The Troll and the Troll-wife
Come, sweet my love, and let us stroll
Down where the oily waters roll,
Beside the moss-grown bridge,
And there on slime-slick stones we’ll lie
Where weeds in night-wind sadly sigh
And sweetly whines the midge.
(When black the chilly waters roll
How sweet it is to be a troll!)
Your hair so lank, your teeth so green!
No fairer maid was ever seen
In all of Middle-earth!
Here let us celebrate our love
Whilst ragged rain-clouds fly above
And nightjars chirr* their mirth!
(Distant sea-bells chime and toll
To peal the love of troll for troll!)
Mayhap the time is o’er when we
Could joyful, free and happy be
Beneath the darkling sky!
For lo! The hour approaches soon
When all that’s rank beneath the Moon
Before the light must** fly!
(Soon ne’er a cave nor bosky hole
Shall shelter goblin, imp or troll.)
Then come, my love! And take my hand
Here on the river’s muddy strand,
And we shall plight our troth
With solemn vow that we’ll be true
Whate’er the fate which may ensue –
Come ruin, wrack and wrath!
(When foaming fierce the waters roll,
How said it is to be a troll!)
The day will dawn when we at last
Shall into noisome slough be cast,
Where all our kind must rest –
But there we shall find sure repose,
Untroubled by the spite of those
Who hate us, in the West.
(Ah! Sorry doom! Yet on the whole
It’s not too bad to be a troll.)
*Originally “screech”. However, nightjars do not screech: they make a low chirring sound.
** Originally “shall” but “must” is better as it implies compulsion.
This appeared in Amon Hen 193 (May 2005) under the title “Algae’s Song”. The original context was a long short story I wrote in 2003-2004 concerning events in the Shire which took place three years before Bilbo’s disappearance. Algae was the name of a river troll, one of those trolls familiar from folk-tales who live under bridges and jump out to scare passers-by. He turned out to have a decent (if somewhat lugubrious) nature and Frodo befriended him, an act which affected the outcome of the events related in the story.
“Algae’s Song” appeared in Amon Hen under the name of “Anonymous I of Dorset” as at the time I was still nervous of revealing my own name for fear of critical reprisals!)
NB the passing reference to “Jenny Greenteeth”, water hag of English legend.