ᴱQ. Oilima Markirya “The Last Ark”

⚠️ᴱQ. Oilima Marcirya “The Last Ark”

A Quenya poem that Tolkien presented in conjugation with his talk on “A Secret Vice” in 1931 (MC/213-5). The poem itself was written somewhat earlier, and there are ten extant drafts, as discussed in the Early Qenya Poetry article in PE16 (PE16/53-87).

The Qenya text and translation presented here are from the version of the poem on MC/213-5, with each phrase corresponding to a line of the poem. My analysis follows closely after the editors of the Early Qenya Poetry article: Gilson, Welden, and Hostetter (PE16/81-87). Detailed analysis appears in the discussion of individual phrases.

Conceptual Development: As discussed in the Early Qenya Poetry article, there were a number of drafts leading up to the Early Qenya poem presented here. The editors of the article divided the drafts up into two groups, which they label OM1a-g leading up to OM1, and OM2a preceding OM2, the last of these being the version presented here.

The first six drafts, OM1a-f, are clearly incremental developments of the same poem. For the most part, they are additions and refinements on the same text without major modifications. Accompanying the fourth draft (OM1d) is an English translation, which the editors labeled LA1a (PE16/68), which closely matches that iteration of the poem. At this point is seems that Tolkien began to work seperately on the Qenya and English versions of the poem. The next two Qenya drafts, OM1e and OM1f built on OM1d, but the following three English translations, labeled LA2a-c by the editors of the Early Qenya Poetry article (PE16/69-71) diverged into what was essentially an entire new poem, albiet addressing the same subject matter.

At this point Tolkien produced one final draft based on the original Qenya development, labeled OM1 by the editors, along with a new English translation of that version. The final draft of this version of the poem was published by Christopher Tolkien as the “first version of Oilima Markirya” in an addendum to the “A Secret Vice” essay (MC/220-221).

Tolkien then cleaned up the divergent English poem and translated it back into Qenya, thereby producing a “second version” which he presented in his 1931 talk. There is also one draft of this second version, label OM2a by the editors of the Early Qenya Poetry article (PE16/81), but it is nearly identical to the version appearing with the essay.

I discuss the structure and development of the first version of the poem in a separate entry: Oilima Markirya (First Version), including a discussion of the first six drafts leading up to it: OM1a-f. Note that the seventh draft of the original Qenya poem, labeled OM1f by the editors of the Early Qenya Poetry article (PE16/77), does not match either the first or second versions of the poem, or any of the English translations, and seems to be an experimental bridge between the first and second versions. I labeled that draft as Oilima Markirya (Intermediate Version) and discuss it in its own, seperate entry.

Four decades later, Tolkien produced yet any version of this poem base on his conceptions of the Quenya language towards the end of his life, and this version is discussed in the entry for the Q. Markirya poem.


man kiluva kirya ninqe? “Who shall see a white ship?”
oilima ailinello lúte “leave the last shore”
níve qímari ringa ambar “the pale phantoms in her cold bosom”
ve maiwin qaine “like gulls wailing”
man kiluva kirya ninqe²? “Who shall head a white ship?”
valkane wilwarindon “vague as a butterfly”
lúnelinqe vear “in the flowing sea”
tinwelindon talalínen “on wings like stars”
vea falastane “the sea surging”
falma pustane “the foam blowing”
rámali tíne “the wings shining”
kalma histane “the light fading”
man tenuva súru laustane? “Who shall hear the wind roaring?”
taurelasselindon “like leaves of forests”
ondoli losse karkane “the white rocks snarling”
silda-ránar “in the moon gleaming”
minga-ránar “in the moon waning”
lanta-ránar “in the moon falling”
ve kaivo-kalma “a corpse-candle”
húro ulmula “the storm mumbling”
mandu túma “the abyss moving”
man kiluva lómi sangane? “Who shall see the clouds gather?”
telume lungane “the heavens bending”
tollalinta ruste “upon crumbling hills”
vea qalume “the sea heaving”
mandu yáme “the abyss yawning”
aire móre ala tinwi “the old darkness beyond the stars”
lante no lanta-mindon “falling upon fallen towers”
man tiruva rusta kirya? “Who shall heed a broken ship?”
laiqa ondolissen “on the green rocks”
nu karne vaiya “under red skies”
úri nienaite híse “a bleared sun”
píke assari silde “blinking on bones gleaming”
óresse oilima “in the last morning”
hui oilima man kiluva “Who shall see the last evening?”
hui oilima “[the last evening]”

ᴱQ. Oilima Markirya (First Version)

The first version of the Oilima Markirya poem (MC/220-221). It was preceded by six drafts, discussed in PE16 (PE16/53-76), labeled OM1a to OM1f by the editors of the Early Qenya Poetry article (Gilson, Welden, and Hostetter). A seventh draft, labeled OM1g in the article (PE16/77-80), is sufficiently different that I treat it as a separate poem: Oilima Markirya (Intermediate Version).

The text and translation presented here is the one accompanying the publication of Tolkien’s “A Secret Vice” essay (MC/220-221), presumably the final draft before Tolkien rewrote the poem as discussed in the entry on Oilima Markirya.

The text is divided into phrases for each line of the poem, except for lines 15-16 (mandulómi anta móri Ambalar), 17-18 (telumen tollanta naiko lunganar), 19-20 (kaire laiqa’ondoisen kirya), and 20-22 (karnevaite úri kilde hísen níe nienaite) which are combined to make more complete phrases. The textual history is discussed in the entries for individual phrases.

My analysis of this poem is based almost entirely on the work of the editors of the Early Qenya Poetry article: Gilson, Welden, and Hostetter (PE16/53-76).

See ᴱQ. Oilima Markirya for further discussion.


kildo kirya ninqe “a white ship one saw”
pinilya wilwarindon “small like a butterfly”
veasse lúnelinqe “upon the blue streams of the sea”
talainen tinwelindon “with wings like stars”
vean falastanéro “the sea with loud surf”
lótefalmarínen “with waves crowned with flowers”
kirya kalliére “the ship shown”
kulukalmalínen “with golden lights”
súru laustanéro “the winds rushed”
taurelasselindon² “with noise like leaves of forests”
ondolin ninqanéron “the rocks lay white”
silmeráno tindon “shining in the silver moon”
kaivo i sapsanta “as a corpse into the grave”
rána númetar “the moon went down in the West”
mandulómi anta móri Ambalar “the East raised black shadows out of hell”
telumen tollanta naiko lunganar “the vault of heaven sagged upon the tops of the hills”
kaire laiqa’ondoisen kirya “the white ship lay upon the rocks”
karnevaite úri kilde hísen níe nienaite “amid the red skies the Sun with wet eyes dropped tears of mist”
ailissen oilimaisen “upon the last beaches”
ala fuin oilimaite “after the last night”
alkarissen oilimain “in the last rays of light”
ala fuin oilimaite² “after the last night”
ailinisse alkarain “upon the shining shore”

ᴱQ. Oilima Markirya (Intermediate Version)

This is the seventh draft of the Oilima Markirya poem (OM1g). As noted in the entry for that poem, this draft seems to be a bridge between the first version of the poem and the version presented with Tolkien’s “A Secret Vice” essay. It is sufficiently different from the other versions that I am discussing it in its own entry.

The Qenya text presented here is from PE16/77, but most of the couplets have been combined to produce more complete phrases. The original poem used an unusual, Finnish-like orthography for the Qenya; I've normalized back to more ordinary Qenya spelling (the originals appear in the discussion of the individual phrases). The translations are my own, which I cherry-picked from the various English translations of the poem based on what seems to fit best. My analysis largely follows that of the editors of the Early Qenya Poetry article: Gilson, Welden, and Hostetter (PE16/77-80).


máno kiluvando ninqe lutya kirya wilwarindon “*who shall see a white ship sailing like a butterfly”
laivarisse lúnelinqe talalínen tinwelindon? “*in the blue-flowing sea with sails like stars?”
vean san falastuváre alkalótefalmarínen “*the sea then will surge with waves like shining blossoms”
ar i·kiryo kaluváre talain kulukalmalínen “*and the sails of the ship will shine with golden lights”
ar i·súru laustuváro lintataurelasselindon “*and the wind will roar like many forest leaves”
ondoin mórin ninkuváron, núni silmerána tindon “*the dark rocks will shine white, shining under the gleaming-moon”
kaivon nyúken i·sapsanta silmerána númetár “*the gleaming-moon goes down like a corpse into the grave”
hísimandulómi anta móri rauqi n·Ambalár “*the black mist-clouds of hell come rushing from the East”
taitelúmen san tollanta ranka naiko lunganár “*the firmament then leans sickly on broken hill[s]”
ma kaire laiqen ondolissen kirya maita? “*does a ship lie maimed on green rocks?”
karnevaite úri kilivande hísen nie nie nienaite “*red-skied the sun will gaze through a haze of tears”
ailinissen oilimaisen “*on the last shores”
ala hui oilimaite “*before the last night”
ala hui oilimaite² “*before the last night”
alkarissen oilimain² “*in the last rays of light”
ala hui oilimaite³ “*before the last night”
ailinissen alkarain “*upon the shining shore”