Nonetheless, ease and peace had left this people still curiously tough. They were, if it came to it, difficult to daunt or kill; and they were, perhaps, so unwearyingly fond of good things not least because they could, when put to it, do without them, and could survive rough handling by grief, foe, or weather in a way that astonished those who did not know them well and looked no further than their bellies and their well-fed faces.
- Concerning Hobbits
The Fellowship of the Ring
It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.
I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
What do you mean? Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good on this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?
There is only one Power in this world that knows all about the Rings and their effects; and as far as I know there is no Power in the world that knows all about hobbits. Among the Wise I am the only one that goes in for hobbit-lore: an obscure branch of knowledge, but full of surprises. Soft as butter as they can be, and yet sometimes as tough as old tree-roots. I think it likely that some would resist the Rings far longer than most of the Wise would believe.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken:
The crownless again shall be king.
- Of Aragorn
Despair, or folly? It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognise necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope. Well, let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy! For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning.
'This is my last word,' said Elrond. 'The Ring-Bearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him alone is any charge laid... The others go with him as free companions, to help him on his way. You may tarry, or come back, or turn aside into other paths, as chance allows. The further you go, the less easy will it be to withdraw; yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road.'
'Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,' said Gimli.
'Maybe,' said Elrond, 'but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.'
'Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,' said Gimli.
'Or break it,' said Elrond. 'Look not too far ahead! But go now with good hearts!'
'There is the greatest wind-drift of all just beyond the turn,' said Legolas, 'and there our Strong Men were almost buried. They despaired, until I returned and told them that the drift was little wider than a wall. And on the other side the snow suddenly grows less, while further down it is no more than a white coverlet to cool a hobbit's toes.'|
'Ah, it is as I said,' growled Gimli. 'It was no ordinary storm. It is the ill will of Caradhras. He does not love Elves and Dwarves, and that drift was laid to cut off our escape.'
'But happily your Caradhras has forgotten that you have Men with you,' said Boromir, who came up at that moment. 'And doughty Men too, if I may say it; though lesser men with spades might have served you better.'
Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many - yours not least.
So you go on. Gandalf, Elrond - all these folk have taught you to say so. For themselves they may be right. These elves and half-elves and wizards, they would come to grief perhaps. Yet often I doubt if they are wise and not merely timid. True-hearted Men, they will not be corrupted. We of Minas Tirith have been staunch through long years of trial. We do not desire the power of wizard-lords, only the strength to defend ourselves, strength in a just cause. And behold! in our need chance brings to light the Ring of Power. It is a gift, I say; a gift to the foes of Mordor. It is mad not to use it, to use the power of the Enemy against him. The fearless, the ruthless, these alone will achieve victory. What could not a warrior do in this hour, a great leader? What could not Aragorn do? Or if he refuses, why not Boromir?
The Two Towers
Boromir opened his eyes and strove to speak. At last slow words came. "I tried to take the ring from Frodo," he said. "I am sorry. I have paid." ... He paused and his eyes closed wearily. After a moment he spoke again.
"Farewell, Aragorn! Go to Minas Tirith and save my people! I have failed."
"No!" said Aragorn, taking his hand and kissing his brow. "You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!"
"Which way did they go? Was Frodo there?" said Aragorn.
But Boromir did not speak again.
"It is hard to be sure of anything among so many marvels," said Eomer. "The world is all grown strange. Elf and Dwarf in company walk in our daily fields; and folk speak with the Lady of the Wood and yet live; and the Sword comes back to war that was broken in the long ages ere the fathers of our fathers rode into the Mark! How shall a man judge what to do in such times?"
"As he ever has judged," said Aragorn. "Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house."
Gimli said, "But you speak of him as if he were a friend. I thought Fangorn was dangerous."
"Dangerous!" cried Gandalf. "And so am I, very dangerous: more dangerous than anything you will ever meet, unless you are brought alive before the seat of the Dark Lord. And Aragorn is dangerous, and Legolas is dangerous. You are beset with dangers, Gimli son of Gloin; for you are dangerous yourself, in your own fashion. Certainly the forest of Fangorn is perilous - not least to those that are too ready with their axes; and Fangorn himself, he is perilous too; yet he is wise and kindly nonetheless."
I can see and hear (and smell and feel) a great deal from this, from this, from this a-lalla-lalla-rumba-kamanda-lind-or-burume. Excuse me: that is a part of my name for it; I do not know what the word is in the outside languages: you know, the thing we are on, where I stand and look out on fine mornings, and think about the Sun, and the grass beyond the wood, and the horses, and the clouds, and the unfolding of the world. ... Hill. Yes, that was it. But it is a hasty word for a thing that has stood here ever since this part of the world was shaped. Never mind. Let us leave it, and go.
Of course, it is likely enough, my friends, that we are going to our doom: the last march of the Ents. But if we stayed at home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway, sooner or later. That thought has long been growing in our hearts; and that is why we are marching now. It was not a hasty resolve. Now at least the last march of the Ents may be worth a song. Aye, we may help the other peoples before we pass away. Still, I should have liked to see the songs come true about the Entwives. I should dearly have liked to see Fimbrethil again. But there, my friends, songs like trees bear fruit only in their own time and their own way: and sometimes they are withered untimely.
I greet you and maybe you look for welcome. But truth to tell your welcome is doubtful here, Master Gandalf. You have ever been a herald of woe. Troubles follow you like crows, and ever the oftener the worse. I will not decieve you: when I heard that Shadowfax had come back riderless, I rejoiced at the return of the horse, but still more at the lack of the rider; and when Eomer brought the tidings that you had gone at last to your long home, I did not mourn. But news from afar is seldom sooth. Here you come again! And with you come evils worse than before, as might be expected. Why should I welcome you, Gandalf Stormcrow? Tell me that.
There is no time to tell all that you should hear. Yet if my hope is not cheated, a time will come ere long when I can speak more fully. Behold! you are come into a peril greater even than the wit of Wormtongue could weave into your dreams. But see! you dream no longer. You live. Gondor and Rohan do not stand alone. The enemy is strong beyond reckoning, yet we have a hope at which he has not even guessed.
"You should be glad, Theoden King," said Gandalf. "For not only the little life of Men is now endangered, but the life also of those things which you have deemed the matter of legend. you are not without allies, even if you know them not."
"Yet also I should be sad," said Theoden. "For however the fortune of war shall go, may it not so end that much that was fair and wonderful shall pass for ever out of Middle-earth?"
"It may," said Gandalf. "The evil of Sauron cannot be wholly cured, nor made as if it had not been. But to such days we are doomed. Let us now go on with the journey we have begun!"
"Why do you look out? Do you wish to see the greatness of our army? We are the fighting Uruk-hai."
"I look out to see the dawn," said Aragorn.
"What of the dawn?" they jeered. "We are the Uruk-hai: we do not stop the fight for night or day, for fair weather or for storm. We come to kill, by sun or moon. What of the dawn?"
"None knows what the new day shall bring him," said Aragorn. "Get you gone, ere it turn to your evil."
"Get down or we will shoot you from the wall," they cried. "This is no parley. You have nothing to say."
"I have still this to say," answered Aragorn. "No enemy has yet taken the Hornburg. Depart, or not one of you will be spared... You do not know your own peril."
No, you do not understand. No dwarf could be unmoved by such loveliness. None of Durin's race would mine those caves for stones or ore, not if diamonds and gold could be got there. Do you cut down groves of blossoming trees in the springtime for firewood? We would tend these glades of flowering stone, not quarry them. With cautious skill, tap by tap - a small chip of rock and no more, perhaps, in a whole anxious day - so would we work, and as the years went by, we should open up new ways, and display far chambers that are still dark, glimpsed only as a void beyond fissures in the rock. And lights, Legolas! We should make lights, such lamps as once shone in Khazad-dum; and when we wished we would drive away the night that has lain there since the hills were made; and when we desired rest, we would let the night return.
A strong place and wonderful was Isengard, and long had it been beautiful; and there great lords had dwelt, the wardens of Gondor upon the west, and wise men that watched the stars. But Saruman had slowly it to his shifting purposes, and made it better, as he thought, being deceived - for all those arts and subtle devices for which he forsook his former wisdom, and which he fondly imagined were his own, came but from Mordor; so that what he made was naught, only a little copy, a child's model or a slave's flattery, of that vast fortress, armoury prison, furnace of great power, Barad-dur, The Dark Tower, which suffered no rival, and laughed at flattery, biding it's time, secure in its pride and it's immeasurable strength.
I have no help to send, therefore I must go myself.
"I wish I had known all this before," said Pippin. "I had no notion of what I was doing."
"Oh yes, you had," said Gandalf. "You knew you were behaving wrongly and foolishly; and you told yourself so, though you did not listen. I did not tell you all this before, because it is only by musing on all that has happened that I have at last understood, even as we ride together. But if I had spoken sooner, it would not have lessened your desire, or made it easier to resist. On the contrary! No, the burned hand teaches best. After that advice about fire goes to the heart."
"But I should like to know---" Pippin began.
"Mercy!" cried Gandalf. "If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?"
"The names of all the stars, and of all living things, and the whole history of Middle-earth and Over-heaven and of the Sundering Seas," laughed Pippin. "Of course! What less? But I am not in a hurry tonight."
The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually - their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. ... We hear about those as just went on - and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. ... I wonder what sort of tale we've fallen into?
Gollum looked at them. A strange expression passed over his lean hungry face. The gleam faded from his eyes, and they went dim and grey, old and tired. A spasm of pain seemed to twist him, and he turned away, peering back up towards the pass, shaking his head, as if engaged in some interior debate. Then he touched Frodo's knee - but almost the touch was a caress. For a fleeting moment, could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing.
The Return of the King
She should not die so fair, so desperate. At least, she should not die alone.
In some other time and place Pippin might have been pleased in his new array, but he knew now that he was taking part in no play; he was in deadly ernest the servant of a grim master in greatest peril. The hauberk was burdensome, and the helm weighed upon his head. His cloak he had cast aside upon the seat. He turned his tired gaze away from the darkling fields below and yawned, and then he sighed.
"We will come", said Imrahil; and they parted with courteous words.
"That is a fair lord and a great captain of men," said Legolas. "If Gondor has such men still in these days of fading, great must have been its glory in the days of its rising."
Gimli said, "It is ever so with the things that Men begin: there is a frost in Spring, or a blight in Summer, and they fail of their promise."
"Yet seldom do they fail of their seed," said Legolas. "And that will lie in the dust and rot to spring up again in times and places unlooked-for. The deeds of Men will outlast us, Gimli."
"And yet come to naught in the end but might-have-beens, I guess," said the Dwarf.
"To that the Elves know not the answer," said Legolas.
It needs but one foe to breed a war, not two, Master Warden, and those who have not swords can still die upon them. Would you have the folk of Gondor gather you herbs only, when the Dark Lord gathers armies? And it is not always good to be healed in body. Nor is it always evil to die in battle, even in bitter pain. Were I permitted, in this dark hour I would choose the latter.
Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing,
Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
the Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.
Though here at journey's end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.
- Sam in Cirith Ungol
And far away, as Frodo put on the Ring and claimed it for his own... the Dark Lord was suddenly aware of him, and his Eye piercing all shadows looked across the plain to the door that he had made; and the magnitude of his own folly was revealed to him in a blinding flash. Then his wrath blazed in consuming flame, but his fear rose like a vast black smoke to choke him. For he knew his deadly peril and the thread upon which his doom now hung. From all his policies and webs of fear and treachery, from all his stratagems and wars his mind shook free; and throughout his realm a tremor ran, and his captains suddenly steerless, bereft of will, wavered and despaired. For they were forgotten. The whole mind and purpose of the Power that wielded them was now bent with overwhelming force upon the Mountain.
And he sang to them, now in the Elven tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.
"Of Course", said Gandalf. "And why should not they prove true? Surely you do not disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!"
About the Lord of the Rings
Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible, and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.
- J.R.R. Tolkien
I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse 'applicability' with 'allegory'; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.
- J.R.R. Tolkien
But Orcs and Trolls spoke as they would, without love of words or things; and their language was actually more degraded and filthy than I have shown it. I do not suppose that any will wish for a closer rendering, though models are easy to find. Much the same sort of talk can still be heard among the orc-minded; dreary and repetitive with hatred and contempt, too long removed from good to retain even verbal vigour, save in the ears of those to whom only the squalid sounds strong.
- J.R.R. Tolkien
Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron.
- C.S. Lewis
I think some readers, seeing (and disliking) this rigid demarcation of black and white, imagine that they have seen a rigid demarcation between black and white people. Looking at the squares, they assume (in defiance of the facts) that all the pieces must be making bishops' moves which confine them to one color. But even such readers will hardly brazen it out through the two last volumes. Motives, even on the right side, are mixed. Those who are now traitors usually began with comparatively innocent intentions. Heroic Rohan and imperial Gondor are partly diseased. Even the wretched Sméagol, till quite late in the story, has good impulses; and, by a tragic paradox, what finally pushes him over the brink is an unpremeditated speech by the most selfless character of all.
- C. S. Lewis
On the one hand, the whole world is going to the war; the story rings with galloping hoofs, trumpets, steel on steel. On the other, very far away, two tiny, miserable figures creep (like mice on a slag heap) through the twilight of Mordor. And all the time we know that the fate of the world depends far more on the small movement than on the great. This is a structural invention of the highest order: it adds immensely to the pathos, irony and grandeur of the tale.
- C. S. Lewis