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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:03 am 
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Book two opens with Frodo regaining consciousness in Rivendell following his narrow escape from the Black riders at the end of book 1.

Over the course of the first few pages of this chapter, he is reunited with Gandalf and learns a little more about the history and true identity of Aragorn. He also learns more about the identity and motives of the Black Riders.

I find myself quite amused by Frodo's statement to Gandalf that before he met Aragorn he had always thought that all men were big and stupid: "kind and stupid like Butterbur, or stupid and wicked like Bill Ferny".

The chapter continues with a feast held in honor of Frodo's recovery during which Frodo strikes up a conversation with Bilbo's former traveling companion, Gloin. During this conversation, Gloin makes a number of statements which do not seem so important at the time, but which actually forshadow major events which will occur when the Fellowship reaches Moria in Chapters 4 and 5.

Following the feast, Frodo is finally reunited with Bilbo, and the reader is given one of the book's clearest views of the Ring's corruptive power as the Ring causes Frodo to hallucinate that a Gollum-like creature has taken Bilbo's place.

As the chapter draws to a close, we receive the first hints of the romace between Aragorn and Arwen; however, it is presented in such a way that most first time readers would not realize the significance of the scene.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:22 pm 
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Thanks so much for stepping up to the plate, Tall Hobbit! You have really made me happy. I've stickied this thread, and I'll be back to comment further soon. Hopefully others will, too!

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:27 pm 
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Another point of interest in this chapter is Bilbo's "Song of Eärendil".

This was actually a rather drastic reworking of Tolkien's existing poem "Errantry" which had already been published years earlier in the Oxford Journal in 1933.

A somewhat different version of "Errantry" was later included in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.

For those who are interested, a detailed discussion of the history of the various versions of both the original "Errantry" and the "Song of Eärendil" can be found in chapter 5 of HoME vol 7: The Treason of Isengard.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:32 pm 
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What is the significance of Aragorn's insistance that Bilbo include a referece to a green stone in his song Eärendil?

Was this green stone supposed to be the Legendary Elessar which is described in Unfinished Tales, a forshadowing of Aragorn's own royal name "Elf Stone", or perhaps both?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:55 pm 
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The reference to the green stone certainly is a reference to the Elessar, which is discussed at length in UT, and which was given to Aragorn by Galadriel:

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'Yet maybe this will lighten your heart,' said Galadriel; 'for it was left in my care to be given to you, should you pass through this land.' Then she lifted from her lap a great stone of clear green, set in a silver brooch that was wrought in the likeness of an eagle with outspread wings; and as she held it up the gem flashed like the sun shining through the leave of spring. 'This stone I gave to Celebrian my daughter, and she to hers and now it comes to you as a token of hope. In this hour take the name that was foretold for you, Elessar, the Elfstone of the House of Elendil.


Later, of course, when Aragorn entered into Minas Tirith the people of Gondor gave him that name because of the Elvish stone that he wore.

But what does all of this have to do with Bilbo's song about Eärendil? Well, in some of the tales contained in UT, the Elessar was made in Gondolin by a a great smith named Enerdhil, who gave it to Idril. It then passed on to Eärendil, who wore it on his breast when he journeyed West. Hence the reference in Bilbo's song. The UT tales then diverge, with one story being that Olórin brought the Elessar back from the West and presented it to Galadriel, and the other being that Celebrimbor made a new Elessar in the Second Age out of love for Galadriel. In another version of the tale, Celebrimbor made both versions of the Elessar. In any case, once Galadriel had Nenya in her possession she no longer needed it, and so passed it on to Celebrian.

Presumably, Aragorn knew about the Elessar, and probably that Galadriel was keeping it in trust for him. So it would make sense that he would think it was important to include in a song about the journey of Eärendil, his ancestor.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:37 am 
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But wasn't the UT Elessar material written after the publication of LOTR?

Do we have any evidence that the Elessar story as such even existed at the time when this chapter was written?


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:55 am 
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The Tall Hobbit wrote:
But wasn't the UT Elessar material written after the publication of LOTR?


Probably. Christopher says that it was associated with the text "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn" but probably written a little before it. He says of "Concerning G & C" that is probably was written after LOTR was published, but isn't sure exactly when. So it's not guaranteed that the Elessar texts were written before LOTR's publication, but I think it is a good guess. Certainly they were written after LOTR was finished.

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Do we have any evidence that the Elessar story as such even existed at the time when this chapter was written?


I think the question that really needs to be asked is "is there any evidence that the Elessar story existed at that point that Tolkien added the detail of Bilbo saying that Aragorn told him to add a green stone. And I think that the evidence at least points in that direction, although without seeing the actual manuscripts it is hard to say for sure. Wayne and Christina state about the line in the song "upon his breast an emerald" that "this must be the 'green stone' which, as Bilbo tells Frodo after the song is over was Aragorn's only contribution. It presumably refers to the Elessar." I agree with them, but reaching that conclusion is a long and winding road.

As you know (since you mentioned that the history of the song is given in The Treason of Isengard), the song wasn't added until the fourth phase of the writing, by which point, Trotter was not only firmly a man, but had been established as a Númenórean, a descendant of Eärendil's, through Elendil. There is even evidence that Tolkien was already playing with the idea of giving him the name Elfstone. However, it is completely clear that the emerald mentioned in the song has nothing to do with the Elessar at this point. First of all, there is mention of emerald back to the beginning of the poem when it was still Errantry first as a spear made of emerald, and then a sword. As the poem moved towards the form that appears in FOTR (which, by the way, was not actually the form that Tolkien meant to have in FOTR), the emerald appeared first as the character's helm, and then on his breast, before it became clear that the character was in fact Eärendil of the Silmarillion. That detail was then in place in all further versions, as it moved towards the final form. More importantly, at this point Bilbo does NOT say that Aragorn's only contribution was telling him to add a green stone; he actually says that "quite a lot of it was Tarkil's (which meant "Númenórean" like the later "the Dúnedain").

Most importantly, it is clear that at this point, the Elessar did not actually exist. It appears to have come into being in the course of the writing of the chapter Farewell to Lórien, where it was initially meant to be a gift from Galadriel to Gimli! Tolkien almost immediately realized that this gift should be to Aragorn, since he was still playing with the name Elfstone. Later he realized that this gift should be the reason why he is given the name Elfstone, and then adds the Quenyan version Elessar.

What is not clear from the HoMe accounts is at what point Tolkien went back and changed Frodo and Bilbo's conversation at Rivendell to make it so that Aragorn's only contribution to the song was to say that a green stone needed to be added, without explaining why. However, I think it is a reasonable presumption to make that it was at some point after the Elessar had been invented and become a gift to Aragorn. It is unclear how much of its history as described in the UT texts Tolkien already envisioned, but it is clear that he already had invented some of the stone's property's because in the text that he inserted in the Farewell to Lórien chapter states "'All growing things that you look at through this,' she said, 'you willsee as they were in their youth and in their spring. It is gift that blends joy and sorrow; yet many things that now appear loathly shall seem otherwise to you hereafter.'"

There certainly is no evidence that Tolkien had already invented a history of the stone involving Enerdhil and/or Celebrimbor, but I think the only reasonable conclusion is that at the point that Tolkien went back to the Many Meetings chapter and changed it so that Bilbo tells Frodo that Aragorn insisted that he add a green stone, he had decided that the Elessar given to Aragorn by Galadriel was either a first age stone of healing that Eärendil had worn initially, or related to it in some way, and that Aragorn knew about this stone (which implies that this change was made after the Farewell to Lórien scene had progressed to the point where Galadriel tells Aragorn that the stone had been left in her care to be given to him).

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:36 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
...it is clear that he already had invented some of the stone's property's because in the text that he inserted in the Farewell to Lórien chapter states "'All growing things that you look at through this,' she said, 'you willsee as they were in their youth and in their spring. It is gift that blends joy and sorrow; yet many things that now appear loathly shall seem otherwise to you hereafter.'"

Yes, I had forgotten about that passage.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 12:50 pm 
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One of the passages that I find particularly moving, is Gandalf's premonition of what Frodo will become like at the end:

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He was smiling, and there seemed to be little wrong with him. But to the wizard's eye there was a faint change, just a hint as it were of transparency, about him, and especially about the left hand that lay outside upon the coverlet.

"Still that must be expected," said Gandalf to himself. "He is not half through yet, and to what he will come in the end not even Elrond can foretell. Not to evil, I think. He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can."


I was also struck by the description of Gandalf at the feast, comparing him like Elrond and Glorfindel as lords of dignity and power: "...his long white hair, his sweeping silver beard, and his broad shoulders, made him look like some wise king of ancient legend. In his aged face under great snowy brows his dark eyes were set like coals that could leap suddenly into fire."

For those readers who only know Gandalf as the cantankerous, weary old wizard - aged, grey-haired and grey-clad, and leaning on a staff - from The Hobbit, it is a first glimpse that he is not all he seems.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:14 pm 
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Not all he seems; and yet, at the same time, much more than he seems.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 5:24 pm 
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Elessar:

the question still arises, "Why would Aragorn insist on the green stone, when the gift of the Elessar was still months in the future?"

I suspect that it was this plot-hole Tolkien was trying to plug when he wrote, much later, the scrap discussing Aragorn's birth, and his grandmother Ivorwen having a vision of a green stone on his breast. (I note that already in this chapter Galadriel says that "Elessar" was the name foretold for him, and that her gift of the stone fulfilled that prophecy).


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 6:03 pm 
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solicitr wrote:
Elessar:

the question still arises, "Why would Aragorn insist on the green stone, when the gift of the Elessar was still months in the future?"


I think the only reasonable conclusion is that Aragorn knew that the stone had passed from Galadriel to Celebrian to Arwen, and that Arwen had given it back to Galadriel to hold in trust for him.

But thanks for mentioning the scrap describing Ivorwen's vision, which is printed in PoMe. I meant to say something about that, and didn't manage to fit it in.

Quote:
(I note that already in this chapter Galadriel says that "Elessar" was the name foretold for him, and that her gift of the stone fulfilled that prophecy).


Well, not in this chaper; in "Farewell from Lórien." Normally I wouldn't have talked so much about a future chapter, but I felt it was necessary to adequately respond to the tall one's question.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 4:53 am 
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For me in many ways this is a setup chapter by Tolkien for the rest of the book. After answering Frodo's question he explains how Rivendell and The Shire and other such places that have powers yet are "islands that will soon come under siege." Thus Gandalf's role is to unite these places so they can stand united against the Dark Lord and resist.

Gandalf also foreshadows here what will happen to Frodo; "Not to evil I think. He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can."

We are introduced also here to some characters, like Elladan and Elrohir, and learn why they are often gone, "forgetting never their mother's torment in the dens of the orcs."

From Gloin we learn that Grimbeorn the Old son of Beorn is the lord of "many sturdy men" and if it was not for them and their sacrifices that the High Pass and the Ford of Carrock would not remain passable. So all is not well in the world beyond Rivendell from The Hobbit.

I found it interesting to reflect on Gloin's comments and the pride that he felt for what his people had accomplished, well also recognizing their limitations.

The green stone to me is another setup by Tolkien who may not have known how or why at this point, but latter connected it to his story. Tolkien was really good in my opinion in connecting things that he put into his writing later as things developed.

Finally, for me the sentence that perhaps triggers a connection that is made later in ROTK is when Arwen turns towards Frodo "and the light of her eyes fell on him from afar and pierced his heart." This connection she makes to him is one that I think is often overlooked. It is a connection knowing that the ring Frodo bears is linked with her and Aragorn's destiny.

So in reading this chapter it is evident that though Rivendell is a temporary haven for Frodo and his companions, it is not a somewhere that they can stay. Gandalf hints that these havens with their own powers have to come together to resist Sauron and yet I think it is clear to both the reader and to Frodo (though he may not want to admit it consciously) that the Ring has to be destroyed (based on the conversation in The Shadow of the Past), while these havens resist. The world is dark and becoming darker and it is hinted at what will be discussed at the council in the next chapter.

It seems to follow a pattern from the Book I where Tolkien sets it up what is happening and then plunges the characters into the adventure. The difference is that Book II will seem to quicken the pace as the degree of danger/threat has increased now and become real to the reader and to Frodo and company. Anyway, just some random thoughts without looking at any reference material, just re-reading the chapter which is always a pleasure.

On a personal note, one of the things I really like about the journey of the members of the Fellowship is that they reflect life so much to me. Life is hard by its nature, filled with dangers and threats in so many ways during our own journeys. Yet it is these havens we find that give us the strength to continue, and though a haven may be a physical place, it is the people in that place that make it a haven. I hope all of us have havens, people that we lift and who lift us as Frodo does in his journey.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:48 am 
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Great post, AJ!

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Tolkien was really good in my opinion in connecting things that he put into his writing later as things developed.


Very often, that was due to his going back and revising and adding things. As was the case with the green stone. And very much with this:

Quote:
Finally, for me the sentence that perhaps triggers a connection that is made later in ROTK is when Arwen turns towards Frodo "and the light of her eyes fell on him from afar and pierced his heart." This connection she makes to him is one that I think is often overlooked. It is a connection knowing that the ring Frodo bears is linked with her and Aragorn's destiny.


Arwen, of course, was not added to the narrative until very late in the writing. She makes a big difference. Her presence really changes not just Aragorn's whole motivation, but much of Frodo's ultimate destiny. You are quite correct that this connection is of utmost importance (as, in fact, I tried to point out in a Shibboleth thread at the end of last year called Of Frodo and Arwen).

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:46 pm 
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ArathornJax wrote:
Gandalf also foreshadows here what will happen to Frodo; "Not to evil I think. He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can."

If Tolkien had followed through with that idea, Frodo could have ended up almost like a living Phial of Galadriel.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 11:06 am 
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Quote:
ArathornJax wrote:

Gandalf also foreshadows here what will happen to Frodo; "Not to evil I think. He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can."


Of course it would be churlish of me to point out that I quoted the same passage 4 posts earlier than AJ... I obviously need to work on my visibility on the Board :D

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 12:05 pm 
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No, I saw your post Elentári, and I shared that passage as a way to communicate my point that this is another set-up chapter by Tolkien that foreshadows what is to come, much like Shadow in the Past is. I took your post as relating to a favorite passage of yours from the chapter and in linking it to Gandalf, which was separate from my idea. Sorry, should have acknowledge that you had mentioned it though in a different context.

We'll see Tolkien do more setup/foreshadowing chapters whenever Frodo or company finds a haven to rest because h e and other characters are given time to think, to reflect, to ponder and to wonder on the future without the fear of evil around the corner or fleeing from evil or engaging evil. I can think of Lothlórien, Fangorn, Isengard, Ithilien as examples right now but ones I don't want to touch on in depth since we aren't there yet.

A connection I'll have to think over though from this post is I wonder if Tolkien's war experience plays into this. In waiting for combat a solider has a lot of waiting time that is filled on purpose with duties. However, one has time to think, to reflect and to ponder on the future. In combat or periods of action that doesn't happen as your mind is taken over by training and the need to survive. Does Tolkien use these moments of waiting, of resting to foreshadow what is to come as a writer based on his experiences as a solider or because he knows through literary means and academic trainin, that this is what writers do, or is it both? I need to review Tolkien and the Great War on this and perhaps Shippey's claim that Tolkien was one of a generation of "traumatized authors" who used their writing to express their horrors of their war experience. Yet unlike Orwell, Golding, Vonnegut, Tolkien was more positive, more "optimistic in his view of humanity" than the others and thus both his academic training and his life experience from WWI and having two sons serving in WWII probably did influence him in regards to this notion of action and havens.

Ah! Another point! In some ways I wonder if Bilbo and staying in Rivendell might reflect Tolkien in WWII? Another idea to ponder for another time perhaps.

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J.R.R. Tolkien in his 6 October 1940 letter to his son Michael Tolkien.

2. We have many ways using technology to be in touch, yet the larger question is are we really connected or are we simply more in touch? There is a difference.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:23 pm 
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I think that's a good point, AJ. Combat has often been described by veterans (including my dad) as "Hours of boredom interrupted by moments of sheer terror." If I remember Garth correctly, Tolkien like most Tommies spent somewhat more time in the rear than in the trenches. Certainly, somewhat later than the writing of this chapter, we see that the 101st Airborne spent 33 days fighting in Normandy, then returned to England for two months, then jumped into Holland and fought for a week, then back to Reims as theater reserve for two months until hurled into Bastogne for 28 days, and so on.

Interestingly the Ringbearer spends a month getting to Rivendell, then rests for two months, then three weeks to Lórien followed by a month's pause, then another month until the Pelennor/Cirith Ungol plus ten days to Mount Doom: a similar rhythm.


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The pattern of danger and toil followed by respite continues. There is a huge difference though, between former houses where the hobbits have been welcomed and given succour - and Rivendell. Even Tom's house was rustic compared with Imladris.

Tolkien here has the difficult job of presenting us, not just with a hidden kingdom, but with the immortal, numinous people who live there. He handles this by keeping the focus on the hobbits and their fellow mortals, the dwarves, and keeping the elves almost off stage, as it were. With Frodo, we see Elrond, Glorfindel and a few others, in their splendour at the feast but they remain rather remote. I find this appropriate. We are shown glimpses of the glory of elven culture: a splendid architecture is implied by the "richly carved" ceiling and the "carven pillars" in this mansion of many rooms, halls and passages. The house is set amidst gardens and woods.

We hear, via Gandalf, of the power of Elrond: how he saved Frodo and how he caused the river to rise up against the Black Riders.

Then - Bilbo's song celebrates a mythical being: Eärendil the mariner, who turns out to be the father of Elrond.

It is always during this chapter that the implications of the elves' immortality begins to dawn upon me. I mean - imagine sitting next to some-one at a party who is thousands of years old, and will never die. And more - one person at the party is the son of ... a star.

The hobbits aren't in Kansas any more.

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Some of my thoughts on rereading this chapter:
When Frodo is speaking to Gandalf after awakening, the wizard tells him about what would have happened if Frodo had succumbed to his wound and become a wraith, saying "he would have tormented you for trying to keep his Ring, if any greater torment were possible than being robbed of it and seeing it on his hand". This comment raises the question (after the events of the next chapter) of how is Frodo going to be able to destroy the Ring if being robbed of it would be such a torment. And it foreshadows his unhappiness at the end of the book after returning to the Shire without the Ring.

Gandalf also mentions "indeed there is a power in Rivendell to withstand the might of Mordor, for a while; and elsewhere other powers still dwell." On my first reading I had no idea that Gandalf was speaking of the three Elven rings and I may not have picked up on the significance of this remark for several more readings (that was so long ago I cannot remember). This is one more example of a reference that only makes complete sense much later on - Tolkien gives out important information only a little at a time (unlike the film in which the characters and the audience know a lot of stuff a lot sooner than in the book).

As the Tall Hobbit noted above, there is also foreshadowing of the romance of Arwen and Aragron and of the fate of Balin. But Tolkien again only slowly reveals the full importance of these much later.

A fan of The Hobbit on his first reading of LOTR surely enjoys this chapter and especially Frodo's conversation with Gloin at the feast, as many places and characters from the earlier book are mentioned: Rivendell called the "Last Homely House east of the Sea"; the Carrock and Beorn's descendents; the High Pass; Esgaroth, the Bardings, and Dale; the Lonely Mountain and Dáin. And all of Bilbo's surviving dwarf companions are mentioned by name with special mention of Bombur (even fatter) and Balin. The reader is left to wonder about Balin, Ori and Óin as well as where has Gandalf been for the last several months, encouraging you to read on to the next chapter.

When Bilbo, in the Hall of Fire, mentions that he needs the help of his friend the Dúnadan in composing a song, the first time reader is apt to wonder who is this Dúnadan. It would take a sharp observer to remember that Glorfindel uses the term Dúnadan in his (non-translated) Elvish greeting to Strider in the previous chapter.

I have always loved the short song/poem which begins "A Elbereth Gilthoniel" (it was one of several songs and poems from LOTR I memorized years ago as a teenager) but it took me a long time to warm up to the long poem that Bilbo recites about Eärendil. This poem at first seemed very long and obscure to me. Only in more recent years after I became familiar with The Silmarillion (and HoME) did I come to appreciate this poem and understand what it was all about.

Overall, "Many Meetings" is one of my favorite chapters. It provides a welcome respite from the hardships of the journey to Rivendell, Frodo reunites with Bilbo and Gandalf, and you learn a good bit of information.


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