The encounter between mortal man and immortal enchantress is always fateful in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. In The Lord of the Rings, for instance, Boromir fears the Elf-queen Galadriel and ignores her wisdom, then dies for his sins.
The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun, first written in 1930 and previously only published in 1945 in The Welsh Review, is entirely detached from Middle-earth.
But in this 506-line poem, running to the most unhobbity topics of sex, infertility and adultery, Tolkien furnishes just the kind of story that would have fuelled Boromir’s fear.
A man and woman find themselves still childless as the years grow long. In desperation, he obtains a love-potion from a corrigan, a kind of witch or water-fairy…