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In Celebration of Tolkien Reading Day: What Are Your Favorite Passages?
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Forum Admin / Moderator

Mar 25 2010, 2:19am

Post #1 of 48 (1818 views)
In Celebration of Tolkien Reading Day: What Are Your Favorite Passages? Can't Post

Greetings, one and all! March 25th is a day to celebrate: not only as the anniversary of "when Sauron fell, and when [the Ring-bearer and his faithful servant] were brought out of the fire to the King"; but also as the eighth annual official Tolkien Reading Day!

So let's join in sharing some of our favorite passages from Tolkien's works. Although the theme this year is "Tolkien's Seafarers", you needn't restrict your quotes to only those with seafaring themes!

I'll start with two. The first, from "Leaf by Niggle", to me embodies Tolkien's own creative nature, and defines how he wrote his legendarium:

He was the sort of painter who can paint leaves better than trees. He used to spend a long time on a single leaf, trying to catch its shape, and its sheen, and the glistening of dew-drops on its edges. Yet he wanted to paint a whole tree, with all of its leaves in the same style, and all of them different.

There was one picture in particular which bothered him. It had begun with a leaf caught in the wind, and it became a tree; and the tree grew, sending out innumerable branches, and thrusting out the most fantastic roots. Strange birds came and settled on the twigs and had to be attended to. Then all round the Tree, and behind it, through the gaps in the leaves and boughs, a country began to open out; and there were glimpses of a forest marching over the land, and of mountains tipped with snow. Niggle lost interest in his other pictures; or else he took them and tacked them on to the edges of his great picture. Soon the canvas became so large that he had to get a ladder; and he ran up and down it, putting in a touch here, and rubbing out a patch there.

And this, for me, is Lord of the Rings:

And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.

Thank you, dear Professor! Heart


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915

Alassëa Eruvande

Mar 25 2010, 2:29am

Post #2 of 48 (1014 views)
Gandalf did not move. [In reply to] Can't Post

And in that very moment, away behind in some courtyard in the City, a cock crowed.
Shrill and clear he crowed, recking nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the
morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.

And as if in answer there came from far away another note.
Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin's sides they dimly echoed.
Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last!

On my first reading of LOTR, this passage struck me as very powerful. I so looked forward to it in the movies.
It wasn't exactly there as in the book, and I missed the cock crowing, but I liked what PJ did with it.

And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame.

(This post was edited by Alassëa Eruvande on Mar 25 2010, 2:33am)


Mar 25 2010, 2:53am

Post #3 of 48 (995 views)
The King's renewed crown [In reply to] Can't Post

 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. 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.
This description of the fallen kings "crown" is a lovely description of hope. Every time I read it I can feel the hope Frodo receives from this brief glimpse.

What happened when Legolas and Aragorn road with Eomer in the van.
Aragorn: Eomer, Legolas has his bow on my side of the seat!
Legolas: Well Aragorn keeps slapping me while practicing his "heroic" poses.
Eomer: Don't make me turn this van around.

Kangi Ska

Mar 25 2010, 3:24am

Post #4 of 48 (1037 views)
A Star in a Land of Shadow: [In reply to] Can't Post

Frodo sighed and was asleep almost before the words were spoken. Sam struggled with his own
weariness, and he took Frodo's hand; and there he sat silent till deep night fell. Then at last, to keep
himself awake, he crawled from the hiding-place and looked out. The land seemed full of creaking and
cracking and sly noises, but there was no sound of voice or of foot. Far above the Ephel Dÿath in the
West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor
high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart,
as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold,
the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was
light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than
hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his masters,
ceased to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo's side, and putting
away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep.

Kangi Ska

The Hobbit Deserves More Respect!

At night one cannot tell if crows are black or white.


Forum Admin

Mar 25 2010, 3:34am

Post #5 of 48 (967 views)
The departure from Lorien [In reply to] Can't Post

I've always loved this little bit of prose... so artistically descriptive.

Even as they gazed, the Silverlode passed out into the currents of the
Great River, and their boats turned and began to speed southwards. Soon the
white form of the Lady was small and distant. She shone like a window of
glass upon a far hill in the westering sun, or as a remote lake seen from a
mountain: a crystal fallen in the lap of the land. Then it seemed to Frodo
that she lifted her arms in a final farewell, and far but piercing-clear on
the following wind came the sound of her voice singing.


Mar 25 2010, 3:47am

Post #6 of 48 (954 views)
You took my favorite! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank goodness I have other favorites. :-)

But first, regarding yours from ROTK. What works so perfectly are the contrasts in that passage:

laughed and wept
wounded with sweet words
joy like swords
pain and delight
tears are blessed
Those really speak to me about life.

My next favorite after that one is from The Silmarillion:
Last of all Húrin stood alone. Then he cast aside his shield, and wielded an axe two-handed; and it is sung that the axe smoked in the black blood of the troll-guard of Gothmog until it withered, and each time that he slew Húrin cried: 'Aurë entuluva! Day shall come again!' Seventy times he uttered that cry; ...

It's the last line that gets me.

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Tol Eressea

Mar 25 2010, 3:55am

Post #7 of 48 (981 views)
Eomer: Battle of the Pelennor [In reply to] Can't Post

It's even got a bit of a seafaring theme...


So Eomer rode to a green hill and there set his banner, and the White Horse ran rippling in the wind. Once more the fury of battle was on him; he was still unhurt, he was young, and he was king: the lord of the brave Rohirrim.Even as he laughed at despair he looked out again on the black ships, and he lifted up his sword to defy them.
And then Eomer paused in wonder and great joy; he threw his sword up in the sunlight and sang as he caught it. All eyes followed his gaze, and saw upon the foremost ship a great banner unfurling in the wind as the vessel turned towards the city haven.
There on the flagship flowered a White Tree, and that was for Gondor; but seven stars were about it, and a high crown above it: the signs of Elendil that no lord had borne for years beyond count.


Tol Eressea

Mar 25 2010, 3:57am

Post #8 of 48 (967 views)
Yes - agreed [In reply to] Can't Post

A wonderful quote, another favorite. And though I didn't like the Gandalf/Witchking scene that led up to it in the movie, the horn and charge of the Rohirrim is maybe the movies at their best!


Tol Eressea

Mar 25 2010, 4:12am

Post #9 of 48 (997 views)
passage(s)... [In reply to] Can't Post

There was a terrific splash, and a shout of Whoa! from Frodo. It appeared that a lot of Pippin's bath water had imitated a fountain and leaped on high.
Merry went to the door: 'What about supper and a beer in the throat?' he called. Frodo came out drying his hair.
from A Conspiracy Unmasked

'I owe much to Eomer,' said Theoden. 'Faithful heart may have forward tongue.'
'Say also,' said Gandalf 'that to crooked eyes truth may wear a wry face.'
fromThe King of the Golden Hall

In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!
from Appendix A--The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen

When they began to go down this, rubbish and small pebbles rolled away from their feet; soon larger bits of split stones went clattering down and started other pieces below them slithering and rolling; then lumps of rocks were disturbed and bounded off, crashing down with a dust and a noise. Before long the whole slope above them and below them seemed on the move, and they were sliding away, huddled all together, in a fearful confusion of slipping, rattling, cracking slabs and stones.
It was the trees at the bottom that saved them.
from Out of the Frying-Pan Into the Fire

But the fear of death grew ever darker upon them, and they delayed it by all means that they could; and they began to build great houses for their dead, while their wise men laboured unceasingly to discover if they might discover the secret of recalling life, or at the least of the prolonging of Men's days. Yet they achieved only the art of preserving incorrupt the dead flesh of Men, and they filled all the land with the silent tombs in which the thought of death was enshrined in the darkness. But those that lived turned the more eagerly to pleasure and revelry, desiring ever more goods and more riches; and after the days of Tar-Ancalimon the offering of the first fruits to Eru was neglected, and men went seldom any more to the Hallow upon the heights of Meneltarma in the midst of the land.
from Akallabeth

(This post was edited by batik on Mar 25 2010, 4:18am)


Mar 25 2010, 5:09am

Post #10 of 48 (953 views)
Someone already posted my favorite. [In reply to] Can't Post

The star quote by Sam in Mordor.

But there are lots of goodies.

This verse from Gimli's song struck me the other day when I was listening to the BBC adaptation:

The world was fair, the mountains tall,
In Elder Days before the fall
Of mighty kings in Nargothrond
And Gondolin, who now beyond
The Western Seas have passed away:
The world was fair in Durin's Day.

"Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully.
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."
"And he has Brains."
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brains."
There was a long silence.
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything."

- A. A. Milne

Grey Havens

Mar 25 2010, 5:27am

Post #11 of 48 (955 views)
In a hole in the ground... [In reply to] Can't Post

... there lived a Hobbit.

The openings of both The Hobbit and LOTR (An Unexpected Party, the Prologue and A Long-Expected Party) are not the loftiest of passages, but without them, we wouldn't know just what it is that holds such importance to Bilbo and Frodo - the Shire, and its inhabitants. Faults and graces, features and history - the "peace and quiet and good tilled earth," and "eleventy-first birthday," "best rooms... all on the left-hand side," presents, respectability; in short, all that is home. All that Bilbo fights his way back to, and that Frodo forges ahead for. The Shire, and Hobbits, welcome us into this world of Tolkien's devising.


Mar 25 2010, 1:20pm

Post #12 of 48 (939 views)
There are many favorites... [In reply to] Can't Post

.. but my very favorite is this one...

"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

Currently, this is posted on my office bulletin board. This passage has helped me get through many a tough situation throughout my adult years. I loved it when I was 17 and I still love it now.



Mar 25 2010, 1:24pm

Post #13 of 48 (931 views)
Oops...wrong spot...such a newbie! [In reply to] Can't Post




Mar 25 2010, 2:14pm

Post #14 of 48 (935 views)
So many. Here's just a few... [In reply to] Can't Post

quotes that I love.

"Little Princess Mee, lovely was she."


"let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the night fall."


"All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost, the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost."


And this one, which was my favorite the very first time I read LotR over 20 years ago and probably still is:

"Begone, foul dwimmerlaik, lord of carrion! Leave the dead in peace!"
A cold voice answered: "Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in they turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye."
A sword rang as it was drawn. "Do what you will; but I will hinder it, if I may."
"Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!"
Then Merry heard of all the sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. "But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund's daughter. You stand between me an my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you if you touch him."

Would it have killed you to leave that in PJ? Really?.... Sorry, I'm just a little sad about that.

Aunt Dora Baggins

Mar 25 2010, 4:50pm

Post #15 of 48 (963 views)
Most of mine have already been posted [In reply to] Can't Post

by Shy Elf, Alassea Eruvande, fairelvenlday , Kangi Ska and Notta Sackville.

But here's a nice one I've always loved, though it's not one of the great moments:

Suddenly they came out of the shadow of the trees, and before them lay a wide space of grass, grey under the night. On three sides the woods pressed upon it; but eastward the ground fell steeply and the tops of the dark trees, growing at the bottom of the slope, were below their feet. Beyond, the low lands lay dim and flat under the stars. Nearer at hand a few lights twinkled in the village of Woodhall.
The Elves sat on the grass and spoke together in soft voices; they seemed to take no further notice of the hobbits. Frodo and his companions wrapped themselves in cloaks and blankets, and drowsiness stole over them. The night grew on, and the lights in the valley went out. Pippin fell asleep, pillowed on a green hillock.
Away high in the East swung Remmirath, the Netted Stars, and slowly above the mists red Borgil rose, glowing like a jewel of fire. Then by some shift of airs all the mist was drawn away like a veil, and there leaned up, as he climbed over the rim of the world, the Swordsman of the Sky, Menelvagor with his shining belt. The Elves all burst into song.

"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com

Arwen's daughter

Mar 25 2010, 5:03pm

Post #16 of 48 (873 views)
You stole mine! :-) [In reply to] Can't Post

Guess I'll have to think up another favorite. Cool

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The Screencap of the Day Schedule for March

Kangi Ska

Mar 25 2010, 5:05pm

Post #17 of 48 (912 views)
There is one other from the Hobbit [In reply to] Can't Post

"He looked out of the window. The stars were out in a dark sky above the trees. He thought of the jewels of the dwarves shining in dark caverns. Suddenly in the wood beyond The Water a flame leapt up--probably somebody lighting a wood-fire-and he thought of plundering dragons settling on his quiet Hill and kindling it all to flames. He shuddered; and very quickly he was plain Mr. Baggins of Bag-End, Under-Hill,again."

Kangi Ska

The Hobbit Deserves More Respect!

At night one cannot tell if crows are black or white.


(This post was edited by Kangi Ska on Mar 25 2010, 5:06pm)


Mar 25 2010, 5:35pm

Post #18 of 48 (899 views)
Hmmmm.... [In reply to] Can't Post

“Don't you know my name yet? That's the only answer. Tell me, who are you alone, yourself and nameless?"

Gandalf fell silent and shut his eyes.

"Then she sent me no message?" said Gimli and bent his head.

"Dark are her words," said Legolas, "and little do they mean to those that receive them."

"That is no comfort," said Gimli.

"What then?" said Legolas. "Would you have her speak openly to you of your death?"

"Yes, if she had nought else to say."

"What is that?" said Gandalf, opening his eyes. "Yes, I think I can guess what her words may mean. Your pardon, Gimli! I was pondering the messages once again. But indeed she sent words to you, and neither dark nor sad.

"To Gimli son of Gloin," she said, "give his Lady's greeting. Lockbearer, wherever thou goest my thought goes with thee. But have a care to lay thine axe to the right tree!"

"In happy hour you have returned to us, Gandalf," cried the Dwarf, capering as he sang loudly in the strange dwarf-tongue. "Come, come!" he shouted, swinging his axe. "Since Gandalf's head is now sacred, let us find one that it is right to cleave!"


Pity filled his heart and great wonder, and suddenly the slow-kindled courage of his race awoke. He clenched his hand. She should not die, so fair, so desperate! At least she should not die alone, unaided.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Sometime hours and hours hence:
In The Green Dragon two ales could buy
And drank the one less filling I
And that has made all the difference.
- The Ale Less Filling, by Robert Frostymug


Mar 25 2010, 6:42pm

Post #19 of 48 (889 views)
a casual observation and an offer of a mathom [In reply to] Can't Post

I was struck by how many of these 'favorite' passages contain the imagery of 'light'. I enjoy that aspect of Tolkien's writing.

the mathom: a repost of a 55th birthday offering I made a few years back.

LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery ~ Torn Image Posting Guide

Superuser / Moderator

Mar 25 2010, 6:44pm

Post #20 of 48 (876 views)
From h-mon: 'Gandalf's battle with the Balrog on the bridge of Khazad-Dum' [In reply to] Can't Post

Barring the way on the bridge is a crucial turning piont in the story. When the fellowship has to rely on thier own mortal abilities to fullfil the quest rather than the magical power of an imortal wizard. He sacrifices everything to defeat an enemy that without him none of them could defeat. He sets into motion the events that cause him to become "Saruman,as Saruman should have been", and in the end save mankind.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Ataahua's stories

Forum Admin / Moderator

Mar 25 2010, 7:07pm

Post #21 of 48 (876 views)
On a sea-faring theme ... [In reply to] Can't Post

From The Silmarillion, "Akallabeth":

"In an hour unlooked for by Men this doom befell, on the nine and thirtieth day since the passing of the fleets. Then suddenly fire burst from the Meneltarma, and there came a mighty wind and a tumult of the earth, and the sky reeled, and the hills slid, and Númenor went down into the sea, with all its children and its wives and its maidens and its ladies proud; and all its gardens and its halls and its towers, its tombs and its riches, and its jewels and its webs and its things painted and carven, and its laughter and its mirth and its music, its wisdom and its lore; they vanished for ever. And last of all the mounting wave, green and cold and plumed with foam, climbing over the land, took to its bosom Tar-Míriel the Queen, fairer than silver or ivory or pearls. Too late she strove to ascend the steep ways of the Meneltarma to the holy place; for the waters overtook her, and her cry was lost in the roaring of the wind."

It's just cataclysmic.

Penguin walking


Mar 25 2010, 7:08pm

Post #22 of 48 (866 views)
Well, I have many, but.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Mine would have to be the opening of The Hobbit. Just how it introduces us to the race of Hobbits and where they reside. Now I can't fully remember it, and am too lazy to go grab my copy, so I'll just leave it at that. Tongue

Happy Tolkien Reading Day!

The HUGEST Lord of the Rings fan ever!
Owner of all Lord of the Rings merchandise.
"I know what I must do. It's just... I'm afraid to do it."

(This post was edited by LordotRings93 on Mar 25 2010, 7:09pm)


Mar 25 2010, 7:09pm

Post #23 of 48 (887 views)
From the Silmarillion... [In reply to] Can't Post

"By the command of Morgoth the Orcs with great labour gathered all the bodies of all those who had fallen in the great battle, and all their harness and weapons, and piled them in a great mound in the midst of Anfauglith; and it was like a hill that could be seen from afar. Haudh-en-Ndengin the Elves named it, the Hill of the Slain, and Haudh-en-Nirnaeth, the Hill of Tears. But grass came there and grew again long and green upon that hill, alone in all the desert that Morgoth made; and no creature of Morgoth trod thereafter upon the earth beneath which the swords of the Eldar and the Edain crumbled into rust."

And of course the (in)famous poem:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wonder are lost,
The old that is strong does not whither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring,
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king

Hearing the last section in the movies made me listen in awe, and when I read the entire poem in FotR only recently, I was quite moved by it Evil

~*Haudh-en-Ndengin the Elves named it, the Hill of Slain, and Haugh-en-Nirnaeth, the Hill of tears... the earth beneath which the swords of the Eldar and the Edain crumbled into rust*~

White Gull

Mar 25 2010, 7:27pm

Post #24 of 48 (878 views)
a favorite poem [In reply to] Can't Post

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 are failing,
I pass the wide seas lonely sailing.
Long are the waves on the last shore falling,
Sweet are the voices in the lost isle calling,
In Earessea, in Elven-home that no man can discover,
Where the leaves fall not, land of my people forever.


A poet is a nightingale that sits in the darkness and sings to cheers its own solitude with sweet sounds.
-Percy B Shelley

(This post was edited by White Gull on Mar 25 2010, 7:28pm)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Mar 25 2010, 8:33pm

Post #25 of 48 (854 views)
No problem! [In reply to] Can't Post

You just need to post more often so you get more practice! Wink


"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915

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