Turumarth - Tolkien's Greatest Sleepers
or There's More To Middle-Earth Than The Lotr And The Hobbit
Hello. Turumarth's the name. Let me tell you how this small selection of rather obscure but somewhat tasty Tolkien quotations came about. One day I suddenly realized that it had been a Valarian Age since I'd read any of Quickbeam's much too hasty comments, so I went on over to Green Books and caught up on his last few Limb-hangers. For me a much needed breeze of fresh air was blowing when I read "Tolkien's Greatest Hits"as put together by Quickbeam.
O the pleasure, O the peril to unlock the lid, and gain a glimpse where the word-hoard lies hid! I soon began to wonder about my own small stash of gems pilfered from the hoard-master. But I wasn't too sure if my collection of beloved quotes could become hits, and that's why I'm calling them "Tolkien's Greatest Sleepers." You see, I've taken a rather great liking to many of Tolkien's lesser known works. And when I consider how it's necessary to pick through mountains of notes and commentaries until one hits the real paydirt, I guess these beauties may never be as accessible as the old favorites. It's a pity, really. Because it was only through becoming acquainted with some of the more obscure and unfinished productions of the good professor that I really began to get a sense of the staggeringly vast extent of his imaginative subcreation. And my love and appreciation for LOTR has only increased. The following selections were mostly gleaned from the books I like to call "The Twelve Troublesome Tomes Plus One of the History of Middle-earth and its Lost or Unfinished Tales" by Professors J. R. R. and C. Tolkien. I nabbed a few quotes from other sources as well, though all the words are of J. R. R. T. himself. But I won't site page number, or as it were, chapter and verse. You've got to do a bit of digging for yourself, so buy those books!
1. MOST GORGEOUS POETIC DESCRIPTION OF FEMININE PULCHRITUDE:
Such lissom limbs no more shall run
on the green earth beneath the sun;
So fair a maid no more shall be
from dawn to dusk, from sun to sea.
Her robe was blue as summer skies,
but grey as evening were her eyes;
her mantle sewn with lilies fair,
but dark as shadow was her hair.
Her feet were swift as bird on wing,
her laughter merry as the spring;
the slender willow, the bowing reed,
the fragrance of the flowering meed,
the light upon the leaves of trees,
the voice of water, more than these
her beauty was and blissfulness,
her glory and her loveliness.
--description of Luthien from the 'Lay of Leithian' or 'Release from Bondage' in The Lays of Beleriand.
2. COOLEST MOTHER TO DAUGHTER DECLARATION OF FEMINIST ATTITUDE:
Thus it is, Ancalime, and we cannot alter it. For men fashioned Numenor: men, those heroes of old that they sing of -- of their women we hear less, save that they wept when their men were slain. Numenor was to be a rest after war. But if they weary of rest and the plays of peace, soon they will go back to their great play, manslaying and war. Thus it is; and we are set here among them. But we need not assent. if we love Numenor also, let us enjoy it before they ruin it. We also are daughters of the great, and we have wills and courage of our own. Therefore do not bend, Ancalime. Once bend a little and they will bend you further until you are bowed down. Sink your roots into the rock, and face the wind, though it blow away all your leaves.
--from the teaching of Queen Erendis to her daughter Ancalime, who became the first Ruling Queen of Numenor, excerpted form 'The Mariner's Wife' in Unfinished Tales.
3. INCIDENT MOST LIKELY TO PRODUCE CONNIPTION FITS IN A SELF-RIGHTEOUS NONSMOKER (SUCH AS MYSELF):
[Saruman] said then coldly: "You jest, Lord Mithrandir, as is your way. I know well enough that you have become a curious explorer of the small: weeds, wild things, and childish folk. Your time is your own to spend, if you have nothing worthier to do; and your friends you may make as you please. But to me the days are too dark for wanderers' tales, and I have no time for the simples of peasants."Gandalf did not laugh again; and he did not answer, but looking keenly at Saruman he drew on his pipe and sent out a great ring of smoke with many smaller rings that followed it. Then he put up his hand, as if to grasp them, and they vanished. With that he got up and left Saruman without another word; but Saruman stood for some time silent, and his face was dark with doubt and displeasure.
--before the White Wizard himself took up the pipeweed, as recorded in 'Concerning Gandalf, Saruman and the Shire' in Unfinished Tales.
4. DESCRIPTION MOST LIKELY TO MAKE YOU WONDER WHAT IT WAS THAT THE PROFESSOR WAS SMOKING:
Pyramids and polyhedrons of manifold forms and symmetries were growing like...like geometric mushrooms, and growing from simplicity to complexity; from single beauty amalgamating into architectural harmonies of countless facets and reflected lights. And the speed of growth seemed very swift. On the summit of some tower of conjoined solids a great steeple, like a spike of greenish ice, would shoot out: it was not there and then it was there; and hardly was it set before it was encrusted with spikelets in bristling lines of many pale colours. In places forms were achieved like snowflakes under a microscope, but enormously larger: tall as trees some were. In other places there were forms severe, majestic, vast and simple.
--Michael George Ramer, philologist and writer of romances, describing an Astral Traveling experience of his, from 'The Notion Club Papers' in Sauron Defeated.
5. MOST VIRTUOSIC DISPLAY OF ALLITERATIVE RIFFING ON THE LETTER 'W' WHILE SUPPOSEDLY WRITING A LITERARY COMMENTARY:
I've watched and waited, till the wind sighing was like words whispered by waking ghosts that in my ears muttered.
--Torhthelm telling how he felt spooked with the dead bodies on the battlefield, from 'The Homecoming or Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son,' which Tolkien wrote as a commentary on the Old English poem, 'The Battle of Maldon,' in The Tolkien Reader.
6. MOST JOYOUS ARTISTIC REALIZATION FOR A TREE-HUGGING PAINTER:
Niggle looked up, and fell off his bicycle. Before him stood the Tree, his Tree, finished. If you could say that of a Tree that was alive, its leaves opening, its branches growing and bending in the wind that Niggle had so often felt or guessed, and had so often failed to catch. He gazed at the Tree, and slowly he lifted his arms and opened them wide.
"It's a gift!" he said.
--from 'Leaf by Niggle' in The Tolkien Reader.
7. BITTEREST TEAR-JERKER FOR A TREE-HUGGING BLACKSMITH:
He put his arms about the stem of a young birch and clung to it, and the Wind wrestled fiercely with them trying to tear him away; but the birch was bent down to the ground by the blast and enclosed him in its branches. When at last the Wind passed on he rose and saw that the birch was naked. It was stripped of every leaf, and it wept, and tears fell from its branches like rain. He set his hand upon its white bark saying: "Blessed be the birch! What can I do to make amends or give thanks? " he felt the answer of the tree pass up from his hand: "Nothing," it said. "Go away! The Wind is hunting you. You do not belong here. Go away and never return!"As he climbed back out of that dale he felt the tears of the birch trickle down his face and they were bitter on his lips.
--from Smith of Wootton Major.
8. MOST HEROIC BUT HOPELESS LAST STAND WITH SUNSET:
Then all the host of Morgoth swarmed against them, and they bridged the stream with the dead, and encircled the remnant of Hithlum as a gathering tide about a rock.
Huor fell pierced with a venomed arrow in the eye, and all the valiant men of Hador were slain about him in a heap, and the Orcs hewed their heads and piled them as a mound of gold; for the sun was shining on the sixth and last day of the battle and their yellow locks shone amid the blood. Last of all Hurin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield and wielded his axe two-handed; and it is sung that in that last stand he himself slew a hundred of the Orcs. But they took him alive at last, by the command of Morgoth, who thought thus to do him more evil than by death. Therefore his servants grappled him with their hands, which clung still to him though he hewed off their arms; and ever their numbers were renewed until at the last he fell buried beneath them. Then binding him they dragged him to Angband with mockery. Thus ended the Nirnaeth Arnediad, and the sun sank red over Hithlum, and there came a great storm on the winds of the West.
--from 'The Grey Annals' in The War of the Jewels.
9. MOST HISTORY-MAKING SUNSET BY THE SEASIDE :
Tuor passed into the borders of Nevrast, where once Turgon had dwelt; and at last at unawares (for the cliff-tops at the margin of the land were higher than the slopes behind) he came suddenly to the black brink of Middle-earth, and saw the Great Sea, Belegaer the Shoreless. And at that hour the sun went down beyond the rim of the world, as a mighty fire; and Tuor stood alone upon the cliff with outspread arms, and a great yearning filled his heart. It is said that he was the first of Men to reach the Great sea, and that none, save the Eldar, have ever felt more deeply the longing that it brings.
--from 'Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin' in Unfinished Tales.
10. MOST APOCALYPTIC SETTING FOR A KISS:
Then said Tuor: "Lo! Idril, it is I, and I live; yet now will I get thy father hence, be it from the Hells of Melko!" With that he would make down the hill alone, maddened by the grief of his wife; but she coming to her wits in a storm of weeping clasped his knees saying: "My lord! My lord!" and delayed him. Yet even as they spake a great noise and a yelling rose from that place of anguish. Behold, the tower leapt into a flame and in a stab of fire it fell, for the dragons crushed the base of it and all who stood there. Great was the clangour of that terrible fall, and therein passed Turgon King of the Gondothlim, and for that hour the victory was to Melko.Then said Idril heavily: "Sad is the blindness of the wise"; but Tuor said: "Sad too is the stubbornness of those we love--yet 'twas a valiant fault," then stooping he lifted and kissed her, for she was more to him than all the Gondothlim; but she wept bitterly for her father. Then Tuor turned to the captains, saying: "Lo, we must get hence with all speed.."
--from 'The Fall of Gondolin' in The Book of Lost Tales.
11. BRAVEST BEOWULF-STYLE DEFIANCE OF BADDEST-ASSED DARK LORD WITH BALROG AND/OR ORC HOST:
To the hosts of Hell his head then he turned: "Let thy foul banners go forth to battle, ye Balrogs and Orcs; let your black legions go seek the sweeping sword of Turgon. Through the dismal dales you shall be driven wailing like startled starlings from the stooks of wheat. Minions miserable of master base, your doom dread ye, dire disaster! The tide shall turn; your triumph brief and victory shall vanish. I view afar the wrath of the Gods roused in anger."
--from Hurin's response to Morgoth and his evil hoard as they tried to tempt his betrayal of Turgon, from 'The Lay of The Children of Hurin' in The Lays of Beleriand.
12. MOST HORRIBLE REALIZATION OF AN INCESTUOUS DRAGON-SLAYER:
Then Mablung was amazed, and he said: "But some mistake is here. Not such was your sister. She was tall, and her eyes were blue, her hair fine gold, the very likeness in woman's form of Hurin her father. You cannot have seen her!""Can I not, can I not, Mablung?" cried Turin. "But why no! For see, I am blind! Did you not know? Blind, blind, groping since childhood in a dark mist of Morgoth! Therefore leave me! Go, go! Go back to Doriath, and may winter shrivel it! A curse upon Menegroth! And a curse on your errand! This only was wanting. Now comes the night!"
--Turin Turambar as he realizes that his wife is in reality his younger sister, from 'Narn I Hin Hurin', in Unfinished Tales.
13. FACTOIDS LIKELIEST TO INDUCE GRATITUDE FOR NOT BEING A DWARF:
Indeed this strangeness they have that no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf -- unless he were shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame than of many other hurts that to us would seem more deadly. For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male and female alike; nor indeed can their womenkind be discerned by those of other race, be it in feature or in gait or in voice, nor in any wise save this: that they go not to war, and seldom save at direst need issue from their deep bowers and halls. It is said, also, that their womenkind are few, and that save their kings and chieftains few Dwarves ever wed; wherefore their race multiplied slowly, and now is dwindling.
--from the 'Words of Pengolod Concerning the Naugrim' in The War of The Jewels.
14. FACTOIDS LIKELIEST TO INSPIRE A HOLY DESIRE TO SEE THE IMMORTAL AND (ALMOST) AGELESS ELVES:
For the Eldar do indeed grow older, even if slowly: the limit of their lives is the life of Arda, which though long beyond the reckoning of Men is not endless, and ages also. Moreover their body and spirit are not separated but coherent. As the weight of the years, with all their changes of desire and thought, gathers upon the spirit of the Eldar, so do the impulses and moods of their bodies change. This the Eldar mean when they speak of their spirits consuming them; and they say that ere Arda ends all the Eldalie on earth will have become as spirits invisible to mortal eyes, unless they will to be seen by some among Men into whose minds they may enter directly.
--on the relation of the Elvish body, or hroa, with the Elvish soul, or fea, from 'Laws and Customs Among the Eldar', in Morgoth's Ring.
15. MOST WILLIAM-PETER-BLATTY-ESQUE THOUGHTS ON DEAD DARK ELVES:
Some say that the Houseless desire bodies, though they are not willing to seek them lawfully by submission to the judgement of Mandos. The wicked among them will take bodies, if they can, unlawfully. The peril of communing with them is therefore, not only the peril of being deluded by fantasies or lies: there is peril also of destruction. For one of the hungry Houseless, if it is admitted to the friendship of the Living, may seek to eject the fea from its body; and in the contest for mastery the body may be gravely injured, even if it be not wrested from its rightful habitant. Or the Houseless may plead for shelter, and if it is admitted, then it will seek to enslave its host and use both his will and his body for its own purposes.It is said that Sauron did these things, and taught his followers how to achieve them.
--possible explanation of why Sauron was called the Necromancer, from 'Laws and Customs Among the Eldar', in Morgoth's Ring.
Hope you found these tidbits tasty,