The Tale of the Sun and Moon is the eighth chapter of The Book of Lost Tales Part One, in Christopher Tolkien's series The History of Middle-earth. It gives J.R.R. Tolkien's earliest and most detailed account of the making of the Sun and Moon in Arda, long preceding the corresponding chapter of The Silmarillion.

The chapter follows "The Flight of the Noldoli", and is followed by "The Hiding of Valinor".

Chapter synopsis Edit

Gilfanon is a new guest to the Cottage of Lost Play. He and Ælfwine request that Lindo continue telling tales, and so Lindo narrates of the Gods' creation of the celestial bodies.

The tale Edit

After the Kinslaying, the destruction of the Two Trees by Ungoliant, and the dangerous egress of the Noldoli from the Great Lands, the Valar hold an unsuccessful hunt for Melko (Melkor). They and the Maiar are of bitter heart. Lórien and Vána try to revive the Two Trees with song and magic substances, but fail. The Valar become set on providing a new light for the Earth, and so by sole use of the remaining "silver light" from Silindrin, Aulë undertakes the immense task of contriving the Sun, as a floating spherical ship, with the help of Varda. Its course, specifically determined by Manwë, is set among the skies.

"Then did the Gods name that ship, and they called her Sári which is the Sun, but the Elves Ûr which is fire; but many other names does she bear in legend and in poesy. The Lamp of Vána is she named among the Gods in memory of Vána's tears and her sweet tresses that she gave; and the Gnomes call her Galmir the gold-gleamer and Glorvent the ship of gold, and Bráglorin the blazing vessel, and many a name beside; and her names among Men no man has counted them."
page 187 (1984 Houghton Mifflin publication)

The Moon is also put in the skies, a crystalline "island" shaped after a rose from withered Silpion, and ridden by Tilion. An explanation is given for the cycles of the Moon's radiance. Urwendi (later Arien), Tolion's lover, seeks likewise to pilot the Sun, and is allowed to.

When the tale finishes, Lindo, tired of story-telling for the moment, asks Vairë to then tell Ælfwine of the Hiding of Valinor.

Editor's commentary Edit

Christopher Tolkien gives extensive notes and commentary on changes to plot-points, concepts in the tale, and names, and also presents his father's 1923 poem "Why the Man in the Moon came down too soon".

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