Gwnewch y pethau bychain

NEW SONG: The Last March of Gondor

I had refrained from posting this song yet, as I didn’t have a title I liked for it. I’m not 100% sure this is the best title either, but it’s the best one I’ve come up with so far, and at some point, you have to set your children free upon the world.

This song was inspired by a typo. telynor was discussing tracks which will be on the forthcoming Three Weird Sisters album, and made an interesting keyslip, referring to a well known Echo’s Chidlren song they have covered as “Least of My King”. It floated into my brain and connected with my muse, and the beginnings of this came out.

kitanzi and I batted it back and forth in e-mail, and by the end of the day, we had a song. (Thus proving to us that we could actively write songs together! This one’s our first!) Feedback from others, especially telynor and cflute, was helpful in tweaking it and making it better. We debuted it at Boskone to an enthusiastic response (and thanks to ladyat for the bodhran accompaniment!)

To set the scene, imagine the mustering of the troops after the Battle of Penlinor Fields, as Aragorn prepares to lead the Armies of the West to Mordor’s Gate.

The Last March of Gondor
by Rob Wynne and Larissa March
TTTO: “Least of My Kind” by Cat Faber

Armored in in battle mail,
Swearing we shall not fail,
Cursing, we ride to Mordor’s Door.
Men, elves and dwarves unite
Facing the Shadow’s might
Here is a challenge he can’t ignore!

Well spent the battle cost
All hope is not yet lost
Frodo still carries the ring
You have not fought in vain
When you march forth again
You shall be led by your king.

We fought and did not yield
Pelennor’s battlefield
Now we approach the Dark Lord’s gate
Sauron we will defy
Hoping to draw his eye
Far from the one who’ll decide our fate

Well spent the battle cost
All hope is not yet lost
Frodo still carries the ring
You have not fought in vain
When you march forth again
You shall be led by your king.

One day may tell the tale
Courage of men shall fail
That will not be this day, I swear
Look on me now, Dark Lord
Reforged, the broken sword
Thought you that Isildur had no heir?

Well spent the battle cost
All hope is not yet lost
Frodo still carries the ring
You have not fought in vain
When you march forth again
You shall be led by your king.

EDIT:I’ve incorperated a couple of the suggestions from the thread below into the song.

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11 Comments

  1. Hope you don’t mind a few style questions. (feel free to ignore any or all, especially if you’ve decided “the song is done” or that I’m wrong, as I sometimes am).

    S1,L4: Why “Men, elves, and Dwarves?” It seems a bit awkward on the tongue — would a full reversal (Dwarves, Elves, and Men unite) work better?

    S1, L5: Against the Shadow’s might

    The first word feels off, with the stresses in the wrong place; I’d almost prefer “‘Gainst all the Shadow’s Might”.

    Ch, L3: Frodo still carries the ring

    -Totally- trivial, but the sixth sylable in the original is actually a word force of it’s own; this preserves the original’s scansion, but “Frodo still bears the ring” feels better to me and follows the logic of the tune better.

    You have not fought in vain
    When you march forth again
    You shall be led by your king.
    I like!

    Sauron we here defy
    Hoping to draw his eye
    Far from the one who’ll decide our fate

    Works, but I wonder if second person would work better here.

    One day may tell the tale

    “tell a tale”, I think; to indicate that it’s -not- this tale?

    (when) courage of men shall fail
    That will not be this day, I swear
    Look on me now, Dark Lord
    Reforged (is) the broken sword
    (why the parenthetical “is” here?)

    Thought you that Isildur had no heir?
    mnnnn.
    Though I think it changes the stresses on Is-IL-dur, doesn’t it?
    *grumbles*. It’s really cool, though. 🙁
    With the stresses the other way, it might be this, I guess:
    Know now that I am Isildur’s heir

    Also, back in the chorus, “Well spent the battle cost” is good, but I think I preferred what I used in -my- filk even for this — “Well worth the battle cost.” But either way, I’m not sure how this flows into the next line; might even be better to say
    Though large the battle cost
    All hope is not yet lost

    • S1,L4: Why “Men, elves, and Dwarves?” It seems a bit awkward on the tongue — would a full reversal (Dwarves, Elves, and Men unite) work better?

      For some reason, that feels more awkward to my tongue. This may be a difference in regional accent or something. Either works fine for purposes of performance.

      S1, L5: Against the Shadow’s might

      The first word feels off, with the stresses in the wrong place; I’d almost prefer “‘Gainst all the Shadow’s Might”.

      Hrm. I don’t see it, but again have on strenuous objection to it.

      Ch, L3: Frodo still carries the ring

      -Totally- trivial, but the sixth sylable in the original is actually a word force of it’s own; this preserves the original’s scansion, but “Frodo still bears the ring” feels better to me and follows the logic of the tune better.

      Um, huh? This one I don’t see at all.

      The original has:

      BEAT-en and BROK-en and BLIND
      FRO-do still CAR-ries the RING

      I’m not hearing whatever you are hearing, apparently.

      Sauron we here defy
      Hoping to draw his eye
      Far from the one who’ll decide our fate

      Works, but I wonder if second person would work better here.

      For which part? you mean, “your fate” instead of “our fate”? If so, I disagree.

      This song is the equivlant of the St. Cripsin’s Day speech from Henry V. Aragorn is mustering his troops and boosting their morale, so it really needs to have that “we’re all in this together” feel to it.

      One day may tell the tale

      “tell a tale”, I think; to indicate that it’s -not- this tale?

      Again, this is just matter of preference. This line was modeled directly on Aragorn’s line in the movie version of ROTK: “There may come a day when the courage of men shall fail, but it shall not be this day!”

      Reforged (is) the broken sword
      (why the parenthetical “is” here?)

      There are three parenthetical words in the song. They indicate places where a word is being slipped in on the offbeat. I note them that way so that I don’t trip over them in perfomance. “Least of My Kind” has a very syncopated beat that is not forgiving of accidently getting the stresses in the wrong place. 🙂

      When I sing this song, that is is almost swollowed on the end of the the syllable “-forged”.

      Thought you that Isildur had no heir?
      mnnnn.
      Though I think it changes the stresses on Is-IL-dur, doesn’t it?
      *grumbles*. It’s really cool, though. 🙁
      With the stresses the other way, it might be this, I guess:
      Know now that I am Isildur’s heir

      Ok, this is a case where you might be right, but I’m still going to pass on it…That last line is a *strong* echo to Cat’s original, and I really don’t want to lose it for the sake of pronunciation. I think it still works fine as written, even if the middle syllable of Isildur doesn’t get quite as much stress as one might like.

      Also, back in the chorus, “Well spent the battle cost” is good, but I think I preferred what I used in -my- filk even for this — “Well worth the battle cost.” But either way, I’m not sure how this flows into the next line; might even be better to say
      Though large the battle cost
      All hope is not yet lost

      I toyed with this one a lot, and that was the best version I came up with. Your first suggestion doesn’t flow well into the next line, as you note, and the second suggestion doesn’t work for me for some reason — it sounds awkward.

      BTW, I hope that while I’m tossing these out, you do know that I really appreciate the time you took to write the critique. Even if I ultimately decide in the end that I like what I had in the first place better, it’s *always* good to come and look at my work through a fresh pair of eyes. Thanks!!

      • S1,L4: Why “Men, elves, and Dwarves?”

        For some reason, that feels more awkward to my tongue.

        Ok, that makes enough sense — I think the other works better for me — I don’t like landing on “Dwarves”; there’s nowhere hard there, wheras “men” ends with a strong consonant rather than a sylibant.

        S1, L5: Against the Shadow’s might

        The first word feels off, with the stresses in the wrong place; I’d almost prefer “‘Gainst all the Shadow’s Might”.

        Hrm. I don’t see it, but again have on strenuous objection to it.

        Allow me to explain — it’s a landing thing again. Against is (at least
        in north-eastern) pronounced “aGAINST”, with a very strong stress on the second sylable and the first having no stress at all. But the part of the line where it lives is double-stressed — “Muffled in yet to come” has a vocal hammer on “Muff” and “l’d”, and even more of one in later verses (“Look on the damage done”, “Far-off a wolf-pack hears”).

        Ch, L3: Frodo still carries the ring

        “Frodo still bears the ring” feels better to me

        The original has:

        BEAT-en and BROK-en and BLIND
        FRO-do still CAR-ries the RING

        The original does — as I said, you’re following the original (in this instance) perfectly. However, in the original, the “broken” is actually two sylables pushed into one; it would have worked just as well were it, say:

        BEATen, and STIRRED and FRIED. 🙂

        IMO, this is a case of the original song not scanning perflecty and getting away with it (as originals are wont to do, really), but milage can clearly vary. 🙂

        Sauron we here defy

        Works, but I wonder if second person would work better here.

        For which part? you mean, “your fate” instead of “our fate”? If so, I disagree.

        This song is the equivlant of the St. Cripsin’s Day speech from Henry V.

        Ok, that makes sense, but I still think it’s a touch weak. Not sure how it could be improved, though. Hmm.

        “Sauron we will defy,” maybe (or now)? I think my real objection with the phrase is the “here” — it pulls me out of the illusion, not quite sure why.

        Actually, I didn’t realize in the first reading that you misenterpreted me slightly — I mean that the entire thing could be turned around, ie:
        “Sauron, we you defy…” Clearly, the “we” is very important.

        “tell a tale”, I think; to indicate that it’s -not- this tale?

        Again, this is just matter of preference. This line was modeled directly on Aragorn’s line in the movie version of ROTK: “There may come a day when the courage of men shall fail, but it shall not be this day!”

        Butbut…that’s my point.

        What you have is:

        One day may tell the tale
        (when) courage of men shall fail
        That will not be this day, I swear

        But this indicates a specific tale about corrage of men failing. What I suggest is:

        One day may tell a tale
        (when) courage of men shall fail
        That will not be this day, I swear

        Which is actually a closer echo of the movie’s line.

        • Ok, that makes enough sense — I think the other works better for me — I don’t like landing on “Dwarves”; there’s nowhere hard there, wheras “men” ends with a strong consonant rather than a sylibant.

          Nod. I find it more comfortable the other way, so it’s clearly just a case of different speech patterns. There’s no meaningful difference between the two lines, do go with what’s comfortable.

          Allow me to explain — it’s a landing thing again. Against is (at least
          in north-eastern) pronounced “aGAINST”, with a very strong stress on the second sylable and the first having no stress at all. But the part of the line where it lives is double-stressed — “Muffled in yet to come” has a vocal hammer on “Muff” and “l’d”, and even more of one in later verses (“Look on the damage done”, “Far-off a wolf-pack hears”).

          I think Blake’s suggestion of “Facing” is the best so far, and it is stronger than “Against”, though I think the stress isn’t as awkward to my southern ear as it is to your northern one. (Suthern folk talk funny). 🙂

          The original does — as I said, you’re following the original (in this instance) perfectly. However, in the original, the “broken” is actually two sylables pushed into one; it would have worked just as well were it, say:

          BEATen, and STIRRED and FRIED. 🙂

          IMO, this is a case of the original song not scanning perflecty and getting away with it (as originals are wont to do, really), but milage can clearly vary. 🙂

          Hrm. I don’t know. The version I’m most familiar with (3WS amazing cover of the song), that line is very clear Dum-da-da-DUM-da-da-DUM. I still think my line works better in that case.


          Ok, that makes sense, but I still think it’s a touch weak. Not sure how it could be improved, though. Hmm.

          “Sauron we will defy,” maybe (or now)? I think my real objection with the phrase is the “here” — it pulls me out of the illusion, not quite sure why.

          Actually, I didn’t realize in the first reading that you misenterpreted me slightly — I mean that the entire thing could be turned around, ie:
          “Sauron, we you defy…” Clearly, the “we” is very important.

          Ah, now I understand. It was originally “now”, which I rejected because the word “now” appeared in the line just above it. I *do* like “will”, however, and think that makes the line stronger. I wasn’t especially happy with “here”, but hadn’t found a good replacement.

          Butbut…that’s my point.

          What you have is:

          One day may tell the tale
          (when) courage of men shall fail
          That will not be this day, I swear

          But this indicates a specific tale about corrage of men failing. What I suggest is:

          One day may tell a tale
          (when) courage of men shall fail
          That will not be this day, I swear

          Which is actually a closer echo of the movie’s line.

          Ok, at this point, I think that you’re seeing a semantic difference that I don’t acknowlede — it doesn’t MATTER whether the future tale of the failing of the courage of men is mearly one tale among many or a specific tale — they’re both hypothetical situations. The point is that it shall not be THIS day. Further, “a tale” is awkward in the structure of the rhythm (at least, to my tongue).

          This is another case of “I don’t see it as a specific improvement, but it doesn’t change the meaning, so if it’s better for you, go ahead.

      • >>S1, L5: Against the Shadow’s might

        >>The first word feels off, with the stresses in the wrong place; I’d almost prefer “‘Gainst all the >>Shadow’s Might”.

        >Hrm. I don’t see it, but again have on strenuous objection to it.

        Agree that stressing “against” on the first syllable sounds forced. How about “Facing the Shadow’s Might”?

        spelling note: Pelennor Fields.

        Nice song!

        • Wow, was -that- a slip in. 🙂

          I like “facing” pretty well; acat can make his own decision. 🙂


        • Agree that stressing “against” on the first syllable sounds forced. How about “Facing the Shadow’s Might”?

          Oh, now that works nicely!

          spelling note: Pelennor Fields.

          Heh. Kept meaning to look that up, and then forgot!

          Nice song!

          Thanks!

      • My comments wouldn’t fit into one comment, so I’m breaking them up a bit.

        Reforged (is) the broken sword

        (why the parenthetical “is” here?)

        There are three parenthetical words in the song. They indicate places where a word is being slipped in on the offbeat.

        Ah, I see; wasn’t sure what you were doing with them. IMO, the song would actually be a bit stronger without some of them — “Reforged the broken sword” is perfectly gramatical, frex.

        I note them that way so that I don’t trip over them in perfomance. “Least of My Kind” has a very syncopated beat that is not forgiving of accidently getting the stresses in the wrong place. 🙂

        No kidding. One of the reasons I’m a bit of a scansion facist about it, at least for my own performance. 🙂

        Ok, this is a case where you might be right, but I’m still going to pass on it…That last line is a *strong* echo to Cat’s original, and I really don’t want to lose it for the sake of pronunciation. I think it still works fine as written, even if the middle syllable of Isildur doesn’t get quite as much stress as one might like.

        It does, yes. Actually, thinkng about it, it slightly reverses the stresses (singing the phrase naturally, “is” gets more stress than “il”, which in turn gets more than “dur”). But it does work, and the echo is worthwhile.

        Also, back in the chorus, “Well spent the battle cost” is good, but I think I preferred what I used in -my- filk even for this — “Well worth the battle cost.” But either way, I’m not sure how this flows into the next line; might even be better to say

        Though large the battle cost
        All hope is not yet lost

        I toyed with this one a lot, and that was the best version I came up with. Your first suggestion doesn’t flow well into the next line, as you note, and the second suggestion doesn’t work for me for some reason — it sounds awkward.

        Note that your original doesn’t flow any better into the next line.

        I -think- the problem with sug. #2 was the “though large” — it’s the first word doesn’t take the stress very well at all. But I’m not all that happy with the original either (but then, I don’t have to be; it’s your song. 🙂

        BTW, I hope that while I’m tossing these out, you do know that I really appreciate the time you took to write the critique. Even if I ultimately decide in the end that I like what I had in the first place better, it’s *always* good to come and look at my work through a fresh pair of eyes. Thanks!!

        Absolutely — it’s an enjoyable conversation regardless! And, of course, if I do borrow the song, having a conversation on the various pros and minuses (and decisions involved in them) can give me a better idea of what I actually -want- to change.

        • Ah, I see; wasn’t sure what you were doing with them. IMO, the song would actually be a bit stronger without some of them — “Reforged the broken sword” is perfectly gramatical, frex.

          Heh. That’s how I had it just before I posted it. Then I waffled. The word can be left entirely out, and I may leave it out of the “official” lyrics, even if I always do slip it in when I actually sing it. 🙂

          No kidding. One of the reasons I’m a bit of a scansion facist about it, at least for my own performance. 🙂

          And that’s not a bad thing. I don’t always meet the Gold standard (“A person familiar with the tune should be able to sing it perfectly the first time he reads it”), but I try to get as close to that as possible.

          Note that your original doesn’t flow any better into the next line.

          Um, sure it does. Perhaps if i punctuated:

          “Well spent the battle cost;
          All hope is not yet lost!”

          It’s not a single clause, two independant clauses that work together.

          I -think- the problem with sug. #2 was the “though large” — it’s the first word doesn’t take the stress very well at all. But I’m not all that happy with the original either (but then, I don’t have to be; it’s your song. 🙂

          The entire construction of “Though large the battle cost” sounds awkward and clumsy.

          Absolutely — it’s an enjoyable conversation regardless! And, of course, if I do borrow the song, having a conversation on the various pros and minuses (and decisions involved in them) can give me a better idea of what I actually -want- to change.

          Indeed! If you do perform it, you’ll have to let me know how it goes over. 🙂

  2. Wow. I like this.

    And it does remind me of Laurence Dean’s song of the English before Agincourt on St. crispins day -- I’m not sure if that one is on the CD he sent Gwen.

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