The world was young, the sun shone bright,
the grass was green, and all was right.
No claims were laid on soil or growth,
no man yet broke another’s oath.
The world was green, and sunshine reigned,
and birds flew free who now are chained.
And here at last the people met,
to drink and dance and sing.
And here they spoke of many things,
they laughed, they loved; each heart was glad.
They had forgotten all their griefs, and knew not of their fears.
The world was young, the mountains green, and love was new and sweet.

And then they saw a stranger there, a man who did not smile.
His hair was white, his eyes were cold, he did not speak their tongue.
They knew not what to make of him, nor why he had come.
The world was young, the sun shone bright, but shadows gathered round.
The stranger spoke of power and wealth, of conquest and of fame.
He spoke of glory and of might, of all the world to claim.
The people listened to his words; their hearts were filled with greed.
The world was young, the valleys red, when men first tasted war.
They rode to battle, sword in hand, and thirsting for fell deeds,
they killed and killed, they conquered all,
they thought themselves invincible.

But when the smoke had cleared away, they saw the stranger there.
He had not fought, he had not killed, but somehow he was king.
The world was young no longer; age had come to every thing.
The mountains were not green that day, the birds no longer free.
Alone the stranger stayed the same – yet was not even real.
He was a creature of the shades, a thing of nightmares' dread.
And still the people worshiped him, and followed where he led.
The world was old, the mountains grey, at last they saw the truth.
But by then it was too late; they had given him their souls.

And so they fight and kill and die, for a lie that has no name.
And all the while the stranger smiles, and blinds them with his spiel.
The world is dead, the mountains black, and all that's left is pain.
And yet still you follow him, even though he is not real.
You are his slaves forevermore, and this is now your fate:
To follow him into the dark, and never see the light again.
The world is dead, the mountains black, your hearts are full of fright.
But even so, you follow him, you think you have no choice.
Is this your fate, your destiny, to follow him into the night,
to never see again the light?

A first draft of this poem was pre-written by GPT 3, prompted with the first two lines of Tolkien's Song of Durin, and then improved upon by me (including making the ending more cheerful. Yes, the original was that dark). I have not yet performed a somewhat objective measurement of how much ChatGPT contributed to the final result.
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