"The Lady Elanor" by jan-u-wine, with three paintings.
Here begins a series of entries featuring poems by jan-u-wine, paired with art chosen to set off the pieces. The poem below twists my heart with its emotional power, yet it's written with Jan's characteristic reserve. In it, her eye for detail and painterly way with words depict with vivid economy what might have been Elanor's interior experience as she braces herself for the departure of her beloved father. Written to movie-verse, with its child Elanor (rather than the book's baby Elanor), she can remember the one to whom he sails, the quiet scholar and former master of Bag End, who dandled her on his knee, the hero of her father's tales, now gone into the West.
The paintings are identified at the bottom of the post.
The Lady Elanor
~ by jan-u-wine
(A grey-crowned head rests upon folded arms -
blunt'd by long care and earth's caress, yet hold the quill to leaf-thin page….
Square, careful letters, homely contrast
to the round, erratic spill that went before,
line the many pages.
It is finished.
It is time)
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
A mere taste of wind danced the high clouds to-day.
A voice, familiar, dear, finds me in the garden,
sighs its greeting into my ear.
His old cloak holds him warm from the breath of the Sea.
The book is beneath his arm.
My throat tightens.
He does not know I remember.
So small I was, yet smaller still he seemed, that day.
Even the sound of his feet upon the road diminished beneath his grief……
even Mum's kiss, so gentle-sad upon his cheek…..
even my arms, tight with love about his neck,
did not bring him back to us.
And though the sun shone, still
I saw the grey-green of a ragged Sea reflected in far-off eyes……..
and a book, (this same book,) held close to him,
tight to his heart, as if by holding it, he might keep-safe that which was lost.
He looks a bit lost, himself, today…..
as one in hope of being found.
I show him the roses, now,
the ones he named for me: Airë-seldë-elennanórë a meril.**
How well they grow here:
fragile poppy-paper pink, dash-of-lemon yellow,
winter's-breath-white….. swaying like children held captive by the dance……
clinging to sand-mixed earth.
We take tea upon the bench in the garden.
It is strong, this tea.
All the long way from the house of the King it came,
a gift of our Lady to the last of the Ringbearers.
Her letter, the gentle flow of silver-toned words soft upon gold-limned parchment, stays upon his knee.
He is looking to where the Towers lie.
I follow his eye.
Almost beyond vision,
a slip of white shines upon the blue throat of the Sea.
This time, it shall be me who will return alone from the harbour.
Never shall a ship stay for me upon the turning of the tide.
I fasten the clasp of his cloak about his throat.
He kisses my forehead.
All the words I have learnt at the feet of my Lady,
all the words like music, by means of which I might bid him farewell, leave me.
I understand the bitterness of her choice now.
In that far land,
beneath the lamps which were lit from the World's beginning….
remember, please, your Elanorelle.
**literally: Sea-child, star-rose. The word elennanórë means star-wards.
"Atmospheric Landscape" ~ Emil Carlsen "Monet's Garden at Giverny" ~ John Leslie Breck "Far Away" ~ Michael F. Wood
~ Sweerts, Michael: 'Self-portrait', plus jan-u-wine's "At the Last", 1-30-10.