The Longobards: King Sheave


King Sheave


Their need he healed,

 and laws renewed long forsaken.

 Words he taught them wise and lovely –

 their tongue ripened in the time of Sheave

 to song and music.

Secrets he opened runes revealing.

Riches he gave them,

 reward of labour, wealth and comfort

 from the earth calling, acres ploughing,

 sowing in season seed of plenty,

 hoarding in garner golden harvest

 for the help of men.

 The hoar forests

 in his days drew back to

the dark mountains;

 the shadow receded, and shining corn,

 white ears of wheat, whispered in the breezes

 where waste had been.


The woods trembled.

 Halls and houses hewn of timber,

strong towers of stone steep and lofty,

 golden-gabled, in his guarded city

 they raised and roofed.

In his royal dwelling

 of wood well-carven

the walls were wrought;

 fair-hued figures filled with silver,

 gold and scarlet, gleaming hung there,

 stories boding of strange countries,

 were one wise in wit the woven legends

 to thread with thought.


At his throne men found

 counsel and comfort and care’s healing,

 justice in judgement. Generous-handed

 his gifts he gave. Glory was uplifted.

 Far sprang his fame over fallow water,

 through Northern lands the renown echoed

 of the shining king, Sheave the mighty.


J. R. R. Tolkien treated Sceaf in a poem “King Sheave” which was published after his death in “The Lost Road” in The Lost Road and Other Writings and very slightly revised. In Tolkien’s treatment, a ship drifts to the land of the Longobards in the north.

It beaches itself and the folk of that country enter and found a young and handsome boy with dark hair asleep with a “sheaf of corn” as his pillow and a harp beside him.

The boy awoke the following day and sang a song in an unknown tongue which drove away all terror from the hearts of those who heard.

They made the boy their king, crowning him with a garland of golden wheat. Tolkien’s Sheave fathers seven sons from whence came the Danes, Goths, Swedes, Northmen, Franks, Frisians, Swordmen (Brongdingas), Saxons, Swabes, English, and the Langobards.

all photo images:copyright of shani oates

~ by meanderingsofthemuse on July 2, 2012.

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