for a long time, save elves generally exploring, hunting and collecting shiny. The Vanyar in general eventually develop a taste for treelight-bathing and mostly move to go lie about on the holy mountain.

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onewhitecrow

July 2016

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