The Gifts of the Three Hobbits
A March Mathom
Merry came to me today.
Cousin though he is,
he waited upon me
as even a soldier of Rohan might.
upon his princely helm,
with war-abandon upon
the blood-wine of his breast-plate.*
He tells me of Theoden King.
Both of us know,
what it is to be an orphan
of the heart.
As the tattered grey ending of day
to uncertain night,
he finds himself
still of a soldier's mind,
of a soldier's discipline.
A dull glimmer of tears
stains his cheek
as he kneels before me,
sharp-toothed reminder of Westernesse
within upturned palms.
I touch the bright blade,
remember those whose craft formed it.
Would they be grieved to know it had
as surely as it has drunk blood?
Never again shall it be my part to bear a blade,
nor receive even the promises which might be
upon their fearsome faces.
Grant me only the gift of kings,
the unspoken pledge of you to him,
of he to you:
I wish only for your love. .
For a little while, cousin.
For all the time which is given us.
On a day of sunlight,
Pippin tells me of the siege.
High upon the walls we are,
shards of grey stone
like fallen warriors at our feet.
Even an odd bit of metal glints
amongst the ruin:
a last remainder of a soldier in the Great War.
I close my eyes and wonder what device
upon his helm.
Within my heart, I know it matters not.
It matters not, now, whose blood ran
upon these stones,
it matters not whose life ended within this lonely circle.
Or, perhaps, in mattering not,
most of all.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A wind smelling impossibly of the Sea touches my face.
Pippin is yet speaking,
his voice small and high,
as ever it was.
My thoughts drift along the music of his voice,
following only the sound of his tale,
twisting and spinning like leaves
upon a moon-drenched stream. .
He touches my shoulder,
(from what has become his great height)
to kiss my brow.
Within my hand is his gift to me,
one such as only a hobbit
might think to bestow:
The last of the winter apples.
(and how not long devoured by my small cousin, I cannot say)
They are still sound, Pip.
And ever so sweet.
It is eventide within the Stone-City.
and no lamp within the silence of my room.
Heavy footsteps mar the quiet of the hall-flags..
It is no man that treads thus.
No man should hear these steps, even.
I hear them.
I know them,
though I cannot yet
upon these feet,
by rust-stained windings.
I look, instead, upon simple
into wisdom gleaned from the warmth
of good earth,
into depths unplumbed and quiet,
serene as a summer-hazed river.
I need not hear your story, Sam,
nor speak to you of mine;
I need not shrink from all that you have borne,
nor beg the simple gift of your love.
It is writ there,
in eyes that have seen me
than ever I have seen myself.
Never could you be
for too long,
and so your eyes fill with laughter,
weighted by the small salt
Within the confines of our journey,
have found what I have lost:
You shall know peace,
You shall be whole and well
Whether or no,
shall be all that never more I can be.
*Merry's helm was that of Theoden, when he was yet a young prince of
his people. The blade that he offers to Frodo is his
barrow-sword. I have made free with a "hole" in the story.
In the accounting of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, after Merry
stabs the Witch-King, the text reads:
"....there lay his weapon, but the blade was smoking like a dry branch
that has been thrust into a fire; and as he watched it, it writhed and
withered and was consumed"
In my fancy, only the blade was destroyed: the hilt remained and
was reforged for Merry, who certainly had cause to have great fondness
for this sword.
Did this really happen? I think not, for in the book, the next line reads, "So passed the sword of the Barrow-Downs...."
The survival of this sword is only a fancy of mine, the use of which I hope you will forgive