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Journey to the Crossroads: The King has a Crown Again


Aug 10 2008, 1:20am

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Journey to the Crossroads: The King has a Crown Again Can't Post

Suddenly Sam heard a hiss behind him, and there was Gollum on all fours, peering at them with gleaming eyes.

`Wake up, wake up! Wake up, sleepies!' he whispered. `Wake up! No time to lose. We must go, yes, we must go at once. No time to lose!'

1. Again, a choice of words that rather surprises me from Gollum: where did Gollum learn to use little endearments like "sleepies"? When you read this kind of phrase from Gollum, does it change your perspective on the old evil thing at all?


Sam stared at him suspiciously: he seemed frightened or excited. `Go now? What's your little game? It isn't time yet. It can't be tea-time even, leastways not in decent places where there is tea-time.'

`Silly! ' hissed Gollum. `We're not in decent places. Time's running short, yes, running fast. No time to lose. We must go. Wake up. Master, wake u He clawed at Frodo; and Frodo, startled out of sleep, sat up suddenly and seized him by the arm. Gollum tore himself loose and backed away.

'They mustn't be silly,' he hissed. `We must go. No time to lose!'

2. What's the big hurry? What's Gollum hurrying them for?

The hobbits follow Gollum eastward, out of the trees and across relatively open (but hilly) land until they are within site of the North-South road, then they turn south:


For about an hour they went on, silently, in single file, oppressed by the gloom and by the absolute stillness of the land, broken only now and again by the faint rumbling as of thunder far away or drum-beats in some hollow of the hills. Down from their hiding-place they went, and then turning south they steered as straight a course as Gollum could find across a long broken slope that leaned up towards the mountains. Presently, not far ahead, looming up like a black wall, they saw a belt of trees. As they drew nearer they became aware that these were of vast size, very ancient it seemed, and still towering high, though their tops were gaunt and broken, as if tempest and lightning-blast had swept across them, but had failed to kill them or to shake their fathomless roots.
'The Cross-roads, yes,' whispered Gollum, the first words that had been spoken since they left their hiding-place. 'We must go that way....

'This is the only way,' whispered Gollum. 'No paths beyond the road. No paths. We must go to the Cross-roads.

Here is squire's schematic again:


At length they reached the trees, and found that they stood in a great roofless ring, open in the middle to the sombre sky; and the spaces between their immense boles were like the great dark arches of some ruined hall. In the very centre four ways met. Behind them lay the road to the Morannon; before them it ran out again upon its long journey south; to their right the road from old Osgiliath came climbing up, and crossing, passed out eastward into darkness: the fourth way, the road they were to take.

Standing there for a moment filled with dread Frodo became aware that a light was shining; he saw it glowing on Sam's face beside him. Turning towards it, he saw, beyond an arch of boughs, the road to Osgiliath running almost as straight as a stretched ribbon down, down, into the West. There, far away, beyond sad Gondor now overwhelmed in shade, the Sun was sinking, finding at last the hem of the great slow-rolling pall of cloud, and falling in an ominous fire towards the yet unsullied Sea. The brief glow fell upon a huge sitting figure, still and solemn as the great stone kings of Argonath. The years had gnawed it, and violent hands had maimed it. Its head was gone, and in its place was set in mockery a round rough-hewn stone, rudely painted by savage hands in the likeness of a grinning face with one large red eye in the midst of its forehead. Upon its knees and mighty chair, and all about the pedestal, were idle scrawls mixed with the foul symbols that the maggot-folk of Mordor used.

3. One of the most memorable of many memorable descriptions of ancient artifacts in LOTR. Comments on this place? Why the encircling trees, for instance? What purpose do they serve, or does the shape of a circle serve? Is there importance to it's placement around the cross-roads itself?

4. Do you agree with squire's placement of the statue? Why or why not?

I always think of the following poem when I come to the Cross-Roads:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Ozymandias, Percy Blythe Shelley

5. Comments of the similarity between the Shelley poem and the chapter description of the statue and the Cross-Roads? Is there anything beyond a surface similarity here?

6. Any other images come to mind when reading the description of the Cross-Roads?


Suddenly, caught by the level beams, Frodo saw the old king's head: it was lying rolled away by the roadside. `Look, Sam!' he cried, startled into speech. `Look! The king has got a crown again!'

The eyes were hollow and the carven beard was broken, but about the high stern forehead there was a coronal of silver and gold. A trailing plant with flowers like small white stars had bound itself across the brows as if in reverence for the fallen king, and in the crevices of his stony hair yellow stonecrop gleamed.

'They cannot conquer for ever!' said Frodo. And then suddenly the brief glimpse was gone. The Sun dipped and vanished, and as if at the shuttering of a lamp, black night fell.

There are parts of text in LOTR that a repeat reader "marks place" by (at least, this reader does). I know those specific places are coming and I wait for them and they become touchstones for me of the unfolding story. I wait to get the Frodo's "I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way", for instance. Gandalf's "Fly, you fools!". The narrator's "Frodo was alive but taken by the enemy". Or Sam's melencholy "Well, I'm back". This is also one of the iconic moments for me. We cross something here, in the journey.

7. Thoughts on what Tolkien is trying to convey in this little moment here? The importance in the story?

Tomorrow: Wrap up, final thoughts, and general ruminations.


"an seileachan"

Pooh began to feel a little more comfortable, because when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.

Subject User Time
Journey to the Crossroads: The King has a Crown Again a.s. Send a private message to a.s. Aug 10 2008, 1:20am
    King Lear? N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Aug 10 2008, 6:10am
        maybe Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Aug 10 2008, 3:56pm
    Oh, Gollum... batik Send a private message to batik Aug 10 2008, 4:47pm
    Rings of trees orcbane Aug 10 2008, 8:29pm
    Could there be a more appropriate crown for Aragorn? Beren IV Send a private message to Beren IV Aug 11 2008, 4:33am
        More than that sador Send a private message to sador Aug 11 2008, 11:37am
    Smeagol's Word-Choices Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer Aug 12 2008, 4:22pm
        Interesting Elros Send a private message to Elros Aug 12 2008, 5:17pm
        This is the fitting place to welcome you back sador Send a private message to sador Aug 12 2008, 9:30pm
            Thanks! Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer Aug 12 2008, 11:41pm
                I meant the "more than I can afford" sentence sador Send a private message to sador Aug 13 2008, 9:30pm
                    Birthday customs Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer Aug 13 2008, 10:58pm
                        Nice point about Elijah Wood! // sador Send a private message to sador Aug 14 2008, 5:27am
        Well Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Aug 14 2008, 8:31pm
    "Garlands to the god" Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Aug 12 2008, 4:39pm
        You never cease to amaze and impress, Darkstone // ElanorTX Send a private message to ElanorTX Aug 13 2008, 2:36am
            Well Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Aug 13 2008, 5:34pm


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