‘I have had a dream, Father…’
Denethor’s thin white hands tightened on the
polished black armrests of his high seat in the hall of the Stewards.
Through the windows high up in the arched roof the last light of a
bright winter afternoon was streaming in molten bars….
‘Why are you here?’ demanded the Steward. His
voice was shrill, but not from indignation that Faramir should return
to the City unbidden; Denethor was afraid…
Faramir did not flinch at his father’s tone.
Instead there was in his face only sorrow, and pain. He walked forward
quietly and slowly, holding himself proudly as he always did before his
father, even though he was often only called into Denethor’s presence
to receive a reprimand. Under their high winged black helmets the Tower
Guard glanced at him in apprehension. Rumour had preceded Faramir....
‘I have dreamed about Boromir, Father. I have dreamed of my brother…’
Denethor did not answer. Faramir saw his father struggle to compose himself. At last he said;
‘What was this dream?’
Faramir continued to approach the seat of the
Stewards, until he was standing before Denethor. Then he knelt and took
one of his father’s hands. Denethor looked at his son in astonishment
but did not take his hand away or reproach Faramir. He saw tears in his
son’s eyes. His question died on his lips.
‘It was two nights ago, I had a dream…’
Faramir stopped as if the memory alone struck
him dumb. But Denethor, remembering suddenly the day word had been
brought to him in this very hall that Faramir had been taken by orcs,
said in a choked voice;
It was that very dream he had the night he
had been brought back to Minas Tirith, rescued from captivity with the
orcs. In all the years, growing up and training to arms, Faramir had
never forgotten it. Nor had he spoken of it. And two nights ago he had
had the same dream once again….
It was evening, or even night, but a mist
hung on the river that extinguished all brightness, starlight or
moonlight, and replaced it with a ghostly glow. It was cold, a bitter
frost biting to the bone, but Faramir stood without cloak or hood
listening to the river. A keening sound, like the cry of a bird echoed
across the calm dark water. And out of the mist a boat came gliding.
Faramir gazed at it and it seemed to stay its course and turn towards
him. He waded into the river, ignoring the freezing cold, and the boat
seemed to answer his approach and edge in his direction. It passed
through a stand of reeds, and Faramir saw on its prow elvish runes and
knew it was an Elven boat. It slowed and drifted and Faramir peered
forward then stepped back with a cry….
In the boat lay his brother, Boromir, dead.
On his chest his cold hands were clasped round the hilt of his great
sword. In his lap lay his great horn, its inlaid silver chasing
gleaming in the cold light. Round his neck was the silver circlet he
wore, linked greyhounds still raced round the bright border of his
great round shield, laid at his head. His long hair, dewed with river
mist, was arrayed on his shoulders. Faramir looked into the face, and
it was still and pale, shadowed and unmoving. Not a breath, not a
flicker of eye or hand. Faramir, as he had done the first time this
dream visited him so many years before, gave a cry of dismay and
stepped forward. He plunged downward into icy water, and the boat, like
a startled deer, surged away out into the river, where it resumed its
slow drift downstream….
‘Enough!’ shouted Denethor, springing to his feet and breaking the spell, making Faramir stumble backwards in shock.
‘No more, unfaithful son!’ the Steward cried, holding out a hand as if to ward off the onslaught of some evil...
‘Father…’ Faramir began in protest, but Denethor, white with rage, kept his hand held out in rejection of his son and shouted;
‘Lies! This is no vision, it is all lies! Out
of your own cowardice and envy of your brother you have dreamed this up
to shake my resolve to make Gondor strong….’
Denethor descended the three low steps from
his Steward’s chair, advancing on Faramir, who retreated before him, as
if he would strike him. Instead he wounded him with words….
‘Never have you equalled Boromir in arms, or
in mastery of your men. Now when all wonder where he is you invent this
evil tale to dishearten me and our people….’
‘No!’ Faramir managed at last to speak. ‘No, Father…’
‘Do not speak!’ screamed Denethor. ‘You have no words that can convince me…’
‘If not words, then…’ said Faramir in tears ‘..will you believe this?’
And Faramir drew from under his cloak an
object muffled in black cloth. Denethor was struck silent, staring at
it with wild eyes. Faramir fumbled with the silk ribbon that bound the
bundle and his trembling fingers lost their grip and down at the feet
of the Steward in sight of his guards and his younger son there fell
the Horn of Gondor, that Denethor had borne and his ancestors before
him, and that his son Boromir had taken with him on leaving Minas
Only this was not the horn that Boromir had
carried away with him; this was two shards held together by twisted
silver chasing, scratched and splintered. The silken cord was torn
apart and the smooth surface of the horn, polished as ivory, was scored
Without saying anything, Denethor reached out
a shaking hand and seized the horn, pulling it from Faramir’s grasp
with surprising strength. He gazed into Faramir’s eyes and whispered;
‘Where did you get this?’
‘Some nights ago….’ stammered Faramir. ‘…it was found in the reeds of the southern washes of the river….’
But Denethor had ceased to listen. He sank
back in his chair as if his legs could no longer hold him up. He
cradled the shards of the horn and stared out into space, looking
through and past his younger son. Faramir went to speak but his father
said, in tones high and shrill;
‘Leave me!’ the voice startled the guards.
Faramir went to approach his father but Denethor raised a thin white
hand as if to push him away and said in a breaking voice;
‘Have you not done enough harm? Get out of my sight….’
Faramir stepped back, bending his head so the
guards would not see his tears. He turned and hurried out of the hall,
almost running the last few yards through the colonnaded hall where the
statues of the Kings of Gondor watched with stone faces….
As the moon rose that night and its deathly
cold light spilled into the inner quadrangle of the Citadel Denethor
walked with head high but eyes unseeing across to the Treasure Tower.
If any saw him they themselves could not be seen. For yet another time
Denethor put the crystal key in the great iron lock and turned it, and
ascended the cracked and chipped stone stairs. He uncovered the orb and
sat down heavily to gaze into its depths. Lights sprang up and swirled
round. He waited for them to die down, and when they did, dots of red
fire appeared and gradually resolved themselves into a shape. A great
‘Tell me, and do not spare me.’ cried Denethor the Steward.
‘..is my son Boromir alive or dead?’ There was no reply and Denethor cried in anguish;
‘Tell me, black oracle!’
The eye did not seem to hear and for many
heartbeats there was no answer. Then a voice, deep and grating, said
with cruel gratification;
‘Denethor, Steward of Gondor, your son Boromir is indeed slain….’
Denethor bowed his head and his shoulders shook. He forced himself to speak.
The lights swirled again in the orb, and the Voice said;
‘You wish to know how Boromir of Gondor met
his doom? Attend then, and watch the glass and do not look away. Watch,
And looking deep into the orb Denethor saw
dimly at first then clearly a forest glade, and winter sunlight falling
through the trees. There was a hill, its slopes clothed with beeches,
their leaves thick upon the ground. On top of the hill was a structure,
a great stone chair protected by winged statues. From this height could
be seen all the realm of Rhovanion, and even beyond…Denethor recognised
the place, although he had only seen it once before, a long time ago….
‘Amon Hen!’ he gasped.
‘How long is it since you saw Frodo last, Boromir?’ asked Aragorn.
‘Half an hour, maybe.’ He answered. ‘Or it might be an hour. I have wandered for some time since he vanished…..’
JJR Tolkien; The Fellowship of The Ring
Boromir sat up and brushed the leaves from
his cloak. What was he doing here? He got to his feet, wondering at the
dizzy, weak feeling that ran through him. Was this some nightmare? But
then he remembered, all at once, and groaned. This was no dream; he had
attacked Frodo, tried to take the Ring, and had fallen…
All around him bright winter sunshine
streamed through the bare branches of the beech trees. It was as warm
as spring but Boromir felt cold. In spite of the black cloak he had
worn from Minas Tirith and the grey-silver Elven cloak that he had
already found was deceptively warm, he felt a chill strike to his
For he had broken his word, and his oath as
one of the Fellowship. He had attacked the one he had vowed to protect,
Frodo. He was a traitor.
For a moment Boromir bowed his head in the
bright glade and despair overcame him. Above all he wondered why he had
done it. His mind could not concentrate, but was distracted by the song
of birds in the woods below. He listened and found himself heartened by
the sound and he suddenly realised that a great weight was gone from
his mind; the endless pull and drag of The Ring. It had left him and
Boromir at once seemed to see everything that
had happened to him since he had gone to Rivendell clearly for the
first time. He saw, as if in a dream, his outburst at the Council. He
wondered how could he have been so foolish? Elrond spoke wisdom, yet he
would not listen. And Aragorn; now he saw clearly Aragorn was no rival
but his brother. Boromir sighed; had he come to wisdom too late?
Now the Ring meant nothing to him. Such was
its sorcery; it fed on his fears, even his love for his city, then when
he failed it, the Ring moved on.
But where was he to go now? As if debating
with an unseen listener, Boromir raised his hands and shrugged. But
then he started off down the hill; it was not in him to despair, nor
try to avoid the consequences of what he had done. He had to brace
himself to bear the reprimand of Aragorn, and the contempt of the
Fellowship. If he could brave death in battle he could brave reproach….
A strange silence had fallen on the woods as
he made his way down the hill. He stopped once or twice to listen;
where was Frodo? Boromir considered searching for him but realised
sadly that the hobbit would only flee if he saw him, and he did not
want to cause Frodo any more pain. But these woods lay too close to
danger, and Boromir feared that Frodo might fly blindly into some
Suddenly Boromir’s foot struck a stone step.
He raised his head and looked up and saw a carved staircase winding up
the hillside, its steps covered with moss and vines, cracked and
broken. A figure stood at the top, and Boromir started violently, then
relaxed as he realised it was just a statue, one of the many stone
images of the Kings of Gondor that were scattered about this land.
On impulse Boromir walked up the steps and
looked into the face of the statue. Orcs had defiled it long ago,
gouging out its eyes and breaking off its hands. It stood gazing
sightlessly down towards the Anduin, a sad remnant of the glory of
Gondor. A pang of terrible sadness assailed Boromir; he knew now beyond
all hope that he would never see the White City again. His father’s
pride was his life; how could he return and tell him his eldest son had
failed and disgraced himself?
Boromir brushed away a tear and continued up
the staircase. That was the great failing of their house, he thought
angrily; pride. Perhaps Faramir had been right all along….
Faramir. He would not have done this.
Faramir, always thinking and questioning before acting. He would not
have tried to take the Ring. Boromir reached the top of the staircase
and thought; perhaps….but perhaps he would have.
‘Better I perish than you, little brother….’
Boromir said out loud, and the words were caught by a sudden breeze and
carried away across a bright clearing on the top of the hill towards
the West and Boromir was suddenly filled with a great love for his
brother, and sadness that Faramir would never know…..
A raven sailed overhead and Boromir looked up
quickly. Perhaps Faramir would know. The heart had a way of making
Ravens! Birds of wizardry and omens. His gaze
dropped down and he realised he was standing in a wide stone circle in
the midst of which stood a raised throne carved out of black marble. A
flight of broad black steps led up to it and it rested on a dais, the
armrests borne by two sphinxes, gazing out over all the land of
Boromir gasped; only now did he realise that
he had ascended Amon Hen, and from this vantage point all Middle Earth
seemed to be visible, although his mind told him it was no more than
part of a river valley and the foothills of the Mountains of Shadow.
No, the world lay below him….
As if impelled by some force beyond him, but
not like the Ring, Boromir approached the Seat of Seeing, the ancient
place where the Kings of Gondor came to gain foresight and wisdom, and
placed his foot on the bottom step.
‘No!’ he said aloud to himself. ‘This place is for the Kings only, none other may look out from Amon Hen…..’
It is for Aragorn only, his heart told him,
bitter as it was for him to admit it. For once he had thought the house
of Denethor was worthy to be kings...but no longer. Now he saw Aragorn
differently. How he wished he could let him know! Suddenly Boromir’s
gaze fell on the sunwarmed stone and he saw a footstep, a damp trace on
the stair. He quickly bent down; it was a hobbit’s footstep! He looked
round wildly. Frodo had been here….
Boromir went to retrace his steps but
suddenly halted. It was useless to follow the hobbit. If Frodo saw him
coming he would put on the Ring again, to the ruin, perhaps, of them
all. He sighed. He must let Frodo go, wherever he would….
He turned back and looked up at the sphinxes.
So, he thought; Frodo had gone up to the Seat of Seeing. What had he
seen? Curiosity seized Boromir. He felt a strange peace. If he could
see what Frodo had seen, he might understand….he straightened up and
walking proudly, like the son of the Steward of Gondor, he went up the
long flight of steps and sat on the wide stone seat.
At first he saw nothing but the sun on the
river and the wide blue sky, with a silver mantle of cloud settled on
the peaks of the Mountains of Shadow. The sun was warm, he felt
Now he saw horsemen galloping on a plain;
they were not of Gondor, they bore flags with white horses on green
silk and a king rode at their head, white-haired but warlike. Boromir’s
hands clenched the armrests; beside the king rode Aragorn. All around
was a sea of foes and Boromir’s heart grew cold; was this the end of
Then the scene changed; he saw a wide bleak
ravine with two weary figures struggling through the ashen landscape.
He gave a cry; it was Frodo, not the hale and cheerful hobbit he knew,
but a pale haunted wretch, helped along by Sam. Even Sam seemed half
dead….Boromir was aghast and leaned forward, striving to see more
closely; to see Frodo’s face….
But he could not. What he saw was a great
bleak hillside making the tiny figures insignificant, and from the top
of the peaks a red glare. Without looking directly at it Boromir knew
that was the Eye of Sauron.
All at once Boromir was filled with a
dreadful realisation of what Frodo had gone through bearing the Ring.
The tiny figure, half spent on a burning landscape, was the final
truth. Boromir realised what Frodo had done by taking the Ring, and by
resisting him when he tried to snatch it away. Frodo had saved him.
Hardly had he realised it when the scene
changed again, and he saw Merry and Pippin. They were running, pursued
by something he could not see. Was the Fellowship scattered then, and
on account of him? Before Boromir had time to wonder they faded and
disappeared, and he saw an orc camp, great orcs larger than any he had
seen fighting with the armies of Gondor. And one of these giant orcs
rose and went away from the camp fire and picked up what looked like a
torn blue jacket. The jacket squirmed and protested, and he saw it was
a hobbit, Merry. The orc struck the hobbit, and Boromir saw blood on
He leaped from the Seat with a wild yell of
anger, and found himself standing in the sunlight at the foot of the
staircase. He could not remember descending the steps. He was shaking,
and had drawn his sword. But all around was nothing but the sunwarmed
trees and the wide blue sky. The breeze fanned his cheek, and he heard
'If you would undo the damage you have done, follow them now....'
Not Gandalf! he could not be sure...but the
voice was right. The Seat showed only what might occur....the death of
Aragorn in battle... the end of Frodo and Sam in Mordor...the slaying
of Merry and Pippin by orcs....all this he could prevent. Perhaps.
Possessed now not by the Ring but by hope Boromir bounded down the
steps from the high hill of Amon Hen, and almost at once heard the
sound of a chase through the trees below...