Rare 1945 poem delving into the 'darker side' of J.R.R. Tolkien to be reprinted

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Jul 18, 2016, 6:31 PM EDT

Considering how beloved he is these days, it’s getting harder and harder to find a rare work from Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien. But there are still a few oddities out there waiting to be unearthed. 

The Guardian reports the poem “The Lay of Aotrou and Itrou,” first published in 1945 in the literary journal The Welsh Review, is finally getting a reprint. The poem has been unpublished and out of print for more than 70 years. Though it was published in the mid-1940s, the oldest dated draft of the poem goes all the way back to September 1930.

The narrative focuses on a couple who are desperate to have children, so they visit a witch for help. She gives them a potion that allows the wife to have twins, but the witch later insists the man marry her or die. When he refuses, he dies, then his wife later dies of grief. The work is said to delve into the “darker side of JRR Tolkien’s imagination”, and the witch in the piece could possibly hint at an early version of elf queen Galadriel.

Publisher HarperCollins describes the poem as “an important non Middle-earth work to set alongside his other retellings of existing myth and legend.” It will be republished in November alongside Tolkien’s 200-page poem The Fall of Arthur, as well as his Finnish epic poem The Story of Kullervo.

If you’re not inclined to wait until the poem shows up in print, you can also find a copy of it online for perusal.

(Via The Guardian)