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Ere iron was found or tree was hewn

Ere iron was found or tree was hewn is the first line of a short poem recited by Gandalf to King Théoden, when asked about what caused the summoning of the Huorns during the Battle of the Hornburg. Could it have been an act of "wizardry?", asked Théoden. Gandalf said that it was "a power far older", and went on to recite the poem. Théoden identified Gandalf's lines of verse as a riddle.[1]

[edit] The poem

Ere iron was found or tree was hewn,
When young was mountain under moon;
Ere ring was made, or wrought was woe,
It walked the forests long ago.

[edit] Composition

The poem contains four iambs in each line, and the lines rhyme in pairs.[2] Verlyn Flieger has described the poem as a piece of "folk verse".[3]

[edit] Name

Among fans, the poem is commonly called Gandalf's Riddle of the Ents.[4][5][6][2]

[edit] Inspiration

It has been noted that Tolkien re-used a phrase from his Lay of Aotrou and Itroun:[7]

ere fire was found or iron hewn,
when young was mountain under moon.
—vv. 299-300[8]

[edit] See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Road to Isengard"
  2. 2.0 2.1 'Kamelen' (alias), "Gandalf's Riddle of the Ents/Gandalfs gåta om enterna [Swedish-language]" dated 17 October 2016, (accessed 5 December 2016)
  3. Verlyn Flieger, "Poems by Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings", in Michael D.C. Drout (ed), J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment
  4. 'NenyaGold' (alias), "Gandalf's Riddle of the Ents", (accessed 5 December 2016)
  5. "Gandalf's Riddle of the Ents" dated 29 September 2003, (accessed 5 December 2016)
  6. "Gandalf's Riddle to the Ents" dated 9 August 2016, (accessed 5 December 2016)
  7. Alan Reynolds, "Tolkien Society Facebook group post" dated 5 December 2016, Facebook (accessed 5 December 2016)
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien; Verlyn Flieger (ed), The Lay of Aotrou & Itroun, p. 14