Consume with flame this Middle-Earth; from smoke and ash a new world sings!
So speaks the heart of one who waits impatiently to make all things
In image of his own desire and forged with pride as bold as death,
To rule with stern, ensceptred will the days of all who would draw breath.
Pride like the barren strength of mountains, footed deep their roots of stone,
That fed, unfolds to bleak colossus, sheer and cold and harsh and lone;
A sullen peak of adamant that blocks illuming ray and gleam
Of truth or wisdom, bitter-jealous, lest his power lesser seem,
And shutting out the light knows not that there is nothing else beside.
Behold! the futile world and dim that shivers in the lee of pride!
No Twilight blessed by stars, this field, but plat of dank and nether glooms,
A cavern chill, with echoes fed, that only leads to darker rooms.
But from this realm of self-deceit he calls fell creatures to his will;
Hence too are base, impatient men drawn to his lures and purpose ill.
And when he reigns and Hope is dead and light and love forever gone,
When all the nights that ever were are come together in the One,
When such befalls this Middle-Earth, what place will kindly folk possess?
What vengeances will come on those who sought to live in gentleness,
Who dared to spurn his cruel command and, insolent, refused his grace;
Impertinent, despised the reaching of his iron-gloved embrace?
Fear not, you who would fate resist; from shards of Day comes paradise!
The Lord of Shadow builds new worlds from black and burning stones of ice,
Impatient to let drop the judgment-plumb of his omniscience,
A wisdom higher than the high, an understanding vast, immense!
And to that end his heav’n is ripe with freezing wind and louring cloud,
To spill upon the hint of spring a vile and clinging funeral shroud;
No kindly drape of guardian snow, sun-sparkled soft upon the hills,
But false-heart rime of glazing death, embracing everything it kills;
‘Neath errant glimpse of sackcloth moon, dull red it glimmers in the Night,
A-blush with blood, a-murk with death like cinder-dregs of aconite;
But peering through his prism-glass of lies, he sees a kingdom fair
As day in all its varied hours bending into rainbow there.
And when the sword of Hope is his and life and love starve at his feet,
And crawl the floors of Barad-dur for scraps that fall from Master’s meat;
When all the lies lift up their voice in shout of brazen victory,
And he, their father, jealous dotes, elate in their ascendancy;
When paradise is tilled by frost and planted with the seed of fear,
And e’en the corners poison-sown into a pleasure garden drear,
Will he, great king, ride to the edges of a small, forgotten land
And name it e’er inviolate, secure against the foot of man?
Long-nourished in his dark conceit, he turns his proud hostility
Upon the world of homely things, of peace and of tranquility,
With arrogance like swelling storm that uses tender summer leaf
In all-unknowing treachery to bring the moth’ring tree to grief.
Thus those of quiet labors who would take their ease content at night
With wife and child and suckling babe, are driven, fey, upon his spite
To set their hearts to soak in brine of greed and lust and enmity,
Stone-weighted down with grudges old beneath an unforgiving sea;
A void filled long ago with tears, foam-flecked with ruin, deep and wide,
That damns their children to be floated on a grim, relentless tide,
Cast wild from swell to swell of hate, blown far from any hope of shore,
Until they live and have their being in a doom of endless war.
Behold! the sea-chart of that vast, unshriven, grey and formless world
Is dipped in golden fire-proofing, then to finger-circlet curled;
The slave-ships of a thousand fleets are readied for their master’s breath
To fill the sails of tyranny upon a poisoned fount of death.
And when his ensign proudly flies and he has gained his iron crown
And Hope is shattered on the rocks and life and love lie fathoms down,
No ship will lie in sheltered berth, by ancient craft and wisdom blessed,
To carry one small, broken hero unto healing in the West.