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*Silmarillion Discussion: Chapter 5, "Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalie", Part 1 -- Who Goes and Who Stays*

weaver
Half-elven


Feb 21 2013, 6:03am

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*Silmarillion Discussion: Chapter 5, "Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalie", Part 1 -- Who Goes and Who Stays* Can't Post

Hello and happy to be leading a RR discussion again. It's been awhile, so I'm a little rusty, but here goes -- my style is to boil things down into pretty simple terms, which is the way I can best get what Tolkien is saying, hope it works for you, and please feel free to add as many scholarly insights as you like to dress up the discussion!

This chapter starts with the Vanyar and Noldor being led by Orome to the last western shores of the Hither Lands (Middle Earth), from where they will depart for Aman.

Now, even though in the North of Middle Earth, the shores bend westward and only a narrow sea divides Aman from Middle Earth, this sea is filled with grinding ice as a result of the Battle of the Powers and the violence of the frosts of Melkor.

So, instead Orome takes them to the fair lands about the River Sirion; afterwards this area is called Beleriand.

This is the first place where the Eldar see the ocean and they are afraid of it.

Ulmo, by the Valar’s counsel, comes to the shore and turns their fear into desire by the words and music he makes for them on his horns of shell.

After this, Ulmo uproots an island which had been out in the middle of the sea. With the aid of his servants he moves it, like a “mighty ship”, and anchors it in the Bay of Balar, which is where the River Sirion empties into the sea.

So the Vanyar and Noldor embark onto this island, and are drawn over the sea, to Aman.

The eastern horn of the island breaks off and stays in the Bay, this becomes the Isle of Balar, and Osse (a Maia) visits it often later

The Teleri don’t make this trip. They live in East Beleriand, and didn’t hear the summons of Ulmo until too late, as they were looking for their leader, Elwe, and did not want to leave without him. Some of them move to the Bay area. There, they make Olwe (Elwe’s brother) their king, and they long for the Elves that are gone.

Osse and Uinen (his wife) befriend them and Osse sits on a rock and instructs them in the manner of sea lore and sea music. This is how the Teleri, who always liked water and who were the best singers, become lovers of the sea and their songs become filled with the sound of the waves.

Then, a lot of years go by and apparently not much happens…

Finally, however, Finwe and the rest of the Noldor gang in Valinor convince Ulmo to bring the Teleri to them in Aman. So Ulmo goes to get them, but now Osse is sad, because he hangs out along the shores of Middle Earth and he likes having some company. He persuades some Elves to remain, and these become the Falathrim, the Elves of the Falas, who later move to the havens of Brithombar and Eglarest; they become the first ship makers and mariners, and Cirdan the Shipwright is their lord.

Elwe’s kinfolk and friends also stick around – though they might have gone if Ulmo and Olwe had waited a bit longer with that island ship. These become the Eglath, the Forsaken People, They stay in the woods and hills, rather than move to the water, since it freaks them out, though they still long for Aman in their hearts. Eventually, Thingol and Melian make the woods a great home for them.

Discussion Questions – Pick one or more, or just add your own thoughts as you please!

1. Several new Elvish or geography terms are introduced here – any of them stand out to you for any reason? I rather like the "Battle of the Powers' and the sound of Brithombar, myself!

2. Do you like the imagery of an island being used as a ship? Anyone know if this is original to Tolkien, or if this idea can be found in other mythologies?

3. If it wasn’t for the grinding ice, would everyone have just waded back and forth across the narrow sea from Aman to Middle Earth? What would it be like if you could regularly travel to and from Paradise?

4. Are you a water person? Can you relate to the Teleri and their relationship to the sea? Do you think Tolkien loved and longed for the sea himself?

5. Why are Tolkien’s Elves so filled with longing – for the sea, for the friends and relatives they are separated from, for the site of paradise? How do these kinds of longings affect the way the Elves see themselves and their relationship to where they live?

6. The Noldor and Vanyar traveled by island – what trick did Ulmo use to get the Teleri to Aman? And what was it that Osse said that convinced some of them to stick around and become the Falathrim, even though they longed for Aman and their friends? Does love of kin overpower love of paradise for the Elves?

7. What does this opening section contribute to Tolkien’s legendarium?

Coming in Part 2-- Introducing Feanor, his sons and a bunch of other Elvish names that start with "F".

Weaver



sador
Half-elven


Feb 21 2013, 12:46pm

Post #2 of 19 (477 views)
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Weaver! [In reply to] Can't Post

Of all joys this is the least expected!



Without further ado, to your questions:
1. Several new Elvish or geography terms are introduced here – any of them stand out to you for any reason?
The Grinding Ice. I must note that had Arda been round, the shores would need to bend very far westward.

I rather like the "Battle of the Powers' and the sound of Brithombar, myself!
Brithombar is nice. I'm not sure about the Battle of the Powers - it sounds too much like a cliche. Of course, Tolkien probably wrote this before it became such a trope.

2. Do you like the imagery of an island being used as a ship?

It sounds wierd, but nice. Less claustrophobic than Noah's Ark.

Anyone know if this is original to Tolkien, or if this idea can be found in other mythologies?
It was unfamiliar enough for me not to completely understand it on my first reading. But that was racing through the book; I've missed most of it.


It turns out that I have to leave now; I will finish this response - but I'm not sure when.


elevorn
Lorien


Feb 21 2013, 7:40pm

Post #3 of 19 (462 views)
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Long journeys on a muddy boat [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Several new Elvish or geography terms are introduced here – any of them stand out to you for any reason? I rather like the "Battle of the Powers' and the sound of Brithombar, myself!
This was one of the points where I always started getting mixed up between Middle Earth and Beleriand, now I understand, but the wya Tolkien gives new names and terms as he expands his map always catches me, never read without a map handy.

2. Do you like the imagery of an island being used as a ship? Anyone know if this is original to Tolkien, or if this idea can be found in other mythologies?
Madagascar anyone? no mythology, but thats what I think of.

3. If it wasn’t for the grinding ice, would everyone have just waded back and forth across the narrow sea from Aman to Middle Earth? What would it be like if you could regularly travel to and from Paradise?
Thats still a long way to walk through a bunch of ocean water, and who knows what lives in those oceans. Not to mention how wrinkly your skin would be! If I could travel to paradise, I would never be coming back. While I may make fun of the Vanyar, they had the right idea to me, lets just stay in paradise.

4. Are you a water person? Can you relate to the Teleri and their relationship to the sea? Do you think Tolkien loved and longed for the sea himself?
I personally love the ocean, but I don't necessarily like going on boats for long distances away from shore. I like the seashore, so I can definitely see why they loved it. Being a citizen of the country with the most powerfuyl naval force, and living on an Island I am sure Tolkien had a longing for the sea.

5. Why are Tolkien’s Elves so filled with longing – for the sea, for the friends and relatives they are separated from, for the site of paradise? How do these kinds of longings affect the way the Elves see themselves and their relationship to where they live?
I think if you are going to display a sense of imortality then there has to be a deep sense of longing in those characters. Their lives were so long that they would of course be filled with deep connections to most things.

6. The Noldor and Vanyar traveled by island – what trick did Ulmo use to get the Teleri to Aman? And what was it that Osse said that convinced some of them to stick around and become the Falathrim, even though they longed for Aman and their friends? Does love of kin overpower love of paradise for the Elves?
Not sure what Osse said that convinced them to stay, but Ulmo used the same Island did he not, and when they reached Valinor he anchored it making it Tol Eressea, because the Teleri were not quite ready to be completely in paradise.

7. What does this opening section contribute to Tolkien’s legendarium?
This gives the setting for the future conflicts. It puts all of the elevs in place for them to begin to settle and move throughout Middle Earth and Beleriand.



"clever hobbits to climb so high!"
Check out my writing www.jdstudios.wordpress.com


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Feb 21 2013, 10:58pm

Post #4 of 19 (465 views)
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Sea-longing- a personal Tolkien thing? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm thinking of the allegory Tolkien has in his essay about the critics of Beowulf and their failure to appreciate it as a thing in itself.

Quote
I would express the whole industry in yet another allegory. A man inherited a field in which was an accumulation of old stone, part of an older hall. Of the old stone some had already been used in building the house in which he actually lived, not far from the old house of his fathers. Of the rest he took some and built a tower. But his friends coming perceived at once (without troubling to climb the steps) that these stones had formerly belonged to a more ancient building. So they pushed the tower over, with no little labour, in order to look for hidden carvings and inscriptions, or to discover whence the man’s distant forefathers had obtained their building material. Some suspecting a deposit of coal under the soil began to dig for it, and forgot even the stones. They all said: ‘This tower is most interesting.’ But they also said (after pushing it over): ‘What a muddle it is in!’ And even the man’s own descendants, who might have been expected to consider what he had been about, were heard to murmur: ‘He is such an odd fellow! Imagine his using these old stones just to build a nonsensical tower! Why did he not restore the old house? He had no sense of proportion.’ But from the top of that tower the man had been able to look out upon the sea.

I love the last line of that: it works poetically, though begs the question why one would want to see the sea so much, and why that image as the contrast to all the scholarly analysis? Was te sea of some personal significance to Tolkien, perhaps?

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....
Feel free to meddle in the affairs of noWizardMe by agreeing or disagreeing (politely...) with my posts! I may not be subtle, but at least I'm usually slow to anger...


FarFromHome
Valinor


Feb 22 2013, 10:48am

Post #5 of 19 (430 views)
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Maybe an early childhood experience [In reply to] Can't Post

helped to make the sea such a powerful symbol in Tolkien's writing. I'm thinking of his long sea journey back to England from South Africa when he was around four years old, with his mother and brother, but leaving his father behind. His father died while the family were still in England. It must have seemed to a young child that his dead father was still somewhere out there across the ocean. I can imagine that that might make a powerful connection in a young child's mind between loss and longing and the sea.

But the idea of the sea as dividing this world (i.e. Middle-earth) from another, more spiritual one is also to be found in the Celtic and Norse legends that inspired Tolkien. Perhaps it's even one of the resonances that drew him to those legends?

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



elaen32
Gondor

Feb 22 2013, 12:22pm

Post #6 of 19 (425 views)
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I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

this voyage could have had a profound effect. I could put forward the theory that once he was in England, he always lived inland- both Birmingham and Oxford are two cities about the furthest one can get from the sea in the UK, which may have enhanced this "sea-longing". Certainly, I always have to smile at the way in which Tolkien romanticises sea birds esp gulls and their cries. Living by the sea myself, I certainly don't see them as romantic, although I like them. Being woken by gulls screeching at each other at 3 am is not fun, but I can imagine that if one lives far from the sea, one would see them differently!
As you say, there are also many myths and legends of "the other world beyond the Sea", which would also have had a very strong effect on Tolkien's writing

"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


FarFromHome
Valinor


Feb 22 2013, 2:31pm

Post #7 of 19 (418 views)
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About the gulls [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd always thought of them as romantic too, until I saw the lines geordie posted from a poem called The Last Ark:

Who shall see a white ship
leave the last shore,
the pale phantoms in her cold bosom
like gulls wailing? ...

It gives a rather different impression of what the gulls' cries are all about, don't you think? (Whether this fits any better with real-world gull behaviour I'm not sure! Cool
)

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



FarFromHome
Valinor


Feb 22 2013, 3:15pm

Post #8 of 19 (410 views)
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And welcome to the Reading Room! [In reply to] Can't Post

Hope you enjoy spending time here, and on the other boards too.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



squire
Valinor


Feb 22 2013, 3:36pm

Post #9 of 19 (462 views)
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Passage and memory, hope and regret, duty and love. [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Several new Elvish or geography terms are introduced here – any of them stand out to you for any reason? I rather like the "Battle of the Powers' and the sound of Brithombar, myself!
‘The Battle of the Powers’ is not new here - it was introduced in the previous chapter 4 (p. 51). I’m not crazy about – it sounds like a bald translation for which Tolkien unaccountably forgot to give us the Elvish. Dagor Valarion?

I do like Brithombar, not for any aesthetic reason but rather the opposite. It is simply a fair-to-middling ugly word that no fantasy author would dare make up from scratch. But Tolkien – with Tolkien you know that word means something. The ugliness, or ungainliness if you will, is necessary because of a pre-existing language that dictates placenames whether Tolkien likes them or not. In this case, according to the Silmarillion’s invaluable Index of Names, we have the river Brithon, taken from the root ‘brith’ which means ‘gravel’; it flows into the sea, of course, where presumably there is a predominance of gravel in its banks and beaches. At its mouth is the Falathrim Elves’ settlement, or homeland. The word for home is ‘-bar’ (Sindarin) or ‘-mar’ (Quenya). [A clever connection is that ‘um-‘ means ‘bad’ so that Umbar in The Lord of the Rings means ‘Evil homeland’.] Thus Brithombar: Homeland by the Gravel-banked River. It’s ugly, but who can argue with linguistics?

2. Do you like the imagery of an island being used as a ship? Anyone know if this is original to Tolkien, or if this idea can be found in other mythologies?
As so often with Tolkien, I feel like I’ve come across this elsewhere but I can’t for the life of me remember where. According to superficial internet research, the Celtic isle of Faerie called Tir Na Nog may have been thought of as ‘floating’ by some sources, presumably to explain its inaccessibility and ever-changing legendary location. Tir Na Nog is an obvious model for Tol Eressea, which this island in this chapter becomes, but the connection is entirely from the fact that the two islands are enchanted, across a difficult ocean, and hard to find. There doesn’t seem to be any suggestion that Tir Na Nog was physically moved, inhabitants and all, from the European shores to the Western Seas.

On the other hand, the ‘movement’ of this island seems to me to relate to the origins of Tolkien’s mythology. If I remember (corrections welcomed!), his original structure was that England itself was an Elvish Isle in ancient times. When practicality (i.e., the need for the story to align with history) reared its ugly head, he changed the structure of his stories to place the Elves that once had been England’s earliest inhabitants, on a legendary and practically inaccessible island on the other side of the ocean. This tale we are reading here, wherein the Elves and their island too are dragged across the ocean, is a remarkably literal account of what Tolkien the author found himself doing around 1918.


3. If it wasn’t for the grinding ice, would everyone have just waded back and forth across the narrow sea from Aman to Middle Earth? What would it be like if you could regularly travel to and from Paradise?
Just as the Grey Elves represent a mix of Light and Dark, implying the need for conflict and drama in this story, so the Grinding Ice represents a mix of Barrier and Passageway. You can use this path to travel from Aman to Middle-earth, but it hurts.
You make a good point that no one in Middle-earth (Earendil? Amandil?) ever seems to try using the ice-pack as a way to get to the immortal lands going East to West.

4. Are you a water person? Can you relate to the Teleri and their relationship to the sea? Do you think Tolkien loved and longed for the sea himself?
I grew up by the sea and now that I live inland I still miss the cry of the seagulls and the crash of the surf in the distance at night. But that does not make me a "water person", as far as I can tell - I rarely seek to be on the water, I only wish I was next to it. I think Tolkien was somewhat similar. He liked the idea of the Sea – as seen from the Land. There’s precious little evidence that he liked the Sea as a medium in itself. He was no sailor and the Sea is always the Other for him. In this I think he had a lot in common with many Englishmen who know they live on an a island, and are happy to keep it that way. You can see the sea, but that’s all you want. They idea of sailing on the sea thrills you with horror.

5. Why are Tolkien’s Elves so filled with longing – for the sea, for the friends and relatives they are separated from, for the site of paradise? How do these kinds of longings affect the way the Elves see themselves and their relationship to where they live?
I like the previous comment that this is what gives some drama to the tale of an immortal race. But like much of this writing, it doesn’t bear close inspection.

Was the longing for the sea and the land over the sea “implanted” in them by Eru or the Valar, as some texts suggest? If so, then it is an artificial emotion imposed on characters for an authorial purpose, only engaging the reader insofar as it at least creates a conflict and a drama. Or else these longings have arisen naturally, as an expression of wanting something that is not present but is imagined as being more pleasurable than what is at hand.

Longing for lost friends and kin is, of course, quite understandable since one has had the pleasure of knowing them formerly; why wouldn’t one want that pleasure once again? But longing for something never seen, like the sea or the land beyond it that the sea represents, can only come from the imagination, and that imagination was apparently inspired by the tales brought to the Elves by their leaders or by the Valar. What is within Elvish hearts that responds to these imaginings that is different from mortal hearts? The thought of Valinor has a clear appeal, once the Elves mature enough to recognize that they are immortal and are outliving their mortal surroundings. In Valinor they will finally live in a place where all things are equally immortal, so they won’t have to continually mourn the passing of shorter-lived acquaintances. That seems to me to explain the longing for the land across the sea.

But the sea itself? Why long for the sound and sight of the great water, beyond the fact that the water must be passed over in order to reach the other side? This is the most mystic of the Elves’ inner drives, and I suggest that it is a bit of a blind. The first Elves, the ones who went west at the summons of the Valar, were truly seeking an immortal land as a place where they could live forever in peace, unsurrounded by death. But they did not long for the Sea itself, except as a symbol of the crossing. Later Elves, who had lived by the sea on the western edges of Middle-earth, grew to love it for its sensual and spiritual associations (something Tolkien would probably assert is the birthright of every Englishman, etc.). They, as we read, were reluctant to leave it and move inland once more, and so they settled on the edge of the great ocean, on either eastern shore or western isle, with the more or less reluctant assent of the Valar (who don't seem to like the sea at all and vice versa).

This explanation seems to work for the Silmarillion – it’s a little more tricky in The Lord of the Rings where Elves like Legolas, who have never seen the Sea, declare that they have always had a “deep-seated longing” for it in its own right, and not just because it represents the passage to Elvenhome. This gets us back to the “mystic implantation” theory, whether by Ulmo or others. It is romantic, but also unattractively artificial in the context of the internal realism by which this great story is being told.

6. The Noldor and Vanyar traveled by island – what trick did Ulmo use to get the Teleri to Aman? And what was it that Osse said that convinced some of them to stick around and become the Falathrim, even though they longed for Aman and their friends? Does love of kin overpower love of paradise for the Elves?
Good question, about how the Teleri crossed the sea at Ulmo’s request. At first I was going to suggest they sailed in ships of their own construction – after all, those they left behind were said to be “the first makers of ships”. But on closer reading (middle of p. 58) I see “…at last the main host of the Teleri embarked upon the isle, and Ulmo drew them far away.”

Oh – another floating island. Or… the same one, shuttled back and forth? (Ulmo: “Stand away from the closing doors! Make room for the new passengers, please. Plenty of room for everyone if you step away from the doors. Next stop is Valinor. Valinor next.”) Or... is this the exact same story retold for two different Elf-migrations, clumsily repeated due to an editing error over the long course of composition of these tales?

7. What does this opening section contribute to Tolkien’s legendarium?
It pretty richly lays out the themes of passage and memory, hope and regret, duty and love, that will continue to drive the various tribes of Elves into unending conflicts with each other and with their Lords of the Valar over the next few thousand years.



squire online:
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FarFromHome
Valinor


Feb 22 2013, 5:05pm

Post #10 of 19 (543 views)
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Alas for the wailing of the gulls... [In reply to] Can't Post

 

In Reply To
...it’s a little more tricky in The Lord of the Rings where Elves like Legolas, who have never seen the Sea, declare that they have always had a “deep-seated longing” for it in its own right, and not just because it represents the passage to Elvenhome.


I'm not sure there's much evidence in LotR for Legolas longing for the Sea in its own right. The "sea-longing" he mentions:
‘Look!’ he cried. ‘Gulls! They are flying far inland. A wonder they are to me and a trouble to my heart. Never in all my life had I met them, until we came to Pelargir, and there I heard them crying in the air as we rode to the battle of the ships. Then I stood still, forgetting war in Middle-earth; for their wailing voices spoke to me of the Sea. The Sea! Alas! I have not yet beheld it. But deep in the hearts of all my kindred lies the sea-longing, which it is perilous to stir. Alas! for the gulls. No peace shall I have again under beech or under elm.’ (The Last Debate)
is surely more about the desire to cross the Sea than merely to look on it. The danger of seeing the Sea (or even hearing the gulls) is that it stirs the desire to leave Middle-earth.

The Elves may be"immortal" , but that doesn't necessarily mean that their story isn't yet another reflection on Death, in my opinion. In fact, I wonder if their immortality isn't just another way of looking at aspects of death, without having the distraction of physical death in the picture. I don't think Legolas, at least, is interested in visiting the sea for its own sake - he's simply become aware of his own Elvish "mortality", that is, the idea that at some point he must leave Middle-earth and go to a "better place". He's torn in two, as (Tolkien suggests) we all are at times, between wanting to be in paradise with those who have "passed over" before us, and wanting to stay in the world we know and love. (It could also be seen as intertwined with the longing for Faerie, especially as it affects mortals - the same metaphor, perhaps, applied at a different level.)

However, I do think Tolkien used the Sea in this way for its aesthetic qualities as well as its status as a barrier between one world and the next (I suppose he could have followed the usual Christian conception of the sky being the division between this world and the next if he'd wanted to). Its restlessness, its apparent endlessness, and its ability to be beautiful and consoling, and yet dangerous and unfathomable, make it a very potent metaphor for the mystery of life and death.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



elaen32
Gondor

Feb 22 2013, 6:47pm

Post #11 of 19 (396 views)
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Thanks for the welcome [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sure I will enjoy it all. Certainly have found the discussions in RR (whilst I was still lurking) fascinating, even if some go far beyond my knowledge base. But life is for learning!!Cool

"Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold"


squire
Valinor


Feb 22 2013, 8:08pm

Post #12 of 19 (798 views)
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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.




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CuriousG
Valinor


Feb 23 2013, 11:29pm

Post #13 of 19 (383 views)
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Home sweet home [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the great chapter post, Weaver!

1. Several new Elvish or geography terms are introduced here – any of them stand out to you for any reason? I rather like the "Battle of the Powers' and the sound of Brithombar, myself!

Alqualonde is one of my favorites. It sounds so musical, plus it's so easily mistaken for "aqua" (water) that the name seems especially appropriate for a swan haven.

Tuna is a mystery to me. Tolkien must have known of the confusion this would cause with the name for the fish, so why use it and not alter it somehow, maybe Tunan? Everytime I see this name, I think of Fish Hill.

Up comes Tol Eressea, the Lonely Isle, reminding me of Erebor, the Lonely Mountain. Are those the only "lonely" geographical features Tolkien came up with? Both places were well-populated, so it doesn't seem people became lonely there and the names weren't meant to be literal.

2. Do you like the imagery of an island being used as a ship? Anyone know if this is original to Tolkien, or if this idea can be found in other mythologies?
I would swear that the island ship was used in a Greek myth, but I can't find it. Or maybe some movie? I recall that long ago on my first read, the island ship didn't strike me as entirely new, and I wondered who thought it up first. Otherwise, it seems a pragmatic way to haul a bunch of people around the world. Almost too pragmatic, in a way. I can almost see the Elves lining up on the beach with their tickets to board Balar, or throwing streamers from its sides as they pulled out of the harbor to begin their cruise.

3. If it wasn’t for the grinding ice, would everyone have just waded back and forth across the narrow sea from Aman to Middle Earth? What would it be like if you could regularly travel to and from Paradise?

What I wonder is if the Valar can turn an island into a cruise ship, why not create a land bridge across the grinding ice? How does traveling to and from Aman work the rest of the time--did Orome and Yavanna need a raft for their excursions? As for being able to regularly travel to and from Paradise, that alters the whole notion, doesn't it? Normally Paradise is something far away and hard to get to, and usually hard to get out of. That's part of what makes it special. But if it's special for its own sake and is just a long swim away, does it become less special? If you can go there for casual visits, do you think less of it, or feel better in your non-Paradise setting? I'm thinking that if it is so approachable, you'd feel like you lived in semi-Paradise all the time, which would be a great way to live.

4. Are you a water person? Can you relate to the Teleri and their relationship to the sea? Do you think Tolkien loved and longed for the sea himself?

I love the sea and love sitting on beaches and watching and listening to waves crash on them, but I get my fill of it, and Tolkien and the Elves never seem to. Given that he wasn't a professional sailor and lived a land-locked life, I wonder if his sea longing was from having something he couldn't have. Would he have written his stories differently if he'd lived by the sea and took it for granted as a part of his everyday view?

5. Why are Tolkien’s Elves so filled with longing – for the sea, for the friends and relatives they are separated from, for the site of paradise? How do these kinds of longings affect the way the Elves see themselves and their relationship to where they live?
Elves seem to be artists at heart, in my view, people who see beauty in the world and always want to see more, both physical and the abstract. Men and Dwarves are more practical, and hobbits "long" for much simpler things like food and conversation. It ennobles Elves to give them deep, ethereal yearnings, but is also a surprise in a way. When I try to think of immortal beings, I think of them becoming just plain bored over the millenia, numb and immune to the world. To the contrary, the longer they live, the more Elves seem to yearn for something. Their passions never cool, even if they lead to grief.

6. The Noldor and Vanyar traveled by island – what trick did Ulmo use to get the Teleri to Aman? And what was it that Osse said that convinced some of them to stick around and become the Falathrim, even though they longed for Aman and their friends? Does love of kin overpower love of paradise for the Elves?
I think the island that became Tol Eressea was the same one that transported the Vanyar and Noldor. But if so, when the Teleri were at last ready to come to Aman from Tol Eressea, I'm not sure why the island couldn't be moved again since it had gone back and forth before; instead they had to learn how to build ships. Then what's not clear is how many people stayed on Tol Eressea and how many moved to Alqualonde, or if they went back and forth a lot.

My questions:

Valar politics: Ulmo is told to bring the Teleri to Aman, but at their plea leaves them offshore on Tol Eressea. "The Valar were little pleased to learn what he had done." So, why didn't they oblige him to finish the job, or find some other way to get the Teleri to Valinor if he wouldn't cooperate? It seems a little odd to bring them most of the way, and then leave them isolated.

Timing: The Teleri sit on Tol Eressea long enough that they develop their own language dialect. That's a long time. Why didn't someone think of teaching them about boats before this? (Osse already had to Cirdan and others.) Doesn't it seem odd that the Noldor could stand on Tuna and see this island with their missing kin and do nothing to reach them? Since Finwe missed them so much, why didn't he ask the Valar how to build a boat?


FarFromHome
Valinor


Feb 24 2013, 5:12pm

Post #14 of 19 (414 views)
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Mmm, tuna... [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Tuna is a mystery to me. Tolkien must have known of the confusion this would cause with the name for the fish...

Well, I can say from personal experience that "tuna" as the name of a fish was pretty much unknown in England right up until at least the 1970s. I still remember that it was something new to me when I first went to the US in 1970. In England, the fish itself was called "tunny fish", but the canned tuna that we all know and love was unheard-of. Canned salmon was a popular staple of sandwiches and salads, but I remember my Scottish father-in-law visiting us some time in the early 1970s and being very puzzled by the unfamiliar taste of the tuna sandwiches I'd made!


They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



sador
Half-elven


Feb 26 2013, 2:56pm

Post #15 of 19 (367 views)
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Quick answers - part II [In reply to] Can't Post

3. If it wasn’t for the grinding ice, would everyone have just waded back and forth across the narrow sea from Aman to Middle Earth?
Yep. Including Melkor and his minions.

What would it be like if you could regularly travel to and from Paradise?
A battlefield; i.e. not Paradise any more.

4. Are you a water person?


Quote
I wish I was a fisherman / tumblin' on the seas
Far away from dry land / and it's bitter memories
Casting out my sweet line / with abandonment and love
No ceiling bearin' down on me / 'cept the starry sky above...


Well - not really.


Can you relate to the Teleri and their relationship to the sea?
Not really either.

Do you think Tolkien loved and longed for the sea himself?
I would go with FarFromHome's answer.


5. Why are Tolkien’s Elves so filled with longing – for the sea, for the friends and relatives they are separated from, for the site of paradise?
I would expect them to be attracted to water in itself, as reflecting Ulmo and the Music of the Ainur.
But in LotR it indeed seems that the yearning is for Valinor.

How do these kinds of longings affect the way the Elves see themselves and their relationship to where they live?
As far as I understand, they self-identify by their longing for Varda's stars.

6. The Noldor and Vanyar traveled by island – what trick did Ulmo use to get the Teleri to Aman?
I think it was the same island.

And what was it that Osse said that convinced some of them to stick around and become the Falathrim, even though they longed for Aman and their friends?
Magic - which is as usual connected to music.

Does love of kin overpower love of paradise for the Elves?
I don't think that was all.

7. What does this opening section contribute to Tolkien’s legendarium?
The division of the three kindreds; also the image of Osse as half-rebel (originally, in BoLT, he was a full rebel).



Finwe
Lorien


Feb 27 2013, 7:38pm

Post #16 of 19 (350 views)
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Sorry I'm so late to the party [In reply to] Can't Post

3. If it wasn’t for the grinding ice, would everyone have just waded back and forth across the narrow sea from Aman to Middle Earth? What would it be like if you could regularly travel to and from Paradise? Something I found interesting up reading the Atlas of Middle Earth for the first time is the section that deals with the Eldar's march from Cuivienen. Based on the map Ms. Fonstad made, it was a much, much shorter march for the Elves to march straight west to the sea. Instead Orome took them northwest to Beleriand and the sea, then Ulmo ferried them southwest to Aman. I wonder if the Valar purposely took this route to give the Eldar a tour of Middle Earth, so that they could properly decide if they wished to leave it behind. Kind of weed out the ones who had reservations. It worked too, until the grandkids, who never had a chance to see Middle Earth for themselves, got restless.

5. Why are Tolkien’s Elves so filled with longing – for the sea, for the friends and relatives they are separated from, for the site of paradise? How do these kinds of longings affect the way the Elves see themselves and their relationship to where they live?
I think the longing in general is an unavoidable byproduct of immortality. After millenia, even the most contended hearts grow restless. The longing for the sea is probably tied to the echoes of the Great Music.

6. The Noldor and Vanyar traveled by island – what trick did Ulmo use to get the Teleri to Aman? And what was it that Osse said that convinced some of them to stick around and become the Falathrim, even though they longed for Aman and their friends? Does love of kin overpower love of paradise for the Elves?
I don't know if Ulmo tricked the Teleri as much as they finally made up their minds. After years of searching for Elwe, they finally decided to get on with their lives. Regarding Osse, the Falathrim most likely already had a small part of them that desired to live in Middle Earth by the sea. Osse only nurtured those thoughts, most likely out of love for the Eldar. That said, part of me wonders if Osse perhaps played fast and loose with his power. Given that at one point he was temporarily seduced by Melkor to be the 'Bad Ulmo', I wonder if he didn't tempt the Falathrim with special knowledge/power, just like another of Melkor's servants later would in the Second Age, in order to have subjects to serve and worship him.



As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fëanor shall return who perished ere the Sun was made, and sits now in the Halls of Awaiting and comes no more among his kin; not until the Sun passes and the Moon falls, shall it be known of what substance they were made. Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the Kingdom of Arda.


CuriousG
Valinor


Feb 27 2013, 7:52pm

Post #17 of 19 (339 views)
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Good observation [In reply to] Can't Post

"Given that at one point he was temporarily seduced by Melkor to be the 'Bad Ulmo', I wonder if he didn't tempt the Falathrim with special knowledge/power, just like another of Melkor's servants later would in the Second Age, in order to have subjects to serve and worship him."

The text doesn't say that per se, but what you describe makes a lot of sense about his past and present motivations. He would be "Sea-Sauron."


telain
Rohan

Feb 27 2013, 8:03pm

Post #18 of 19 (345 views)
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a few thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

first, thanks for the great post, weaver!

1. Like CuriousG, I have always liked (what I perceive to be) the sound of Alqualonde and always resisted the name Túna!

2. Reading through the previous posts, I agree that Tír na nÓg feels very similar to the "island boat". The Greek possibilities are Aeolia (unclear whether it is floating on water or air), and Symplegades and Planctae (in the Jason + Argonauts story.) Though, those rocks don't so much act as boats as try to sink them.

3. Though I like the idea behind sador's response (Melkor, et al would also then use it as a pathway and a route for waging war) it is Melkor's doing that causes the ice in the first place. I do think it should be a little difficult to get to and from Paradise, however...

4. Like many who have responded, I do like being near water, though I admit to liking fresh water (especially rivers) over the ocean. For most of my life I have been a rather "terrestrial" being and I especially love big hilltop/mountain vistas (whether or not I can see the Sea). I suppose that puts me in the Noldo camp!

5. Elves and longing -- I see this connection as the desire Tolkien "built" into the Elves: desiring perfection, and being less enamoured with change; wanting to create Paradise in Middle-earth and wanting it to be that way forever. It is the longing for something next to impossible that keep s them from becoming completely numb to the world as the live on yén after yén.

6. Ulmo might have used very large seashells, or enlisted the help of several sea creatures to create and propel a raft-like vessel that carried the Teleri to Aman. Perhaps this "vessel" inspired the remaining Falathrim in their nascent ship-building ventures?

Perhaps Ossë said something like "Tuna is overrated, what you really want is some nice freshwater fish..."


Finwe
Lorien


Feb 28 2013, 2:17pm

Post #19 of 19 (354 views)
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Perhaps even [In reply to] Can't Post

It was Osse who imparted Cirdan with special knowledge of how to grow facial hair. Wink

As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fëanor shall return who perished ere the Sun was made, and sits now in the Halls of Awaiting and comes no more among his kin; not until the Sun passes and the Moon falls, shall it be known of what substance they were made. Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the Kingdom of Arda.

 
 

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