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Tengwar ABC


The tengwar alphabet was created by Fëanor, as told to us by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The poems and pictures in the Tengwa ABC are original work by Chaered (and others where noted), first posted on the Vinyë Lambengolmor forum on Discord. It is published as “creative commons with attribution and share-alike” (CC-BY-SA), meaning you are free to use and reproduce it but must include a reference to the original source.

The original text of the poems is also part of the sample text set in https://quettali.org/alcar/text/abc, and we will keep an errata list for this book available there too.

The aim of this volume is to provide some entertainment and study material for those wishing to study Quenya. So enjoy, dear reader!

[Note: the original version of this document includes artistic pictures for each of the Tengwar to illustrate the poems. They have been omitted from this version to save space, but can seen in the original above, as well as in the PDF version which can be found at https://quettali.org/book/abc-book.pdf as of July 2023.]

The Tengwar

Fëanor’s craft,
on paper draft
with lines and curves,
our words preserves

curwë Feänáro
hyalinenna móro
telqui, lúvar, tehtar
quetië san rehtar

The craft of Fëanor
ink on paper
stems, bows, marks
thus they save/preserve words

Tinco (metal)

A sturdy metal will endure:
On hooves, it keeps the footing sure;
For cooks, sharp blades trump all the rest.
When smiths forge tools, they are the best

i-anturca TINCO vorta
pattalessë saipo norta
maxar-massë maica mahta
tamo maca, ilya lahta

The very hard metal preserves;
on the hoof, a boot rides;
in the hand of a cook, a blade wields;
a smith forges, each excels.

Parma (book)

Book and scroll sit on the shelf.
To us they are joy itself.
Oh such tales and lore in prose!
What to pick for my repose?

ela PARMA ar teccelma
palustassë, alasselma
ecë henta nyarvë, ñolë;
mana napuvan pó mólë?

Behold, a book and/beside a scroll
on the shelf, our happiness
(one) could read fiction, study;
What will I pick after work?

Calma (lamp)

The lamp so bright,
a bloom that burns;
lifts gloom with light
till dawn returns.

i calima CALMA
fá vanya vë alma
i lómessë laurë
tenn' entulë aurë

The bright lamp,
a flame beautiful like a flower;
in the gloom is golden
until the day returns.

Quessë (feather)

The birds have a feather,
where others a hair;
they fly up together
to greet the sky fair.

i aiwin i QUESSË
minomë findessë
menel suilantë

The birds have the feather
instead of head-of-hair;
they will fly up,
the sky greets.

Ando (gate)

This sturdy gate set in a hedge
drives ’tween the in and out a wedge:
it bids a friend a welcome stay
and tells a foe to go away.

ara hahta ANDO
tana tanwa lando
tar naþissë málo
leltas cotto talo

Beside a hedge, a gate
draws a sign of a boundary:
thither it welcomes a friend,
it sends an enemy thence.

Umbar (fate)

Our story has ended,
our future in gloom;
to turn into fairies,
oh sneer of the doom!

lúmelva avánië
tuluryalva lumba
na naucor rámaiti
venya faica UMBAR

Our time has gone,
our future is gloomy;
to be winged dwarves:
our contemptible doom.

Anga (iron)

The dwarves find red rock and then toil
to make it red-hot as to boil
and drain it of its iron-blood,
then leave the rest as soulless mud.

Casari rusca ondossë tas cesta
úranen laucata tér velis esta
ANGA ve sercë ondollo suryaila
loxo ve loico luppollo hehtaila

Dwarves (the) red (stuff) in the rock here seek,
with fire heat (it) so it boils out:
iron, like blood from the stone, flowing;
mud, like the corpse of the lumps/heaps, remaining.

Ungwë (spiderweb)

The spider sure a home can weave,
so cozy you would never leave.
To flying guests it’s so polite, says:
Come in, and we’ll have a bite.

UNGWË ná ungolwa coa
lá mardarya nemë höa
equë: alla! naþalinnar
etsatië itselinnar

A web is a spider’s home;
its dwelling does not seem big,
(but) it says: Welcome! to guests
especially some flies.

Þúlë (spirit)

Into wintry air I stride
through the door, from the inside;
just so, breath escapes the lips
that were keeping it in grips.

hrívëa vilyassë
lenwetan findassë
tiër ÞÚL’ nurnonna
uþë laqui yonna

in winter’s air
I exit a door;
likewise breath into the dark [air]
escapes, if not enclosed.

Formen (north)

North in the sky we sense these lines
Where now the Silver Sickle shines.
Aule and Varda made their stands
and placed it up to ward our lands.

FORMEN menelessë
Valacirca essë
yo Aulë yo Varda
maitaner or arda

North (part) of the firmament:
Valacirca (is the) name,
both Aulë and Varda
made it above the Earth.

Harma (treasure)

This grab-bag of loot,
it shines in the sun.
The dragon’s afoot,
stop counting, and run!

haurallo si HARMA
alcaila nu arma
á norë, vá tocë
tas tensi i lócë!

This treasure from a hoard
glittering in a ray of sunlight
Run, don’t appraise
The dragon is already there!

Hwesta (breeze)

The breeze once more
blows from the shore,
makes this ship go
where rivers flow.

i nórima HWESTA
en-váya va hresta
ar nisteä cirya
yas sírë oi sirya

The strong breeze
again-blows from shore
and pushes a ship
where a river ever flows.

Anto (mouth)

Above the tongue-cave, as to guard
our mouth, the nose checks for what’s barred;
permitting passage only if
you pass its scrutinizing sniff.

lambo martaman to
nengwa alya ANTO
nustenen þantaila
mittarë cé saila

Above the residence of (the) tongue,
a nose helps the mouth
deciding with sense-of-smell
(the) entering, if wise.

Ampa (hook)

A hook here holds
firm in its grasp
a loop or folds.
It’s called a clasp.

AMPA ve quárë
napa ascarë
i quint harpessë
tancal i essë

A hook, like a fist
easily holds
the loop on the garment;
clasp is the name.

Anca (jaws)

The lion jaws wide,
huge fangs that can crunch!
But no need to hide:
it’s naptime, not lunch.

i ANCA o raura
carcara ar haura
mal áva tye rucë
vin háca, lá tyucë

The jaw from a lion,
toothed and huge;
but don’t you fear
he’s yawning, not chewing.

Unquë (hollow)

This helmet-hole lays bare
the brigand’s head of hair.
Perhaps its latest trim
was by an axe’s rim?

i UNQUË castolossë
apanta find' arpossë
yas hyaldava i címa
tar mittanë i síma

The cavity in the helmet
reveals the hair on the thief;
where of an axe, the blade-edge
entered thither into the mind.

Númen (west)

From the western sea,
waves forever more
roll in, come to see
and greet the sandy shore.

falmali en-oio
i litsenna sesta
inte, suilar hresta

Of the west-sea
some waves ever and again
onto the sand put
themselves, greet the shore.

Malta (gold)

The heavy gold,
it can feel cold.
Shines like the sun;
brings wicked fun.

amalunga MALTA
nacé ringa palta
laureä ve anar
hlussa húnë mánar

Very heavy gold
seemingly cold touch-feels;
golden like sun,
whispers cursed blessings.

Ñoldo (Noldo)

You won’t be the wisest
without firm look,
without the teacher,
without the book.

i ÑOLDO maitë
olë tuntaitë
pó parma harë
ar noltaren hlarë

The true Ñoldo
becomes smart:
sits in front of a book
and listens to the teacher.

Ñwalmë (torment)

By Melcor's whim
an orc you'll be...
His deeds are grim,
beware and flee!

ú merit qui ÑWALMË
va Melcor á norë
qui tye remuvaina
en oluvat orco

If you don’t want the torment,
run away from Melcor.
If you’ll be captured
soon you’ll become an orc.

Órë (heart)

When torn apart
by doubt or fear,
heed what your heart
bids you to hear.

quië attindossë
hya ñwalitye þossë
á ÓRË-tyan lasta
ortauvasses casta

Whenever in doubt
or you suffer from fear,
listen to your heart
it will lift [that] up.

Vala (angelic power)

The valar sing the world to be
Oh let us praise their deeds we see
As Ulmo, Lórien, Manwë fine
in concert with the maiar shine

Ilya VALA liru 'n Arda
laituvalvë ilya carda Ulmo,
Lórien ar Manwë
as i maiar im' ósanwë

Each vala sings the Earth.
We will praise each deed
Ulmo, Lórien and Manwë
with the Maiar in communion.

Anna (gift)

Beloved Yavanna,
your name contains ANNA;
how strange is this letter
without its garland.

i tengwa ANNA
nemë napanna
mal manen ú so
tecë Yavanna?

The letter ANNA (gift)
seems an additional [letter]
but how without it
to write “Yavanna” (fruit-giver)?

Vilya (air)

The bees fill honey-scented air
and follow trails to flowers where
the sweetness lures them, on this trek
from hive through skies out here and back.

nieréli quantar VILYA
losseli telyantar ilya
vilya i lissenna tië
etta vilya níþa sië

Some bees fill (the) air
inflorescences lure each one.
Air is the road to honey
therefore (the) air smells so sweet.

Rómen (east)

From Cuiviénen came the elves,
who Quendi count among themselves,
to travel past the eastern sea,
walk west, where Valinor might be.

Cuiviénenello eldar
Quendion i vanimeldar
haila RÓMEN-eär lelyar
Valinorenna estelyar

From Cuiviénen, elves
beautiful ones from (among the) Quendi
travel beyond the east-sea
hoping towards Valinor.

Arda (region)

From west to the east,
from north to the south;
Manwë rules Arda -
that is our house.

númello rómenna,
formello hyarmenna:
ela! - venya marda
na Manweva ARDA

From west to east
from north to south:
behold! - our home
is Manwë’s Arda.

Lambë (tongue)

The frog it has spoken,
lured flies with its croaking;
the last thing they’ll see
its mouth closing will be.

i quáceo LAMBË
telyanta sí tambë
ceþula pupsonna
tenn' anto en-yonna

The frog’s speech/tongue
lures now so
a curious fly
until (the) mouth (is) closed-again

Alda (tree)

This tree in the wood,
so long it has stood
in brown and in green
draws the letter here seen.

si ALDA tauressë
ná tengwava essë
i laica ar varnë
andavë termarnë

This tree in the forest
is a tengwar’s name which,
brown and green
has stood a long time.

Silmë (starlight)

Elves have affection
to starlight's perfection.
Behold these silvery gleams
on the lakes: exaltation!

Eldar samir nilmë
an telperin SILMË
elion, fainailë

Elves have affection
to silver starlight
of the stars emitting
light to the Mirrormeres.

Essë (name)

What do you cry out in need?
Your friend’s name, aloud, indeed!
True name, nickname, nom de guerre:
call one, and they’ll soon be there!

mana carityë mi hranga lumessë?
haþeä tyen málotyava cilmessë!
hya senya an-ESSË ya renis o néþë -
úlumë úvatyë mi naica eressë

What do you do in a hard time?
The nickname of your friend helps you!!
or his given-name that he remembers from youth -
you'll never be in a bitter solitude!

Hyarmen (south)

Seagulls fly throughout the south
overhead the river’s mouth
to the water, waves and foam,
serenade the sea they roam.

HYARMEN yasse vilir
maiwi or i etsir
an falastala nén
lirila earen

South where fly
gulls over the mouth of a river
to foaming water
singing for the sea.

Yanta (bridge)

A bridge can cross a torrid stream
that else unfordable may seem.
The only path I seek to find
is to your inner heart and mind.

YANTA langa sír
lá síry' avanir
apa céþan rië
endatyanna tië

A bridge crosses a river
across the river’s unwill
but I am searching only
a road to your heart.

Úrë (heat)

Heat our faces
by sun’s graces;
past cold night
comes warmth and light.

ÚRË canwalvannar
Anar lelta annar
apa ringa lómë
sí ná aurë-nómë

Heat on(to) our faces,
the sun giving gifts;
after cold night
now is a place of sun-warmth.

Halla (tall)

From atop this soaring tree
looking out what do you see?
Far beyond the canopy
of green, all and infinity.

HALLA ald' alalla.
aldingallo palla
taurë ecë tuvë
imbaro ilúvë

A tall tree keeps growing.
From the tree-top, far beyond
(the) forest, one can see
the whole of the world.

Telco (stem)

A lone-legged tray
for fruit display
can also bear
a vowel there.

aiya erinqua
TELCO yávinqua
lá ecë hehta
nu ómatehta

Behold a lone
(but) fruitful leg.
You cannot omit
it under a vowel.

Ára (dawn)

Laurelin as dying deed
bore the Sun, a cherished seed.
To see the east in dawn aglow
good Ariën, our thanks we show!

Laurelin yavane telda
yáva: i Aran ammelda.
cenile rómen nu ÁRA
hentalvë Ariën mára

Laurelin bore at last
a fruit: the much-loved Sun.
Seeing the east under (the) dawn
we thank good Ariën.


As the editor and main author of this slim volume, let me say many thanks to those who helped to make it possible!

The one named Ránatar/Maivandion on the VL (Vinyë Lambengolmor) channel on Discord contributed: the picture for the opening poem, the poems and the picture idea for: umbar, ñoldo, anna, arda, and silmë; and the Quenya poem and the picture idea for: ñwalme and essë.

The one named Tecinde/Accalletir on VL contributed the picture for malta; and the picture idea, the picture and the poems for hyarmen.

Advice, some visual elements, corrections and encouragement were generously provided by multiple users on VL, chiefly (in no particular order) Paul Strack, Röandil, Gilruin, Luinyelle/ Ellostiel, Orondil, Elaran, Parmandil, and Valerie/Curulócë/Lômilôkhi.

© 2023, Chaered.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, PO Box 1866, Mountain View, CA 94042, USA.