🧙 The Tolkien Forum 🧝

Welcome to our forum! Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox! Plus you won't see ads ;)

Help explaining a couple of verses to a non native english speaker

hocico

New Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2020
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Location
Spain
Hi everyone and thank you for your time. I have no knowledge about Tolkien books and lore, but I have the task to translate a couple of verses from The Lay of the Children of Húrin to my native language, and I don't understand what they mean.

"There the twain enfolded phantom twilight
and dim mazes dark, unholy"


Researching the context on the internet, I found some commentary. The verses are about Túrin and his companion Flinding (or Gwindor?), arriving to the land of Nan Dumgorthin ("the land of the dark idols", east of Artanor, where some evil tribes of renegade men sacrificed to hidden idols) fleeing after the death of Beleg Strongbow. Then the verses continue:

"There the twain enfolded phantom twilight
and dim mazes dark, unholy

in Nan Dungorthin where nameless gods
have shrouded shrines in shadows secret,
more old than Morgoth or the ancient lords
the golden gods of the guarded West.
But the ghostly dwellers of that grey valley
hindered nor hurt them, and they held their course
with creeping flesh and quaking limb.
Yet laughter at whiles with lingering echo,
as distand mockery of demon voices
there harsh and hollow in the hushed twilight
Flinding fancied, fell, unwholesome..."


What I dont understand is what "enfolded" actually means here, and the "dim mazes dark" part is also confusing to me. Did they dim the mazes dark? In context, it doesnt seem so. Did they dim the dark mazes, making them less dark? or dim is another adjective too?

Thank you in advance to whoever takes the time to reply. I've been asking about this to people with high knowledge of english, and they say that the verses are so vague that they must depend on the context to clarify their meaning. So I guessed that the best people to answer this are the ones who read the book.
 
Last edited:

Elthir

Registered User
Joined
Nov 28, 2004
Messages
1,023
Reaction score
488
I would say "dim, dark (unholy)" are adjectives here. To oversimplify the matter with respect to alliterative verse, the word dark, even if it's arguably "a bit" redundant with respect to lack of light, works for the second "half line" in this instance.

Despite the peril of the forest, the two (enfolded) "to closely hold or completely cover someone or something" the twilight, and so on, as they passed through.

__________
Aside: I note the matter of syllable stress with respect to the alliteration of F in the half lines:

There the twain enfolded / phantom twilight
 
Last edited:

hocico

New Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2020
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Location
Spain
Wow, quite a rich answer. I'm learning a lot from all of this.

Anyway, I just found the spanish version of the book (I'm spanish) and it's translated just as you say. The only thing that doesn't match is that, in the spanish translation, the "enfolded" part is translated to something like "there both were enfolded by a ghostly twilight". Do you think there's any way that, in the original, the "twain" is a passive subject of the "enfolded", and not an active subject? or it must be just a decision of the spanish translator to make things easier to understand?
 

Elthir

Registered User
Joined
Nov 28, 2004
Messages
1,023
Reaction score
488
Hmm.

As I read it, the two "embraced" -- another definition of enfold, which poetically (I'm guessing) could include "enfolded themselves in" --
the phantom twilight (and so on).
 
Last edited:

Thread suggestions

Top