April's Challenges

The Duel of Songs

J.R.R. Tolkien was an avid poet, and poetry filled his stories, from his first tentative imaginings in The Book of Lost Tales to the songs we all know by heart from The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. As April is National Poetry Month, it seems fitting to spend the month looking at Tolkien's poems and those by other authors based on his works.

This month, we encourage our authors to try their hand at poetry based on Tolkien's works. Not sure where to begin? The WORDshop has links to pages about dozens of poetic forms. Try a triolet, a tritina, or a tanka. Make us laugh over limericks and sigh over sonnets! Or maybe you tend to skip the poems in the books (don't worry, a lot of us do!) and want a refresher course? has much of Tolkien's poetry in one spot.

And, of course, don't forget to check out the poems by our SWG authors here.

Quote of the Month

He chanted a song of wizardry,
Of piercing, opening, of treachery,
Revealing, uncovering, betraying.
Then sudden Felagund there swaying
Sang in answer a song of staying,
Resisting, battling against power,
Of secrets kept, strength like a tower,
And trust unbroken, freedom, escape;
Of changing and of shifting shape
Of snares eluded, broken traps,
The prison opening, the chain that snaps.
Backwards and forwards swayed their song.
Reeling and foundering, as ever more strong
The chanting swelled, Felagund fought,
And all the magic and might he brought
Of Elvenesse into his words.
Softly in the gloom they heard the birds
Singing afar in Nargothrond,
The sighing of the Sea beyond,
Beyond the western world, on sand,
On sand of pearls in Elvenland.
Then the gloom gathered; darkness growing
In Valinor, the red blood flowing
Beside the Sea, where the Noldor slew
The Foamriders, and stealing drew
Their white ships with their white sails
From lamplit havens. The wind wails,
The wolf howls. The ravens flee.
The ice mutters in the mouths of the Sea.
The captives sad in Angband mourn.
Thunder rumbles, the fires burn--
And Finrod fell before the throne.
-The Silmarillion, "Of Beren and Lúthien"

Character of the Month: Daeron

Author’s Note: This is intended to be a simple summary of the character and not a definitive research piece on every mention of Daeron in Tolkien’s earliest versions of his history. Neither is it intended to be a summary of the tale of Lúthien. For better or for worse, I have told Daeron’s story as it is presented in published version of The Silmarillion, with any references to additional sources specifically noted. More exact citations are given for direct quotations only.

Daeron of Doriath is given high praise, a significant role in plot development, and yet few words in The Silmarillion. He is repeatedly referred to throughout The Silmarillion as having been the consummate minstrel among the Elves. Even the mighty singer Maglor, son of Fëanor, takes second place to his artistry. While this reader might wish to argue that the creation of the Noldolantë would take precedence over crafting songs for Lúthien, there is nothing in canon to back this up.

Although Daeron is most widely known for his love of Lúthien, he must have been a remarkable Elf indeed to have been chosen as the chief loremaster of King Elu Thingol.

The importance of minstrel and loremaster are underlined by the fact that music and memory are two major themes in Tolkien's work. Music wields concrete power in Tolkien’s interpretation of his world. First, there is the Music of the Ainur, which literally creates the world that his characters inhabit. We also have the physical power of music manifested in the great song contests, like those of Lúthien before Morgoth and Finrod Felagund with Sauron. Among many other examples of the force of music are the power of Fingon’s song that enabled him to find Maedhros or Finrod’s ability to bring as clear visions "of the making of Arda, and the bliss of Aman beyond the shadows of the Sea" before the eyes of the men he first came upon in the forest. (The Silmarillion, "Of the Coming of Men into the West")

The force of memory is another major pillar of Tolkien’s universe, an attribute held in its purest form by all of Elvenkind, but embodied most explicitly in his minstrels and loremasters. Within Tolkien’s legendarium, the Elves as quasi-immortal beings retain in living remembrance the details of the greatest defeats and victories, the deeds of its heroes and villains, and the lessons of their past. They preserve intact a history that otherwise will be lost or corrupted when it is forced to reside solely within the faulty memories of mortal Men and supported only by the flawed methods of recording and preserving them of the Secondborn. By contrast, the Elves are the representation of memory made perfect.

Born of a race renowned for its singers and poets, the fact that Daeron is chosen as chief loremaster to Thingol is, within the structure of Tolkien’s world, an affirmation of his importance and his talent. While the Noldor, who were much taken up with the study of languages, originally used the script devised by Rúmil of Tirion and later the version perfected by Fëanor, the Sindar were not inclined to commit their history to writing. Daeron, however, devised a Runic alphabet called the Cirth.

Daeron’s tragic denouement begins for me with the lines in The Silmarillion that state that “the Naugrim that came to Thingol learned them, and were well-pleased with the device, esteeming Daeron's skill higher than did the Sindar, his own people.” What can be more frustrating and saddening to a creator than to have one’s labor go under-appreciated by those closest to him?

By the Naugrim the Cirth were taken east over the mountains and passed into the knowledge of many peoples; but they were little used by the Sindar for the keeping of records, until the days of the War, and much that was held in memory perished in the ruins of Doriath.

The Silmarillion, “Of the Sindar”

If one might say he was not successful in transmitting to his people the compulsion to keep written records, Daeron nonetheless was held in high esteem among his people and given certain authority. After the arrival of the Noldor in Beleriand, it was Daeron, along with Mablung, who was sent by Thingol to offer his salutations at the Mereth Aderthad, the Feast of Reuniting, which Fingolfin, as High King of the Noldor, had called to celebrate the alliances among the Elves being formed against Morgoth. (Note to fanfic writers: yes, Daeron would have had an opportunity to have met and become acquainted with Maglor, Tolkien’s other great minstrel.) Additionally, while the Tengwar of Fëanor were eventually used by many peoples throughout Middle-earth for correspondence, chronicles, and administration, a version of Daeron’s letters were adopted by the Noldor due to the suitability of their angular form for use in carving upon stonework (The Lord of the Rings, "The Return of the King", Appendix E).

In the final version of Daeron’s story we are given no clue to his parentage, although one might expect that he was rather highly born, especially in light of the fact that when Daeron first appears in Tolkien’s writing in “The Tale of Tinúviel” (The Book of Lost Tales, Part II), he is identified there as Dairon, the brother of Lúthien. In The Shaping of Middle-Earth (The History of Middle-Earth, Vol. 4), he is said to be the one who had loved Lúthien before she met Beren. In the latest version in the published Silmarillion, it is says that “Daeron the minstrel also loved Lúthien, and he espied her meetings with Beren, and betrayed them to Thingol.” After Beren left upon his quest to obtain a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown and Lúthien discovered that he was being held a prisoner, she went to Daeron, believing that he was the only person who might aid her. Once again, “lest she fail and fade,” Daeron reported that Lúthien’s intent was to seek to rescue her beloved. Due to Daeron’s intervention, Lúthien was restrained and kept aloft in a house in a giant tree, whence it was believed she would not be able to escape. But, she did escape. After Lúthien left Doriath, Daeron, fearing for her life, took off to find her and was never seen again. The last words in The Silmarillion regarding the fate of Daeron are reminiscent of the story of Maglor, who also disappeared, wandering and lamenting, his final destiny unknown.

He it was that made music for the dance and song of Lúthien, before Beren came to Doriath; and he had loved her, and set all his thought of her in his music. He became the greatest of all the minstrels of the Elves east of the Sea, named even before Maglor son of Fëanor. But seeking for Lúthien in despair he wandered upon strange paths, and passing over the mountains he came into the East of Middle-earth, where for many ages he made lament beside dark waters for Lúthien, daughter of Thingol, most beautiful of all living things.

The Silmarillion, “Of Beren and Lúthien”

Character profiles by Oshun.

View past character profiles.
Read archived stories about Daeron.

Want more challenges? Check out our complete challenge listing for more than two years' worth of challenges to inspire your writing!

Have an idea for a challenge? Some of our most popular challenges have been created by you, the members of SWG! If you have a plotbunny gnawing at your ankle, a favorite quote, or a favorite character that you think might inspire others as well, please send an email to and we'll try to include your challenge in our next newsletter!

April's News

Back to Middle-earth Month

The highlight of March on SWG was, without a doubt, Back to Middle-earth Month (B2MeM). This project was created in order to showcase the work of the many talented authors, poets, and artists in the Tolkien community, as well as to share why we choose, on a daily basis, to "go back to Middle-earth."

We challenged writers and artists in the Tolkien community to send us not only their work based on thirteen topics but also their personal narratives about why they fell in love with Tolkien's works and continue to create based on them. We received around one hundred pieces for inclusion in this project, ranging from new material written specifically for B2MeM to well-loved classics that readers have enjoyed for years now, and each author and artist gave us intriguing insight to how he or she came to Middle-earth, so to speak.

If you have not visited our Back to Middle-earth Month pages yet, then we invite you to do so, and we sincerely thank all of you--contributors, readers, and volunteers--who supported this project!

Remember, if you participated this year, to grab a banner or button!

Changes to the Archive

During March, as part of a discussion on the SWG's Yahoo! list, the subject of Alernate Universe (AU) stories came up. Traditionally, "Alternate Universe" has been included on the warning list on our archive. It was placed there when the archive was being built and was never questioned or moved to a more appropriate location.

As part of the discussion of AU, the placement of "Alternate Universe" as a warning was questioned. Because AU stories are often the subject of strong reader prejudice--only worsened by listing AU under the negative connotation of a warning--it was suggested that these stories would be better served if AU was a genre rather than a warning. I agreed, no objections were raised by any of the other members participating in the discussion (though more than a few liked the proposed change), and so, mid-month, "Alternate Universe" was added as a genre, all AU stories in the archive were edited to add the new genre, and AU was deleted as an option for the warning list.

Not long after, as part of a moderator discussion, we decided to also add Mystery and Erotica to the genre list. Again, the genre list was created in the rush of trying to get the archive off of the ground, and we did miss things. Over the past year, we have tried our best to address these omissions as soon as we notice them. If you feel like something is missing (or misplaced!) on the archive, please feel free to make a suggestion for change to our moderators!

Authors who wish their stories to have one of the new genres listed--meaning that a search for that genre will return that story in the list of matches--may do so retroactively but visiting Account Info and choosing Manage Stories. Choose Edit for the story you wish to modify and add the new genre(s) you wish to apply from the list. Remember, holding down CTRL (or Command, for Mac users) allows you to select more than one from the list. Also remember that SWG does not limit the number of genres an author may list for his or her story, so please feel free to add as many as you believe fit.

Changes to the Yahoo! Group

Members on our Yahoo! discussion list have likely noticed that there has been an increase in the amount of spam that has been getting through. When SWG was created, we allowed anyone to join the group without moderator approval. It was our hope that SWG would never be a difficult or intimidating group to join. Unfortunately, this good intention has also made it really easy for spammers to join the group and get messages into the inboxes of ninety-some members.

As such, the SWG moderators have implemented some changes on the Yahoo! group. First, membership on the SWG Yahoo! group is now moderated: that is, a moderator must approve each new member who wishes to join. As part of the "application," new members will need to write a few words on why they want to join the group. Hopefully, this will weed out spammers by at least assuring that new members know that they are joining a group of Tolkien fans and writers!

Secondly, new members' first post(s) will also be moderated and must be approved before being made available to the rest of the group. Once a member makes an on-topic post to the group, a moderator will remove the moderated status from that member. In this way, even spammers who manage to convince us on their application will have their attempts to spam stopped at the door.

None of these changes are meant to be intimidating or exclusionary, and we will let anyone into the group that possesses a legitimate interest in Tolkien and writing. We regret having to make these changes but, after being hit with multiple spam messages in a single day, decided that something must be done to make SWG a pleasant place for discussion, which it will not be if it is overrun with spam. New members and members who have not yet posted are encouraged to make an introduction post so that a moderator can remove their moderated status as quickly as possible. Please remember that moderated status is not automatically removed after your first post, and while we will do our best to get all members approved for the proper status as quickly as possible, then short delays should be expected. If more than a day passes and you do not see your membership or first post approved, please feel free to contact our moderators.

Finally, we would like to remind our Yahoo! group members that the message archive will be made public within the next few months. The tentative date set for this is 1 June 2008. As soon as this is finalized, then we will post the date on our site. Members who have contributed to the archive in the past should expect to get notice of this change from our site within the next couple of weeks. Remember, we are willing to delete past messages when the author does not want them to be publicly available. Please see our FAQ for more information on this, as well as the security settings in place to protect our members on a public archive.

Around the World and Web

April Is National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, and, since Tolkien was an enthusiastic poet, we encourage our members and visitors to take a moment to appreciate song and verse by checking out our new challenge, reading one of Tolkien's poems, and reading some of the poetry our members have posted on our archive!

The Majority Rules Ficathon

The Majority Rules Ficathon is underway "to celebrate the possibility that (at long, long last) either a woman or a person of color will be the next American president by producing fanworks about people of color and women in positions of political power." If you're interested in contributing a piece to this project, please see their LiveJournal community for more information.

Around the World and Web is provided for our members to inform them of events in the larger Tolkien community. SWG is not affiliated with and does not endorse the groups that we feature in Around the World and Web, and we are not responsible for content on sites outside of our own. Please use discretion and caution when visiting unfamiliar sites on the Internet.

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