Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Lord of the Rings—Part 3: The Return—Illustrated Quotes

Here I highlight famous quotes from the third and last part of The Lord of the Rings. Professor Tolkien did not like having his story divided into three parts, but the practical concerns of his publisher prevailed. On one level he felt The Return of the King too much a giveaway of the plot to have on a book cover, but on another, it expresses the chief longing Tolkien and others who are Christian first and foremost have always felt.

our duty is with your people," says the Lord Aragorn to the Lady Éowyn of Rohan. "Too often have I heard of duty," she cried. "But am I not of the House of Eorl, a shieldmaiden and not ... a nurse? I have waited on faltering feet long enough. Since they falter no longer, it seems, may I not now spend my life as I will?" "Few may do that with honour," he answered. She replied, "All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But ... I can ride and wield a blade, and I do not fear either pain or death." "What do you fear, lady?" he asked. "A cage," said she. "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire."

Éowyn Tries to Prove Herself to the Lord Aragorn

héoden, King of Rohan, is leading his men (and one disguised woman) to the aid of besieged Minas Tirith. "After a while the king led his men away somewhat eastward, to come between the fires of the siege and the outer fields. Still they were unchallenged, and still Théoden gave no signal. At last he halted once again. The City was now nearer. A smell of burning was in the air and a very shadow of death. The horses were uneasy. But the king sat upon Snowmane, motionless, gazing upon the agony of Minas Tirith, as if stricken suddenly by anguish, or by dread. He seemed to shrink down, cowed by age. Merry himself felt as if a great weight of horror and doubt had settled upon him. His heart beat slowly. Time seemed poised in uncertainty. They were too late! Too late was worse than never! Perhaps Théoden would quail, bow his old head, turn, slink away to hide in the hills. Then suddenly Merry felt it at last, beyond doubt: a change. Wind was in his face! Light was glimmering. Far, far away, in the South the clouds could be dimly seen as remote grey shapes, rolling up, drifting: morning lay before them.

"But at that same moment there was a flash, as if lightning had sprung from the earth beneath the City. For a searing second it stood dazzling far off in black and white, its topmost tower like a glittering needle; and then as darkness closed again there came rolling over the fields a great boom. At that sound the bent shape of the king sprang suddenly erect. Tall and proud he seemed again; and rising in his stirrups he cried in a loud voice, more clear than any there had ever heard a mortal man achieve before:

'Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!
Fell deeds awake; fire and slaughter!
Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
A sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!

"With that he seized a great horn from Guthláf his banner-bearer, and he blew such a blast upon it that it burst asunder. And straightway all the horns in the host were lifted up in music, and the blowing of the horns of Rohan in that hour was like a storm upon the plain and a thunder in the mountains.

"Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!"

"Suddenly the king cried to Snowmane and the horse sprang away. Behind him his banner blew in the wind, white horse upon a field of green, but he outpaced it. After him thundered the knights of his house, but he was ever before them. Éomer rode there, the white horsetail on his helm floating in his speed, and the front of the first éored roared like a breaker foaming to the shore, but Théoden could not be overtaken. Fey he seemed, or the battle-fury of his fathers ran like new fire in his veins, and he was borne up on Snowmane like a god of old, even as Oromë the Great in the battle of the Valar [angelic beings] when the world was young. His golden shield was uncovered, and lo! it shone like an image of the Sun, and the grass flamed into green about the white feet of his steed. For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; and darkness was removed, and the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they fled, and died, and the hoofs of wrath rode over them. And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City."

Théoden in His Triumph Before He Falls


héoden lay dying on the battlefield after doing great deeds, aided in his last triumph by the Lady Éowyn and Merry the hobbit in secret, who did even mightier deeds than the king himself. Merry, wounded from his own valiant deed, creeps up to the king and humbly makes his presence known. Théoden whispers to Merry, "Grieve not! It is forgiven. Great heart will not be denied."


egone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!'

"A cold voice answered: 'Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye.'

"A sword rang as it was drawn. 'Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may.'

"'Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!'

"Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that 'Dernhelm' laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. 'But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.'

"The winged creature screamed at her, but the Ringwraith made no answer, and was silent, as if in sudden doubt. Very amazement for a moment conquered Merry’s fear. He opened his eyes and the blackness was lifted from them. There some paces from him sat the great beast, and all seemed dark about it, and above it loomed the Nazgûl Lord like a shadow of despair. A little to the left facing them stood she whom he had called Dernhelm. But the helm of her secrecy had fallen from her, and her bright hair, released from its bonds, gleamed with pale gold upon her shoulders. Her eyes grey as the sea were hard and fell, and yet tears were on her cheek. A sword was in her hand, and she raised her shield against the horror of her enemy’s eyes.

"Éowyn it was, and Dernhelm also. For into Merry’s mind flashed the memory of the face that he saw at the riding from Dunharrow: the face of one that goes seeking death, having no hope. Pity filled his heart and great wonder, and suddenly the slow-kindled courage of his race awoke. He clenched his hand. She should not die, so fair, so desperate! At least she should not die alone, unaided. The face of their enemy was not turned towards him, but still he hardly dared to move, dreading lest the deadly eyes should fall on him. Slowly, slowly he began to crawl aside; but the Black Captain, in doubt and malice intent upon the woman before him, heeded him no more than a worm in the mud." That proved a fatal choice, for of the sword Merry used is later written, "Glad would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago in the North-kingdom when ... chief among their foes was the dread realm of Angmar and its sorcerer king. No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will."
"Begone, foul dwimmerlaik!"
Art by moonxels
"The slow-kindled courage of his race awoke." (Art by Ted Naismith)

nside the besieged city around which the battle rages, Gandalf has his hands full with the lord of the city, now mad from despair. "Work of the Enemy!" says Gandalf.  "Such deeds he loves: friend at war with friend; loyalty divided in confusion of hearts." He then confronts the Lord Denethor in his madness, saying, "Others may contest your will, when it is turned to madness and evil.... Authority is not given to you ... to order the hour of your death." In the sad aftermath Gandalf says to the soldiers caught in the calamity, "Ill deeds have been done here; but let now all enmity that lies between you be put away, for it was contrived by the Enemy and works his will. You have been caught in a net of warring duties that you did not weave."
Gandalf Confronts Denethor's Madness (Art by Anke Eissmann)

wise woman of the city in the Houses of Healing declares, "It is said in old lore: The hands of the king are the hands of a healer. And so the rightful king could ever be known." Gandalf, standing nearby with the sick in his charge, remarks, "Men may long remember your words, Ioreth! For there is hope in them." Upon hearing those words the rightful king, the Lord Aragorn, says, "If I enter [the kingly city] unbidden, then doubt and debate may arise, which should not be while this war is fought.... I deem the time unripe; and I have no mind for strife except with our Enemy and his servants." "Your words, lord, are wise," observes one of the chief princes. Gandalf bids the Lord Aragorn to enter discretely and minister to Faramir, who lay at death's door. As Aragorn applies his knowledge of herbs and stricken hearts to Faramir, "a light of knowledge and love was kindled in his eyes, and he spoke softly. 'My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?'" Aragorn replies, "'Be ready when I return.' 'I will, lord' said Faramir. 'For who would lie idle when the king has returned?'"
"The hands of the king are the hands of a healer."
Aragorn Heals Faramir (Artist Unknown)

efore Aragorn brings healing to  Éowyn's body, he discusses with Gandalf and Éowyn's brother, Éomer, the prior affliction of her soul. Gandalf explains to Éomer that "she, born in the body of a maid, had a spirit and courage at least the match of yours....  Your sister's love for you, and her will still bent to her duty, had ... restrained her lips.... But who knows what she spoke to the darkness, alone, in the bitter watches of the night, when all her life seemed shrinking, and the walls of her bower [garden] closing in about her, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in?" Aragorn tells Éomer, "She loves you more truly than me; for you she loves and knows; but in me she loves only a shadow and a thought: a hope of glory and great deeds.... I have, maybe, the power to heal her body, and to recall her from the dark valley. But to what she will awake: hope, or forgetfulness, or despair, I do not know. And if to despair, then she will die, unless other healing comes which I cannot bring. Alas! for her deeds have set her among the queens of great renown."
Aragorn, Éomer, and Gandalf by Éowyn's Bedside (Art by Greg and Tim Hildebrandt)
The King Applies His Healing Hand to Éowyn

fter the Lord Aragorn heals Merry, he reassures Pippin, Merry's hobbit kinsman: "These evils can be amended, so strong and gay a spirit is in him. His grief he will not forget; but it will not darken his heart, it will teach him wisdom." Merry later apologetically says to Aragorn, "It is the way of my people to use light words at such times and say less than they mean. We fear to say too much. It robs us of the right words when a jest is out of place." "I know that well, or I would not deal with you in the same way," said Aragorn. "May the Shire live forever unwithered!" Kissing Merry he went out. Pippin remained behind, "Was there ever anyone like him?" he said. "Dear me! We Tooks and Brandybucks, we can't live long on the heights." "No," said Merry. "I can't. Not yet, at any rate. But at least, Pippin, we can now see them, and honour them. It is best to love first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere and have some roots, and the soil of the Shire is deep. Still there are things deeper and higher; and not a gaffer could tend his garden in what he calls peace but for them, whether he knows about them or not. I am glad that I know about them, a little."
Merry and Pippin Talk

andalf, in the last debate of the Captains before moving out to challenge the Enemy in his own land, says, "I do not counsel prudence. I said victory could not be achieved by arms. I still hope for victory, but not by arms.... Other evils there are that may come ... yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule."
Gandalf Advises on the Best Course of Action for Help and Blessing

magine how gazing upon No Man's Land day after boring day and surviving the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles of all time, informed the heart and mind of the World War I British lieutenant who wrote these words about the Captains' relentless march to Mordor (akin to the loathsome word Murder): "So desolate were those places and so deep the horror that lay on them that some of the host were unmanned, and they could neither walk nor ride further north. Aragorn looked at them, and there was pity in his eyes rather than wrath; for these were young men from ... far away.... To them Mordor had been from childhood a name of evil, and yet unreal, a legend that had no part in their simple life.... Now they walked like men in a hideous dream made true, and they understood not this war nor why fate should lead them to such a pass. 'Go!' said Aragorn. 'But keep what honour you may, and do not run! And there is a task which you may attempt and so not be wholly shamed. Take your way ... til you come to [the island of] Cair Andros, and if that is still held by enemies, as I think, then re-take it ... and hold it'.... Then some being shamed by his mercy overcame their fear and went on, and the others took new hope, hearing of a manful deed within their measure that they could turn to."
The Desolation of Mordor
The Captains Reach the Black Gate of Mordor (Art by Patrick Pirker)

eanwhile, the hope of the Captains rests not in arms but in the Quest of Frodo and Sam to destroy the Ring while the Enemy is distracted. Frodo and Sam got separated but now Frodo "lay back in Sam's gentle arms, closing his eyes, like a child at rest when night fears are driven away by some loved voice or hand. Sam felt he could sit like that in endless happiness; but it was not allowed. It was not enough for him to find his master; he had still to try and save him" by helping him fulfill the Quest.
Sam Comforts Frodo

am, in the dark, arid wasteland of Mordor, thinks out loud about the light, beauty, and power of the Elven Lady Galadriel: "If only the Lady could see us or hear us, I'd say to her: 'Your Ladyship, all we want is light and water: just clean water and plain daylight, better than any jewels.'" Sure enough, "Look at it, Mr. Frodo!... The wind's changed. Something's happening. He's not having it all his own way. His darkness is breaking up out in the world there." And then, "Unbelievable, but unmistakeable. Water trickling.... Sam sprang towards it. 'If ever I see the Lady again, I will tell her!' he cried. 'Light and now water!'" Sam offers to taste it first to make sure it's not poisonous but Frodo says, "I think we'll trust our luck together, Sam; or our blessing." Later, "peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for awhile. 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 forever beyond its reach....Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master's, ceased to trouble him....Putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep."
Sam Sees Light and Beauty Above Mordor (Art by Ted Naismith)

ven as hope died in Sam near the end of their great ordeal, "or seemed to die, it was turned to a new strength. Sam's plain hobbit-face grew stern, almost grim, as the will hardened in him, and he felt through all his limbs a thrill, as if he was turning into some creature of stone and steel that neither despair nor weariness nor endless barren miles could subdue. With a new sense of responsibility he brought his eyes back to the ground near at hand, studying the next move." (I wonder if that is how Professor Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and many other World War I infantrymen began to feel as the war ground on.) "At last wearied with his cares Sam drowsed, leaving the morrow till it came; he could do no more." To the Enemy, Sam and Frodo were a "peril that crept, small but indomitable, into the very heart of his guarded realm." To Sam's surprise, "he felt tired but lighter, and his head seemed clear again. No more debates disturbed his mind. He knew all the arguments of despair and would not listen to them. His will was set, and only death would break it. He felt no longer either desire or need of sleep, but rather of watchfulness. He knew that all the hazards and perils were now drawing together to a point: the next day would be a day of doom, the day of final effort or disaster, the last gasp.... Some gift of final strength was given to him.... Suddenly a sense of urgency which he did not understand came to Sam. It was almost as if he had been called: 'Now, now, or it will be too late!' He braced himself and got up. Frodo also seemed to have felt the call."

"'Come, Mr. Frodo!' he cried. 'I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get!'... As Frodo clung upon his back, arms loosely about his neck, legs clasped firmly under his arms, Sam staggered to his feet; and then to his amazement he felt the burden light. He had feared that he would have barely strength to lift his master alone, and beyond that he had expected to share in the dreadful dragging weight of the accursed Ring. But it was not so. Whether because Frodo was so worn by his long pains, would of knife, and venomous sting, and sorrow, fear, and homeless wandering, or because some gift of final strength was given to him, Sam lifted Frodo with no more difficulty than if he were carrying a hobbit-child pig-a-back in some romp on the lawns or hayfields of the Shire." (Was there ever a more moving example of "bearing one another's burdens," to borrow a biblical phrase?)
"His will was set and only death would break it."

n the day of doom Frodo gains in majesty and orders his nemesis, Gollum, who has been furtively tracking him: "Down, you creeping thing, and out of my path! Your time is at an end. You cannot betray me or slay me now.... Begone, and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of doom." When Gollum seizes the enemy's Ring from Frodo above the fiery cauldron, "even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell.... There was a roar and a great confusion of noise. Fires leaped up and licked the roof. The throbbing grew into a great tumult, and the Mountain shook. Sam ran to Frodo and picked him up and carried him out.... Frodo, pale and worn, [was] yet himself again; and in his eyes there was peace now, neither strain of will, nor madness, nor any fear. His burden was taken away.... In all that ruin of the world, for the moment [Sam] felt only joy, great joy. The burden was gone. His master had been saved; he was himself again, he was free." Frodo remarks gratefully, "Do you remember Gandalf's words: 'Even Gollum may have something yet to do?' But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me."
Frodo and Sam at the End of Their Quest
Eagles Come in Time to Rescue Frodo and Sam

fter Frodo and Sam were rescued and healed, "A great host was drawn up, in ranks and companies glittering in the sun. And as the hobbits approached swords were unsheathed and spears were shaken, and horns and trumpets sang, and men cried with many voices and in many tongues:

"Praise them!
The Ring-bearers, praise them with great praise!"

"When the glad shout had swelled up and died away again, to Sam's final and complete satisfaction and pure joy, a minstrel of Gondor stood forth, and knelt.... And behold! he said: 'Lo! lords and knights and men of valour unashamed, kings and princes, and fair people of Gondor, and Riders of Rohan ... and Elf and Dwarf, and greathearts of the Shire, and all free folk of the West, now listen ... for I will sing to you of Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom.' And when Sam heard that he laughed aloud for sheer delight, and he stood up and cried: 'O great glory and splendour! And all my wishes have come true!' And then he wept. And all the host laughed, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose ... and all men were hushed. And he sang to them...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."
The Little People Receive Due Honor from the Big People

he story now flashes back to when the Captains were but two days out on the march to Mordor and Faramir and Éowyn recuperate in the Houses of Healing. Faramir, "a man whom pity deeply stirred," says to the restless lady, "You and I, we must endure with patience the hours of waiting.... It would ease my care, if you would speak to me, or walk at whiles with me." She asks, "How should I ease your care, my lord?" "Would you have my plain answer?" Faramir asks. "I would," says she. "Then, Éowyn of Rohan, I say to you that you are beautiful.... It may be that only a few days are left ere darkness falls upon our world, and ... I hope to face it steadily; but it would ease my heart, if while the Sun yet shines, I could see you still. For you and I have both passed under the wings of the Shadow, and the same hand drew us back'.... They walked on the grass or sat under a green tree together, now in silence, now in speech.... 'Éowyn, I would not have this world end now, or lose so soon what I have found'.... She looked at him gravely and her eyes were kind. 'I know not what in these days you have found that you could lose. But come, my friend, let us not speak of it! Let us not speak at all! I stand upon some dreadful brink, and it is utterly dark in the abyss before my feet, but whether there is any light behind me, I cannot tell. For I cannot turn yet. I wait for some stroke of doom.' 'Yes, we wait for the stroke of doom,' said Faramir.... All sounds ... the very beating of their hearts was stilled. Time halted. and as they stood so, their hands met and clasped, though they did not know it.... A sound like a sigh went up from all the lands about them; and their hearts beat suddenly again." Faramir then says, "'The reason of my waking mind tells me that a great evil has befallen and we stand at the end of days. But my heart says nay; and all my limbs are light, and a hope and joy are come to me that no reason can deny. Éowyn, Éowyn, White Lady of Rohan, in this hour I do not believe that any darkness will endure!' And he stooped and kissed her brow. And so they stood on the walls of the City of Gondor, and a great wind rose and blew, and their hair, raven and golden, streamed out mingling in the air. And the Shadow departed, and the Sun was unveiled, and light leaped forth.... There came a great eagle flying, and he bore tidings beyond hope from the Lord of the West, crying:

"Sing now, ye people...
For the Realm of Sauron is ended forever,
And the Dark Tower is thrown down.
Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of Guard,
For your watch hath not been in vain,
And the Black Gate is broken,
And your King hath passed through, and he is victorious.
Sing and be glad...
For your King shall come again, and he shall dwell among you."

"The days that followed were golden."
Faramir and Éowyn Experience Hope and Joy

hen the Lord Aragorn was crowned in a majestic yet humble fashion, "As the ancient of days he seemed and yet in the flower of manhood; and wisdom sat upon his brow, and strength and healing were in his hands, and a light was about him. And Faramir cried: 'Behold the King!'... In the days that followed his crowing the king ... pronounced his judgments. And embassies came from many lands and peoples." One of those judged, "perceiving the mercy and justice of the king, was glad, and kneeling kissed his hand and departed in joy and content." To Éomer the Lord Aragorn joyfully observes, "Between us there can be no word of giving or taking, no of reward; for we are brethren.... Never has any league of peoples been more blessed, so that neither has ever failed the other, nor shall fail." To his closest friends of the Fellowship Aragorn says, "'The end of the deeds that you have shared in has not yet come. A day draws near that I have looked for in all the years of my manhood, and when it comes I would have my friends beside me'.... Upon the very Eve of Midsummer, when the sky was blue as sapphire and white stars opened in the East, but the West was still golden, and the air was cool and fragrant, the riders came down ... and last came Master Elrond ... bearing the sceptre of Annúminas, and beside him ... rode Arwen his daughter.... Elrond surrendered the sceptre, and laid the hand of his daughter in the hand of the King, and together they went up into the High City, and all the stars flowered in the sky. And Aragorn the King Elessar wedded Arwen Undómiel in the City of Kings upon the day of Midsummer, and the tale of their long waiting and labours was come to fulfillment."

arting words from the Lady Galadriel to Aragorn the king: "Through darkness you have come to your hope, and have now all your desire. Use well the days!"

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