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PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:20 pm 
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I figured we shouldn't wait for November to actually time the chapter to the date so to speak so here goes an introduction for discussion.

For me this is the catch up chapter. Here we learned what happen to Gandalf when he left Frodo in the Shire and departed for some news. We find out what has been happening with Dain II and the dwarfs of the Lonely Mountain and how Balin has left with a group to retake an colonize Moria. The history of the ring is discussed and confirmation and evidence is given to show that the ring that Bilbo and now Frodo has is indeed the One Ring. Gandalf recounts his journey from imprisonment to chasing after Frodo and Aragorn.

I love the discussion here of Bombadil and how though he is his own master, he cannot alter the Ring or break its power over others. Is that because Tom has withdrawn from the world and leaves it to others or is it because he is truly a master of self though will not take away agency from other creatures?

I love the notion that the Ring belongs to Middle Earth and the Valar would not accept it and that the elves do not have the strength to keep it from the enemy. Nor can it be dropped in the sea either. We see Boromir, I believe, already being tempted by the Ring, wanting to take it and use it.

I also saw the insight that the Elves were willing to give up their presence and all that they have in Middle Earth if the Ring can be destroyed.

Through all of it, we see Frodo who in the end, realizes that as the heir of Bilbo he is also the heir of the Ring and that he will take the Ring to destroy it.

Other items. Gimli, Legolas, Boromir, Galdor are introduced to us, and three that will play a role in the Fellowship.

I found it interesting that Aragorn lets Boromir know what the northern Dúnedain have been doing and that Gondor is not the only force fighting the enemy. I also enjoyed Aragorn's account of hunting and finding Gollum, and the despair he suffered both in the hunt and from being close to Mordor. It was also nice to visit the kingdom of the Lonely Mountain and dwarven government is somewhat revealed with Dain being the King, while chieftons still have a role (much like the old Norse kingdoms in Denmark and Norway as they were united into kingdoms). Also interesting to see that the dwarfs don't necessary trust King Brand as Gloin's comments show.

So, what do you enjoy in the chapter? Was all this information needed? I think so as it ties in what has been happening in Middle Earth with other characters. Any other areas you want to go in depth on?

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1. " . . . (we are ) too engrossed in thinking of everything as a preparation or training or making one fit -- for what? At any minute it is what we are and are doing, not what we plan to be and do that counts."

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: Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:43 pm 
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Wow, AJ. After I last posted in the last chapter, I decided to do a little test, and not post anything at all for a month, to see what happens. And guess what? Today is a month later, and I was just coming here to regretfully announce the results of my little test, when I saw your wonderful post. You have restored my faith. :hug:

I'll be back with some more substantive thoughts (and hopefully so will others!).

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 9:55 pm 
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Well, I was hoping to see that while moving and not having the internet that some discussion had occurred. Nope.

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1. " . . . (we are ) too engrossed in thinking of everything as a preparation or training or making one fit -- for what? At any minute it is what we are and are doing, not what we plan to be and do that counts."

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: Mon Oct 26, 2009 9:58 pm 
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I intend to respond to your post, AJ, but I've had the flu and am the only marshal regularly on the board for a few days, so I haven't had time.

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“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.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 10:03 pm 
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Prim,

No problem, I understand. It was just I thought over the last 5 days or so it may have sparked a discussion on the chapter.

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1. " . . . (we are ) too engrossed in thinking of everything as a preparation or training or making one fit -- for what? At any minute it is what we are and are doing, not what we plan to be and do that counts."

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: Mon Oct 26, 2009 10:06 pm 
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Your post and the chapter are both well worth discussing.

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“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.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:22 pm 
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A few points:

• A “council” scene is a trope of heroic fantasy/high epic literature. There is one in The Iliad; one in Paradise Lost. The Council of Elrond though, is surely unique in not having the objective of aiming to win or maintain power, but to lose it – give it away, relinquish it.
• The Moria gun is hung on the wall here. Although Frodo had met Gloin at the feast in the previous chapter, here we get the first mention of Khazad-dûm, and in high poetic vein: “Moria! Moria! Wonder of the Northern world!” Makes you want to go there. Which we do. :) Fittingly, it is in companionship with Gloin’s son that Frodo adventures into the lost realm of the dwarves.
• Boromir’s garments are “stained with long travel”.
• Boromir’s first words to Aragorn are: “And who are you , and what have you to do with Minas Tirith?” Contrast Faramir’s first words to Aragorn….
• There is absolutely tons of reported speech, delivered by about a dozen narrators, yet the narrative is very clear. We never lose track of what is going on.

I wrote a series of huge posts on TORC years ago about the CoE - a very detailed analysis.

Can't find it. :(

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 11:45 pm 
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AJ, don't get discouraged. The discussion will pick up; I promise (I've been away).

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:05 am 
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There is so much to talk about about this chapter, I almost don't know where to begin. AJ and Queen B have offered lots of food for thought, which I fully intend to return to, along with much else. But for right now I would like to share an observation that I just made for the first time (though I'm sure others have commented about it many times). There are two verses that are (at least in my 50th anniversary one-volume edition) on adjoining pages. They are two iconic poems, but I've never connected them together particular before. The first is the prophecy in the dream shared by Faramir and Boromir and recited by Boromir at the council

Seek for the Sword that was broken;
. . In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken
. . Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
. . That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur's Bane shall waken
. . And the Halfling forth shall stand.


The second is the poem about Aragorn that Bilbo wrote and recites impatiently at Boromir's suspiciousness about Aragorn

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 the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken
. . A light fom teh shadows shall spring;
Renwed shall be blade that was broken:
. . The crownless again shall be king.


The structure of the poems are similar, but not identical. Both are eight lines long, and the first line of both has eight syllables, though subsequent lines vary, and the rhyme schemes are not the same. The other obvious connector (obvious to me now; I've never noted it before) is the Sword that was broken. Bilbo's poem is in retrospect a direct response to the call of the brothers' dream, though of course he could not know that when he wrote it. I'd be interested to know if anyone else has specifically associated these verses together, and any other thoughts anyone might have about their relationship.

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Last edited by Voronwë the Faithful on Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:10 am 
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That's a very good observation. I have never realized it before but it does seem obvious now that you mention it.

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‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 5:50 am 
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Honestly, I always thought those verses were associated, that the same inspiration impelled Boromir's dream and Bilbo's invention. It's one of the times that Bilbo seems to be giving voice to something that by rights he shouldn't fully understand. Maybe it's the power of Rivendell.

Or maybe, having lived in Rivendell, he does understand it well enough to voice it in words that could have come from Boromir's dream.

I love this chapter, though by standard novelistic convention it is a nightmare. So much bald exposition! So many critical events that happen offstage and are reported at second hand! Tsk tsk. Tolkien couldn't possibly have known what he was doi— no, wait. :P

I guess I love this chapter most for two moments: Aragorn showing the depths Boromir never guessed at (though the rest of us did), and Frodo taking painful hold of his quest, the quest he never wanted but that (he now sees) only he can fulfill. This is what really moves me.

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“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.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:49 pm 
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I never associated the two poems before, but now it has been pointed out :D their similarities are obvious. And how appropriate that the dream-poem refers to the awakening of Isildur's Bane and the Halfling, and the halfling who brought Isildur's Bane back to the world should make that response.

Another point is that the dream came only belatedly to Boromir: the mission was "meant" for Faramir but his elder brother usurped it. Now, immediately upon meeting Aragorn, Boromir doubts him.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

I found my thread. :) And will copy parts of the discussion. Here goes:

There are twelve named persons attending the council.

Attendees:
Gandalf, Frodo, Bilbo, Elrond, Glorfindel, Erestor, Galdor, Gloin, Gimli, Strider, Legolas and Boromir.

That is: one wizard, two hobbits, five named elves (one from Mirkwood, one from the Grey Havens, three from Rivendell), two dwarves and two men: Boromir and Aragorn.

Gloin speaks for the dwarves. Galdor is there to represent Círdan, Legolas for his father's people and Boromir, obviously, attends on behalf of Gondor.

The first speaker is Gloin and his first reported words are about Moria, which would seem to have nothing to do with the issue at hand. He mentions Balin's attempt at re-colonization and then gets down to business with the "messenger from Mordor". His purpose is now established: he has come to warn Bilbo that Sauron is hunting for the Ring, and to seek counsel on behalf of Dain who fears war.

Elrond, as chairman, responds and spells out the main item on the agenda: What shall we do with the Ring? He also indicates, as Gandalf did at Bag End, that a greater power is at work here.

So the Moria gun has been hung on the wall, and the description of the "messenger from Mordor" reminds us of the cloaked and hooded riders who pursued the proto-Company in Book 1. The dwarves' rings are mentioned - another connection to the greater business. They then disappear from the tale.

Elrond acts as proxy for Lórien, although we do not know this at this stage (nor did Tolkien: he hadn't thought up Lórien :D). And Boromir, in denying that the Rohirrim pay tribute of horses to Sauron, could be said to act as proxy for Rohan.

Although that's stretching it a bit. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2009 9:13 pm 
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Queen_Beruthiel wrote:
There are twelve named persons attending the council.

Attendees:
Gandalf, Frodo, Bilbo, Elrond, Glorfindel, Erestor, Galdor, Gloin, Gimli, Strider, Legolas and Boromir.

That is: one wizard, two hobbits, five named elves (one from Mirkwood, one from the Grey Havens, three from Rivendell), two dwarves and two men: Boromir and Aragorn.


And Sam, acting as Frodo's self appointed protector.

When I first read this chapter I thought that perhaps Sam was once again acting as a spy for the other hobbits as he had at Bag End, but I suppose that is not really likely given Merry and Pippin's indignation with him at the start of the next chapter.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 4:34 am 
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Wonderful connection Voronwë! I have never in all my readings made that connection but the link is just right there, especially in the 50th edition.

There are some interesting insights in The Return of the Shadow about what went on between Balin and Dain, ie Moria and the Lonely Mountain. There is no mention of the Balrog, just that Orcs drove the Folk of Durin north out of Moria in the past. Also, that for awhile the colony in Moria grew and there was traffic between Moria and the Mountain, with gifts of silver sent to Dain. Then how the messengers of Dain were attacked by cruel and well armed men. Also, in this first take Gloin knew what had happen to Balin and the colony and why Moria had become deserted but would not talk about it. Tolkien scratched that out and had Gloin say that is why he has come to seek advice.

Another item I did not realize is that Trotter (the original Strider, and a hobbit which I think most know) is called Peregrin or the Elvish equivalent, Ethelion). Interesting on that concept. Glad that changed and the character of Aragorn emerged. A fact that it was in writing this chapter that Tolkien decided to make Trotter of an ancient race, ie Numernorean.

At the council Gloin is accompanied by Burin the son of Balin. Boromir is present, as are three Elvish councilors to Elrond, Erestor and two kinsman of Elrond who are descendants of Lúthien and half-elven. Glorfindel is there as is Gandalf, Sam, Frodo and Bilbo are there as are Merry, Folco and Odo and an Elf of Mirkwood.

Some other angles that Tolkien considered was having the ring offered to Elrond which is very interesting to me, who of course flatly refuses it.

It is interesting to review how this evolved to the final written chapter that we have here. I find it interesting in the next adaptation, as Frodo gives his account from Hobbiton to Rivendell and in it he discusses the Barrow-Wights who Elrond at this point says "The Barrow-wights I knew of he said, for they are closely akin to the Riders."

An interesting discussion of Bombadil comes back up where Gandalf makes it clear that Bombadil has now power over the Ring and that the Ring cannot harm or serve Tom because Bombadil is his own master. Yet he cannot modify the power of the Ring over others.

This notion of mastery of self is very interesting to me. For me I guess Bombadil has rejected the culture of the world around him, and lives according to his culture. He truly is a master of self and that is where he appears strong, but is not. This rejection of power outside of his own territory puts him in the unique position to be content. In some ways for me, this contradicts Frodo, who in my mind, never receives contentment in Middle Earth, and this can be because Frodo never masters himself though he thinks he should have.

Speaking of Frodo, as the text evolved, I really like the words used in this version at the end of the council: "There was a long silence. Frodo glanced round at all the faces, but no one looked at him -- except Sam; in whose eyes there was a strange mixture of hope and fear." Sam, who has that hope that stories and tales do have happy endings, though he is afraid often at times in his own tale. Yet is is that very hope that allows him to overcome his own fears.

One of the things critical from HOME, The Return of the Shadow on this chapter is the fact that Tolkien on a rejected page of the text on the Council of Elrond, wrote "a remarkable outline of futures events."

Two main points come from this outline, the separation of Frodo from the company and the attack of "tree-giants" on the enemies of Gondor. For fun, Gimli was killed off in the Mines of Moria, but that was never developed.

In the end, I liked the way the chapter came out in the text, but find it fascinating to look at the evolution of the text and of the characters themselves. I wonder if characters in an author's mind, ever do really stop evolving?

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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: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:03 am 
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Just saying that for my birthday I just bought myself the leatherbound 50th anniversary edition, and I am so thrilled.

The red-vinyl-bound edition was my wedding gift from Mr. Prim 29 years ago, and I love it dearly for so many reasons; but the spine is cracked top to bottom and I just can't read it any more without cringing. The thought that pages might start falling out horrifies me.

I will try to get it conserved, because it means so much to me; but I so wanted an edition that would be beautiful but tough enough to read and enjoy on a day-to-day basis.

And on Tuesday it will be mine, in leather.

Which, um, means I'm out of excuses for not participating here. So, um, I will start being very very good indeed.

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“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.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2009 8:18 am 
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QB, very interesting that you see Boromir as "usurping" the thread. I had the opposite reaction - the dream did come to him and that lends legitimacy to his participation. And of course it works our very well in the narrative. Boromir's moment of weakness provides the imperative for Frodo to go alone and the incorruptible Faramir is available to aid him at the key point.

And I always loved Boromir's stalwart defense of Rohan, when even Aragorn, who ought to know better, is inclined to believe the accusations.

I love the whole chapter, in fact, though it looks a mess. ;) It gives such depth and breadth to the world. I miss that element from modern fantasy, which often feels too streamlined, all skin and bones and no fat to give the pleasing roundness to the story.

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‘It’s a lot more complicated than that -’
‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2009 12:53 am 
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The version of the council given in The Treason of Isengard also contains a brief (presumably rejected) account of a meeting between Gandalf and Tom Bombadil:
Quote:
Gandalf in his reply to Elrond's question about Bombadil 'Do you know him, Gandalf?' now says:
'Yes. And I went to him at once, naturally, as soon as I found that the hobbits had gone into the Old Forest. I dare say he would have kept them longer in his house, if he had known that I was so near. But I am not sure - not sure that he did not know, and not sure that he would have behaved differently in any case. He is a very strange creature, and follows his own counsels: and they are not easy to fathom.'


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 3:31 am 
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Hammond and Scull quote a fairly long quote from Tom Shippey in Author of the Century that so accurately expresses why I love this chapter that I feel I have to quote it in full:

Shippey wrote:
[this chapter] is a largely unappreciated tour de force, whose success may be gauged by the fact that few pause to recognize its complexity. It breaks, furthermore, most of the rules which might be given to an apprentice writer. For one thing, though it is fifteen thousand words long, in it nothing happens: it consists entirely of people talking. For another, it has an unusual number of speakers present (twelve), the majority of them (seven) unknown to the reader and appearing for the first time. Just to make things more difficult, the longest speech, by Gandalf, which takes up half the total, contains direct quotations from seven more speakers, or writers, all of them apart from Butterbur and Gaffer Gamgee new to the story, and some of them (Saruman, Denethor) to be extremely important to it later on. Other speakers, like Gloin, give quotations from yet more speakers, Dain and Sauron's messenger. Like so many committee meetings, this chapter could very easily have disintegrated, lost its way, or simply become too boring to follow. The fact that it does not is brought about by two things, Tolkien's extremely firm grasp of the history ... of Middle-earth; and his unusual ability to suggest cultural variation by differences in mode of speech.


The latter point is extremely important, and really highlights how Tolkien's vocation as a philologist enhanced his avocation as a creative writer. A couple of specific examples of how Tolkien uses language in this chapter, both again quoted from Shippey (but from Road to Middle-earth) by Hammond and Scull.

The first, regarding Saruman's speech to Gandalf that the latter reports to the Council:

Quote:
What Saruman says encapsulates many of the things the modern world has learned to dread most: the ditching of allies, the subordination of means to end, the 'conscious acceptance of guilt in the necessary murder'. But the way he puts it is significant too. No other character in Middle-earth has Saruman's trick of balancing phrases against each other so that incompatibles are resolved, and none comes out with words as empty as "deploring", "ultimate", worst of all "real".


The second one addresses the contest of words between Aragorn and Boromir:

Quote:
Aragorn and Boromir strike sparks off each other through their ways of speech as well as their claims, Aragorn's language deceptively modern, even easy-going on occasion, but with greater range than Boromir's slightly wooden magniloquence. There is even significance in Aragorn letting his rival have the last word in their debate, with a clause which is perfectly in line with modern speech -- 'we will put it to the test one day' -- but also relates easily to the vaunts of ancient heroes.


With the possible exception of the Athrabeth nowhere else in all of his work does Tolkien show what a master he is at using dialog.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:59 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
The structure of the poems are similar, but not identical. Both are eight lines long, and the first line of both has eight syllables, though subsequent lines vary, and the rhyme schemes are not the same.


These are interesting points, as is the rest of the analysis, but with regard to one small thing, I should point out that focusing on the number of syllables is an irrelevancy.

Both verses are accentual meter with three stresses per line. Tolkien was intimately familiar with accentual meter, as various types of accentual meter were the norm in English before the Frenchification of English following the Norman conquest. The syllabic nature of French verse merged with the accentual nature of English and led to a hybrid metrical scheme called "accentual syllabic" meter, which is the type of meter people refer to when they talk about things such as "iambic pentameter" and similar metrical schemes. Such metrical schemes, and syllable counts least of all, do not apply to accentual meter.

Apart from the similarities in content regarding the sword, both verses have a similar rhetorical structure, and are given to exhortations, and prophetic language, particularly in the final line, which follow the form of a snowclone the X shall Y:

. . And the Halfling forth shall stand

. . The crownless again shall be king.


The preceding lines make similar "prophetic" assertions.

As with much of Tolkien's other use of verse, the similarities may represent the desire to follow a verse form peculiar to a cultural tradition. Both verses may represent branches of the Númenórean tradition, one from the North (Arnor) via Bilbo, and one from the South (Gondor) via Boromir's dream. The similarities represent the common tradition, and the differences represent the variations peculiar to a a region, a time, etc

We see the idea of different verse traditions in the various cultures, Rohan, the Dwarves, the Elves etc, elsewhere in Tolkien's work.

BrianIs :) AtYou

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2009 8:08 pm 
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That's fascinating, Brian: that the similarity might come from Tolkien trying to show the common cultural roots between a hobbit from the Shire and a nobleman of Gondor. Boromir might have done well to take the point.

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“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.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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