Phrases

The Last Ark

A beautiful poem in Quenya that appears in the Monsters and the Critics.

This poem is special from a linguistic perspective because Tolkien wrote the first version of the poem, Oilima Markirya “The Last Ark”, in the early thirties while he was still experimenting with the precise structure of "Qenya", and then wrote another one towards the end of his life, when the linguistic concepts of his languages had matured. This is the latter version.

It is the longest text in mature Quenya that has been published so far. This version of the poem lacks a title, but is usually referred to as the Markirya poem, as oilima is unlikely to be valid in later Quenya, whereas markirya could mean ark (lit. mar-kirya "home-ship").

Tolkien provided a translation of the poem:

Who shall see a white ship
leave the last shore
the pale phantoms
in her cold bosom
like gulls wailing

Who shall heed a white ship
vague as a butterfly
in the flowing sea,
on wings like stars
the sea surging
the foam blowing
the wings shining
the light fading

Who shall hear the wind roaring
like leaves of forests
the white rocks snarling
in the moon gleaming
in the moon waning
in the moon falling
[like] a corpse-candle
the storm mumbling
the abyss moving

Who shall see the clouds gather
the heavens bending
upon crumbling hills
the seas heaving
the abyss yawning
the old darkness
beyond the stars falling
upon fallen towers

Who shall heed a broken ship
on the dark rocks
under ruined skies
a bleared sun blinking
on bones gleaming
in the last morning
Who shall see the last evening?


Black Speech, Nandorin, Noldorin, Quendya, Quenya, Sindarin, Telerin are languages conceived by Tolkien and they do not belong to us; we neither can nor do claim affiliation with Middle-earth Enterprises nor Tolkien Estate.