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Thread: Concerning Mellyrn

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MALLORN: A Sindarin word consisting of the two elements [mall-] [orn], respectively meaning Golden Tree. It is pluralized as mellyrn. The Quenya cognates are malinorn’ (sg.) and malinorni (pl.), apparently with the same significance.

Description of a mallorn:
Its bark was silver and smooth, and its boughs somewhat upswept after the manner of the beech; but it never grew save with a single trunk. Its leaves, like those of the beech but greater, were pale green above and beneath were silver, glistening in the sun; in the autumn they did not fall, but turned to pale gold. In the spring it bore golden blossoms in clusters like the cherry, which bloomed on during the summer; and as soon as the flowers opened the leaves fell, so that through spring and summer a grove of malinorni was carpeted and roofed with gold, but its pillars were of grey silver. Its fruit was a nut with a silver shale...
- Unfinished Tales

It seems clear to me that these wonders would be a marvel to see. When I was flipping through Unfinished Tales and saw another passage (which I will relay shortly), it brought to mind another comment I had read long ago but given little thought to; while speaking to the Fellowship in the woods of Lothl’rien, Haldir the Elf said:
"Alas for Lothl’rien that I love! It would be a poor life in a land where no mallorn grew. But if there are mallorn-trees beyond the Great Sea, none have reported it."
When I read that, I pitied the Elves of Lothl’rien, and understood the sacrifice that was being made; how all Galadriel had done with Nenya, her Ring, would be unmade once the One Ring was destroyed.

However, it seems that I empathized with the Elf too soon - according to what I have read, there were mellyrn in the West, though it is only subtlely hinted to in LotR. For one, Sam's mallorn was described as:
the only mallorn west of the Mountains and east of the Sea, and one of the finest in the World.

So the Professor is implying that mallorn-trees grew in the West. What's more, I've come across more passages to elaborate upon that very fact, and the history of mallorn-trees in Middle-earth (i.e. Lothl’rien).

According to the Unfinished Tales, Galadriel received mallorn-'seeds' from her nephew Gil-galad of Lindon. Apparently he had tried to plant them in Lindon near the Havens, but with no such luck.

But it doesn't end there - the text infers that Gil-galad was sent the seeds in his possession by Tar-Aldarion ’ the fourth king of N’menor! Apparently mallorn-trees were abundant in the region of N’simaldor (in N’menor), specifically at the haven of Eldalond’ where other great trees and plant life grew, such as the oiolair’, laireloss’, laurinqu’, nessamelda, vardarianna, taniquelass’, and yavannam’r’. Even more surprising, it is noted that those trees were all brought to N’menor by the Eldar of Tol Eress’a - and that the mellyrn in N’menor were not as grand or magnificent as those in Tol Eress’a. (Galadriel's mellyrn in Lothl’rien were said to pale in comparison to those of N’menor, so therefore the ones on the Lonely Isle would be even more grand, compared to hers!)

Ok, so I went from feeling sorry for the Elves of Lothl’rien because they had to depart over the Sea and go to a land without mellyrn (as Haldir put it), to finding out that they were actually leaving for a place where mellyrn were more beautiful, more abundant, and far greater than the ones they had known in Lothl’rien? Shocked Smilie And I was all worked up over those poor Elves? Please.... Elf Rolling Eyes Smilie

For myself, I like the possibility of the 'loss' of the mallorn trees. I also would challenge Tolkien a bit concerning his later idea about Galadriel's role here.

I think when Tolkien was drafting The Lord of the Rings the mallorn trees of Lothlorien were originally conceived of as being present from very early on. A draft passage for the Song of Nimrodel reads: 'An Elven-lord he was of old // before the birth of men // when first the boughs were hung with gold // in fair Lothlorien'

Here Amroth was seemingly lord of Lothlorien from early in the First Age, and the trees are yet golden. Granted this is poetry, and admittedly Tolkien's revision made the timing more vague in any case, but in The Lord of the Rings itself it is revealed that Amroth had a house built upon Cerin Amroth, where we find mallorn trees.

So it would seem that during Amroth's rule there were mallorn trees already -- yet Tolkien's later note has Galadriel introducing these trees into Lothlorien (Tolkien even fiddles with the names of Lorien to reflect this) -- and Galadriel did not become the Lady of Lothlorien until after Amroth was lost.

As Tyrhael noted above Tolkien imagined that the trees would not grown in Lindon, and that there were mallorn trees in Numenor and Tol Eresea as well. Tyrhael also noted Haldir's (author-published) comment that none have reported if there are mallorn trees across the sea however.

If there were mallorn trees across the sea wouldn't Galadriel herself be aware of this? At least it seems possible. And if she ever tried to grow them in Lindon why did she fail; or did she not try? The sea can hardly be a factor, given Numenor, and certainly Lindon was notably west as far as Middle-earth is concerned, if this was a factor.

Was Nenya a factor? It's true that Galadriel would not have been able to employ Nenya until the Third Age, but she didn't take up the rule of Lothlorien until nearly 2,000 years had passed in the Third Age!

Where did she live before this? Surely Lindon I think -- at least at times -- considering that Celeborn was said to have had a fief there under his rule, at least at some point (also considering a statement about Celeborn in Appendix B). It would seem a bit odd to me that with Eregion gone Galadriel never spent any considerable time in Lindon in the Third Age.

Of course Tolkien's later draft history of Galadriel has her visiting Lothlorien in the Second and Third Ages, and 'Elven visits' can last long. This gives Galadriel a chance to plant mallorn trees before she takes up rule there with Celeborn, but still it seems a bit odd to me that she would do so before settling there.

It's not impossible to invent a scenario in which all these things can work (foresight included); and it could just go unexplained why the trees would not flourish in Lindon, but if given the chance I would ask Tolkien: why not have the mallorn trees thriving in Lorien without Galadriel's influence, other than her preserving them with Nenya when the time came, and arguably enhancing them to greater growth.

And Tolkien's description of Sam's mallorn might imply that there are mallorn trees in the West Over Sea, but technically I feel it remains silent on the issue --  thus leaving the question open: with Galadriel's preservation power gone, with the Elves leaving, will the mallorn trees continue? maybe for a time, but I think they too have 'faded' from Middle-earth, along with the Elvish presence.

And will the Elves of Lothlorien find any mallorn trees in Eressea or Eldamar? There is always estel, but I believe leaving Tyrhael's concern for these Elves is the better route -- thus we have this potential sorrow, in the sense that it remains unknown, although mixed with hope.

Yet that said:

I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew:
Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches blew.
Beyond the Sun, beyond the Moon, the foam was on the Sea,
And by the strand of Ilmarin there grew a golden Tree.
Beneath the stars of Ever-eve in Eldamar it shone,
In Eldamar beside the walls of Elven Tirion.
There long the golden leaves have grown upon the branching years,
While here beyond the Sundering Seas now fall the Elven-tears.

Hmm. A golden tree of some sort, anyway.

But the Elves of Eress’a traded with the Men of N’menor, didn't they? So maybe they thought "what a nice trees", and bought some seeds, I think.

The migration of the seeds, as an idea itself, I have no problem with. It's nice enough and makes sense in general.

I'm just not sure Tolkien needed to explain how the trees ended up in Lothlorien. As I say, at least very early on in the writing of the chapter Lothlorien, the mallorn trees appear to be present in the First Age (again, noting that we could have poetic license here, admittedly).

And if Tolkien really wanted his later history here, desiring it enough to ultimately publish it himself, then one wonders (or I do anyway) exactly when Galadriel planted the mallorn trees in Lothlorien within the timeline. In my opinion Amroth seemed to have them at some point when he was King, thus before Galadriel took up rule in any case.

The other point I was trying to make concerns the reader 'sharing the perspective' of Haldir here, so to speak -- in other words, both Haldir and the reader did not know if there were mallorn trees across the sea -- instead of the reader knowing for certain that mallorn trees do await in the West, at least in Tol Eressea.

I don't know, I find Haldir's words quite poignant, the mallorn trees representing something special about his home. Will he ever see one again if he passes Over Sea?

For a number of years readers were left with the same question as Haldir (unless I've forgotten something here). Tolkien's posthumous notes answer this, potentially anyway; but maybe this is one matter that was better left as a question?

I'm not even wholly sure myself, but today I'm leaning toward: maybe yes.