Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Book Six

with 6 comments

Tonight I followed Sam and Frodo from the tower of Citrith Ungol to the Sammath Naur.

I have been reading the LOTRs in new fashion with this reading. Proceeding at a slow march, with each sentence I have reigned myself in to really listen to the details; to laugh at the humor instead of bounding ahead. And you know what? It is a fabulous story, full of rich details to linger over. This is hardly the first time I’ve ventured through the books but as I write this I sit, still taken by the swirl of the story.

What I’ve enjoyed the most this time through are the quiet vignettes. I find that Tolkien is a master of pace if I will slow my reading enough to hear it. Sam and Frodo struggle across the innards of Mordor with toil and growing despair. As Sam’s deeply loved pots were cast into a fissure with a clattering, empty finality, cast off because all hope of returning was lost; I felt in myself the death-knell to Sam’s heart: the anguish of the moment, infused in such a small detail.

I was particularly taken with the section below tonight. (Those interested can click on the link to read it.)

This passage seems to me a thing of beauty. (For those less familiar with the books, this passage comes before the above mentioned.)

Sam struggled with his own weariness, and he took Frodo’s hand; and there he sat silent till deep night fell. Then at last, to keep himself awake, he crawled from the hiding-place and looked out. The land seemed full of creaking and cracking and sly noises, but there was no sound of voice or of foot. Far above the Ephel Duath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. 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. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master’s, ceased to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo’s side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep.

(The Lord of the Rings, Book Six)


Written by furthermusings

November 22, 2003 at 12:37 am

Posted in Reflections, Reviews

6 Responses

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  1. Whoo-hoo! A Tolkien thread!

    So you’re trying to not be hasty (hrm hoom) as you read the book? (he he! sorry, couldn’t help it)

    We’ve been re-reading it here also – out loud of course. I’ve been more emotional on this reading than most others, nearly coming to tears when the Rohirrim blow their horns before the battle of the Pelannor (sp?). And I knew it was coming!

    Hey Andy, care to share some of the cool stuff you noticed this time that you haven’t caught before?

    Lee Nickles

    November 22, 2003 at 5:11 pm

  2. okay Andy, now be honest: what number is this reading? 🙂


    November 22, 2003 at 5:42 pm

  3. Sure! The quote in the entry is definitely one I hadnt noticed before.

    Another thing is that I am laughing at Sam. The one thing that Peter Jackson, the apostate filmmaker, has done for me is force me to look for the humor that is the hobbits. For example: after Gollum assails Frodo and Sam on the slopes of Mt. Doom Sam stays behind to finish off Gollum. As Frodo climbs up to the Cracks of Doom Gollum begs Sam for his life. After masterful and intense writing describing the inner conflict facing him, Sam tries to find words to express all the complicated emotions attributed to him by Tolkien. What comes out is

    ’Oh, curse you, you stinking thing!’ he said. ‘Go Away! Be Off! I dont trust you, not as far as I could kick you; but be off. Or I shall hurt you, yes with nasty cruel steel.’

    It just made me laugh. The words are so simple and are a really light hearted contrast.

    That’s just one thing but I appreciated it. Yourself?


    November 22, 2003 at 5:54 pm

  4. To be honest I would say as a complete reading this is probably number 10. As a young, foolish lad I read several times (6-10 readings) where I skipped over the parts that followed Sam and Frodo. I thought they were boring. One of the reasons I am really enjoying this reading is that I have lingered with them and their journey.


    November 22, 2003 at 5:59 pm

  5. One thing that stood out more to me was Gollum’s sense of humor. He’s really quite ironic, such as calling Faramir and his men ‘very just’ when capturing him for trying to catch fish to eat.

    Lee Nickles

    December 1, 2003 at 7:17 am

  6. Beautiful post and a wonderful reminder of what good literature has to offer us. Tolkien’s mastery of imagery and intimate details has an incredible ability to remind us of those small details that truly matter to us… those glimmers of hope that prevail over our lonely hearts and broken spirits. Thanks for the post and perhaps one day I will read the whole series!


    September 6, 2011 at 10:31 pm

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