In the kingdom by the sea,
In the mountains mantled blue,
On frigid winter’s final day
Was born a man with but one task:
To kill the foe in Durza,
In the land of shadows.
Nurtured by the kind and wise
Under oaks as old as time,
He ran with deer and wrestled bears,
And from his elders learned the skills,
To kill the foe in Durza,
In the land of shadows.
Taught to spy the thief in black
When he grabs the weak and strong;
To block his blows and fight the fiend
With rag and rock and plant and bone;
And kill the foe in Durza,
In the land of shadows.
Quick as thought, the years did turn,
’Til the man had come of age,
His body burned with fevered rage,
While youth’s impatience seared his veins.
Then he met a maiden fair,
Who was tall and strong and wise,
Her brow adorned with Gëda’s Light,
Which shone upon her trailing gown.
In her eyes of midnight blue,
In those enigmatic pools,
Appeared to him a future bright,
Together, where they would not have
To fear the foe in Durza,
In the land of shadows.
So Eragon told of how the man voyaged to the land of Durza, where he found and fought the foe, despite the cold terror within his heart. Yet though at last he triumphed, the man withheld the fatal blow, for now that he had defeated his enemy, he did not fear the doom of mortals. He did not need to kill the foe in Durza. Then the man sheathed his sword and returned home and wed his love on summer’s eve. With her, he spent his many days content until his beard was long and white. But:
In the dark before the dawn,
In the room where slept the man,
The foe, he crept and loomed above
His mighty rival now so weak.
From his pillow did the man
Raise his head and gaze upon
The cold and empty face of Death,
The king of everlasting night.
Calm acceptance filled the man’s
Aged heart; for long ago,
He’d lost all fear of Death’s embrace,
The last embrace a man will know.
Gentle as a morning breeze,
Bent the foe and from the man
His glowing, pulsing spirit took,
And thence in peace they went to dwell,
Forevermore in Durza,
In the land of shadows.

As classic poetry

This is a terrible poem. Did you know? It seemed pretty obvious to me. So, obviously this poem is written in the Epic Narrative Style in the vein of Gilgamesh and Beowulf. Surprise, because Beowulf is an “influence” of Paolini’s.

Because of the genre, I can’t really take points off for not having rhyme. This is because Beowulf didn’t use rhyme for its metre. It used alliterative verse. From Wikipedia:

This is a technique in which the first half of the line (the a-verse) is linked to the second half (the b-verse) through similarity in initial sound. In addition, the two halves are divided by a caesura:“ Oft Scyld Scefing \\ sceaþena þreatum ”

So, let’s go looking for alliteration in this poem, right?

To block his blows and fight the fiend

That’s all I found. Wow. Just wow. You know, whoever it was that wrote Beowulf managed alliteration in every single line? Gee, turns out epic poetry is harder than Eragon figured.

As modern poetry

But let’s give Paolini the benefit of doubt, right? We will try and be fair here. Maybe he wasn’t going for the ancient form of poetry. Maybe he was trying some more modern poetry techniques. Let’s look around for some of that.


You can actually get a pretty nice rhythm going while reading this aloud—except that it is interrupted every here and there by really clumsy verses with the wrong number of syllables. It’s sort of frustrating really. Paolini almost got this right. It’s only appropriate that he should, because this is a poem that Eragon is chanting. Another problem is the second section throws all this out the window. What a waste.


Cadence is the natural inflection of the voice when reading a poem out loud. I managed to read this in a flat monotone. So yeah, no cadence.


Dynamics are the volume changes when reading poetry. You know, when you can’t help but read the end of some lines softer, etc. That is dynamics. Once again, monotone. So no good dynamics here, either.


Paolini doesn’t make use of phrasing, so there is nothing to comment on.


There are no meaningful metaphors here either.


This is a narrative poem, so an important point is to illustrate the characters. However, we never really get to know about any of the characters in this story, because there are no details. Everything is given in the broadest and most generic terms. All we know about the setting is that there is an ocean, and there are mountains. The female is described only physically, and not even in a way that gives us a good picture of who she is. The fight isn’t given in poem form, because Paolini is lazy and switches to straight up narration. Speaking of which, that narrative section is terribly jarring.

Overall, this is just a boring, generic epic fantasy “poem”. He is trying to be Tolkien, except Tolkien actually knew the art. I wish people would quit trying to be Tolkien.


  1. Petunia on 27 September 2008, 18:54 said:

    I whole-heartedly agree with you on this one. Paolini just isn’t a poet. His attempt is way too wordy, and I’ve thought of several instances where he could rephrase a line and make it better. The only positive thing I see in his epic narrative is the repetition of “kill the foe in Durza/in the land of shadows.” This repetition really gets the point across, despite it being way too long.

  2. SlyShy on 27 September 2008, 19:25 said:

    Yeah, that repetition is where most of the rhythm in the poem comes from.

  3. Kitty on 28 September 2008, 00:17 said:

    This is probably my favorite bit of Eldest. It’s so bad it’s funny.

  4. ben::zen on 28 September 2008, 00:31 said:

    If one looks at the poem from a very modern view, it is just fine. The greatest similarity in it is to Spoken Word, except for the fact that it suffers from Thesaurus Overuse, and it is toneless. Now, if one were to vary it slightly, such as… on rereading it, the whole thing needs to be scrapped. A better opening would involve something about fog. Fog is mysterious.

    Given Paolini’s propensity to overdramatise anything, this comes off as pathetic. One additional comment: since when are mountains mantled in blue? Snow, after all, is white.

  5. ExitMouse on 28 September 2008, 01:46 said:

    What really got to me was how everyone praised Eragon extravagantly afterward, as if he’d actually written what Paolini thinks he wrote…so, effectively, Paolini complimented his own writing.

  6. GC on 28 September 2008, 03:33 said:

    You forgot to mention that the first line of this poem just happens to coincide with another famous line of a very famous poem by a person who was possibly the greatest writer of his time.
    Shame on you, Pao-Pao. We’d think you’d get better at plagiarism with age…

  7. SlyShy on 28 September 2008, 04:02 said:

    Haha, nice find, GC.

    ExitMouse, I knew I had forgotten something. Expect an update.

  8. Amelie on 28 September 2008, 21:12 said:

    Oh, man. Nice catch, GC. I knew that sounded familiar. Paolini is just making me sick, giving Poe a bad name. Shame on him. And the “maiden fair” bit about Arya is just cliche to the point of… well, consummate cliche-ness. That’s the only way I can think to put it…

  9. Euphrates on 29 September 2008, 12:01 said:

    I thought the ‘mountains mantled blue’ meant the sky above them…but I’m no poet, so. :/

    Not only is this poem awful in every way you pointed out, there are SO MANY CLICHES. It makes my brain hurt. D=

  10. Artimaeus on 2 October 2008, 00:41 said:

    I can’t imagine why CP included this part in his story. It’s like he’s trying to say “Hey, look, I can write poetry!” Except that there isn’t anything special about his poetry.

    And it just irritates me when, after Eragon (or another character) makes a “wise/philosophical” statement, all of the surrounding characters feel compelled to compliment him for it. I mean, it’s like CP is trying to prop himself up. One shouldn’t need to do that…

    Oh well

  11. COЯY on 6 October 2008, 19:12 said:

    Hahahah Artimaeus!

    “Congratulations, Mr. Paolini. You just solved a problem you presented to your characters in a rather cliched way. Your characters are proud of you. Have them give you a round of applause. You deserve it.”

    Paolini has internal voices.

  12. Elizabeth on 8 October 2008, 01:10 said:

    You know, the poetry-writing scene was actually the one point in the entire book where I thought there might be hope for Paolini. I loved how Eragon got an idea and was compelled to write it because it was there. I thought, just maybe, Paolini had discovered the value of that central drive. Inspiration – it doesn’t teach us how to write, it teaches us what to write, and from that all else flows. Maybe the wayward young author, who had hitherto written only word after word, scene after scene, guided by nothing more than pre-existing forms, had found the why behind writing. Maybe now he would discover the drive to express something he really wanted to say.

    False alarm.

  13. Girl 3 Daniella on 15 October 2008, 10:46 said:

    Some mountains are blue without snow, maybe CP was just playing with words?

    “Then he met a maiden fair,
    Who was tall and strong and wise,
    Her brow adorned with Geda’s light,
    Which shone upon her trailing gown

    In her eyes of midnight blue,
    In those enigmatic pools,
    Appeared to him a future bright,
    Together where they would not have

    To fear the foe in Durza,
    In the land of shadows.”

    Errr.. I think some people are not thinking who else might it be, the clues are obvious!!
    “Then he met a maiden fair” Eragon could be referring to Saphira, she’s a female.
    “Who was tall and strong and wise” When Eragon composed the poem, Saphira was tall, she was very strong. She might be young, but don’t forget that she said:” But my mind is ancient” or something like that.
    “Her brow adorned with Geda’s Light,
    Which shone upon her trailing gown” Saphira’s scales shines in the sunlight, so Eragon must be referring to when Saphira’s brow shines, the light also shines upon her body, which is the “trailing gown”. With the trailing gown, when Saphira’s on the ground, her massive tail trails on the ground.
    “In her eyes of midnight blue,
    In those enigmatic pools,” Saphira’s eyes are blue. I’m not sure what ‘enigmatic’ means, but I think Eragon means her eyes are deep.
    “Appeared to him a future bright,
    Together, where they would not have

    To fear the foe in Durza,
    In the land of shadows.” When Eragon saw that the blue stone hatched a dragon, he was wise to keep it. When Eragon and Saphira were together, they both fought together and went through everything together. So, if they both together when they face their foe, they don’t have any reason to fear the foe because they are together, both of one mind. You have read how they did in a battle, they didn’t fear anything at all. so, why can’t the same thing apply to the foe in Durza?

    So, I did my best to explain, hope I made some sense.

  14. Snow White Queen on 15 October 2008, 11:01 said:

    hm…never thought of it referring to saphira. that makes sense.

    however, ‘maiden fair’ implies that the the person being referred to is human. you don’t ever hear anyone calling a female cat a ‘maiden’. or a dragon. it sounds kind of odd, doesn’t it?

    i think the poem could refer to either arya or saphira- the only part that doesn’t match for arya is talking about blue eyes…aren’t hers green?

    however, i think it’s much liklier that it’s about arya, simply because eragon’s so lovestruck he’d do anything to try and impress her.

  15. Girl 3 Daniella on 15 October 2008, 22:59 said:

    Eragon’s describing Saphira as if she’s a human, not a dragon. I mean, from the way I read it, in an angle it looks like he’s describing Saphira as a human, not a dragon. Have you ever read about Saphira wearing a gown?

    Ayra’s eyes are dark green, a very dark green that’s close to black, according to the story.

    Eragon was writing the poem about 3 most important things in his life: Durza, Saphira and his life when he was younger, or something like that, my memory’s not too good. No mention of Ayra at all.

  16. SlyShy on 15 October 2008, 23:12 said:

    If that’s your interpretation, then the poem has a really sick meaning to it. But I’ll pretend I didn’t think that.

    It’s funny, because Saphira is the most boring human ever. All she does is spout platitudes.

  17. Girl 3 Daniella on 15 October 2008, 23:19 said:

    Well, it is my interpretation. Why does the poem have a sick meaning?

    Spout what? platitudes? I can’t find the word in my dictionary. Would anyone care to post the meaning of platitudes?

    Saphira’s not a human. She’s a dragon. Which just add more confusion. Eragon describe Saphira like she’s a human, yet she’s not, she’s a dragon, but everyone treats her like she’s a human princess of everyone when they are equal, yet she’s not equal or something, but she’s sentient. Confusing? to me, yes. To you, perhaps. I can’t read minds you know.

  18. Virgil on 15 October 2008, 23:25 said:

    You can’t read minds! I wonder what that’s like… anyways, are we sure he described Saphira as human? Or was it just a theory?

  19. SlyShy on 15 October 2008, 23:26 said:

    If you are saying the maiden is Saphira, then what am I to think of this? “wed his love on summer’s eve. With her, he spent his many days content until his beard was long and white.”

    Oh my, please.

    Platitude: a flat style, or trite statement uttered as though it were fresh and original.

    Saphira said firmly, “Eragon, I chose you from within my egg. You have been given a chance most would die for. Are you unhappy with that? Clear your mind of such thoughts. They cannot be answered and will make you no happier.”

    Basically your classic “get some perspective” speech. There are more examples. I just looked for “Saphira said”, but since characters don’t say things enough, I’m sure I missed good quotes.

  20. Elizabeth on 15 October 2008, 23:37 said:

    Could it be possible that Paolini is simply using the “maiden fair” as a generic female significant to Eragon, not necessarily Arya or Saphira or anyone in particular, just a love interest who fills a purpose? I mean, we all know he’s a master of coming up with meaningless characters as necessity demands.

  21. Girl 3 Daniella on 15 October 2008, 23:42 said:

    hmmmm well, Eragon describing Saphira as a human or just a theory is beyond me.

    “Wed his love on summer’s eve. With her, he spent many days content until his beard was long and white” Eragon could be just saying that they loved each other and spent his time with her til his beard was long and white. Doesn’t neccesarily means he wed her.

    Thank you for posting the meaning of platitude Slyshy.

  22. Elizabeth on 15 October 2008, 23:44 said:

    …Except that he literally used the word “wed”…
    I dunno, it could just be referring to his bond with Saphira, but then it’s chronologically out of fit. I mean, he discovered his bond with Saphira way the heck before he ever met Durza.

  23. Snow White Queen on 15 October 2008, 23:45 said:

    but he SAID ‘wed his love’, so how could he possibly mean otherwise?

    that would be like me saying ‘no, i don’t want fries with that’ when i really do. unless there’s another meaning of ‘wed’ that i don’t know…

  24. Virgil on 15 October 2008, 23:49 said:

    It could have ‘weld his love’, and just an unfortunate typo. There’s plenty of grammatical errors throughout the novel.

    And ‘weld’ opens up lots of possibilities.

  25. SlyShy on 15 October 2008, 23:51 said:

    By the way, if anyone has an account over at the Inheritance Forum, I would love to see more fans come around. Makes for good discussion and what not.

    And I’m still waiting for someone to submit an article on the merits of Inheritance.

  26. Virgil on 15 October 2008, 23:55 said:

    Yeah, I was thinking about that. Then I tried thinking of Inheritance merits, but I couldn’t do many.

  27. Girl 3 Daniella on 16 October 2008, 11:24 said:

    You love to see some fans around here in this criticism page? Just tell me, SlyShy.

  28. Girl 3 Daniella on 16 October 2008, 11:27 said:

    I’m sure I’ll be able to provide some fans for you SlyShy if you like.

  29. SlyShy on 16 October 2008, 11:37 said:

    Bring them on. :P

  30. Girl 3 Daniella on 16 October 2008, 12:40 said:

    OK SlyShy.

    You’re talking to one fan. Me.

    I’m a bit of fan too.

    And I read the book differently from you guys because I’m an artist, and thee books possess arts.

  31. SlyShy on 16 October 2008, 12:42 said:

    I was well aware that you were a fan.

    Could you give an example of art in the books? I would like to know what particular instances of art struck you, and for what reason.

    I only say this because I know a number of artists who dislike this book for its lack of artistry.

  32. Girl 3 Daniella on 16 October 2008, 12:54 said:

    I go by this rule: Everything is an piece of art, it’s just a matter of finding it.

    For example, poems are arts, and the ‘Beginning of Wisdom’ by Ayra, to me, is a piece of art because it have an interesting way of describing things, and a beautiful poem because it describes very clearly to me, and I’m able to conjure up the image, which is good according to my art teacher i learnt from some while ago. The whole poem is soulful and deep to me, however, to others its just plain boring and soulless.

    The whole book is an art, because it captivates my imagination and I was able to conjure up scenes after scenes and the drawing of the dragons is just wonderful. The details are very clear and fine, the choice of colours is quite creative and nice.

    NOW do you get what I see? For I see the world in a different way from you, and its a wondrous, complicated but beautiful world.

  33. SlyShy on 16 October 2008, 13:11 said:

    I just want to let you know I’ll be writing a long response to your comment, some time later today. It’ll be about the occasion of art, and specifically poetry. But I have a topology midterm to prepare for, and I would be quite distressed if it went awry, so you’ll have to wait a bit. Thanks for your patience.

  34. Virgil on 16 October 2008, 15:44 said:

    Art is just like literature. It comes down to what you want and what appeals to you. Girl 3 likes Arya’s poem because it speaks to her clearly. I, personally, don’t like Eragon’s poem because it it’s long winded and it’s not the style I like.

    I don’t think you should judge Paolini’s poetry writing skills too harshly. He isn’t a master, but he didn’t come out and say “Look how good I write poetry. I put other writer’s to shame.” After the poem, he even excuses his poetry writing with what Izlanzadi says afterward. They still put him in the Hall of Fame though, but whatever.

    Anyways, while his poetry isn’t amazing, and he doesn’t have many set rules, but Eragon technically wrote it. It tells what Eragon the character is like, not Paolini the poetry writer.

  35. Rhaego on 16 October 2008, 16:33 said:

    I didn’t like Eragon’s poem on the grounds that it didn’t have anything to do with him. Then he was lauded by the elves, which only adds to his Gary Stu-ness. I also dislike this style, as I’m more of a Robert Frost and Langston Hughes guy.

  36. Carbon Copy on 16 October 2008, 17:08 said:

    Paolini makes a rod for his own back when he writes poetry. His repetition of “in the land of shadows” is incredibly similar to the repetition of “in the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie”. I have assumed his poem is homage, but homage of this kind is drawing parallels that weaken his own work.

    Paolini has compared his work to the work of other writers (Seamus Heaney, Tolkien). By putting his name alongside these people, even just saying they are the people he strives to be like, he is opening himself to comparison he cannot hope to live up to. Perhaps, many years from now, he could make such a comparison, but he is only taking the first steps on a very long journey.

    Really, if anybody is thinking of putting poetry in their story, I strongly suggest you reconsider. It’s not particularly in vogue right now, and unless you are a very talented poet, with the ability to bring out real character traits through the poetry, you’re going to turn readers off. It’s a little bit like putting a club scene in a movie. Just don’t do it.

    I know the whole Inheritance/Lord of the Rings comparison thing has been done to death, but I’m going to do a little comparison of my own.

    First consider Eragon’s poem. What does it tell us we don’t know? What does it help us understand? By recounting it, what is achieved, other than a scene in which everyone pats Eragon on the back and gives him a cookie for being such a clever little boy? What does it tell us about Eragon’s character?

    Now take a look at Frodo and Sam’s poetry in Lord of the Rings, following the death of Gandalf. They are surrounded by elves who are lamenting the death of one of the greatest beings to walk Middle Earth. They are singing songs of such beauty that Legolas does not have the heart or skill to translate the words.

    The hobbits have no songs of lamentation, and denied a translation of what the elves are singing, they create their own songs. It is not poetry for the sake of it; they are trying to vent some of the terrible grief. Frodo tries first, and his character is embedded in every line he says. No other character could say this poem, because it is coming straight from Frodo’s heart. He is recounting what he knew and understood of Gandalf, the man he loved. He veers awkwardly and yet beautifully from descriptions of Gandalf’s hat, to his laughter, his anger, his staff, and then his death, mixing in elements of Bilbo’s story as well. He does not talk about Gandalf’s origins, only hints at his magical powers, and when he is done, he is completely unfulfilled by his attempt. He simply cannot find a way to pay tribute to Gandalf. His words fall short of what he hoped to achieve, and he knows it.

    Sam, in true Sam style, claims the poem is excellent, but Frodo disagrees, and no elves gather round to pat Frodo on the back and tell him how wonderful he is. At the end of the poem, there is more sadness, and more failure.

    But then Sam stands up. Sam has his own voice, his own character. How does he choose to sum up the life of the great Gandalf? He comes up with a few lines of poetry about fireworks. Something he witnessed in the shire, during happy times. Something he wishes he could go back to. Gandalf is a great hero, and yet Sam remembers such a small and seemingly insignificant thing.

    That is how we remember people. We remember the tiny things; their smile, their laugh, the way they curled their hair when they were telling stories. Those are things that are important to the human heart. The simple beauty of Sam’s poetry tells us exactly how much Gandalf will be missed. Would Aragorn come up with a poem about fireworks? No. This is Sam’s voice. Sam’s love.

    What I’m trying to say, in a VEEERRRRYYY long-winded way, is this is not poetry for the sake of it. This is poetry that develops and reinforces character traits, shows the horror of the loss, and emphasises the characters’ yearning to return home. All this story and character, wrapped up in just a few beautiful lines of poetry.

    I think I’ve rambled for quite long enough. If anyone made it to the end of this post, I salute you.

  37. Virgil on 16 October 2008, 17:36 said:

    I made it to the end! You have a good point as well.

  38. Snow White Queen on 16 October 2008, 19:02 said:

    carbon copy, i made it to the end, and you make a very valid point.

    i agree that you shouldn’t inject a poem into a random part of the story just because you think it’d be ‘cool’ to add ‘poet’ to the long list of abilities that your gary stu has.

    and i never saw so much meaning in the lament for gandalf before! (i love lord of the rings, and one of my favorite things about it is that i constantly discover new layers of things to obsess about)

  39. SlyShy on 16 October 2008, 21:07 said:

    Excellent comment Carbon Copy. Once again, the characters are in the details.

  40. Girl 3 Daniella on 16 October 2008, 23:29 said:

    Don’t worry SlyShy, I got all the time in the world to wait for your response. I’m quite known for being as patience as long as I like, not that it matters.

    So, people would agree that the poem that Eragon wrote is not very good. But, would you compare this poem to other poems?

  41. Snow White Queen on 16 October 2008, 23:41 said:

    didn’t carbon copy just do that?

    i mean, he compared eragon’s poem to the poems frodo and sam wrote lamenting gandalf’s death.

  42. Girl 3 Daniella on 16 October 2008, 23:51 said:

    No, that’s not what i mean.

    I meant comparing this poem with other non-famous poems. Like, the Wind poem.

  43. SlyShy on 17 October 2008, 00:20 said:

    So, this still isn’t the comment I was going to write, because now I have a philosophy paper. But I’d just put in that my favorite poem of all time (so far) is this:


    Your absence has gone through me
    Like thread through a needle.
    Everything I do is stitched with its color.

    — W.S. Merwin

  44. Girl 3 Daniella on 17 October 2008, 00:35 said:

    hmmmmm very nice poem SlyShy!

    I also have a favourite poem but it’s very long….

    Does anyone here make up their own poem?

  45. SlyShy on 17 October 2008, 00:41 said:

    Yeah, I’ve actually written a bit of poetry. I don’t actually know how good it is, because I can’t evaluate my own work from a fair standpoint. I’ll post my three most recent in the critique section, if you like.

  46. Girl 3 Daniella on 17 October 2008, 00:43 said:

    However, let’s not wander away from the main point.

    Does anyone agree that the poems CP wrote are bad?

    Would YOU compare your poems with his?

  47. Girl 3 Daniella on 17 October 2008, 00:44 said:

    Yes please!

  48. SlyShy on 17 October 2008, 00:47 said:

    Here they are

    I wouldn’t really compare mine to his. Like CC has already said, the valid comparison is to Tolkien. My poems aren’t really in the same style as his, and thus aren’t so comparable.

    I’m trying to think of other examples of poetry appearing in novels though. It’s not rare like white whales are.

  49. Girl 3 Daniella on 17 October 2008, 01:05 said:

    hmmm your poems are very good. Captivates my attention well.

    I know one poem (sort of) that appeared in another fiction book that i really like

    If you like, perhaps I could post it…

  50. SlyShy on 17 October 2008, 01:10 said:

    Go ahead.

  51. Snow White Queen on 17 October 2008, 01:12 said:

    well, it’s pretty obvious that cp got his a lot of his ideas from tolkien…so i guess the poems would probably be influenced, right?

  52. Elizabeth on 17 October 2008, 01:18 said:

    Another good Tolkien comparison would be with Bilbo’s account of Earendil the mariner — another epic, written for the benefit of the Elves in Rivendell. It’s long, though, and I don’t think I have the skill, and certainly not the energy, to compare the two at present. It’s yet another good example of Tolkien’s influence in CP, though.

  53. Girl 3 Daniella on 17 October 2008, 01:23 said:

    SlyShy, you will find the poem in ‘Three Poems’ in Critique. Hope you don’t mind me adding the poem to your area, since I don’t know how to create my own area.

  54. Addie on 20 October 2008, 21:03 said:

    I’ve had a thought on this – I mean, why Paolini’s poem is not very good. Obviously, it isn’t supposed to rhyme, so that isn’t an issue (even if I just personally prefer poems that do). But it sounds like it is supposed to have consistent rhythm, and it doesn’t. It almost does in a lot of places, but then it’ll have badly placed, jarring syllables that break the flow of the poem. For example:

    “Calm acceptance filled the man’s
    Aged heart; for long ago,
    He’d lost all fear of Death’s embrace,
    The last embrace a man will know.”

    Every line, it looks to me – although I could be wrong, because when you look through the poem, you see that almost every line has a different number of syllables – every line, as I say, should be “da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM.” It looks like that’s generally what he’s shooting for. But in that case, the first two lines of the verse above violate the rule. Maybe I’ve just got too-sensitive ears, but it sounds jarring to me. And this is just an objection to the structure of the poem; I haven’t even started on content.

    As for the content of the poem, I don’t think the general idea’s all that bad. Many highly revered poets have written on the courage it takes to face death (see “The Raven” and “Crossing the Bar” for a start) and on the importance of love in the face of it (Arwen and Aragorn is one example, though obviously not written in verse). He just could have put it more powerfully and poetically, that’s all.

  55. Girl 3 Daniella on 27 October 2008, 16:20 said:

    well, how about you try telling the poem like a chanting song? its amusing to try saying the poem in different ways. song, reading out loud, chanting, humming, music and singing the poem…. its fun and cool to try different ways of saying the poem!! Try it.

  56. SlyShy on 27 October 2008, 16:22 said:

    Except that since his meter isn’t consistent, that’s not fun. It’s cumbersome.

  57. Addie on 27 October 2008, 18:18 said:

    Agreed. Oh, by the way, SlyShy, I just read the article again and realized that my comment up there was mostly superfluous, except possibly for the last paragraph. Sorry about that.

    All in all, I think the poem is just really unwieldy, off-balance, and – sorry, CP, but – not poetic. Looks like he’s trying and failing to be Tolkein-ish.

  58. Zylaa on 10 November 2008, 03:34 said:

    This is very late, but:

    Ben::zen, mountains do look blue from a distance. Or at least the mountains I’m closest to do. I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant by “mountains mantled blue.”

  59. Girl 3 Daniella on 15 November 2008, 02:29 said:

    yaaaaaay! score 1 to the “purple prose” everyone is critising about.

  60. Girl 3 Daniella on 15 November 2008, 02:33 said:

    SlyShy, about the fan conversation… you probably have done it, but i’m just suggesting.
    How about going to a fan website of “Eragon”, “Eldest” and “Brisingr” and issue an invitation to this website, then you can have a war of words (debating) about the books.

  61. SubStandardDeviation on 15 November 2008, 03:00 said:

    score 1 to the “purple prose” everyone is critising about.

    Actually, no, because poetry is by definition not prose. Description and imagery that doesn’t make sense upon first inspection are par for the course in poetry. The criticism comes because “an archetypal hero story, filled with exciting action” is not supposed to be dragged down with clichéd, overly long descriptions of scenery/clothes/food/etc. that fail to develop plot, character, or setting in a meaningful way.

    As to the second point, that seems needlessly argumentative. Let the fans enjoy their website, and we can enjoy ours.

    Since I know nothing about poetry critique, I have nothing to say about the article itself except that you could have fleshed it out more for the benefit of us ignorami.

  62. Scary_Viking on 15 November 2008, 11:37 said:

    Ben::zen, mountains do look blue from a distance. Or at least the mountains I’m closest to do. I’m pretty sure that’s what he meant by “mountains mantled blue.

    Arguably they’d be more mantled white than mantled blue, since the snow is what stands out if the conditions that give mountains the sky blue look are taking place, but yes, people fuss over that line a bit too much.

  63. Kieuemo on 25 November 2008, 17:09 said:

    The only thing I would point out, which I’m sure someone already has, is that that was the English translation of a poem in the ancient language. Obviously it is a sucky poem, but it might (might might might) have more alliterative value (or other rhetorical devices) the way Eragon would have chanted it.

  64. SlyShy on 25 November 2008, 17:12 said:

    Actually, you make a really interesting point. Translating poems into English is pretty hard… it could be said that was a great poem in the Ancient Language, I guess. Eh. Dante’s Inferno was still a great poem after translation, so I don’t know.

  65. Snow White Queen on 25 November 2008, 17:34 said:

    @ Kieuemo:

    Hm, that IS something I hadn’t considered before. But was there any mention of this poem being originally in the Ancient Language?

  66. Addie on 25 November 2008, 19:47 said:

    Yes, there is actually. Page 457 of Eldest, Oromis. However, this is no excuse for the poem’s being bad, because:

    Accepting the illusion that the author is merely chronicling Eragon’s history, rather than making it all up (even Tolkein used this illusion, see his language appendix):

    1) Eragon did write and recite the poem to the elves in the ancient language.
    2) However, since the reader doesn’t understand the ancient language, the author must give it to us in English.
    3) At this point, it becomes the responsibility of the author to give us a faithful rendition of the poem.
    4) For consider: accepting the above illusion, nothing ever said in LotR was originally in English: it was (usually) in the Westron tongue, and Tolkien merely translated it for us. Yet the poetry there has not suffered on account of this; on the contrary, it is quite wonderful. And as Paolini is occupying the same role for Alagaesia, he is bound by the same duty to give us a faithful rendition.
    5) Here I anticipate a counter-argument that the ancient language is the language of the elves, and is therefore parallel not the the Westron but to Quenya or Sindarin. My response: Tolkien did not translate the Quenya or Sindarin for us. He left them as they were, and whenever a poem was translated from those languages, it was done by the characters (see Aragorn’s translation of the Tinuviel poem on Weathertop) – which is a different matter entirely. However, Eragon speaks nothing but the ancient language in Ellesmera, so it has to be translated, for the reader’s sake. And since it has to be, it is the author’s duty to do it well. Which Paolini didn’t exactly do.

    However, there is a catch with this.

    1) You could argue that Eragon’s poem was only “rough but true,” as Oromis said, even in the language it was written in (the AL, that is). And, that the author’s translation was only being faithful to that. But in that case, it’s just a mediocre poem, period.

    (Of course, though, we all know that Paolini actually wrote the poem himself, and probably not in the AL originally. Judged in that light, it’s just a mediocre poem.)

  67. Bindu on 26 November 2008, 16:37 said:

    Yeah, I actually like this series, but this poem was just….painful. really. quite embarrassing. Although now the point of having to translate it into English makes a good point, which soothes the part of me that likes Paolini.
    On another note, i AM a ‘Young Adult’ and THE target audience for this series, and well, loved it. But NOW, I’m reading all of this, and…whoa. Well. You guys are making great points. Thanks for opening my eyes.

  68. Virgil on 26 November 2008, 18:16 said:

    Come to our forums, lots of discussion there. No one (except Legion) bites.

  69. Girl 3 Daniella on 12 January 2009, 05:52 said:

    I am also a “Young Adult”… maybe. This series maybe horrible to you ADULTS, and perhaps it got thousands of errors in it, but surely the errors could be overlooked by many readers, or ignored by readers. Maybe?

  70. Corsair on 12 January 2009, 13:37 said:

    Have you noticed that even in his poetry, Eragon is still a terrible excuse for a hero? He goes through all this convoluted training and doesn’t even do the job he was trained to do.

  71. Radis on 5 February 2009, 11:25 said:

    The inclusion of this poem in the story has more to do with explaining future events than displaing Paolinis’ skill in poetry. In the end of Eldest, Murtagh states that Eragon is Morzans’ son, using the ancient language, meaning he couldn’t be lying. However in Brisingr, this is contradicted because Brom is actually Eragons’ father.
    The reason Murtagh was able to speak a lie to Eragon was because he was convinced it was the truth.
    This is explained when Oromis comments that he is surprissed than Eragon was able to read fiction out loud in the ancient language. Eragon then states that he could do it because to him the story was real.

    As for commenting if Paolini is very good at poetry or not I cannot say for sure. He could have made Eragons’ poem simplier since Eragons’ use of the ancient language, due to the small time he had to learn it, would not be that great. When Arya writes it seemed far more poetic to me.

  72. Morvius on 5 February 2009, 12:03 said:

    Well, all the Elves who are such Masters of Literature and the Arts all praised Eragon for his poetry.

  73. Falstar on 5 February 2009, 20:32 said:

    First time poster, long-time lurker. :)

    Girl 3 Daniella: Why should readers ignore thousands of errors, and hold CP in such high regard, when there are so many other wonderful writers out there to be read? Try something that will expand your mind, rather than the literary equivalent of fast food.

    A good writer should be able to make you laugh, cry, and genuinely care about the characters, for their strengths, but also for their flaws.

  74. Addie on 5 February 2009, 20:41 said:

    I’d just like to point out that every single bit of poetry in the Inheritance Cycle is written in the same exact style. Make what we will of that.

    @Falstar: welcome! :)

  75. Falstar on 5 February 2009, 21:11 said:

    Cheers Addie. :)

    Also, with regards to the poem… I find it extraordinarily sloppy that he found it more expedient to simply explain what the poem was about half-way through, rather than either completing the poem, or making the poem shorter and more succinct (which probably would have made it more bearable).

    Also, the line “Wed his love on summer’s eve. With her, he spent many days content until his beard was long and white” is not actually part of the poem, but CP narrating, and therefore must be interpreted literally. For this, I highly doubt the poem is about Saphira. My money would be on it being about Arya, because as many have pointed out, Eragon has quite an unhealthy obsession about the unfortunate lass. Unless Eragon wanted to wed, and consummate his marriage, with a Dragon. Ahem…

  76. Addie on 5 February 2009, 21:22 said:

    that he found it more expedient to simply explain what the poem was about half-way through, rather than either completing the poem, or making the poem shorter and more succinct (which probably would have made it more bearable).

    You know, I thought that was odd too!

    I mean, it wasn’t a space issue, clearly. The poem had only taken a bit more than a page when he cut it off …

  77. Falstar on 5 February 2009, 21:29 said:

    Perhaps he was just as bored writing it as we were reading it? :p

  78. Rand on 5 February 2009, 22:15 said:

    I doubt it. The poor guy believes passionately in his cause. Or else why would he rattle out his first book at such a tender young age?

    He just had a few things (who am I kidding- many things) to learn before doing so.

  79. Frederick on 30 March 2009, 16:37 said:

    Notice how the poem was written by a character in Paolini’s book, and the character himself is no poet.
    Paolini has numerous examples of wonderful poetry in his books, and this single one shouldn’t be the one to judge all of his skill by.

  80. SlyShy on 30 March 2009, 16:46 said:

    Notice that the elves, who have had thousands of years to sit around in peace and write poetry, praise his poetry as a fine piece indeed.

  81. CGilga on 30 March 2009, 18:12 said:

    It’s been a while, but I honestly cannot remember one instance of wonderful poetry in the Inheritance Series.

  82. Brandon on 25 April 2009, 21:06 said:

    Why are you discussing this? 1.) if it’s a bad poem, what is the point. 2.) the poem is used as a plot device in the story. It was never meant to be the piece of literature we judge CP upon.

  83. SlyShy on 26 April 2009, 03:22 said:

    The point is to criticize its use as a plot device, actually. The Elves praise it as a literary masterpiece (ah, the multiple levels of wish fulfillment in Eldest) and so the poem should be of believable quality. Not that any other aspect of the book is consistent.

  84. Novur on 9 March 2010, 09:13 said:

    You may want to note that this is supposed to have been translated from whatever-the-hell-the-elves-speak, so it may have rhymed, or may have had alliteration, or it may have been a monstrous pile of shit.

    But the point is, this is in English, and you can’t really judge it honestly unless you disregard context.

  85. Danielle on 9 March 2010, 13:23 said:

    True, but the rest of the book is written in English, so we can assume that it has been translated from Elvish or whatever language is spoken in Eragon’s world. Another thing you have to look at is how other authors handle the whole language thing. Louis Sachar’s song in the book Holes, for instance.

    If only, if only, the woodpecker sighs
    The bark on the tree was just a little bit softer
    While the wolf waits below, hungry and lonely
    He cries to the moon, if only, if only

    It’s mentioned in the text that the poem rhymed in Latvian, so Stanley’s family changes it a bit so it rhymes. But even though it doesn’t rhyme in English, it’s still poetic.

    If you want another example, go onto YouTube and type in “Nightwish Sleepwalker Eurovision Version.” You’ll find a video of the band singing “Sleepwalker” in English with subtitles in Finnish, I believe. I don’t speak Finnish, but as far as I can tell, it rhymes. It has meter. Eragon’s poem isn’t poetic in the slightest, so we can assume that it wasn’t any better in Elvish.

  86. Steph the bereft (of RPattz. which, you know, he would probably prefer...) on 10 March 2010, 06:02 said:

    What really annoys me in general is when fantasy book poems are meant to be in another language, and they rhyme. Written om English, they shouldn’t rhyme.

    I know this is not totally related, but yeah.

  87. hariboluvver on 5 July 2010, 13:27 said:

    Well i think that if you tried reading it out loud it would, maybe not rhyme, but ave a constant rhythm and that is better to me. But then to me I don’t think of the poem as CP’s but as Eragon’s!! I mean.. as a 16 yr old boy he has had a pretty troubled life right?? For starters, his mum left without a message, he finds a DRAGON EGG, it hatches for him then he goes on a journey with Brom the story tell who (though he doesn’t know it yet-sorry if u didn’t :S)is his father!! I mean Ithink we should cut him some slack! But from your points of veiws… I still think its a good poem!!! :) ;)

  88. jessie on 6 January 2011, 17:27 said:

    I love it Its muy Fav book i have reafd them all 8 times each but this poem sounds JUST like Edder Allen poe

  89. FallingStarBurning on 21 December 2011, 18:10 said:

    Hi, first time commentator (on this thread, anyway)
    If you guys hate the poem that much, why not just tell Paolini already? Or end this thread (by now it has gotten really mind-numbing and off-topic)?
    Also, for those of you fussing about translation error, check out this site:

    - you might enjoy it.
    And finally, has it occurred to anyone reading or writing on this page that maybe Eragon was just a really bad author who made up a story with small references to his life but which was not actually the story of his life and wrote it in poem form in the language of the world ( say aye, all who get the Alchemist reference)? And as it wasn’t particularly good in the first place, that it just plain sucked in translation?

  90. Fireshark on 21 December 2011, 21:05 said:

    Paolini knows he’s successful, and we are sure he won’t listen to us. From what we know of him, he doesn’t mess with success.

    I think Paolini should have provided the Ancient Language text of the poem, maybe in the special edition or on his website. That way, we could see if it really sounded like a poem.

  91. Fell Blade on 22 December 2011, 10:06 said:

    See to me, whenever people start explaining bad writing by saying “It wasn’t in the original language” or “That character was too young and inexperienced to get it right”, it just rings hollow. In the case of translating it from another language, that just seems to me like an easy excuse for lazy writing. If it’s the character’s fault, then why doens’t anyone call him out for it?

  92. FallingStarBurning on 23 December 2011, 23:57 said:

    Paolini’s just a really bad poetry critic (especially of his own work), as well as a really bad poetry author, and just didn’t want to call out Eragon’s epic fail as a poet- that would require him to figure out how to break it to Eragon that he sucks as an writer.

  93. tweedledee on 12 March 2013, 20:25 said:

    This is bad, and some may argue that this was his point and that following structures are okay, but I think this was too much like Annabelle Lee by Edgar Allan Poe. Even the `Kingdom by the sea` as well as some other parts, were such a copy. I wish Paolini was original. I do enjoy his Inheritance book to some degree however…

  94. Someone on 20 October 2013, 20:30 said:

    You’re a dick

  95. swenson on 20 October 2013, 20:38 said:

    Yes, but at least he has punctuation.

  96. Joey on 13 April 2016, 21:38 said:


  97. TheDragonCatGamer on 2 February 2017, 20:26 said:

    remember, this is not meant to be in English, it was written and spoken in the ancient language in the book, so it might rhyme in the ancient language, but not this one

  98. TheDragonCatGamer on 5 April 2017, 13:39 said:

    Also, no one ever said the poem was GOOD just made a point of the fact that he was able to speak it aloud, which meant it was TRUE, people were congratulating him on being able to make a fictional story and being able to say it aloud in the Ancient Language.

  99. John Doe on 15 January 2019, 16:51 said:

    You people do not understand an epic do you? It doesn’t rhyme it doesn’t alternate it doesn’t have to have any patterns the point is to tell a story. The whole thing is based on metaphors and alagories nothing more. It’s even said in the book it’s an epic not a poem. Before the celebration eragon has to make a piece of art and is inspired by the elf epics he’s surrounded by and the time brom recited the elf poem about the sea. And if you’re gonna bring Beowulf into this I’m disappointed. That’s Norse and they literally invented Sagas which is just a Norse Epic. Get some real knowledge on the subject before declaring anything about it. Or try really reading the books.

  100. johnathan thomas on 19 February 2019, 12:53 said:

    don’t be so hard it was read in the ancient language it was probably a lot more melodic and the book said eragon sang it

  101. John Doe on 30 March 2020, 05:37 said:

    “The point is to criticize its use as a plot device, actually. The Elves praise it as a literary masterpiece (ah, the multiple levels of wish fulfillment in Eldest) and so the poem should be of believable quality. Not that any other aspect of the book is consistent.”

    Fuck me, the level of circle-jerking in this thread is off the charts.

  102. Bruno on 10 October 2021, 00:20 said:

    Remember that this poem is not the writing of a poet. It is a cleverly and carefully crafted device by a young author. The poem we refer to is part of the blood oath celebration, which is a show of peace when the world of Alagaësia is in so much turmoil. The poem is written as Eragon, someone without any experience in writing poetry, not to mention he is doing so in another language and he had only learned to actually read and write the common tongue a year or two before (I don’t remember how much time passed).

    And the fact of the ancient language it is written in, one cannot lie, and therefore this poem is crafted of allegories. Perhaps Eragon’s ideal female has blue eyes, however life is not perfect, and one cannot always stick to ideals or preferences. Arya may not have blue eyes, but he loves her for so much more than just her eyes and appearance.

    As to the break in the middle, the written poem was fourteen pages long in the books, not knowing the length of a page in this fantasy world, what we are shown might be two pages, or it could be less than half a page, we really don’t know.

    As to why the elves praise this work, it is something of the sense of a celebrity and pleasing them without having repercussions. Eragon is after all the destined hero dragon rider, and they do not want to put any unnecessary doubt or pressure on his already burdened shoulders. Another fact is that children are praised by elves, as they are so rare for the immortal race to bear. While Eragon is beginning to mature as a human at the ripe old age of sixteen he is still very much a child to the elves, even with his responsibilities and the matureness of the much shorter and quicker lives of humans.

    Thank you for reading through if you bothered, I know this poem/epic is not a great work, but I do not believe it is meant to be. I know I’m late to this discussion thread, but I wanted to weigh in and hopefully make people look at this writing in a different light, as many of these comments seemed to be negative about a novelist’s poetry skills. These are just my beliefs on the subject.

  103. James Strickland on 17 May 2023, 19:39 said:

    It is meant to just be a cool point in the story. Just leave it at that. CP can’t write poetry. OK. Just accept it as a fun bonus part. CP could have easily just written about the whole poem as he did for the middle, and if it was so bad, how did it make it through countless drafts and get past the editors? It is meant to be the way it is and CP wrote it like this for a reason. Get over it.

  104. Riley Thompson on 15 June 2023, 07:25 said:

    I love how much discourse this poem has created! Im a big fan of Paolinis works in general, and in particular his later books books in which his style is more developed. A few things that I think are worth noting about this poem. Firstly and Foremost, it’s a translation, now fair enough that’s a bit of a gimme, along with the jarring narration skip in the middle Which could be said to contain ‘all the good bits’ haha. Putting those two points aside, and just looking at the poem as it’s shown to the reader within the context of the story, this is supposed to be an allegorical tale written by a farm boy who only gained literacy 2 years ago and only has had access to any significant amount of literature for less than one year, in the context of the story he has also been experiencing excruciating seizures for approximately 1 year at an increasing rate up to the writing of this poem. Granted the poem is not great, that’s kinda the point, it’s not supposed to be a masterpiece. In the context of the story no-one actually thinks the work itself is overly spectacular, the overwhelmingly positive reception in the context of the story is actually for its delivery not it’s content, the entire poem was spoken in a language in which one is physically and mentally unable to lie. Thus the delivery of an allegory in this language requires significant commitment and artistry, in that way it is my opinion that the lackluster content actually adds to the impact.