The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun (Tolkien)

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The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Summary of the Poem
Microsummary: A childless lord sought help from a witch, who gave him a potion that resulted in the birth of twins. Later, the witch demanded a price, leading to the lord and his wife's tragic deaths.

In a land beyond the seas, there was a lord who lived in an arched hall with his wife. They loved each other dearly, but they had no children to fill their home with laughter. The lord often pondered his fate, fearing that his tomb would be unkept and strangers would take over his lands.

One day, the lord sought the help of a witch who could weave webs to ensnare hearts and wits. She brewed a potion for him that could bind the living and stir the dead. The witch gave the potion to the lord, telling him that he would have to pay her a rich reward when they met again.

Aotrou — lord; desperate for an heir; loving husband; brave, but ultimately tragic.
The Witch — malevolent, cunning, and powerful; provides the potion that grants Aotrou and Itroun children, but demands a price.

The lord returned home and shared the potion with his wife. Soon after, she gave birth to a boy and a girl, and their home was filled with joy. However, the lord's happiness was short-lived, as he was drawn into the woods by a mysterious white doe. He followed the doe into a dark forest, where he encountered the witch once more.

The witch demanded that the lord marry her, but he refused, declaring his love for his wife and their children. The witch cursed him, saying that he would die in three days. The lord returned home, feeling the effects of the curse, and told his wife of his fate.

In three days I shall live at ease, and die but when it God doth please in eld, or in some time to come in the brave wars of Christendom.

On the third day, the lord died, and his wife was heartbroken. She went to the church to mourn her husband, dressed in black as was the custom for women in mourning. She saw her husband's body on a bier, covered with a pall, and the arms and banner of her lord.

Itroun — Aotrou's wife; loving and loyal; longs for children; ultimately suffers a tragic fate.

The lady returned to her bed, where she fell into a deep sleep and never woke up. She was buried beside her lord, and their children were left to play in the garden, never knowing the joy of their parents' love.

Beside her lord at last she lay in their long home beneath the clay; and if their children lived yet long, or played in garden hale and strong.

In the land beyond the seas, the wind continued to blow through the trees, and the witch's laughter echoed through the hills. The story of the lord and lady serves as a reminder of the sadness that can come from seeking help from dark forces and the importance of hope and prayer in the face of despair.