Tolkien Gateway

Of Lembas

The Peoples of Middle-earth
  1. The Prologue
  2. The Appendix on Languages
  3. The Family Trees
  4. The Calendars
  5. The History of the Akallabêth
  6. The Tale of Years of the Second Age
  7. The Heirs of Elendil
  8. The Tale of Years of the Third Age
  9. The Making of Appendix A
  10. Of Dwarves and Men
  11. The Shibboleth of Fëanor
  12. The Problem of Ros
  13. Last Writings
  14. Dangweth Pengoloð
  15. Of Lembas
  16. The New Shadow
  17. Tal-Elmar

Of Lembas is the fifteenth chapter of The Peoples of Middle-earth, forming part of the Dangweth Pengoloð manuscript, written between 1951-1959.[1]

[edit] Content

Like the rest of the manuscript, it was written with a beautiful calligraphic style, although not with the same quality, just accompaning the main text on Elvish tongues. The title includes a Quenya question as part of the title: 'Mana i·coimas in·Eldaron?' maquente Elendil?. Tolkien added the Quenya title to make the text a companion to the Dangweth Pengoloð in which Pengolodh answers Ælfwine's (Elendil) questions.[2]

[edit] The text

"This food the Eldar alone knew how to make. It was made for the comfort of those who had need to go upon a long journey in the wild, or of the hurt whose life was in peril. Only these were permitted to use it. The Eldar did not give it to Men, save only to a few whom they loved, if they were in great need.

The Eldar say that they first received this food from the Valar in the beginning of their days in the Great Journey. For it was made of a kind of corn which Yavanna brought forth in the fields of Aman, and some she sent to them by the hand of Orome for their succour upon the long march.

Since it came from Yavanna, the queen, or the highest among the elven-women of any people, great or small, had the keeping and gift of the lembas, for which reason she was called
massánië or besain: the Lady, or breadgiver.

Now this corn had in it the strong life of Aman, which it could impart to those who had the need and right to use the bread. If it was sown at any season, save in frost, it soon sprouted and grew swiftly, though it did not thrive in the shadow of plants of Middle-earth and would not endure winds that came out of the North while Morgoth dwelt there. Else it needed only a little sunlight to ripen; for it took swiftly and multiplied all the vigour of any light that fell on it.

The Eldar grew it in guarded lands and sunlit glades; and they gathered its great golden ears, each one, by hand, and set no blade of metal to it. The white haulm was drawn from the earth in like manner, and woven into corn-leep for the storing of the grain: no worm or gnawing beast would touch that gleaming straw, and rot and mould and other evils of Middle-earth did not assail it. From the ear to the wafer none were permitted to handle this grain, save those elven-women who were called
Yavannildi (or by the Sindar the Ivonwin), the maidens of Yavanna; and the art of the making of the lembas, which they learned of the Valar, was a secret among them, and so ever has remained.

Lembas is the Sindarin name, and comes from the older form lenn-mbass 'journey-bread'. In Quenya it was most oftennamed coimas which is 'life-bread'."
― Quente Quengoldo.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Dangweth Pengoloð", p. 395
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Lembas", p. 403