Olórë Mallë: 1. Olórë Mallë

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1. Olórë Mallë

Olórë Mallë

The Olórë Mallë was the Path of Dreams in Tolkien’s earlier works. It was where Elves, and sometimes Men, could travel in their sleep to the wonderful gardens of Valinor. The Olórë Mallë was not thought to be a physical pathway, but one of thought and dreams. In
Roverandom, Tolkien describes the travels of Roverandom, a little dog, on the Olórë Mallë to the Garden of Dreams, which is, in that story, on the dark side of the Moon. "Grey fountains were there, and long lawns; and children everywhere, dancing sleepily, walking dreamily, or just talking to themselves. Some stirred as if just waking from sleep… and all were singing," (Roverandom, 42).

"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 Olórë Mallë or the Path of Dreams. It has been said to me, though the truth I know not, that that lane ran by devious routes to the homes of Men, but that way we never trod when we fared thither ourselves. It was a lane of deep banks and great overhanging hedges, beyond which stood many tall trees wherein a perpetual whisper seemed to live … 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 gardens."
The Book of Lost Tales I, J.R.R. Tolkien

The Olórë Mallë is distinct from the Ilweran, the Rainbow arch which Oromë made from a strand of Vána’s hair (I. 239).

The Book of Lost Tales I describes the Olórë Mallë as having "slender bridges resting on the air and greyly gleaming as it were of silken mists lit by a thin moon, or of pearly vapours; yet beside the Valar and the Elves have no Man’s eyes beheld it save in sweet slumbers in their heart’s youth. Longest of all ways is it and few are there ever to reach its end, so many lands and marvellous places of allurement and of loveliness doth it pass ere it comes to Elvinesse, yet smooth is it to the feet and none tire who ever fare that way." (I. 238).

The Vala Lórien devised the Path of Dreams when Men first awoke, and in that way Men came to Valinor in their sleep:
"…it is told that at the bidding of Manwë … the Valar Oromë and Lórien devised strange paths from the Great Lands to Valinor and the way of Lórien's devising was Olórë Mallë, the Path of Dreams; by this road, when 'Men were yet but new-wakened on the earth', 'the children of the fathers of the fathers of Men' came to Valinor in their sleep." (I. 19)
"…Lórien wove a way of delicate magic, and it fared by winding roads most secret from the Eastern lands and all the great wildernesses of the world even to the walls of Kôr, and it ran past the Cottage of the Children of the Earth and thence down the "lane of whispering elms" until it reached the sea." (I. 238).

"There are two further mentions [of the Olórë Mallë]… the teller of the Tale of Tinúviel (a child of Mar Vanwa Tyaliéva) says that she saw Tinúviel and her mother with her own eyes 'when journeying by the Way of Dreams in long past days', and the teller of the Tale of Turambar says that he 'trod Olórë Mallë in the days before the fall of Gondolin'." (I. 19)

Christopher Tolkien notes that some of this is a very early version, and that "the conception of the coming of mortal children in sleep to the gardens of Valinor was soon to be abandoned in its entirety, and in the developed mythology there would be no place for it -- still less for the idea that in some possible future day 'the roads through Arvalin to Valinor shall be thronged with the sons and daughters of Men'."

Though Tolkien never mentions the Olórë Mallë by name in any of his later works, we see reflections of it. In The Two Towers, he says, "In the waybread of the Elves he [Legolas] found all the sustenance that he needed, and he could sleep, if sleep if could be called by Men, resting his mind in the strange paths of elvish dreams, even as he walked open-eyed in the light of this world."

I = The Book of Lost Tales I
       IX, The Hiding Of Valinor 238, 239
       I, The Cottage of Lost Play 19
       I, Commentary on The Cottage of Lost Play 24
TTT, Book III, Ch 2, The Riders of Rohan

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Nerdanel

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: Multi-Age

Genre: Research Article

Rating: General

Last Updated: 03/15/04

Original Post: 02/17/04

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