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5^7Hな%2$ qT7JaF2$`C
Norolinde pirukendëa
Tripping lightly on the point of her toes,
な$2$ 1E5"# 5%`Vな%a'Gな%8 =
lende tanna Nielikkilis,
thither came little Niéle,
iD5# nR2$ 5%`V5%v$`C
sana wende nieninquëa
that maiden like a snowdrop,
hÍD5 `B yTな´#6 `C4#6 t%zFな%8 -
yan i vilyar antar miquelis.
to whom the air gives soft kisses.
`B=`N7Ht#2% 1E5"# な$2$
I·oromandi tanna lende
The mountain dwellers came thither,
`C6 nTs%m% nTなnE7T2%`V
ar wingildi wilwarindie
and the foam-fays like butterflies,
な^,Fな%`V 1Rな$7T5nE =
losselie telerinwa:
the white people of the shores of Elfland,
1~Cj% な#4#な#,Fな%s%`V -
táli lantalasselingie.
with feet like the music of falling leaves.

In 1931, J. R. R. Tolkien made a conference touching about his invention of languages, and claiming that this seemingly curious hobby was a peculiar form of art. The text, a very important one to get what his imaginary languages were to him, was published in the collection The Monsters and the Critics with the title A Secret Vice. Tolkien produced several poems as examples, three in Qenya and one in Noldorin; Nieninqe “Snowdrop” is one of these poems.

Five versions of Nieninqe are known and have been studied in Parma Eldalamberon n° 16 pp. 88-97: Here we reproduce this 1955 version, with a translation derived from the 1931 version but revised according to the glossary.

Interestingly, Tolkien did not change the Elvish text very much, with most emendations only reflecting the revised grammar of his later Quenya as it appears in contemporary texts. He must have been quite satisfied with the sound of the words, because rather than changing some that did not longer fit his conceptions, he reinterpreted their meanings and etymologies: so pirukendëa was shifted in meaning from “whirling lightly” in 1931 to “on the point of her toes” in 1955, and oromandi “wood spirits” became “mountain dwellers”. This contrasts sharply with the poem Markirya, which has a similar history, but the meaning of which Tolkien kept more or less the same throughout its many versions, while he revised the wording extensively.

The text is transcribed in tengwar or “letters of Fëanor” according to the classical mode for Quenya described by Tolkien in the Appendix E to The Lord of the Rings and used for instance by the Namarië manuscript in The Road Goes Ever On p. 65. We made use of Johan Winge’s typeface Tengwar Annatar.

Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel. The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays. Edited by Christopher Tolkien. London: HarperCollins, 2006. 256 p. ISBN 0-261-10263-X.
Parma Eldalamberon: The Book of Elven-tongues. Edited by Christopher Gilson. Cupertino (California): 1971-  . 🌍 Eldalamberon.

The works of John Ronald Reuel and Christopher Tolkien are under the copyright of their authors and/or rights holders, including their publishers and the Tolkien Estate.
Quotations from other authors, editors and translators mentioned in the bibliography are under the copyright of their publishers, except for those whose copyright term has ended.
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