Rivendell Suite

- jan-u-wine

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1.


I am not
a lad
anymore.


Not a lad
who

laughs

merely
because

the sun is
especially

golden,

or the sky
danc'd

with lamb-clouds,

or the
stars

holding to their stations

with twinkled
abandon.

Not a lad
who counts

the mud of a country lane,
clinging

fast
to road-weary feet,

as something of a prize,

nor a night spent
within the forest's

bold roots,
an earnest of grand adventure.


But
my heart

has not forgot those
small

things,

nor
a voice,

its slow cadence
threading me

with wonder,
the echoes of it

holding me quietly
in place

yet
placing my feet

with simple surety
upon a larger

Road.

And when I see him,
there,

so small
(or have I grown

that
much larger?)

when

I see
him....

Nearly do I
break

beneath the weight
of memory.

Age has caught him up,

and I cannot smooth away
with my hand

the lines of it upon his face,
nor calm my own fear

at the fragile beat of his heart
against mine

as he holds me as he used to.

When I was a lad,
he held me

thus,

when I was a lad,
frightened and oddly alone.

Oh, uncle,

cousin.

I am
but a lad

again.


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2
.


Nothing of Home
there was,

nothing,
when first I woke.

Only
autumn-honey'd light,

its odd-amber clarity

pushing
shadows from me.

Between one instant
and the next,

I recollected

who
I might be

and where.

Each moment,
then,

might well have been
but

the tumbled turnings
of a dreme,

wonderful
and yet far-away.


Somehow,
they seemed not to touch me,

have aught to do with me,
nor I with them.

With no small shock,
I find Uncle's book

within
my hands.

Uncle's book,
smelling of midnight ink

and fine-wrought parchment.

Uncle's book,

the red of its binding
battered by time and adventure,

the star upon its face
........fading.

Yet
all of Home waits within,

Uncle's tale spinning out,
twining his story to mine,

swords and dwarves,
dragons and hoards,

Elves.....

and

magik
Rings....
 


My fingers touch the name
of each beloved place,

falling at last
upon the imagined green of the Hill,

the brass-bound door closing,

warm
behind me,

the roots of the roof-tree
burnished and familiar,

the fire orange-eyed and dying
within the study's rounded hearth.


As if I had only now come back to myself,
I feel my heart beating fast in my throat:

It is all still there:
Home,

there,

and not just
within

the seeming-silent pages
of this book.

I might never
explain

to Uncle
the yearning

that finds me, then,
(a piercing as
 
sharp and sudden
as ever that other blade was),
 
I cannot explain why
 
pain and joy
fill me at the sight
 
of the less-than precise
scrawl of the map,
 
mushroom-cap forests
lying hard by

sleeping-giant's-knees
of mountains,

wave-capped pool
meeting baste-stitchery
of the road.
 
Wonderful,
I think,
 
tears risen tight within my throat,
my mind awash with the simple
 
beauty of Home.
 
And the words leave my tongue
before ever I knew,
 
even,
that they were there:
 
It's wonderful.
 
And so it is.
 
wonder full.


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3.

There are no coverings to the arch of door
or window

here.

No keeping out
(or in) 

the small sounds contained
within night's dark fist,

the clear, sweet smell of dawn,
the cold

sluice
of grey rain,

the wandering finger-breaths of
gentle,

strayed wind.

I know them all now,

such things as might travel
freely

through the unguarded air.

I know them all,

wraiths
of many a night

spent watchful
and silence-struck. 

In the black pockets of those nights,
when I imagine, even, the stars have gone out, 

vanished,
(like melted diamond-ice)
from the swaddling of the sky, 

in
those moments when sound becomes

loud
for its very lack...

in those moments,
I have taken to visiting my Lord's library,

(as he said I might). 

I do not feel small there,

small
and adrift upon a current

which
I cannot alter
for all my trying.

Ancient maps of Elvish device
weight the stand before me,

parchment yellow and curling
beneath silver'd runes,

jewel'd markers of places
long vanished from mortal eyes.

All the tales of the Ages are here, 

open and simple,

all spun and told within the wandering
tracery of boundary,

border,
mountain,

Sea.


And in the midst of all,
my heart quieted and

near-crushed with the very

largeness
of what is before me, 

a scroll of no great size
falls open.


In the space of a breath,
my mind lends

form
to ink'd lines,

my feet deep
in the down-fine
dust of Shire lanes, 

the rich tea-scent of
autumn leaves filling

my nose,

the  pleasant dark bite
of bitter ale

cold
and crisp
at the back of my throat.


And the maps of other lands,

the lined stories of people
and places

which are not Home,
fall,

without note,
upon the floor. 

I do not see them any longer,
my fingers tracing,

instead,
the line of Road and River,

March and Marish,

Hill and 'Hallow. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I do not believe
that ever I understood myself
before now.

Now,
upon this autumn balcony, 

Uncle's book open within my hands,

Uncle's voice
(trembling with time)

speaking still of storied places,

places
he shall never see again,

places which even now
his adventurous

heart
yearns for. 

And even while I love him
for all that he was

and is,

even while his voice yet dances
and weaves his longing about me,

even while
my eyes fill with fond tears

for the knowing of him,

I know, too, with finality,
my own self.

I am still
naught

but the orphan-hearted lad who came,
once upon a harvest-time,

to live beneath a Hill....... 


All else,

all else is but far-off dreme
and empty story,

legends writ upon scrolls
my heart should ne'er understand.


Never shall I have
an adventure

as you did, Uncle,

an Adventure
that I might

wrap
within bright words

and tell, sing-song,
to the little ones

on a summer's eve.

My adventure.

It is...

different
from yours,

Uncle.

As different as myself.

I'm not like you, Bilbo.

I am not like you at all.

--
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4.

          Autumn-tide
in the Last Homely House
                east     
           of the Sea.

Autumn-tide,
leaves falling gold-red and

snow-drifted
beyond the rounded
gate,

great blue-tumbled sky-bowl
embracing

a season-weary Sun.


In another time,

an Age of Adventure simple
and unlooked-for,

I should have walked within
this deep-tangled forest,

wove tales beneath stars

strayed

from Elbereth's diadem'd
netting,

sought tail-tipped fox
in their dens of night,

parted lofty mist-curtains
with hands

burdened with naught worse
than

wonder.


Such
is not the time
given me.

*****************************

I am fearful
among

this gathering of the mighty and the wise.

Even the road-scarred and weary Ranger,
a King of ancient House,

even the stone-plain dwarf,
blood-kin to the Seven Fathers.

I listen as the great tale
spins out,

my heart at once joyous and
shadowed

with the largeness of it all,
the sound of my own blood

beating
in my ears

at the dreaded thought of what my part
might be.


Muted words reach me,
pressing....


pressing
with parts equal

of release
and desperate desire.


He is calling for It.

The Lord of Rivendell
summons forth

the Ring.


Never before
in my small life

have I known such
division

of spirit,

of thought,
of needful deed.

As if I had been asked to wait,
naked,

(and more than naked)
before a company of strangers,

I find my feet.

The sweet-dark touch of Its whisper falls upon my ear.

Almost beyond me, the resolve to step forward,
all but impossible,

the will to let go of It,
abandon

It to the gaze of these others.

But so I do,
Its voice

twining to me,

Its warm weight
still imagined upon my palm,

desire sharp and prism'd as a
bone-nicked blade

rising alongside loathing.


A voice, then,

a
voice

born of flesh,
the sound of it

falling heavy
and dull as a blunt'd
sword-stroke upon my ear.

The man of Gondor.

In my heart,
I know:

already It calls him.

Already
It promises

that all shall be as once it was:

his people, bold and bright,
noble, true,

his city,
shining beneath a Sun

of gold,

his father.....
returned to him

healed and whole.


I know what it is to lose a father,
a home,

a life-book.


It does not surprise me
that a warrior's hand,

a son's hand,

darkened by the road
and whatever blood it has shed,

driven by despair and desire
in harsh and equal measure,

reaches out.....

The light leaves the world,
then,

foul words
like the wings
of some carrion bird

beating against the doors of my heart,
stripping me of all but horror.


In the midst of it all,
two voices twine,

the forging of my fate captured between them.


Unlooked for,
these words,

erasing even
the memory of

good
from the world.

Unlooked for,
the mouth which utters them.

And....

the Other voice.....
answering with joy
the evil call of those word-sounds,

Its veiled whispers
running like night
within me,

starless night,
foul and triumphant.


______________________________

There is light
and sound

again
within this glade of autumn.

From far away, birds call,
their small music

a comfort to me.

The sky is yet cloud-wisp'd
and harvest-tide blue,

the Sun warm and winking in Her place.


Fair autumn stays,
still, in this haven of the Eldar.

The winter-wolves of war
have not yet breached

the amber of these spell-woven gates.

Many words, then,
the endless count of them

rising,
bound about by the fury
of an angry pride,

long-held fear
over-borne, in the ending,
by love turned to hope-less

despair.



            Estel



He that my Lord well-named speaks.

Quieted with simple truth,
his words,

grim
with the burden'd inheritance,

the fearful choices
which shall be his.


His destiny,
twined to this thing of gold,

awaits.

Estel

There is yet
Hope.


Continued, from Aragorn's point of view, in Hope Enjoined.

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5. 

 
Drowned Númenor delivered him up,
a King,
 
noble, fair.....
 
A King, with all his house and people,
fleeing before the angry breath of the Sea.
 
In the courtyard of his exile,
the seedling of Nimloth grew,
 
ancient silver'd light
fading
 
beneath the wheel
of years.
 
In memory only,
now,
 
it blossoms,
the snow-white
 
of it recalling
hope to us.
 
 
Isildur.
 
Grand-sire of my House,
what evil
 
worked its will within
a once-fair heart, ...
 
what
darkness
 
led us to this fated day?
 
 
I need not ask.
 
There It stays,
radiant.
 
Like a smooth-limb'd
bride It lies,
 
honey'd whispers
touching my ear
 
with golden promise,
 
black malice
immeasurable.
 
Here, in this glade of Autumn,
at last I find pity
 
for him.
 
His House,
 
my House,
shall bear this dishonour
no longer.
 
Were-gild,
device of Evil,
 
flower of Sauron,
 
call out,
please,
 
call out to your Master.
 
Sing in the darkness,
false-gold.
 
Whisper your last promises
to ears that shall be
 
shut
against you.
 
Not by ancient axe
shall you be destroyed,
 
not by Dwarf
or Elf
 
or Man.
 
Hope
 
Within this unbroken circle,
foretold,
 
it stands forth.
 
Our Hope
shall be your doom.

 
 
  
Author's Note:

 
The filmed scene of COE, while filled with beauty, nevertheless frustrated me, making me long for the restoration of book passages that were changed or even omitted for the sake of expediency. In this poem, I hope to redress one such omission.
 
In the EE version of FOTR, Boromir is given part of his book speech: "In a dream, I saw the eastern sky grow dark. But in the West a pale light lingered. A voice was crying, "Your doom is near at hand. Isildur's Bane is found." But he is not given the rest of it, the riddle, the verse-prophecy that mentions the "Halfling" that "forth shall stand". If he had, the dynamic between Film Boromir and Film Frodo, to my mind, would have been altered (as well as the dynamic between Boromir and Aragorn). Boromir would have realized that *this*, the hobbit standing before him, was the Halfling long foretold, and not just some short fellow of little import who held, by mere 'chance', a Very Important Trinket.
 
In writing the last two entries for "Rivendell Suite", I wanted to bring that wonderful bit of Tolkien's writing back into focus, as well as point up the shared destinies of Aragorn and Frodo, not just as soldiers in the Great War, but, really, as "hope" in Middle Earth.*
 
Let us praise Master Tolkien with great praise, and re-read his wonderful "riddle" of the Ring:

 

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.

* "Hope", Estel, is the name given to Aragorn by Elrond at the time of his fostering. In an earlier draft of LotR, (The History of Middle-earth, vol. IX, Sauron Defeated: "Many Partings," p. 62), Gandalf names Frodo Bronwe Athan Harthad, "Endurance beyond Hope".



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6.

Not long past,
(or so it seems
to me....)

not long past,
my own Adventure;

the feel of it,
the sound,

and smell,

the taste

and sight.....

the
touch


of it all,
still running,

bright

through memory's
gate.


The Dúnadan
(who, of late,
has been more the practiced King

and less my road-tracked Ranger)
no longer meets my eye at table.

And I know

this
is no Adventure.

From this,
the lad I have loved
as my own may not return.

Despair
visits me,

hard fingers
pressing,

cold as a winter'd Sea,
upon my heart.

If he should be lost...... 

My breath halts within me.

If
he were lost, 

I should never know it.

~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On a day that smells of snow,
I visit his chamber.

Maps,
noted by his own hand,

overflow the table,
rest with wind-whisked leaves upon the floor.

A winter cloak, new made and
darkly furred,
waits upon a leaf-figured hook.

A prince of another Age,
he seems to me then.

A prince
alone

upon the eve of battle,
the grey light of day

turning to fine silver
the sheen of fear upon his brow.

For this last time,
I shall be, again, the Squire.

His squire.

No faunt is he,
tale-shuttered eyes

falling
to dremes,

no tween of curious feet
and eager heart.

No matter.

He is, still,
my lad.

The gifts of my heart
ever

has he owned.

All that remains,

now,
are the gifts of my hand.

And so they pass on,
as ever they were meant to,

storied true-silver and rune-writ blade

hidden
beneath a road-worn tunic.

I shall expect you to keep a journal,
my lad.

I shall expect you
to keep......

yourself.

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7.


How dear the gift.
 
How ever so much
 
dearer,
the giver.
 
* * * * * * * * * * * *
 
Light borrowed from
bright Telumehtar*
runs upon the curvéd leaf
 
of the blade,
shimmers
 
with soft,
certain
 
challenge.
 
And the shadows
yet waiting
 
upon the dawn,
retreat to hidden
corners,
 
night'd fingers
fallen away to all but
 
blacken'd fringes of memory.
 
 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
 
The bells of drowned Númenor,
those small,
 
silver-fine voices
which now
 
live
beneath a quieting
Sea....
 
those bells
might have sounded
thus,
 
the fragile chime of them
twined to the adamant of
 
Gil-Estel's pearl'd
beacon.**
 
True-silver,
 
the lightness of it twin
to the new-forged lacing
lying chill
against
 
my throat.
 
I shall not feel
such
 
a fool
if this.....
 
skin......
of an Elven princeling
 
stays next to mine,
 
its radiance
sheathed
 
beneath
the  plain curtaining
of the Shire.
 
 
My fingers
close
 
upon the familar faces
of round buttons,
 
eager about their task
of re-dress.
 
How
I should like
 
to remove
It
 
along with the linen of my shirt,
not know the slide of It over
 
the tight pulse of my heart,
no longer hear Its sullying-sweet
half-whispers.
 
Alongside
the memory
of those foul voicings,
 
another rises.
 
It is all of Home to me,
this voice,
 
it is all I may never know again.
 
But,
oh,
 
it speaks not of Home,
this voice,
 
it offers nothing of comfort,
of peace,
 
or hope.
 
Like a hard hand upon my throat,
this voice,
 
this voice,
with its.....
 
question.
 
 
And I cannot see,
longer,
 
I cannot
 
see
him.
 
Nothing
remains
 
save
a foul
 
creature,
its dark and blackened
mouth.....
 
mouthing
words I will myself
 
not
to understand,
 
its fingers reaching.......
 
 
I see.
 
Prism'd within eyes
maddened
 
with blood,
 
 
I see
 
myself.
 
I see how
 
our end
shall be.
 
 _____________________________________________
 
 
*also known as "The Swordsman of the Sky", this is the star group that appears as Frodo encounters Gildor and his company in the Woody End upon his departure from the Shire. This star grouping had a huge signifcance for the Elves: placed in the night sky by Elbereth, it symbolizes eternal guardianship (from the evil of Melkor) of the World, even unto the Last Battle. Source: Encyclopedia of Arda (Menelvagor).
 
**Another in the pantheon of stars, it made its appearance soon after Eärendil and Elwing departed across the Sea. In reality, its light was that of the Silmaril which Eärendil had bound upon his brow. The rising of this star was taken by the Elves as a sign that the Valar yet cared about the fate of the Outer Lands. The name "Gil-Estel" means "Star of Hope". 

Source:  Encyclopedia of Arda (Gil-Estel) 

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8.

How well I remember
when he was
 
but
a lad.
 
How
 
he loved
all
the small and simple
 
vestments of the world,
 
how
 
he would stand,
amazed,
 
at the enchanted
winking
 
of a star,
or
 
still his breath,
 
in favour
of the linnet's
sweet song.
 
Oh, my lad.
 
It is no longer
given me
 
to hold you fast
against
 
all that dwells within
the shadow'd night,
 
nor
even
 
from that which yet
lives
 
beneath the Sun's golden
circle.
 
 
Within
that circle,
 
dying,
like this day,
 
It
glints,
 
lying close about your throat,
 
like the thief
It is.
 
 
Remember that, my lad:
 
It
is the thief,
the lie-monger,
 
the remover
of life.
 
Remember
this
 
moment,
 
when I have changed
before
your eyes,
 
and you,
 
forever,
before mine.
 
 
Remember me,
my son-who-never-was,
 
my lad-that-should-have-been.
 
Give me your hand,
 
 
Promise
we shall
 
say
"fare well"
 
in tomorrow's grey dawn
and not
 
farewell.
 
Say that you
forgive
 
me.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Never should I begin
to repay
 
the indebtedness
of my heart
 
or know,
even,
 
the reckoning
of so large
 
a bond.
 
These well may be
our
 
last moments
together.
 
And he bows his head,
(Uncle),
 
who has always been so
proud,
 
he
bows his head,
 
(cousin)
 
and begs my forgiveness.
 
With all my heart,
cousin,

uncle,

friend.

With all my heart.

Namárië.

Fare well. 




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