A glossary of people, places & objects in Earthsea

Now showing glossary items relating to music & songs

Cat's cradles

A variety of cat's cradles are played on Gont; simple rhymes accompany the string manipulations

'Churn churn cherry all!
Burn burn bury all!
Come, dragon, come!

[Kalessin, T]


Knowledge of the oral lays, deeds and songs, as well as sung spells. Considered one of the high arts of magic, though witches traditionally teach the songs to children. Taught at the Roke School of Wizardry by the Master Chanter

Sources: A Description of Earthsea, TfE

Related entries: Songs


See Songs

Creation of Éa

Also known as: Song of the Creation, Making

Oldest and most sacred poem or song, which recounts the creation of Earthsea by Segoy (the Making) in thirty-one stanzas and is sung every year at the Long Dance. At least two thousand years old in Hardic, and of unknown age in Old Speech, its language of composition. The foundation of education, it would be known by all adults in the Archipelago

'The making from the unmaking,
the ending from the beginning,
who shall know surely?
What we know is the doorway between them
that we enter departing.
Among all beings ever returning,
the eldest, the Doorkeeper, Segoy…

Then from the foam bright Éa broke.

Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk's flight
on the empty sky.

[A Description of Earthsea, TfE]

Related entries: Songs

Deed of Enlad

Epic telling of the earliest kings and queens of Enlad, before Morred and of his first year on the throne. Partly historical, partly mythical

Sources: A Description of Earthsea, TfE

'…the song tells how the mage Morred the White left Havnor in his oarless longship, and coming to the island of Soléa saw Elfarran in the orchards in the spring. … to the sorry end of their love, Morred's death, the ruin of Enlad, the sea-waves vast and bitter, whelming the orchards of Soléa.'

[The Open Sea, WoE]

Related entries: Songs; King of All the Isles

Deed of Erreth-Akbe

Lay recounting the deeds of the mage Erreth-Akbe, sung every year at the Long Dance. It tells of the building of the towers of Havnor City, and of Erreth-Akbe's travels from Ea throughout the Archipelago & the Reaches until he met the dragon Orm on Selidor, and of how the sword of Erreth-Akbe is set atop the highest tower of Havnor

Sources: The Loosing of the Shadow, WoE; A Description of Earthsea, TfE

'O may I see the earth's bright hearth once more, the white towers of Havnor…'

[The Open Sea, WoE]

Related entries: Songs

Deed of Ged

Song telling of Ged's deeds, probably particularly his defeat of the necromancer Cob. According to this account, Ged attended the crowning of Lebannen and then sailed away in Lookfar never to be heard from again

Sources: The Stone of Pain, FS

Deed of Hode

Song, presumably recounting the deeds of Hode

'Daybreak makes all earth and sea, from shadow brings forth form, driving dream to the dark kingdom.'

[Hunted, WoE]

Related entries: Songs

Deed of Morred

See Deed of the Young King

Deed of the Dragonlords

Also known as: Deed of the Dragonlord

Epic recounting deeds of wizards in the time late during the reigns of the Havnorian kings when raids from dragons were a common danger

Sources: A Description of Earthsea, TfE

Deed of the Young King

Also known as: Deed of Morred, Song of the Young King

Epic telling the story of the reign of Morred, sung annually at the Festival of Sunreturn; the same song is also known as the Deed of Morred. Recounts the love story of Morred & Elfarran, and tells of how Morred battled the Enemy of Morred and drove back the Black Ships

Sources: Home, T; A Description of Earthsea, TfE

'If Elfarran be not my own, I will unsay Segoy's word,
I will unmake the islands, the white waves will whelm all.'

'Praised are the Fountains of Shelieth, the silver harp of the waters,
But blest in my name forever this stream that stanched my thirst!

[A Description of Earthsea, TfE/Hort Town, FS]

Related entries: Songs

Havnorian Lay

Lay that recounts the history of the fourteen kings and queens of Havnor

Sources: A Description of Earthsea, TfE; The Dragon Council, OW

'A hundred warriors, a hundred women / sat in the great hall of Gemal Sea-Born / at the king's table, courtly in talk, / handsome and generous gentry of Havnor, / no warriors braver, no women more beautiful.'

[The Dragon Council, OW]

Related entries: Songs

King's Tale

Tale of Ged's travels in the Kargad Lands and the finding of the Ring of Erreth-Akbe, presumably composed by Lebannen

Sources: Dragonfly, TfE

Lament for Erreth-Akbe

Lament composed by Maharion on his return from Selidor after the death of Erreth-Akbe. It's played by the trumpeters telling the hours in Havnor City

Sources: Palaces, OW

Related entries: Songs

Lament for the White Enchanter

Lament for the death of Morred, supposed to have been composed by Elfarran

Sources: A Description of Earthsea, TfE

Related entries: Songs

Lass of Belilo, The

See The Lass of Belilo

Lay of the Lost Queen

Song sung on Havnor, presumably recounting the tale of Elfarran

Sources: Darkrose and Diamond, TfE


Instrumental music seems to be predominantly used to accompany songs and/or dance, in particular, the Long Dance; drums, pipes and flutes are the main instruments mentioned in this context. Other instruments mentioned are the fife, harp, viol, lute, bagpipe, concertina, horn, double-reed woodhorn, trumpet, tabor, gong, bell, kettledrum, cymbals, tambour and tambourine. Lebannen plays the harp and lute as part of his courtly accomplishments (Enlad), but these instruments are not restricted to the princely courts: Vetch's house contains a great Taonian harp (Iffish), and the inn of Lorbanery boasts a three-stringed lute. Bands of itinerant musicians roam Havnor and other islands, singing ballads and playing various instruments including harp, fife, viol, tabor and drums. A harpist is mentioned playing at a wedding on Taon. Musicians are employed at the imperial court in Havnor City, including horns for signalling, trumpets for telling the hours, and a band consisting of trumpet, tambour and tambourine to accompany a royal procession. In the Place of the Tombs on Atuan, drums sometimes accompany dancing in the temples, and drums, horns and trumpets accompany processions. Of all peoples mentioned, only the Children of the Open Sea (raft people) use no music to accompany their dancing. Drum beats are also used to coordinate rowing on oared galleys. A gong announces meals at the School of Wizardry on Roke. The school at Roke has a bell tower (the Chanter's Tower) with iron bells that toll when the Archmage Nemmerle dies, and bells are used in the Court of the Terrenon, presumably for signalling servants and/or announcing meals; bells are also put on the necks of sheep on Atuan

Sources: The Rule of Names, W12Q; Iffish, WoE; The Masters of Roke, FS; Lorbanery, FS; Darkrose and Diamond, TfE; Mending the Green Pitcher, OW; Palaces, OW; Dolphin, OW

Nagian Chant

Chant used in healing; healing chants are said to 'aid the sick body or the troubled mind'a, but the precise purpose this chant serves is unstated

Sources: The Dragon of Pendor, WoE; Orm Embar, FS (a)

O my Joy!

Ballad or lullaby from Enlad

'O my joy!
Before bright Éa was, before Segoy
Bade the islands be,
The morning wind blew on the sea.
O my joy, be free!

[Dolphin, OW]

Related entries: Songs

Song of the Creation

See Creation of Éa

Song of the Sparrowhawk

Song composed on Low Torning in the Ninety Isles, celebrating Ged's defeat of Yevaud, the Dragon of Pendor

'They pressed around their young wizard and asked for the tale again. More islanders came, and asked for it again. By nightfall he no longer had to tell it. They could do it for him, better. Already the village chanters had fitted it to an old tune, and were singing the Song of the Sparrowhawk.'

[Hunted, WoE]

Song of the Woman of Kemay

Song sung in northwest Gont, composed by the Woman of Kemay, which tells of the Vedurnan

'Farther west than west
beyond the land
my people are dancing
on the other wind.

[Going to the Falcon's Nest, T]

Related entries: Songs

Song of the Young King

See Deed of the Young King


Also known as: Chants

Songs such as the Deed of Enlad, Deed of the Young King, Deed of the Dragonlords, Deed of Ged, Deed of Hode, Lament for the White Enchanter, Lay of the Lost Queen, Deed of Erreth-Akbe, Lament for Erreth-Akbe, Winter Carol and the Havnorian Lay record the history of the Archipelago and its heroes, and are sung at festivals and other times. (Some history-recounting songs are local only, such as the song of the Woman of Kemay, sung in northwest Gont.) They may be sung unaccompanied or accompanied by music of eg drums, pipes, flute, harp and lute. Wizards sometimes use illusions to change their appearance when miming the songs. The oldest song is the Creation of Éa. New songs are made to celebrate acts of bravery, such as the Song of the Sparrowhawk, commemorating Ged's defeat of Yevaud, the Dragon of Pendor. Teaching the songs to children is traditionally the province of witches.

More frivolous songs also exist, including sailors' songs eg 'The Lass of Belilo', love songs eg 'Where my Love is Going', riddle songs eg 'Three things were that will not be', cat's cradles' rhymes, cradle songs, lullabies, ballads eg 'O my Joy!', drinking songs and shepherd's songs.

Chanting, unaccompanied or accompanied by horn and drum, also forms part of religious observances in the Kargad Lands; many of the words chanted are so old as to have lost all meaning, 'a signpost still standing when the road is gone'a. Named chants include the Nine Chants

Sources: The Eaten One, ToA (a)

The Lass of Belilo

Also known as: Lass of Belilo, The

Sailors' song; tells of a sailor who left a pretty girl weeping in every port, until one turned into a dragon and flew after him, snatching him from the boat and eating him. Possibly an Archipelagan folk memory of the Vedurnan

Sources: Palaces, OW

Related entries: Dragons; Songs

Three things were that will not be

A riddle song sung in the villages around the foot of Mount Onn on Havnor, the last line of which may relate to Medra

'Three things were that will not be:
Soléa's bright isle above the wave,
A dragon swimming in the sea,
A seabird flying in the grave.

[The Finder, TfE]

Related entries: Songs

Where my Love is Going

Love or boat song from the western coast of Havnor island

'Where my love is going
There will I go.
Where his boat is rowing
I will row.
We will laugh together,
Together we will cry:
If he lives I will live,
If he dies I die.

[Darkrose and Diamond, TfE]

Related entries: Songs

Winter Carol

Song traditionally sung at the Festival of Sunreturn

Sources: Hunting, WoE



WoEA Wizard of Earthsea
ToAThe Tombs of Atuan
FSThe Farthest Shore
OWThe Other Wind
W12QThe Wind's Twelve Quarters
TfETales from Earthsea

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