The Cottage of Lost Play
(redirection from Mar Vanwa Tyaliťva)

Brief Description   
I. The Tale   
II. The Place   
III. The Legend   
IV. The Poems   

Brief Description    

The place where Eriol the mariner heard the "Lost Tales of Elfinesse". It is the mysterious cottage in Kortirion at TolEressŽa, where the children of Elves and Men once used to play together (as per BoLT1).

I. The Tale    

Apart from being one of the wonderous places on TolEressŽa (see details below), this is also the title of the very first tale that comes to introduce the Book of Lost Tales. The "Lost Tales of Elfinesse", included in both parts of the Book of Lost Play, come to us in the form of stories told to Eriol the Mariner during his sojourn on the LonelyIsle. This particular one sets the scenery of the tale-telling which makes it undoubtfully of great significance for the structure of the whole book, as the author seems to have found the perfect place where, through talesrecounted in the cosiness of the Room of the Log Fire or in the small garden of the cottage itself, his earliest conception of the mythology (It is considered that the tale was composed not earlier than the winter of 1916 - 17), as well as the main characters in those writings, are being masterfully presented to the reader.

II. The Place    

At reaching the heart of the island, Eriol's eyes were caught by "a tiny dwelling whose many small windows were curtained snugly, yet only so that a most warm and delicious light, as of hearts content within, looked forth."

"There dwelt within, 'twas said, Lindo and VairŽ who had built it many years ago, and with them were no few of their folk and friends and children."

"And it was said to him that this was Mar Vanwa Tyaliťva, or The Cottage of Lost Play."

Here follow a few descriptions of the cottage:

Now in this hall despite the summertide were three great fires — one at the far end and one on either side of the table, and save for their light as Eriol entered all was in a warm gloom. But at that moment many folk came in bearing candles of all sizes and many shapes in sticks of strange pattern: many were of carven wood and others of beaten metal, and these were set at hazard about the centre table and upon those at the sides."

Eriol saw now that they were in a short broad corridor whose walls half-way up were arrassed; and on those tapestries were many stories pictured whereof he knew not at that time the purport. Above the tapestries it seemed there were paintings, but he could not see for gloom, for the candle-bearers were behind, and before him the only light came from an open door through which poured a red glow as of a big fire. 'That,' said VairŽ, 'is the Tale-fire blazing in the Room of Logs; there does it burn all through the year, for 'tis a magic fire, and greatly aids the teller in his tale."

Eriol's room:

".....he stood in a chamber that was small, and had a bed of fairest linen and deep pillows set nigh the window -- and here the night seemed warm and fragrant, although he had but now come from rejoicing in the blaze of the Tale-fire logs. Here was all the furniture of dark wood, and as his great candle flickered its soft rays worked a magic with the room, till it seemed to him that sleep was the best of all delights, but that fair chamber the best of all for sleep."

The marvellous garden of the Cottage where Eriol meets Rķmil:

"Eriol opened the window and scent of flowers gusted in therethrough, and a glimpse he caught of a shadow-filled garden that was full of trees, but its spaces were barred with silver lights and black shadows by reason of the moon; yet his window seemed very high indeed above those lawns below, and a nightingale sang suddenly in a tree nearby."

"...he came to a porch and a sunny court. Therein was a lattice-gate that opened to his hand and led into that garden whose lawns were spread beneath the window of his room. There he wandered breathing the airs and watching the sun rise above the strange roofs of that town, when behold the aged door-ward was before him, coming along a lane of hazel-bushes."

III. The Legend    

It turns out from the tale of VairŽ that the name of the cottage had not always been so and that it used to be the Cottage of the Children, or of the Play of Sleep.

Thus Eriol hears the legend - a tale where J.R.R.Tolkien first introduced his mithological views on the interrelations between the Children of Ilķvatar - Men and Elves. Unfortunately.....or not.... the entire conception of the Children who went to Valinor was to be abandoned almost without further trace in the later writings except for a few references in some of the tales in the Book of Lost Tales.

"Then said VairŽ:...there was a place of fair gardens in Valinor beside a silver sea. Now this place was near the confines of the realm but not far from KŰr.... This was a time of joy to the children, for it was mostly at this hour that a new comrade would come down the lane called OlůrŽ MallŽ or the Path of Dreams."

"Now in this place of gardens a high gate of lattice-work that shone golden in the dusk opened upon the lane of dreams, and from there led winding paths of high box to the fairest of all the gardens, and amidmost of the garden stood a white cottage. Of what it was built, nor when, no one knew, nor now knows, but it was said to me that it shone with a pale light, as it was of pearl, and its roof was a thatch, but a thatch of gold."

"Now the walls of the cottage were bent with age and its many small lattice windows were twisted into strange shapes. No one, 'tis said, dwelt in the cottage, which was however guarded secretly and jealously by the Eldar so that no harm came nigh it, and that yet might the children playing therein in freedom know of no guardian - ship."

"These too were the earliest children — the children of the fathers of the fathers of Men that came there.....Now for the most part the children did not often go into the house, but danced and played in the garden, gathering flowers or chasing the golden bees and butterflies with embroidered wings that the Eldar set within the garden for their joy. And many children have there become comrades, who after met and loved in the lands of Men.... Yet some there were who, as I have told, heard the Solosimpi piping afar off, or others who straying again beyond the garden caught a sound of the singing of the Telelli on the hill, and even some who reaching KŰr afterwards returned home, and their minds and hearts were full of wonder. Of the misty aftermemories of these, of their broken tales and snatches of song, came many strange legends that delighted Men for long, and still do, it may be; for of such were the poets of the Great Lands."

After Valinor had been hidden, OlůrŽ MallŽ was forgotten.

"Men ceased almost to believe in, or think of, the beauty of the Eldar and the glory of the Valar, till one came from the Great Lands and besought us to relieve the darkness.... Now there is alas no safe way for children from the Great Lands hither, but {Meril i Turinqi}? ... chose Lindo my husband to devise some plan of good. Now Lindo and I, VairŽ, had taken under our care the children — the remainder of those who found KŰr and remained with the Eldar for ever, and so here we builded of good magic this Cottage of Lost Play, and here old tales, old songs, and elfin music are treasured and rehearsed. Ever and anon our children fare forth again to find the Great Lands, and go about among the lonely children and whisper to them at dusk in early bed by night-light and candle-flame, or comfort those that weep. Some I am told listen to the complaints of those that are punished or chidden, and hear their tales and feign to take their part, and this seems to me a quaint and merry service."

"Then Eriol said: 'Now these are tidings sad and yet good to hear, and I remember me of certain words that my father spake in my early boyhood. It had long, said he, been a tradition in our kindred that one of our father's fathers would speak of a fair house and magic gardens, of a wondrous town, and of a music full of all beauty and longing — and these things he said he had seen and heard as a child, though how and where was not told."

IV. The Poems    

There is also a poem on the subject of The Cottage of Lost Play, written in several versions. According to some notes it can be considered that it was written in April 1915, when Tolkien was 23 years of age.

The original title of the poem was "You and Me / and the Cottage of Lost Play". It was then changed to "Mar Vanwa Tyaliťva, The Cottage of Lost Play" to be eventually left as "The Little House of Lost Play: Mar Vanwa Tyaliťva".

The poem has many of the details given in the prose-form but it is also obvious that it refers to the Cottage of the Children as well called the Cottage of the Play of Sleep (as we understand the original name of the place was, according to VairŽ 's tale) rather than to The Cottage of Lost Play, as it is known in the tales of Men.


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