In 1945, literary journal The Welsh Review published a lengthy poem called “The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun” by The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien. Inspired by Celtic legend and written in the tradition of the lay, the work told of a couple who visited a bewitching being known as a Corrigan in their desperate attempt to conceive a child. The poem has been out of print ever since, but HarperCollins will republish the work after more than 70 years.
Update: The publishing house announced “The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun” will be released on Nov. 3. A rep for HarperCollins says Houghton Mifflin, the U.S. publisher of Tolkien’s works, will release the poem in America. It’s expected to drop domestically around the same time.
According to HarperCollins, the poem stems “from the darker side of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination” and serves as a precursor to the character Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings.
“The sequence shows the Corrigan’s increasingly powerful presence, as she takes an ever more active role in the lives of Aotrou and Itroun,” reads the publishing house’s description. “She would finally emerge, changed in motive and character but still recognizable, in The Lord of the Rings as the beautiful and terrible Lady of the Golden Wood, the Elven queen Galadriel.”
Verlyn Flieger, a Tolkien scholar and professor emerita at the University of Maryland, will edit and introduce the new edition, which will also include a preface by Tolkien’s son, Christopher. Flieger told The Guardian the poem is “dark, powerful, compelling, a significant departure from the Tolkien we think we know.”