While travelling from Bree one day
past Barrow-downs to the High Hay
I stopped near Withywindle's brink
and crouched for a much-needed drink,
but felt at once, to my surprise,
the presence of unfriendly eyes.
Aside from frogs and one old swan
I saw no beast nor bird nor man,
nothing but the willow trees
and no sound but the murmuring breeze.
I cupped my hands and stooped again,
drinking long and deeply, when
A tree root tried to push me in!
I was surprised, but had to grin.
A show of such tomfoolery,
not from a child, but from a tree!
It tried again, with root and limb,
to seize and take me for a swim;
If I let him dunk me, then
I doubt he'd let me up again,
so nimbly I jumped back and laughed
and rapped his root-tips with my staff
while scolding thus: "I have not met
the Huorn who could best me yet."
His leaves all quivered, as with rage
then in a voice all cracked with age
and coarse as his moss-pitted bark
he started whispering something dark:
a spell of dreams, of drooping eyes,
of sleep from which I would not rise.
It caught me off-guard, and in truth
it might have snared me in my youth,
but very long my years have grown
and Sindar dreams are theirs alone.
The Willow's gall had roused my ire
and so I let him taste some fire.
Why Ben-adar or River-woman
hadn't dealt with him, or couldn't,
I cannot begin to guess.
But I knew just how to address
a Huorn so chock-full of spite
without chopping it down outright.
No, better--I transplanted shoots
of elm and maple at his roots
and placed upon them words of growth
and wards from him and grazers both.
A fitting fate, to slowly fade,
a victim of mere friendly shade!