Tolkien Gateway

When the black breath blows

"When the black breath blows" is a poem of herblore spoken by the herb-master of the Houses of Healing in the chapter "The Houses of Healing". It is an old rhyme telling of the healing properties of athelas, though it is considered by some to be little more than an old wives' tale despite the truth of its words.

[edit] Text

When the black breath blows
and death's shadow grows
and all lights pass,
come athelas! come athelas!
Life to the dying
In the king's hand lying!

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

2011: The Lord of the Rings: War in the North

The poem is recounted by one of the healers at Halbarad's encampment at Sarn Ford, though "athelas" is here mispronounced as "ah-THAY-lus" rather than "ATH-e-lass" as the poem would suggest.

[edit] See also