I read these books in high school and they left such an impression on me that just like Bilbo, I decided to walk out my front door, leave my Midwestern town and go on an adventure.
Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stickThe Hobbit – Page 15.
I ended up studying in Spain, France and Mexico then after graduation living in Japan, Vietnam and for the past 15 years, the Bay Area. Without any clear aim I just wanted to learn languages, have experiences and become a sort of Renaissance Man. I did see great mountains, hear pine-trees and even bought a Tizona sword in Toledo Spain although I never had the need nor opportunity to use it. Needless to say an adventure my life has been.
The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
The most exciting part of the story began in 1997 with Spain and then with all the world travels afterwards. I never ended up going back to live in Ohio and so in a sense, the adventure continues. Yet, just like Bilbo after he has settled back in the Shire or Rivendell, I too continue to write my story. Although the adventures are no longer as grand and are muted by domesticated life, they still continue and I still enjoy writing about my experiences.
At 43 years old and in the midst of a pandemic that keeps us home most of the time I decided it was time read my favorite books again. For the past 15 years I had forgotten the original story and remembered The Hobbit and LOTR as portrayed in the movies. I can still remember my Dad sending me that article back in 2000, right before I had left for Japan that there would be movies made. Well, I have now seen them many times but wanted to remember the original tales.
I read them all in the span of a month, a blinding speed compared to the two years it took me to get through The Tale of Genji. To re-read the long forgotten parts – such as Tom Bombadil who was left out of the movie – was my favorite. They also served to rekindle that quest for adventure that has dimmed as I became middle-aged with a family. I’m in the middle of a pandemic yes, but I am not in front of the gates of Mordor about to fight a hopeless battle with the hordes of Sauron! Courage and might spring from the most unlikely places and for me it comes from a fantasy tale regarding Elves, Hobbits, Wizards against an evil malice. I can use this story to fortify my own mind against real world trials such as the ones we are currently experiencing.
I’ve often believed that life just isn’t very interesting unless we pay attention to all the mystery and wonder that is all around us but rarely contemplated. The tale of the Hobbit and LOTR were created by a fantastic mind and isn’t it so that all of our reality may spring from the mind of something we cannot understand nor really perceive? Thus create our own tales to put in books we call the Bible and other religious texts? I learned that the tale of Middle Earth goes on to involve the First Age with the Silmarillon which is also a story of creation. However, it involves Middle Earth as well as Gods and further explains Elves as a type of angel. The Silmarillon shows that The Hobbit and LOTR are just stories within wider stories beginning with creation. Entire kingdoms rise and fall, vast ages come and go all with all of it simply being chapters within a novel within a volume and so on. And so it is with all of us who are always so fixated on the present moment and trends of the times. We are all insignificant pieces in an infinite story that nobody understands.
In any case, I didn’t mean to get so deep so quickly. This post is simply to write down my favorite quotes and thoughts. I only highlighted one quote from The Hobbit which I’ve already included above. I’ve also commented with my thoughts on many of these quotes while others are just ones I’d like to remember and need to comment.
The Lord of the Rings Quotes
I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
When I read this I think of the current pandemic. Then I think this is nothing compared to the Vietnam (American) War, the World Wars and all the times when young men were sent to die for some reason or another. They were born into a time when the course of humanity went very much astray and had no choice in their own fate. We’re given a short time upon this Earth and yes, we can choose what to do with this time but within the limited parameters already set by the times, the country we are born into and whatever geopolitical events are happening at the time.
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.
All life is miraculous. It has taken a lot of meditation for my mind to realize just how sacred all life is. Who are we to judge if another being should live or die? I am one that never wants to kill anything, not even spiders. I felt very bad even catching fish and seeing them bleed. Yet I also eat fish, hamburgers and many other meat. How damaging it must be to kill another human. It is unnatural and something that should never occur. It is no surprise that so many come back from war with mental problems. It isn’t something that one human should ever have to do to another. This is also easy to say as I sit peacefully in my chair. Maybe it would be quite another if someone had just killed my whole family. I’m sure my stance would suddenly change. Forgiveness is the right path, but also the hardest thing to do in certain circumstances.
The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.’
The world moves and nothing remains the same. We are all getting a very big reminder of that right now. We’re in a period of rapid change due to the virus and nobody is really sure how this will all end up. Many of us set plans, safety nets and so on but along comes a thing unforeseen and easily upends all of those carefully laid plans. I can hide under the covers but major national and world events will always find me.
Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. The choice is yours: to go or wait.’ ‘And it is also said,’ answered Frodo: ‘Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.’
‘Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.
Cold be hand and heart and bone, and cold be sleep under stone: never more to wake on stony bed, never, till the Sun fails and the Moon is dead. In the black wind the stars shall die, and still on gold here let them lie, till the dark lord lifts his hand over dead sea and withered land.
Tom went up to the mound, and looked through the treasures. Most of these he made into a pile that glistered and sparkled on the grass. He bade them lie there ‘free to all finders, birds, beasts, Elves or Men, and all kindly creatures’; for so the spell of the mound should be broken and scattered and no Wight ever come back to it. He chose for himself from the pile a brooch set with blue stones, many-shaded like flax-flowers or the wings of blue butterflies. He looked long at it, as if stirred by some memory, shaking his head, and saying at last: ‘Here is a pretty toy for Tom and for his lady! Fair was she who long ago wore this on her shoulder. Goldberry shall wear it now, and we will not forget her!’
Tom said that it had once been the boundary of a kingdom, but a very long time ago. He seemed to remember something sad about it, and would not say much.
I love the top three quotes which come from the Barrow Downs. Unfortunately these were not mentioned in the movie and I was very disappointed. They are the tombs of long forgotten kings that are now inhabited by Barrow-wights.
The image of these things in my mind were terrifying indeed and thanks to the internet I can see how these appeared to others. The Barrows and Dead Marshes are my favorites as they are remnants of places and events of long ago. I’ve always been fascinated with the past especially ancient history.
All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost;
In these times, it seems like there is too much glitter when underneath is just cheap plastic. True gold such as kindness and loving fellow humans is in very short supply.
And here in Rivendell there live still some of his chief foes: the Elven-wise, lords of the Eldar from beyond the furthest seas. They do not fear the Ringwraiths, for those who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at once in both worlds, and against both the Seen and the Unseen they have great power.’
I found this interesting that Elves live in two worlds at once and thus could see the Nazgul in both realms at the same time. This has made more sense to me as I read the Silmarillion.
Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.
Every life is one big story. Some are more interesting than others. I find that children tend to stick with the same level of excitement and intensity set by their parents. There are exceptions.
At first the beauty of the melodies and of the interwoven words in elven-tongues, even though he understood them little, held him in a spell, as soon as he began to attend to them. Almost it seemed that the words took shape, and visions of far lands and bright things that he had never yet imagined opened out before him; and the firelit hall became like a golden mist above seas of foam that sighed upon the margins of the world. Then the enchantment became more and more dreamlike, until he felt that an endless river of swelling gold and silver was flowing over him, too multitudinous for its pattern to be comprehended; it became part of the throbbing air about him, and it drenched and drowned him. Swiftly he sank under its shining weight into a deep realm of sleep.
The elves are Middle Earth’s version of angels. They are the “First Born.” The Silmarillion helps in the understanding of the Elves especially.
Travellers scowl at us, and countrymen give us scornful names. “Strider” I am to one fat man who lives within a day’s march of foes that would freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly. Yet we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so.
Isn’t it so with most empires and countries in our own times? It seems to be an easy task to rile citizens of a country to go fight and kill for whatever reason a leader thinks of so long as he has the right mouthpiece to deliver the message. I would like to think that leaders and armies are only there to protect regular people from harm and went no further. But anyone less naive than a fifth year student knows that once your army becomes powerful enough it is no longer about just “defending the people,” but time to go a marauding and pillaging, or as it is known in the USA, “delivering freedom.”
It was Radagast the Brown, who at one time dwelt at Rhosgobel, near the borders of Mirkwood. He is one of my order, but I had not seen him for many a year.
had reached the old home of Radagast at Rhosgobel. Radagast was not there; and they had returned over the high pass that was called the Redhorn Gate.
Including a big role for Radagast was something the movies got right! Wizards are what we fans want to see! This was a disappointment in the book: they went to go speak with Radagast and he wasn’t home. HE WASN’T HOME? END?? Booooooooo. Well go find him and bring him into the story! In my mind I had also thought there was a blue wizard, also not home, but I guess that was just my mind making up another wizard due to my desire for more wizards.
Treebeard repeated the words thoughtfully. ‘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.
I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you understand me: nobody cares for the woods as I care for them, not even Elves nowadays.
Maybe you have heard of Trolls? They are mighty strong. But Trolls are only counterfeits, made by the Enemy in the Great Darkness, in mockery of Ents, as Orcs were of Elves. We are stronger than Trolls.
This is better understood by reading The Silmarillion.
‘Gandalf,’ the old man repeated, as if recalling from old memory a long disused word. ‘Yes, that was the name. I was Gandalf.’
Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he.
Also better understood by reading The Silmarillion. He is referring to perhaps many of Morgoth’s creations but especially Balrogs. Balrogs were a staple of his army and all of these creations made their homes in the endless pits and chambers of Morgoth’s fortress Angband. When Morgoth was finally defeated they stayed underground never to return to the surface, became legend and were eventually forgotten.
Then darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time, and I wandered far on roads that I will not tell.
‘Look!’ said Gandalf. ‘How fair are the bright eyes in the grass! Evermind they are called, simbelmynë in this land of Men, for they blossom in all the seasons of the year, and grow where dead men rest. Behold! we are come to the great barrows where the sires of Théoden sleep.’ ‘Seven mounds upon the left, and nine upon the right,’ said Aragorn. ‘Many long lives of men it is since the golden hall was built.’ ‘Five hundred times have the red leaves fallen in Mirkwood in my home since then,’ said Legolas, ‘and but a little while does that seem to us.’ ‘But to the Riders of the Mark it seems so long ago,’ said Aragorn, ‘that the raising of this house is but a memory of song, and the years before are lost in the mist of time.
I love references to the passage of time, especially when it relates to ancient times. I also like this quote because there is a real life Native American mound where I grew up. It is called Shrum Mound and is located in Columbus Ohio. It contains the remains and artifacts of an ancient people who occupied the area 2000 years ago. To think that the mound has stood since the time of Jesus, through the Middle Ages, the arrival of the white man to the Americas etcetera is profound. What must the spirits of those Natives think about white man, his ideas of ownership and the name placed on the mound? “Our remains have rested here for over 2000 years and this land belongs to us. You kill our descendants, take the land and name our place of rest after yourself? May you be cursed and die an early death.”
‘You rascals, you woolly-footed and wool-pated truants! A fine hunt you have led us! Two hundred leagues, through fen and forest, battle and death, to rescue you! And here we find you feasting and idling – and smoking! Smoking! Where did you come by the weed, you villains? Hammer and tongs! I am so torn between rage and joy, that if I do not burst, it will be a marvel!’
This is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. Gimli the dwarf says many funny things and this is one of them. The other is when Legolas brings down and Oliphant and Gimili shouts “That still only counts as one!”
‘Here you find us sitting on a field of victory, amid the plunder of armies, and you wonder how we came by a few well-earned comforts!’
A great response by Pippin.
Did he say: “Hullo, Pippin! This is a pleasant surprise!”? No, indeed! He said: “Get up, you tom-fool of a Took! Where, in the name of wonder, in all this ruin is Treebeard? I want him. Quick!”
Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.
Perhaps the most profound quote in the entire story.
When lights appeared Sam rubbed his eyes: he thought his head was going queer. He first saw one with the corner of his left eye, a wisp of pale sheen that faded away; but others appeared soon after: some like dimly shining smoke, some like misty flames flickering slowly above unseen candles; here and there they twisted like ghostly sheets unfurled by hidden hands. But neither of his companions spoke a word.
They are in the Dead Marshes. Just like the Barrow Downs, places where ancient kings and warriors lie capture my imagination. The first couple of times I read the novel the battle that took place here remained just another in a long line of ancient battles for me to wonder about. Now that I’ve read more deeply into the lore I’ve learned this is where the Battle of Dagorlad took place. All the mysteries of ‘ancient’ this and that are revealed for me now.
There was a faint hiss, a noisome smell went up, the lights flickered and danced and swirled. For a moment the water below him looked like some window, glazed with grimy glass, through which he was peering. Wrenching his hands out of the bog, he sprang back with a cry. ‘There are dead things, dead faces in the water,’ he said with horror. ‘Dead faces!’
In the pools when the candles were lit. They lie in all the pools, pale faces, deep deep under the dark water. I saw them: grim faces and evil, and noble faces and sad. Many faces proud and fair, and weeds in their silver hair. But all foul, all rotting, all dead. A fell light is in them.’ Frodo hid his eyes in his hands. ‘I know not who they are; but I thought I saw there Men and Elves, and Orcs beside them.’ ‘Yes, yes,’ said Gollum. ‘All dead, all rotten. Elves and Men and Orcs. The Dead Marshes. There was a great battle long ago, yes, so they told him when Sméagol was young, when I was young before the Precious came. It was a great battle. Tall Men with long swords, and terrible Elves, and Orcses shrieking. They fought on the plain for days and months at the Black Gates. But the Marshes have grown since then, swallowed up the graves; always creeping, creeping.’ ‘But that is an age and more ago,’ said Sam. ‘The Dead can’t be really there! Is it some devilry hatched in the Dark Land?’ ‘Who knows? Sméagol doesn’t know,’ answered Gollum. ‘You cannot reach them, you cannot touch them. We tried once, yes, precious. I tried once; but you cannot reach them. Only shapes to see, perhaps, not to touch. No precious! All dead.’
Again Smeagol is referring to the Battle of Dagorlad. In some ways I think it is more magical and mysterious to not learn the answer.
‘Po – ta – toes,’ said Sam. ‘The Gaffer’s delight, and rare good ballast for an empty belly. But you won’t find any, so you needn’t look. But be good Sméagol and fetch me the herbs, and I’ll think better of you. What’s more, if you turn over a new leaf, and keep it turned, I’ll cook you some taters one of these days. I will: fried fish and chips served by S. Gamgee. You couldn’t say no to that.’ ‘Yes, yes we could. Spoiling nice fish, scorching it. Give me fish now, and keep nassty chips!’ ‘Oh you’re hopeless,’ said Sam. ‘Go to sleep!’
I highlighted this quote because I’ve always liked how Sam says “Po-tay-Toes” in the movie. It even became a meme.
It was Sam’s first view of a battle of Men against Men, and he did not like it much. He was glad that he could not see the dead face. He wondered what the man’s name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace – all in a flash of thought which was quickly driven from his mind.
An Easterling was killed. They come from the East of Mordor. Tolkien’s inspiration for his characters must have come from somewhere: The English remind me of hobbits with their quaint tea and eating habits; the Dwarves are hard working Germans, the Elves those of Celtic ancestry and the Easterlings are Moors. The Moors are Muslims especially with dark skin and have been in conflict with Europe for almost 2000 years. Tolkien always refers to “Men of the West” which is obviously Europe. The Easterlings along with other darkish people come from the East and South, the same direction as the Islamic countries. The invasion of the Moors into Spain is the most amount of land Muslims have ever captured from Europe and I imagine Tolkien used that history in inventing men who were “servants of Mordor.” I wrote a post about this back in 2010 that is here.
‘I sat at night by the waters of Anduin, in the grey dark under the young pale moon, watching the ever-moving stream; and the sad reeds were rustling. So do we ever watch the shores nigh Osgiliath, which our enemies now partly hold, and issue from it to harry our lands. But that night all the world slept at the midnight hour. Then I saw, or it seemed that I saw, a boat floating on the water, glimmering grey, a small boat of a strange fashion with a high prow, and there was none to row or steer it. ‘An awe fell on me, for a pale light was round it. But I rose and went to the bank, and began to walk out into the stream, for I was drawn towards it. Then the boat turned towards me, and stayed its pace, and floated slowly by within my hand’s reach, yet I durst not handle it. It waded deep, as if it were heavily burdened, and it seemed to me as it passed under my gaze that it was almost filled with clear water, from which came the light; and lapped in the water a warrior lay asleep. ‘A broken sword was on his knee. I saw many wounds on him. It was Boromir, my brother, dead. I knew his gear, his sword, his beloved face. One thing only I missed: his horn. One thing only I knew not: a fair belt, as it were of linked golden leaves, about his waist. Boromir! I cried. Where is thy horn? Whither goest thou? O Boromir! But he was gone. The boat turned into the stream and passed glimmering on into the night. Dreamlike it was, and yet no dream, for there was no waking. And I do not doubt that he is dead and has passed down the River to the Sea.’
‘The Men of Númenor were settled far and wide on the shores and seaward regions of the Great Lands, but for the most part they fell into evils and follies. Many became enamoured of the Darkness and the black arts; some were given over wholly to idleness and ease, and some fought among themselves, until they were conquered in their weakness by the wild men.
‘Death was ever present, because the Númenóreans still, as they had in their old kingdom, and so lost it, hungered after endless life unchanging. Kings made tombs more splendid than houses of the living, and counted old names in the rolls of their descent dearer than the names of sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry; in secret chambers withered men compounded strong elixirs, or in high cold towers asked questions of the stars. And the last king of the line of Anárion had no heir.
But tonight you have come where it is death to come. The fish of this pool are dearly bought.’ Gollum dropped the fish from his hand. ‘Don’t want fish,’ he said. ‘The price is not set on the fish,’ said Faramir. ‘Only to come here and look on the pool bears the penalty of death.
Another quote that made me laugh, this time from Gollum.
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 came back, and slowly putting out a trembling hand, very cautiously 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.
Lord Denethor is unlike other men: he sees far. Some say that as he sits alone in his high chamber in the Tower at night, and bends his thought this way and that, he can read somewhat of the future; and that he will at times search even the mind of the Enemy, wrestling with him. And so it is that he is old, worn before his time.
In the book Denethor is much more formidable than the old, partly crazy man of the movie. He is able to “wrestle in thought” with the enemy, “read the future” etcetera. This character did not have these qualities in the movie.
‘Master Meriadoc,’ said Aragorn, ‘if you think that I have passed through the mountains and the realm of Gondor with fire and sword to bring herbs to a careless soldier who throws away his gear, you are mistaken. If your pack has not been found, then you must send for the herb-master of this House. And he will tell you that he did not know that the herb you desire had any virtues, but that it is called westmansweed by the vulgar, and galenas by the noble, and other names in other tongues more learned, and after adding a few half-forgotten rhymes that he does not understand, he will regretfully inform you that there is none in the House, and he will leave you to reflect on the history of tongues. And so now must I. For I have not slept in such a bed as this, since I rode from Dunharrow, nor eaten since the dark before dawn.’
The Road goes ever on and on Out from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, Let others follow it who can! Let them a journey new begin, But I at last with weary feet Will turn towards the lighted inn, My evening-rest and sleep to meet.’
The song that Gandalf is singing while riding on his wagon on the way to The Shire. One of my favorites.
The Gaffer, he says: “Make it short, and then you won’t have to cut it short before you can use it.”
Still round the corner there may wait A new road or a secret gate; And though I oft have passed them by, A day will come at last when I Shall take the hidden paths that run West of the Moon, East of the Sun.
And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.
My other posts about these books.