"And it is told of Maglor that he could not endure the pain with which the Silmaril tormented him; and he cast it at last into the Sea, and thereafter he wandered ever upon the shores, singing in pain and regret beside the waves. For Maglor was mighty among the singers of old, named only after Daeron of Doriath; but he came never back among the people of the Elves."
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Chapter 24, "Of the Voyage of Earendil"
The wind blew fierce and the boy shivered. The sky above was wracked with clouds; there would likely be more rain before nightfall. It never seemed to stop raining here. The little bread he had, never enough to fill his stomach, was damp and covered with mold. The gnawing in his belly never ceased. The wood was too damp to light a fire; the boy had been trying all day. He had no shelter from the weather and his thin tunic was never dry. His hands shook as he tried once more to make the wet sticks burn.
He could not even produce a single spark. He finally threw down the sticks in despair. He sat down and wrapped his arms around his knees. He was chilled to the bone and so very hungry and there was no hope of relief. The peacefully grazing sheep seemed to mock him; they had plenty of grass to eat and wool to keep them warm. If only he could slaughter one, and eat the meat, and make a warm cloak of the wool… No. He did not like to think what Miliucc would do to him if even one of the sheep were missing.
At home there was probably a new spring lamb roasting over the fire.
No. He must not think of home.
But the thoughts were hard to push away. Everyone around the fire in the evening, eating, laughing, talking, arguing, not marveling at the food and warmth and companionship, for they had always been there and seemingly always would be…
Before he knew it the boy was shaking with sobs as well as cold.
"Why do you cry, child?"
The boy jumped. He had not heard the sound of another human voice in so long. He whirled around. The speaker stood only a few feet away from him, but the boy had not heard him approach. He seemed almost to have materialized out of the hill itself. He was an odd-looking man, tall and thin, with long dark hair and deep grey eyes, eyes that were shadowed with pain and yet shone with an inner light, like the memory of sunlight glowing faintly through the perpetual rain-clouds of this gloomy land.
"Eyes of grey like one of the faery-folk"-the childhood taunt echoed in the boy's mind.
And the stranger might almost be one of the faery-folk, appearing out of nowhere with a voice more beautiful than any the boy had ever heard. All the stories tumbled into his mind at once and he stepped back warily. But another part of his mind scolded him for foolishness, probably induced by hunger and cold.
The stranger was looking at him not with enmity but with concern, even compassion. As if he truly cared why the boy was crying.
No one had cared about Patricius in a long time.
He felt the first drops of another rainfall. He suddenly decided that he didn't care who this stranger was. He said, "I am cold and I am hungry and I miss my home."
Yes, there was compassion in the stranger's gaze as he asked, "You have no food?"
"Only a little bread, and I do not know when I shall get more, so I must not eat much."
"I see. And you have no shelter?"
"And no fire?"
"The wood is too wet."
"Where is your home?"
"How did you come here?"
"I was captured."
"I see. Who is your master?"
The rain became a downpour.
Without warning, the man took off his cloak and handed it to Patricius. "Put that on; it will keep you both dry and warm. I shall return."
Before Patricius had time to react, the man was gone.
The cloak did keep him dry and warm, even when the rain turned to sleet. Patricius had not been warm in months. It felt too good to question. He curled up and fell asleep.
He awoke to the smell of roasting fish. The sky had cleared, the stars were bright. He sat up sleepily. The man sat by a roaring fire roasting fish on thin wooden skewers. Patricius stared at him. "Where did you get those?" he asked.
"From the sea."
The sea was far below at the bottom of sheer cliffs. The nearest paths down were many miles' distant.
"How did you return so quickly? And how did you get the fire started when the wood is wet?" The thought of the faery-folk flashed through his mind again.
The man smiled graciously and ignored the questions. He handed Patricius a skewer. "You are hungry. Eat."
In the morning the sun shone brightly but a chill wind blew. The man insisted that Patricius continue to wear his cloak.
The man said little until evening. He would not tell Patricius his name. He helped with the sheep, maintained the fire, carried water, all as though he had been doing such tasks all his life. Yet carried himself with the dignity of a prince, moved with unassuming grace. He did not look old; his face had only a few lines, his hair only a little grey. And yet, Patricius thought, there was something old about him: old and tired, as though he had seen far too much grief and loss and wished now only for rest.
At sunrise Patricius had felt gratitude and admiration for his benefactor. By sundown he had begun to feel pity.
As the golden light faded in the west and the deepening twilight crept over the hills, the man walked to the edge of the cliff and looked out over the Western Sea. For a moment, in the fading light, Patricius saw an expression of longing come over the man's face, a depth of loss so unfathomable that next to it his own homesickness seemed a small and shallow thing.
Patricius woke up that night to a strange sound. The man lay rigid, his eyes open yet not seeming to see. He murmured in a language Patricius did not know, though its sounds were of great beauty. He cried out as though dreaming a terrible dream. He sat up suddenly, trembling violently. He saw Patricius watching him, stood up abruptly, and walked off into the night. Patricius sat for a while, puzzled. After a while he thought he heard music far off, eerie and unearthly music, a song of lamentation that seemed to mingle with the eternal cadence of the sea.
The music ceased but its echo remained. The starlight glittered on the frosty earth. The milky cloud arching across the vast sweep of the heavens cast faint shadows in the grass.
Patricius shivered. He did not sleep again. The night passed. In the grey light before dawn the man returned. He sat down and began to prepare breakfast as though nothing had happened during the night.
That night the man sang to Patricius. Patricius once again doubted the man's humanity. It was not possible for any mortal to create music of such haunting beauty with his own lips. He listened, awed, afraid, spellbound.
The man sang in what seemed to be the same language as his murmurs and cries of the previous night, for Patricius recognized the sounds as akin. He did not understand, and yet he found that images arose in his mind as the man sang.
He saw a strange land where darkness dwelt not, and light was a being unto itself, and two lights danced together, coming together and then moving apart like the interweaving of sand and tide upon an ancient shore. He saw the two lights beget three.
He saw the destruction of the parents and the light only in the children, the taking of the children and the anguish of the one who had born them. He saw the anguish turned to bloodshed and the cries of the dying upon a starlit harbor. He saw war and death and destruction, cities rise, cities fall, the never-ceasing lamentation of the hunter for the hunted and of the maker for the made.
The man's voice lapsed into silence. He gazed out over the sea. There were tears in his eyes.
Patricius sat, silent.
In the morning the man watched the sunrise. He murmured words to himself, speaking with a strange intensity, almost as though from fear.
Patricius found that unknown words coalesced in his mind into words in his own language. When the man lapsed into silence, he asked softly, "What is that?"
The man turned and looked at him searchingly. "Did you understand?" he asked.
"What words did you hear?"
In this fateful hour
I call on all heaven with its power
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness,
All these I place
By God's Almight help and grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness.
The man looked at him thoughtfully. Then he smiled. "Keep them," he said.
That evening at sundown the man taught him music: a song in the strange language whose meaning Patricius found again that he could discern. When he sang it back to the man as he had heard it, the man nodded.
They sang together the music the man had taught him.
I call upon the noble earth
To give me strength through day and night;
Her granite and her gems of worth
Are tokens of her various might;
And from her shores the endless sea
In calm and tempest girds the sphere,
And like the earth the waters free
Shall be my trust against all fear.
The man gazed into the west as he sang, his eyes lingering on the Evenstar which shone bright above the horizon.
Then he looked back at Patricius.
I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heav'n:
The glorious sun's lifegiving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at ev'n.
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling winds tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks. 
The man smiled. For a moment the veil of shadow in his eyes lifted and the light shone through.
"Thank you for singing with me," he said quietly. "I have sung often alone. I have not sung with another in many years, not since my bro—"
He stopped, and bit his lip, and Patricius saw that there were tears in his eyes once again.
He sat silent as the stars came out one by one in the gloaming.
The next day the sky clouded. Fog rolled in, and then the rain fell. Patrick noticed the man shivering. He offered back the cloak. The man refused.
The rain ceased by late morning, but the fog remained. The sound of the waves far below was magnified in the fog.
They ate their noon meal in silence.
Other sounds carried far, too. From far away came calls and cries, far away yet strangely near in the thick fog, as though they rose from the ground itself, like spirits of some ancient time that haunted the very stones.
The bleating of the sheep suddenly grew louder. There was crash. A deer emerged from the thick fog, running, fleeing. It leapt over their fire and up onto the shoulder of rock that reared up behind them. Patricius saw an arrow in its side. It slipped on its blood and fell backward into a crevice at the top of the cliff, its leg breaking audibly.
The man leapt to his feet and easily jumped up onto the rocks behind their fire. Patricius jumped up too, alarmed. "What are you doing?" he cried.
The man looked down at him grimly. "I will not sit and do nothing while the creature dies slowly."
"You risk falling from the cliff yourself!"
But the man would not be deterred. He disappeared into the fog and Patricius heard him lightly jumping from rock to rock. Then he heard the man's voice speaking, speaking softly, gently in the odd language. Then a quick crack. And the man's voice singing. Singing as though in lamentation for the fallen deer.
It was some time before the man reemerged at the top of the rocks. To Patricius' astonishment he carried the deer with him, as gently as he would a child. The deer's head lay across his shoulder, antlers crowning his own head.
The fog had begun to lift. For a moment the man stood there on top of the rock, holding the deer, gazing out over the fog-shrouded sea into the west, silhouetted against the sky.
Patricius thought he had never seen anything so beautiful or so sad in his life.
A sharp voice broke through the mist. "There he is!" The man turned away from the sea at the sound. Patricius turned, startled, just in time to see an arrow fly through out through the fog. It lodged in the man's chest and he fell off the rock to lie unmoving at Patricius' feet.
Three forms emerged from the fog, three ragged men. When they saw that they had not shot a deer but a man they fled in terror.
Patricius started after them, then realized it was futile. He went back to the man.
The man and the deer lay next to each other, the dying and the dead, their blood mingled.
Patricius cradled the man's head in his lap. The man looked up at him. His eyes were filled with pain and yet the inner light shone bright through the cloud. His lips moved and he said a word, a word in that strange language: "Lindë"
But Patricius understood.
He sang the song the man had taught him, knowing his mortal voice could not capture the music of a singer such as this, but a bard must have music for his spirit to take flight. He sang as the singer's body became heavy in his arms and he knew that the singer's voice would echo down the ages of this land on the edge of the world, mingling forever with the music of the sea. He sang as the clouds deepened and the light faded. He sang as the last golden rays of the dying sun broke through the clouds and rested his golden light upon the earth for a moment, before fading over the horizon into the west.
 According to his Confession, Saint Patrick was kidnapped from his home in Britain at the age of sixteen. He was taken to Ireland and made a slave. He suffered from cold, hunger, and loneliness while tending sheep for his master. He had been raised a Christian but had not been particularly interested in religion as a child; in his captivity he turned to faith as a consolation. After six years he escaped and managed to return to his family in Britain, but he felt called to return to Ireland as a missionary.
In this story, Patrick is only sixteen; Christianity it is not yet a major part of his consciousness.
Legend has it that Saint Patrick spent his captivity in inland Ireland. However, R.P.C. Hanson in The Life and Writings of the Historical Saint Patrick makes a good case that Patrick actually spent his captivity very close to the Atlantic ocean, (which in his Confession he calls "the Western Sea") and I decided for obvious reasons to go with that interpretation!
 This information from Thomas Cahill's How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe.
 Elves do age, but they age very slowly. I imagine that Maglor's suffering aged him. Therefore it is appropriate to describe him as having a few lines on his face and some grey in his hair.
 The two lights are the Two Trees; the three lights are the Silmarils.
 The "one who had born them" is Fëanor. Metaphorically, the two trees are the "father" of the Silmarils and Feanor is their "mother.”
 Remember that this is Maglor's song about history, not history itself.
 This is one version of Saint Patrick's Rune. I first encountered it at the age of nine in Madeleine L'Engle's A Swiftly Tilting Planet, third and last in her wonderful "time" trilogy after A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door.
 This is "Saint Patrick's Breastplate," also known as "The Deer's Cry." Legend has it that it served as magical armor, saving Patrick and his clerics from death by making them appear as deer as they traveled from Slane to Tara.
I learned the words, music, and background of "The Deer's Cry" from the Christmas Revels (http://www.revels.org/) recording Christmas in an Irish Castle.
Christmas Revels began in 1971 in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a "Celebration of the Winter Solstice in Song, Dance, and Story." The first revels had a Medieval English theme. There are now annual Christmas Revels productions in cities around the U.S., and May Revels (celebrating the spring) and Sea Revels celebrations in several cities as well. Themes change every year and vary greatly.
Audience participation, a mix of professional and amateur performers, and an emphasis on community celebration are hallmarks of Revels. Go to to find out if there is a Revels production near you: it is an experience not to be missed! At the very least, listen to some of the Revels CD recordings. My personal favorites are the original revels recording (which has the ancient, haunting Abbots Bromley Horn Dance) and the California Revels Christmas in an Irish Castle – which has "The Deer's Cry" and which was the original inspiration for this story.