Descriptive Bibliography: Tolkien’s Alliterative Verses

Compiled by Anna Smol and Gavin Foster

References to Scull and Hammond come from The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, Reader’s Guide, Revised and Expanded Edition, edited by Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond, HarperCollins, 2017.  This list is indebted to the Wikipedia article, “List of Tolkien’s Alliterative Verse.” Any manuscripts that are normally available for researchers who have approved access from the relevant archives will be noted in individual entries. 

Please let us know of any omissions or corrections in the comments.

Modern English Alliterative Compositions

Old English Alliterative Compositions

Translations into Modern English Alliterative Verse

Modern English Alliterative Compositions

THE Fall of Arthur

The Fall of Arthur, edited by Christopher Tolkien. HarperCollins, 2013

Four complete cantos and a fifth one, unfinished, totaling 954 lines. Christopher Tolkien provides a Foreword, Notes on the Text of The Fall of Arthur, and three explanatory essays: “The Poem in Arthurian Tradition,” “The Unwritten Poem and its Relation to The Silmarillion,” and “The Evolution of the Poem.” In “Appendix: Old English Verse,” Christopher Tolkien includes an excerpt from Tolkien’s lecture on “Anglo-Saxon Verse” including Tolkien’s modern alliterative translation of 9 lines from “The Battle of Brunanburh.”

Scull and Hammond “date the beginning of the poem tentatively to 1933” (Reader’s Guide I, 383). Christopher Tolkien comments that “there are some 120 pages of drafting (preserved, not surprisingly, in a state of confusion) preceding the ‘final’ text given in this book” (Fall of Arthur 171). Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Tolkien B (not accessible). 

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“For W.H.A”

“For W.H.A.” Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review, vol. 18, no. 2, Winter 1967, pp. 96-97. 

A modern English version of the Old English poem written in honour of W.H. Auden, printed as a facing-page translation of the Old English lines. (See also Old English Alliterative Compositions, below). The journal Shenandoah can be viewed on the Internet Archive.

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THE HOMECOMING OF BEORHTNOTH BEORHTHELM’S SON

First published in Essays and Studies, New Series vol. 6, 1953, pp. 1-18. Republished in The Tolkien Reader (1966), Poems and Stories (1980), Tree and Leaf (2001) and by Anglo-Saxon Books (1991). A new edition is forthcoming in 2023 from HarperCollins: J.R.R. Tolkien The Battle of Maldon together with The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, edited by Peter Grybauskas. Tolkien’s recording of the play was made in 1954, with limited distribution by HarperCollins in 1992 as an audio cassette tape.

Scull and Hammond estimate that Tolkien “conceived [of the poem] at least as early as the period 1931-Trinity Term 1933” (Reader’s Guide I, 547).  Most of the drafts are held in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (MS Tolkien 5). The first 5 drafts are written in rhyming couplets (versions A to E), and then Tolkien rewrites the drama in alliterative metre (versions F – K, which include a fragment and the final typescript). Another early version in rhyming couplets is held at the University of Leeds, Brotherton Library MS 1952/2/1, dated in the 1920s in the catalogue, although Scull and Hammond believe this date is an incorrect assumption (Reader’s Guide I, 547). An early fragment in rhyming couplets is printed in The Treason of Isengard (106-107), and a few lines also exist among Tolkien’s pictures. 

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LAYS OF BELERIAND

“The Lay of the Children of Húrin”

“The Lay of the Children of Húrin.” The Lays of Beleriand, The History of Middle-earthvol. 3, edited by Christopher Tolkien, George Allen & Unwin, 1985.  HarperCollins 1994, pp. 3-130. 

Christopher Tolkien uses the overarching title “The Lay of the Children of Húrin” for all of the manuscripts listed below.

Christopher Tolkien outlines 2 versions of “The Lay”: version IA (manuscript) and IB (typescript) and IIA (manuscript) and IIB (typescript). According to Christopher, “II is essentially an expansion of I” (4). The text he has provided for version 1 is IB with its emendations (but without textual notes indicating the revisions).   

Version 1 (originally titled “The Golden Dragon”) is titled “Túrin Son of Húrin & Glórund the Dragon.” It consists of a Prologue of 104 lines and section 1, “Túrin’s Fostering” (lines 105 – 558); section II, “Beleg” (lines 559 – 1338); and section III, “Failivrin” (lines 1339- 2276). Christopher provides Notes and Commentary after each section. 

Version 2 (first titled “Túrin”) is titled “The Children of Húrin.”  Christopher explains the complex state of the manuscript, with an extra typescript (IIC) and manuscript (IID) and emendations in every version. Christopher gives the text of IID, the latest version, up to line 94, and then continues with IIB. Section 1 consists of 247 lines; section 2, “Turin’s Fostering” (lines 248 – 817). As with the first version, Christopher provides Notes and Commentary after each section. 

Version 2 includes a poem that is composed in 8-line stanzas with rhyming lines, a version of “Light as Leaf on Lindentree” (published in The Gryphon, Leeds University, New Series, vol. 6, no. 6, June 1925, p. 217). For Tolkien’s changes to the poem, see Christopher Tolkien’s discussion, pages 119-23. 

On page 95, Christopher Tolkien comments: “The majority of the changes throughout the successive texts of the poem were made for metrical reasons – in the later revisions, especially for the removal of ‘little words’, to achieve an effect nearer to that of Old English lines and to get rid of metrical aids such as -éd pronounced as a separate syllable….”  

Ex. “Then her thoughts turnéd   to Thingol the Elf-king” (V1. 119) becomes “Then her thoughts were turned    to Thingol the Elf” (V2. 263).

“Winter Comes to Nargothrond” and Associated Verses

“Verses associated with The Children of Húrin.” The Lays of Beleriand, The History of Middle-earthvol. 3, edited by Christopher Tolkien, George Allen & Unwin, 1985.  HarperCollins 1994, pp. 127-130. 

“Untitled.”  (“The high summer/waned to autumn”). 28 lines developed from lines 2082 to 2113 in The Children of Húrin. A second version, “much developed” according to Christopher, is titled “Storm over Narog.” This text is not provided. A third version, titled “Winter comes to Nargothrond,” (27 lines) contains very few revisions of the second, and is the text provided by Christopher. “Untitled.” (“From the seething sea   Sirion’s waters”) (26 lines) was developed from lines 1554-70 of “The Lay.”

“The Flight of the Noldoli”

“The Flight of the Noldoli from Valinor.” The Lays of Beleriand, The History of Middle-earthvol. 3, edited by Christopher Tolkien, George Allen & Unwin, 1985.  HarperCollins 1994, pp. 131-41. 

This 146-line poem exists in three manuscript versions, variously titled:  version A is “The Flight of the Gnomes as sung in the Halls of Thingol”; B is “Flight of the Gnomes”; C is “The Flight of the Noldoli from Valinor”.  Christopher Tolkien prints the C version, with notes on variants and commentary.  He estimates that the poem was written in early 1925. It expresses Feanor’s defiant speech calling on followers to leave Valinor. 

A section titled “Analysis of the metre of the poem” contains Tolkien’s analysis of the metrical forms and alliteration used in the first 20 lines and then 7 other selected lines in version B. Tolkien marks the Sievers verse type for each half line, the lifts and dips, and the alliterative patterns used. 

Fragment of an Alliterative “Lay of Eärendil” 

“Fragment of an Alliterative ‘Lay of Earendil.'” The Lays of Beleriand, History of Middle-earthvol. 3, edited by Christopher Tolkien, George Allen & Unwin, 1985.  HarperCollins 1994, pp. 141-44. 

This 38-line fragment is in the “first stage of composition and is exceedingly rough” (p. 142) according to Christopher Tolkien. Written on University of Leeds exam paper, the poem seems to be from the same time period as “The Lay of the Children of Hurin” and “The Flight of the Noldoli” (p. 142).  It briefly describes the fall of Gondolin.  

Christopher’s Notes and Commentary are included. His comments point to the figure of “Wade of the Helsings” in the fragment, an allusion to a figure in the Old English poem, “Widsith.” 

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THE LEGEND OF SIGURD AND GUDRÚN

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, edited by Christopher Tolkien, HarperCollins, 2009. 

The volume consists of two lays in stanzaic alliterative metre, based on the Old Norse fornyrðislag (Old Story) metre, which consists of eight half-lines in each stanza. The first part is “Völsungakviða en nýja” (“The New Lay of the Völsungs”) and the second part is “Guðrúnarkviða en nýja (“The New Lay of Gudrún”).  Both poems represent Tolkien’s attempt “to unify the lays about the Völsungs from the Elder Edda” (Letters, no. 295).  “The New Lay of the Völsungs” is divided into a beginning section and then nine further sections, for a total of 339 stanzas. “The New Lay of Gudrún” consists of 166 stanzas. 

Christopher Tolkien provides commentaries on both lays. He writes a Foreword and an Introduction, which includes an excerpt from a lecture given by Tolkien in the English Faculty at Oxford, “Introduction to the ‘Elder Edda’, and an excerpt from his “Prefatory Remarks” on metre which was originally printed in the revised edition of Beowulf by J.R. Clark-Hall (1940), then reprinted in The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays (1983). In Appendix A, Christopher Tolkien discusses “The Origins of the Legend.”  Appendix B contains a poem in rhyming couplets titled “The Prophecy of the Sibyl,” and Appendix C includes “Fragments of a Heroic Poem of Attila in Old English” with Christopher Tolkien’s translation and notes. 

Scull and Hammond state that both lays appear to have been written in the early 1930s (Reader’s Guide I, 674). 

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THE LORD OF THE RINGS

First published by George Allen & Unwin in three volumes: The Fellowship of the Ring (29 July 1954), The Two Towers (11 November 1954), and The Return of the King (20 October 1955). Manuscript versions of The Lord of the Rings are held in the J.R.R. Tolkien Collection at Marquette University. A descriptive inventory of these manuscripts is available online. Drafts of The Lord of the Rings have been published with Christopher Tolkien’s commentaries in The History of Middle-earth, volume 6, The Return of the Shadow; volume 7, The Treason of Isengard; volume 8, The War of the Ring; and volume 9, Sauron Defeated.

Each of Tolkien’s alliterative verses from The Lord of the Rings have been set to music by The Tolkien Ensemble and can be found on YouTube, Spotify, and additional streaming services. While additional artists have made music incorporating elements of Tolkien’s alliterative metre, The Tolkien Ensemble offers the most complete collection of such songs. 

“At Théoden’s Death”

The Return of the KingBook V.vi, “The Battle of the Pelennor Fields.”

Three lines spoken by Éomer upon Théoden’s death, mirroring “Éomer’s Song.” It emphasizes the importance of strength in battle (often characterized through the Old English “northern heroism”) even in the face of immense grief. 

“Burial Song of Théoden”

The Return of the KingBook VI.vi, “Many Partings.”

A 5-line song sung by the Riders of Rohan at Théoden’s burial highlighting Théoden’s military strength and unending glory.  

“Call-to-Arms of the Rohirrim”

The Two Towers, Book III.vi, “The King of the Golden Hall.”

Théoden chants this call-to-arms upon reclaiming his sword. 3.5 lines. Meant to inspire himself and his men, these lines are reminiscent of the battle cries of figures like Byrthnoth in “The Battle of Maldon” or the Danish king, Hnæf, in “The Fight at Finnsburh.” 

“Éomer’s Song”

The Return of the KingBook V.vi, “The Battle of the Pelennor Fields.”

Éomer gleefully recites this 4-line song in the midst of battle, emphasizing his lust for battle and skillful swordsmanship. 

“Théoden’s Battle Cry”

The Return of the KingBook V.v, “The Ride of the Rohirrim.”

A return to the “Call-to-Arms of the Rohirrim” spoken by Théoden. These 5 lines are perhaps weightier than those spoken earlier. Here, Théoden emphasizes the extent of the violence that is soon to follow, commanding his men to “[r]ide to Gondor!” and face their enemy head-on.

“Lament for Théoden”

The Return of the KingBook V.iii, “The Muster of Rohan.”

A 21-line song sung for Théoden upon his gloomy arrival in Edoras. This song emphasizes both the Old English tradition of hall-life—through images of the “golden” hall and of feasting— and what Tolkien calls the “bleak heroic” (Tree and Leaf 144); Théoden’s heroism is overlaid with a sense of grim foreboding. 

“Lament for the Rohirrim”

The Two Towers, Book III.vi, “The King of the Golden Hall.”

Aragorn’s translation of a song originally sung in the language of the Rohirrim into Common Speech. While the metrical pattern of this 8-line poem is mostly non-alliterative, the beginning is inspired by the Old English, “The Wanderer,” speaking of joys lost and moments long-passed. In Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers, Théoden recites a selection of lines from this translation (removed from their context in the novel). 

“Song of the Mounds of Mundburg”

The Return of the KingBook V.vi, “The Battle of the Pelennor Fields.”

One of the few pieces of alliterative verse explicitly named in The Lord of the Rings, this song was composed by an unnamed poet of Rohan long after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. It is an elegy for those slain in battle and buried in the Mounds of Mundburg. 27 lines.

Two early drafts appear in The War of the Ring, The History of Middle-earthvol. 8, edited by Christopher Tolkien, George Allen & Unwin, 1990.  HarperCollins 2002, p. 371. According to Christopher Tolkien, these drafts contain “much variation in the recording of those who died in the battle of Pelennor Fields” (371).  

“The Long List of the Ents”

The Two TowersBook III.iv, “Treebeard.”

As its title suggests, this 17-line piece of alliterative verse is a list of living creatures known to the Ents. Connections may be drawn between “The Long List of the Ents” and the Old English, “Widsith,” in which a scop presents long lists of once-powerful men including kings, nations of peoples, and mythical heroes. 

“Malbeth the Seer’s Words”

The Return of the King, Book V.ii,“The Passing of the Grey Company.”

This is a 12-line description of the Paths of the Dead. It is recited by Aragorn to Legolas and Gimli; though, Aragorn notes that he is quoting Malbeth the Seer, the last king at Fornost.

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THE LOST ROAD

“King Sheave”

“King Sheave.” The Lost Road and Other Writings, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 5, edited by Christopher Tolkien, Unwin Hyman 1987.  HarperCollins 2015, pp. 87-98. 

A 153-line poem embedded in “The Lost Road,” with extensive commentary by Christopher Tolkien.  A prose version appears in “The Notion Club Papers (Part Two).” See Sauron Defeated, below.

“The Nameless Land”

“Notes on the poem ‘The Nameless Land’ and its later form.” The Lost Road and Other Writings, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 5, edited by Christopher Tolkien, Unwin Hyman 1987.  HarperCollins 2015, pp. 98-104.

First published in Realities: An Anthology of Verse, edited by G.S. Tancred, Leeds, at the Swan Press; London, Gay and Hancock Ltd., 1927.  According to Christopher Tolkien, a note on one of the typescripts states that the poem was written in Leeds in 1924. Christopher reproduces the 60-line poem as published on pages 98-100 with brief comments. 

The poem is written in stanzas with both rhyme and alliteration, inspired by the metre and form of the Middle English poem Pearl.  

“The Song of Ælfwine”

“Notes on the poem ‘The Nameless Land’ and its later form.” The Lost Road and Other Writings, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 5, edited by Christopher Tolkien, Unwin Hyman 1987.  HarperCollins 2015, pp. 100-104. 

The two versions published are “The Song of Ælfwine (on seeing the uprising of Eärendel)” on pages 100-102 and “The Song of Ælfwine on seeing the uprising of Eärendil” on pages 102-104. 

Christopher Tolkien states that “The Song of Ælfwine” exists in “many texts, both manuscript and typescript…forming a continuous development” (p. 100).  This poem, a revision of “The Nameless Land,” was first titled “Ælfwine’s Song calling upon Eärendel” and then revised to “The Song of Ælfwine (on seeing the uprising of Eärendel).” Christopher prints what Tolkien noted as the “Intermediate Version,” which he guesses was written around the time of The Lost Road.  

The final version, “The Song of Ælfwine on seeing the uprising of Eärendil,” includes a prose note by Tolkien about Ælfwine. The note includes five alliterative lines in Old English, with a modern English prose translation. Christopher notes that these verses also appear in Old English in “The Lost Road,” p. 44, and in the title pages to the “Quenta Silmarillion,” p. 203 (with one additional introductory line). The Old English lines also appear in “The Notion Club Papers,” in Sauron Defeated, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 4, HarperCollins, 1992, 2015, p. 244.  See Old English Alliterative Compositions, “Lines by Ælfwine” below.

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MORGOTH’S RING

“Fëanor’s Oath”

“The Annals of Aman.”  Morgoth’s Ring, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 10, edited by Christopher Tolkien, HarperCollins 1993, 1994, pp. 47-138.   

The 16-line poem, untitled, appears on page 112 as part of the Annals. It bears little resemblance to “The Flight of the Noldoli.”  Christopher Tolkien estimates that the Annals were written after Tolkien finished The Lord of the Rings

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SAURON DEFEATED

“King Sheave”

“The Notion Club Papers (Part Two).” Sauron Defeated, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 9, edited by Christopher Tolkien, HarperCollins 1992, 2015, pp. 273-76. 

A prose rendition of the earlier verse form of the story of King Sheave published in “The Lost Road.” Christopher Tolkien dates the lines to 1945 and finds that the verse and prose differ “only in a few minor details” (n. 103, p. 294). Although presented as prose, the story retains the alliterative half-lines of the earlier version in verse.  (See The Lost Road, above).

Lines adapted from “The Seafarer”

“The Notion Club Papers (Part Two).” Sauron Defeated, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 9, edited by Christopher Tolkien, HarperCollins 1992, 2015, p. 244. 

A seven-line adaptation of lines from the Old English poem “The Seafarer,” given in Old English on page 243 and translated into modern English alliterative verse on p. 244. These lines refer to the “Seafarer,” lines 36-38 and 44-46. 

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Unfinished Tales

“Poem on the Istari”

“The Istari.” Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, edited by Christopher Tolkien, Allen & Unwin 1980, HarperCollins 2000, pp. 502-520. 

The untitled 16-line poem appears on page 512. Christopher Tolkien believes it was written in 1954. 

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Old English
Alliterative Compositions

“FOR W.H.A.”

“For W.H.A.” Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review, vol. 18, no. 2, Winter 1967, pp. 96-97. 

A 27-line poem in honour of W.H. Auden, with a facing page translation into modern English alliterative verse. (See also Modern English Alliterative Compositions, above). The journal Shenandoah can be viewed on the Internet Archive.

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THE LEGEND OF
SIGURD AND GUDRUN

“Fragments of a Heroic Poem of Attila in Old English”

Appendix C, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, edited by Christopher Tolkien. HarperCollins, 2009, pp. 368-77.

Two fragments of Old English verse, the first consisting of 40 lines and the second 28 lines, with modern English translations and notes by Christopher Tolkien. He estimates that these fragments date from the same period as the Legend in Tolkien’s earlier years at Oxford (from 1925). The two fragments correspond to verses in the Norse poem Atlakviða.

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THE LOST ROAD

Lines by Ælfwine

Chapter II, Alboin and Audoin, “The Lost Road,” The Lost Road and Other Writings, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 5, Unwin Hyman, 1987. HarperCollins, 2015, p. 44. Also appearing after the final version of “The Song of Ælfwine,” in “Notes on the poem ‘The Nameless Land’ and its later form,” The Lost Road and Other Writings, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 5, Unwin Hyman, 1987. HarperCollins, 2015, p. 103, and in the “Quenta Silmarillion,” The Lost Road and Other Writings, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 5, Unwin Hyman, 1987. HarperCollins, 2015, p. 203.

Six lines in Old English quoting Ælfwine, dreamt by Alboin and translated into modern English in “The Lost Road.” The same lines, with the first line omitted, appear after the final version of “The Song of Ælfwine.” The six lines appear again in the “Quenta Silmarillion.”  

Lines adapted from “The Seafarer”

Chapter (iii), The Unwritten Chapters, “The Lost Road,” The Lost Road and Other Writings, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 5, Unwin Hyman, 1987. HarperCollins, 2015, p. 84.

Seven lines adapted from the Old English poem, “The Seafarer,” lines 36-38 and 44-46, chanted by Ælfwine, and translated into prose in the text. These lines appear again in “The Notion Club Papers” (see Sauron Defeated, below).

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A NORTHERN VENTURE

“Two Saxon riddles recently discovered ” – “Enigmata Saxonica Nuper Inventa Duo”

Two riddles in Old English were first published in A Northern Venture: Verses by Members of the Leeds University English School Association. Swan Press, 1923, page 20. The book can be read at the University of Leeds, including in the Brotherton Special Collections, as well as at Oxford in the Bodleian Library. For other library holdings in Britain and the US, see the Worldcat.org catalogue. The two Old English riddles are reproduced in The Annotated Hobbit: Revised and Expanded Edition, edited by Douglas A. Anderson, HarperCollins, 2003, pp. 124-25.

A Northern Venture is extremely rare and expensive. The solution for one of the riddles is “egg” and “a lighted candle” for the second (Scull & Hammond 344). According to Douglas A. Anderson in The Annotated Hobbit, Tolkien first sent the “egg” riddle in 1922 on a postcard to Henry Bradley, editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, where Tolkien had worked under Bradley’s supervision from 1919-20 (Scull & Hammond 946-48). He then published both riddles in A Northern Venture. Douglas A. Anderson reproduces the riddles in the revised and expanded edition of The Annotated Hobbit, where he comments on their provenance and translates one of the riddles.

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SAURON DEFEATED

Lines adapted from “Battle of Brunanburh” 

“The Notion Club Papers (Part Two).” Sauron Defeated, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 9, ed. Christopher Tolkien, HarperCollins 1992, 2015, pp. 271-72. 

Four lines as if opening a poem on King Edward, adapted from the opening lines of the Old English “Battle of Brunanburh.”

Lines adapted from “The Seafarer”

“The Notion Club Papers (Part Two).” Sauron Defeated, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 9, ed. Christopher Tolkien, HarperCollins 1992, 2015, p. 243 and p. 272. 

Seven lines adapted from the Old English poem “The Seafarer,” lines 36-38 and 44-46. The version on page 243 is translated on the following page, but the version on p. 272 is not translated. Christopher Tolkien comments on some of the differences in these texts and the same lines in The Lost Road (see above) in note 50 on pp. 287-88. 

Lines by Ælfwine

“The Notion Club Papers (Part Two).” Sauron Defeated, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 9, ed. Christopher Tolkien, HarperCollins 1992, 2015, p. 244. 

Six lines in Old English attributed to Ælfwine and translated into modern English prose. In note 51 on page 288, Christopher Tolkien points out a couple of differences in the Old English and in the translation compared to these lines which also appear in The Lost Road, p. 44 (see above). 

Lines opening the story of King Sheave

“The Notion Club Papers (Part Two).” Sauron Defeated, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 9, ed. Christopher Tolkien, HarperCollins 1992, 2015, p. 273. 

Six lines in Old English imitating the style of the opening of Beowulf, applied here to the story of King Sheave coming to the Longobards. The lines are translated in the opening of the King Sheave story, which is a modern English prose presentation of the earlier modern English verse form of the story printed in The Lost Road (see Modern English Compositions, above). Christopher Tolkien dates the lines to 1945 and finds that the verse and prose differ “only in a few minor details” (n. 103, p. 294).

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THE SHAPING OF
MIDDLE-EARTH

Lines on the repulse of the dragon Glómund by Finrod

“The Earliest Annals of Beleriand.” The Shaping of Middle-earth, The History of Middle-earth, vol. 4, edited by Christopher Tolkien, George Allen & Unwin, 1986.  HarperCollins, 2002, p. 337. 

Four lines of Old English verse in the notes for Annal 105 in Christopher Tolkien’s commentary on the second version of the “Annals of Beleriand” (AB II).

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Translations into Modern English Alliterative Verse

BEOWULF

Translations of Beowulf. Oxford University, Bodleian Library, Tolkien MS A 29/1. Fols. 1-56 contain Tolkien’s alliterative translation of the first 594 lines of this 3182-line Old English poem. Only lines 210-224 have been published, first in “On Metre” in Tolkien’s “Prefatory Remarks on Prose Translation of ‘Beowulf’ in the J.R. Clark Hall translation and reprinted in “On Translating Beowulf,” The Monsters and the Critics and other Essays, edited by Christopher Tolkien, HarperCollins, 1983, pp. 49-71.

Tolkien’s prose translation of the poem, along with extensive commentaries and some shorter pieces, appeared in Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary together with Sellic Spell, edited by Christopher Tolkien, HarperCollins, 2014.

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FALL of ARTHUR

Lines from “Battle of Brunanburh”

“Battle of Brunanburh,” (last 10 lines), translated by J.R.R. Tolkien in “Appendix: Old English Verse.” The Fall of Arthur, HarperCollins, 2013, pp. 224-5.

These lines were part of a lecture on Old English verse that Tolkien first composed in 1943. Christopher Tolkien reprints part of that lecture in the Appendix on Old English Verse in The Fall of Arthur. Tolkien begins the lecture with the Old English lines and then his translation, commenting, “So sang a court poet 1000 years ago” (p. 225). He uses some of the lines of his translation to describe Old English alliterative metre.

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PEARL

“Pearl,” translated by J.R.R. Tolkien. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo, edited by Christopher Tolkien, 1975, revised edition HarperCollins, 2020, pp 145-88.

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SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT

“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” translated by J.R.R. Tolkien. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo, edited by Christopher Tolkien, 1975, revised edition HarperCollins, 2020, pp. 28-101.

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This descriptive bibliography is compiled by Anna Smol and Gavin Foster and continues to be a work in progress. We welcome your comments, suggestions, and corrections in the comments below. If you use our bibliography, we would appreciate acknowledgement in whatever documentation style you are using. For example, for this page:

Anna Smol and Gavin Foster. “Descriptive Bibliography: Tolkien’s Alliterative Verses.” Tolkien and Alliterative Verse, 2022. https://tolkienalliterative.ca.

The website logo and images on all of this site’s pages are designed by Gavin Foster. Copyright Gavin Foster.

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