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'In Eressea, in Elvenhome that no man can discover, Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!'

squire
Half-elven


Feb 22 2013, 8:08pm


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'In Eressea, in Elvenhome that no man can discover, Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!' [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with your interpretation that when Legolas says "deep in the hearts of all my kindred lies the sea-longing", he isn't actually longing for the sea, but rather wants to cross it to another land featuring trees, etc. But if we didn't know this from other contextual information in the book, we could easily be confused here. After all, he is actually saying that he wants to see the Sea and live either on it or beside it. In my first few reads of the book, I definitely remember being stumbling on this point, so that when later he skips off down the slope in Ithilien singing

"To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,
The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.
West, west away, the round sun is falling.
Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling.
The voices of my people that have gone before me?
I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me;
For our days are ending and our years failing.
I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing.
Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,
Sweet are the voices in the Lost Isle calling,
In Eressea, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,
Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!"

And so singing Legolas went away down the hill. (LotR VI.4)

I as a kid thought he was heading for the Sea that moment!

One point this quote brings to my attention, and that is the idea that all the Elves still living in Middle-earth in the Third Age (the time of LotR) seek to cross the Sea so they can live on the Enchanted Isle, Tol Eressea, so-called Elvenhome. That is a different place than Valinor, which is inland on the westward side of the Pelori Mountains. Why don't they want to go further west, to the final home of the Valar where the Vanyar and once the Noldor lived in bliss (before the Silmarils incident)? It's not clear to my memory, at least, whether it is ever said why and when the destination of Elves from the Mortal Lands became the Isle, and not the Western Land itself.

In any case, we see from Legolas' song that the Isle is a kind of translation of the Sea as a place to live when you don't actually seek the sea. That is, to live on an island increases your exposure to the sea through views and vistas, even though you yourself are no sailor, fisherman, or other wayfarer on the water, and you still primarily identify with living on and by the land (Legolas calls the Isle a place "where the leaves fall not" - he obviously contemplates a life there much like the one he enjoyed in Mirkwood except with nothing dying).
Which brings us back to Tolkien's original agenda of squaring the circle of England being for most of its inhabitants a land bounded by, but not of, the Sea.

Nice final points about the Sea as a metaphor for mortality. I had in my original post considered whether it was somehow a metaphor for immortality, so as to explain why the immortal Elves longed for it. I didn't get very far, and I much prefer your interpretation. My overall impression on this issue, however (as I explored once in a main page post) is that Tolkien was not, after all, much interested in the subject of the Sea in its own right. I think he considered it a minor theme in the grand scope of his legends except as it related to and contrasted with the Land.




squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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Subject User Time
*Silmarillion Discussion: Chapter 5, "Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalie", Part 1 -- Who Goes and Who Stays* weaver Send a private message to weaver Feb 21 2013, 6:03am
    Weaver! sador Send a private message to sador Feb 21 2013, 12:46pm
    Long journeys on a muddy boat elevorn Send a private message to elevorn Feb 21 2013, 7:40pm
        Sea-longing- a personal Tolkien thing? noWizardme Send a private message to noWizardme Feb 21 2013, 10:58pm
            Maybe an early childhood experience FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Feb 22 2013, 10:48am
                I agree elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Feb 22 2013, 12:22pm
                    About the gulls FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Feb 22 2013, 2:31pm
                    And welcome to the Reading Room! FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Feb 22 2013, 3:15pm
                        Thanks for the welcome elaen32 Send a private message to elaen32 Feb 22 2013, 6:47pm
    Passage and memory, hope and regret, duty and love. squire Send a private message to squire Feb 22 2013, 3:36pm
        Alas for the wailing of the gulls... FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Feb 22 2013, 5:05pm
            'In Eressea, in Elvenhome that no man can discover, Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!' squire Send a private message to squire Feb 22 2013, 8:08pm
    Home sweet home CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Feb 23 2013, 11:29pm
        Mmm, tuna... FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Feb 24 2013, 5:12pm
    Quick answers - part II sador Send a private message to sador Feb 26 2013, 2:56pm
    Sorry I'm so late to the party Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Feb 27 2013, 7:38pm
        Good observation CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Feb 27 2013, 7:52pm
            Perhaps even Finwe Send a private message to Finwe Feb 28 2013, 2:17pm
    a few thoughts telain Send a private message to telain Feb 27 2013, 8:03pm

 
 
 

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