The Ride of the Rohirrim

I’ve been thinking a lot about The Lord of the Rings lately and wrote this after listening to Tolkien read the Ride of the Rohirrim passage from The Return of the King. I only listened once and didn’t otherwise read the passage or watch the scene from the movie in the hopes that I wouldn’t rip off too much from them. Some details made their way in nonetheless. You can hear Tolkien read the passage here: It’s worth the listen.

I wrote the poem in anapestic tetrameter, that is, four feet per line, most feet are anapests (unstressed-unstressed-stressed) to give the impression of horses galloping. The first foot of the third and fourth line of each quatrain (group of four lines) starts with an iamb (unstressed-stressed) for variation and to give weight to the final two lines of each quatrain. The last line of the last quatrain ends with an iamb, anapest, tribrach (three unstressed), and a molossus (three stressed).

The Ride of the Rohirrim
On the mountains so high the bright fires were lit
A clear signal to Rohan that Gondor’s besieged.
Then Theoden king who now chose to attend
Declared that their call for swift aid had been heard.

Men were summoned to arms that were sharp and so bright
And their banners did hang in the sun all unfurled.
They marched in procession together to trot
Along the clear path into battle and death.

On that day with the dawn at their backs they arrive
There ten thousand fair riders arrayed for the fight.
The horses now toss their maned heads and then stamp,
Men stir with impatience, now ready to charge.

There upon the green field stand the enemy foul
Now assailing the city with fire and stone,
They turn their black ranks to face the new threat
Assured of their vict’ry though still ere the fray.

And then Theoden king does emerge from his doubt,
At the fore now his horse he does spur and his horn
He blows, a great blast that does split the clear air
And calls to his men so that all may him hear:

“Ride with me, Eorlingas, for Gondor, now ride
One last time for our hearth and our home and our lives.
And if it is truly our last, let us ride,
Ride on to the halls of our fathers renowned.”

Then he springs away first and calls “Forward. Ride, ride!”
And his banner does stream a green field and white horse
A copy so pale of the king and his steed,
And ev’ry brave rider soon follows the king.

All point spears that do blaze in the morning sun’s light
And their bright burnished helms stream behind in the wind
And horses swift galloping heels in the dust
Do blur as they carry their riders to war.

Now ten thousand brave riders do thunder on toward
The foul foes as a vast rolling storm soon to sweep
Away the invaders like so many leaves,
So great the Rohirrim and their last brave ride.

meter: anapestic tetrameter
form: none; nine quatrains
rhyme: none

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