The Death of Smaug
as told by Bard the Bowman
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
What first I feared had finally come to pass!
Their graceless grandeur, their greed and foolishness,
their ignorant thoughtlessness, arrogance and pride
drew down the dragon’s ire, and doom was come upon us!
Our place, our prosperity and precarious peace
we had held here, hidden in our hands;
with quiet commerce cautiously constructing
throughout the long years a life and living on the lake;
not troubling the terror, nor travelling to the north;
but finding firm friends in the Elf kingdoms,
winning trade in wine both west and south.
Then with the Dwarves came confusion and controversy.,
The ragged refugees claiming royal rights.
Hopes were heard, and too hurriedly believed,
rich and poor saw a bold brightness brandished,
False was the future they unfolded before us!
My briefest thought told me that burning bane
could not be conned, cornered and craftily killed,
by so few, so simply, and so soon!
‘Doom and disaster, danger,devastation!’
Perforce I spoke those words of woe,
pleading for patience, and proper thought.
But all-unmoved, a mockery they made of me,
drawn in excitement to their unreal dreams.
New songs they sang, sated their thirst, speaking
of fame and fortune, gold and glory
given by Thorin – a new and caring Dwarven king!
The year’s end approaches, and our ending also.
Look to the North, in the night a light is lit!
Bereaved of his gold by the brave burglar
Arisen from rest, his revenge seeking,
roaring in rage, he rows the dark skies,
a flaming dart of final doom.
Red the ripples on river and lake,
as Smaug, in swift spite swoops down
with furious fire to fight against us.
Urgent, the trumpet sings out the alarm!
At once our axes bite and cut
until crashing, the causeway crumples and falls.
But his broad wings beating bear him on
daring the danger of quenching depths.
Fear of our fiery foe finds many unmanned,
scrambling and scattering to escape all scathe.
But sturdily my mighty men still stand unmoved,
terror not tearing their trusty hearts.
Archers all, their anger stirs against Smaug
till hard hands loose their shafts on high
straight and strong, none stray from the target.
Yet in vain we loose, and naught avails us.
Hard as adamant is his hauberk of jewels,
and our shafts shrivel in his white-hot breath.
Throughout the town the thatch he tears and burns,
while with brimming buckets brave souls try
to quickly quench the flaming roofs.
His thrashing tail smashes homes and Hall;
his brute breath burns the broken ruins.
And while we fight, weeping wives and widows
bundle into boats with babes in arms,
hoping against hope this horror will be halted.
Weary in body and soul, almost my spirit quails
as yet unhurt he hunts across the waves.
Wrathful beyond reason he rages over us again,
careless and reckless, in heedless confidence.
Then to my shoulder fluttering a thrush flies.
‘Wait,’ he whispers, ‘Watch for his weakness;
behold it by the breast, beneath the leg,’
a gaping hole in his jewelled habergeon.’
Bending my bow I pray, ‘Black arrow,
trusty heirloom, fly true to your final target.
Straight from the string smite this evil Smaug!’
Deafening is his dreadful, dying cry,
his scream splinters stone, and split trees tumble.
His awful anguish echoes across the lake,
till full on the flames of his fiery pyre
he crashes, and is quickly quenched.
The dark depths swallow him in steam
. . .and sudden silence.
Written in Tolkien’s favourite form – Anglo Saxon Alliterative verse. This is inspired by his genius, and offered in honour and with thanks.