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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
TORn Amateur Symposium Essay: "The Sea Longing" by Swordwhale

TORn Amateur Symposium
Bree


Nov 29 2013, 4:03pm

Post #1 of 23 (460 views)
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TORn Amateur Symposium Essay: "The Sea Longing" by Swordwhale Can't Post

Welcome to November 2013 TORn Amateur Symposium, the second TAS!

We are very pleased to present the next essay for TAS2:



"The Sea Longing" by Swordwhale


Abstract:
Elves, gulls, snorkels, kayaks and barrier islands...Tolkien and the potent archetypal image of water, and why Legolas' sea song can be used to row a Viking longship.



To view the essay, please click on the link above.

Our authors have written essays and analyses that are concerned, in some way, with the legendarium of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. These essays may be philosophic opinions, scientific theories, or analytical approaches to understanding or highlighting some facet of Tolkien's writings and world. These pieces are written with the goal of amateur scholarship at their core - thus inspiring our Symposium title. Authors may choose to include citations or footnotes, but they are by no means required. Keeping in mind the dual spirit of enjoyment and inquiry that we believe in (as much as we value cheer and song), and which is of paramount important to both the TAS team and our authors, we fully encourage discussion of the essays presented.We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoy posting it. The TAS is open for discussion, and any comments, questions or thought you wish to share about this essay can be posted in this response to this thread.

If you would like to read or comment upon any of the essays so far, these are all still open for discussion.


So please, go forth and enjoy all of the works we have posted for this 2013 November Session. The entire TAS Team, (Elaen32, DanielLB and Brethil), is both delighted and proud to present the essays our TAS members have crafted, relating their interests and skills to the world of JRRT that we all love; a world most intricately crafted, and one that "takes hold of us, and never let's go."



(This post was edited by Rosie-with-the-ribbons on Nov 29 2013, 7:21pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


Nov 29 2013, 7:18pm

Post #2 of 23 (291 views)
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Many ideas in here Swordwhale! [In reply to] Can't Post

This is a very evocative and personal piece Swordwhale. A warm pleasure to read. I love your you have made personal connections to that feeling that JRRT writes about: the call of the sea.

The sea as an escape: coupled with the archetype of The Mariner, which was so integral to the Middle-earth legendarium in the creation of Earendil, it is the 'escape' as you say from the troubles of Middle-earth. JRRT really does show this is Legolas' journey through trees and then to the sea. Even as a Silvan Elf who had not made the trip to Valinor that call still touches him. If the Big Water is the way, and a part of, the next world (for Elves) it leads to an interesting connection with the Ring.

I like the point you raise about the Ring being lost, and refound, in water. So its here, yet not, is we regard water as another world (one we cannot survive in, yet the Ring - lifeless in its way - can). During its time in the river it can we say it waits in a sort of limbo, not entirely of this world nor of the other?

Rowing a Viking longship ( a fascinating idea in and of itself) and the rhythm of the words - JRRT's ear for the sonorous alliterative expression of the North? What a good use for it!

Thank you for sharing this piece with us!

The second TORn Amateur Symposium is running right now, in the Reading Room. Come have a look and maybe stay to chat!





DanielLB
Immortal


Nov 29 2013, 7:20pm

Post #3 of 23 (297 views)
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What I've always been interested in with "The Sea Longing" ... [In reply to] Can't Post

(Off on a bit of tangent to your essay ... sorry!)

Is that Galadriel had already forseen Legolas seeing a gull near the river in Pelagir. When Gandalf the White returned, she gave a message to Gandalf to pass on to Legolas:


Quote
Legolas Greenleaf long under tree
In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore,
Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more.


Why pass on the message now, and not while they were in Lothlorien? Why was she warning him now (had she only just foreseen it)? I always wondered if she hinted to Legolas that he shouldn't go with Aragorn and go elsewhere instead? Does it also hint at some sort of unseen relationship between Galadriel and Legolas? Galadriel always helped in one way or another ... hmmm

Thank you for a lovely personal essay. Smile It was a great read.



(This post was edited by DanielLB on Nov 29 2013, 7:28pm)


Dame Ioreth
Grey Havens


Nov 29 2013, 7:37pm

Post #4 of 23 (287 views)
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This is absolutely beautiful! [In reply to] Can't Post

I sometimes work on the Eastern Shore and when I cross the Bay Bridge I have that same feeling of leaving something very potent behind. I live in central Maryland now, landlocked, but I grew up near the swift waters of the Niagara River and the roar of Niagara Falls.

Yes, there is something about water.. And you've captured it beautifully!

Where there's life there's hope, and need of vittles.
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings




Brethil
Half-elven


Nov 30 2013, 2:18am

Post #5 of 23 (276 views)
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Intriguing question Daniel [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Is that Galadriel had already forseen Legolas seeing a gull near the river in Pelagir. When Gandalf the White returned, she gave a message to Gandalf to pass on to Legolas:


Quote
Legolas Greenleaf long under tree
In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore,
Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more.


Why pass on the message now, and not while they were in Lothlorien? Why was she warning him now (had she only just foreseen it)? I always wondered if she hinted to Legolas that he shouldn't go with Aragorn and go elsewhere instead? Does it also hint at some sort of unseen relationship between Galadriel and Legolas? Galadriel always helped in one way or another ... hmmm
Contextually the messages to Gimli and to Aragorn are to help them in the quest to defeat Sauron: to keep Gimli from getting into tree-trouble and to remind Aragorn of the Dead. It seems then that the message to Legolas should be the same. Is it a warning for him not to sway his heart, to be careful of the call of the Sea coming too soon, while Sauron remains yet undefeated? Its interesting that she passes this on to him, because having seen the sea she understands the feel of it...and at the time, it is a call she thinks she can never enjoy again as (*I think, at this point in time*) she believes her Ban is for all eternity. Its like she is passing on the wisdom to the 'next generation', like passing a torch, but saying that Legolas must persevere until it is over? (A bit OT but about Legolas so it fits there...Smile)

The second TORn Amateur Symposium is running right now, in the Reading Room. Come have a look and maybe stay to chat!





Kim
Valinor


Nov 30 2013, 3:54am

Post #6 of 23 (258 views)
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Thank you for sharing this. [In reply to] Can't Post

I too feel the call of the sea when hearing seagulls. I grew up on the other end of the continent from you, and we spent every summer camping on the Washington coast. I learned to swim when I was young, although I’ve never felt the desire to scuba dive. Living just off the Puget Sound is a close second to being on the coast itself. I don’t think I could ever live anywhere that wasn’t close to water.

Smile


BlackFox
Valinor


Nov 30 2013, 12:53pm

Post #7 of 23 (266 views)
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A great piece [In reply to] Can't Post

I very much enjoyed your piece - a beautiful, personal, and poetic look at Tolkien's wonderful writings. It's always nice to read something a bit different. What else can say but a job fell done!


Mikah
Lorien

Nov 30 2013, 3:45pm

Post #8 of 23 (236 views)
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Tolkien would be proud. [In reply to] Can't Post

This is such a lovely piece of writing. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have such admiration for writers who express their thoughts in such a eloquent manner. It flows beautifully. It recalls to my heart the Oregon Coast when I was a child. I have visited many beaches and coast lines since then, but I do not believe I have seen anything quite like the coasts of the Pacific Northwest.


elaen32
Gondor


Nov 30 2013, 4:23pm

Post #9 of 23 (234 views)
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I enjoyed reading this again Swordwhale [In reply to] Can't Post

having read it when you first submitted it. I too love the sea, but admittedly, looking at it, walking by it and feeling its influence rather than being on it or in it. Of course, one is never that far, relatively speaking, from the sea in the UK, but interestingly, Tolkien spent most of his life living in the areas of the country which are furthest from the sea. It does not appear that, on the few occasions that he did travel further afield, that he chose to visit the coast either. Maybe, like Legolas, he feared the lure of the sea a little, feeling that he might never want to go back to his beloved Oxford.

I love in a coastal town in southern England and have never lived that far from the sea. The moods of the sea and the light reflecting from it are never the same twice. However, I have to say that I do not love the gulls- although I do not dislike them either. Maybe it is that they have a tendency to nest on the chimneys on the houses around here and they never seem to sleep! I have had too many nights broken by gulls screeching at 3 am to really love them, although I do find them interesting to watch.

There are many beautiful coastlines around the world, which are all so different, but all wonderful in their own way. I don't think that I could say that one is preferable, but I think we all feel a tie and a calling to places we have loved, especially those first encountered as a child.
Thanks again for a thought-provoking piece!Smile


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!



DanielLB
Immortal


Nov 30 2013, 8:22pm

Post #10 of 23 (230 views)
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Did Tolkien want to fill in a gap? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Contextually the messages to Gimli and to Aragorn are to help them in the quest to defeat Sauron: to keep Gimli from getting into tree-trouble and to remind Aragorn of the Dead. It seems then that the message to Legolas should be the same.


Would it have appeared strange if Galadriel didn't also have a message for Legolas? Perhaps it is that simple - Tolkien didn't want to be the odd one out?

Legolas doesn't mention it again, nor when he actually sees the gulls. Maybe Tolkien forgot to tie this strand up? CrazyWink



Brethil
Half-elven


Nov 30 2013, 8:34pm

Post #11 of 23 (224 views)
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On a practical level its certainly a possibility Daniel [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Quote
Contextually the messages to Gimli and to Aragorn are to help them in the quest to defeat Sauron: to keep Gimli from getting into tree-trouble and to remind Aragorn of the Dead. It seems then that the message to Legolas should be the same.


Would it have appeared strange if Galadriel didn't also have a message for Legolas? Perhaps it is that simple - Tolkien didn't want to be the odd one out?

Legolas doesn't mention it again, nor when he actually sees the gulls. Maybe Tolkien forgot to tie this strand up? CrazyWink




It would have seemed odd, you are quite right. I do like the idea of it having a purpose....

Add in the need that he perhaps felt to tie in Sil elements - though without the concurrent publication they get a bit lost in the translation. With Sil in hand the gull reference perhaps makes more sense?

The second TORn Amateur Symposium is running right now, in the Reading Room. Come have a look and maybe stay to chat!





DanielLB
Immortal


Nov 30 2013, 8:51pm

Post #12 of 23 (223 views)
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I think you're right. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Add in the need that he perhaps felt to tie in Sil elements - though without the concurrent publication they get a bit lost in the translation. With Sil in hand the gull reference perhaps makes more sense?


I think Tolkien was just extending the connection of Elves with water. Tolkien probably wants to remind the reader that the love of water/sea is something that is present in the subconsciousness of every Elf. The sound of waves is a constant reminder of the bliss that awaits them over the sundering seas. If I remember rightly, this is the only reference to it in The Lord of the Rings, so yes, it does make more sense with The Silmarillion in hand.



Meneldor
Tol Eressea


Nov 30 2013, 9:57pm

Post #13 of 23 (224 views)
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The sphere. [In reply to] Can't Post

Swordwhale, I love your description of swimming at the center of a sphere. Sometimes I go swimming late at night in a lake on a moonless summer night. There is nothing around me but black water below reflecting black sky and stars above, and me floating in the middle of it all. Those moments bring home the infinity of the universe, and my tiny place in the middle of it. Awe-inspiring. Breathtaking.


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.


demnation
Rohan

Dec 1 2013, 6:47am

Post #14 of 23 (202 views)
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Beautiful essay, Swordwhale [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't have much of an appreciation for the sea myself. It's cold and it's wet. And getting saltwater on your sunburn is the absolute worst. What I do have an appreciation for is the sheer poetry that you (and Tolkien!) use to express your desire for the Sea, and in doing so helping me see things a little differently. Wonderful stuff.

Mr Baggins began as a comic tale among conventional and inconsistent Grimm's fairy-tale dwarves, and got drawn into the edge of it – so that even Sauron the terrible peeped over the edge.- JRR Tolkien, Letter 19


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Dec 2 2013, 3:32pm

Post #15 of 23 (194 views)
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sea longing, no tower [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks so much for writing this, Swordwhale!

Thinking about Tolkien's reactions to the sea always makes me think of his allegorical critique of critical reactions to Beowulf:

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.

Its that last line - "But from the top of that tower the man had been able to look out upon the sea." So lovely and so satisfying. Expresses so well that the critics have missed the point. The line doesn't work at all teh same way if you make it (for example) "But from the top of that tower the man had been able to look out upon the railway station."




Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Lightfoot
Rivendell


Dec 2 2013, 4:03pm

Post #16 of 23 (177 views)
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Lovely essay! [In reply to] Can't Post

I will have to try using Legolas' song the next time I go kayaking! (sadly I do not have a Viking long ship to try it on ) I have always lived within 45 minutes of the Atlantic ocean and occasionally see the gulls flying overhead. I have never loved to swim in the ocean
but do thoroughly enjoy walking or going horseback riding along the shore. I prefer overcast days with a hint of rain - that way I still hear the pounding surf and can smell the salty sea breeze without having to worry about a crowded beach or sunburn!Wink

Faithful servant yet master's bane,
Lightfoot's foal, swift Snowmane



Brethil
Half-elven


Dec 2 2013, 4:08pm

Post #17 of 23 (174 views)
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Brings to mind "All Summer in a Day"... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Thanks so much for writing this, Swordwhale!

Thinking about Tolkien's reactions to the sea always makes me think of his allegorical critique of critical reactions to Beowulf:

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.

Its that last line - "But from the top of that tower the man had been able to look out upon the sea." So lovely and so satisfying. Expresses so well that the critics have missed the point. The line doesn't work at all teh same way if you make it (for example) "But from the top of that tower the man had been able to look out upon the railway station."
I'm reminded of that story in this quote...missing the point as well as taking a gift from a mind that sees farther, past the stone and the construct of the building. That longing of something higher and boundless.



The second TORn Amateur Symposium is running right now, in the Reading Room. Come have a look and maybe stay to chat!





SirDennisC
Half-elven


Dec 2 2013, 4:45pm

Post #18 of 23 (181 views)
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Very nice. Thanks. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Brethil
Half-elven


Dec 2 2013, 6:31pm

Post #19 of 23 (170 views)
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(*waves*) Nice to see you, SirD! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

The second TORn Amateur Symposium is running right now, in the Reading Room. Come have a look and maybe stay to chat!





SirDennisC
Half-elven


Dec 4 2013, 3:42am

Post #20 of 23 (160 views)
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Hey, thanks [In reply to] Can't Post

You and your co-conspirators have managed something special here... I really appreciate what all involved have done for the TORn community. Thanks again.


Brethil
Half-elven


Dec 4 2013, 4:58am

Post #21 of 23 (145 views)
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Wow, thank you so much SirD - from all of us I can say that means a lot! [In reply to] Can't Post

Angelic Its been a huge pleasure reading and featuring these pieces. We feel so lucky to have this much insight and talent in our community.

The second TORn Amateur Symposium is running right now, in the Reading Room. Come have a look and maybe stay to chat!





cats16
Valinor


Dec 16 2013, 5:13am

Post #22 of 23 (124 views)
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A little late, but... [In reply to] Can't Post

Really enjoyed this piece, swordwhale! I love the imagery, both from our world and Middle-earth. I'd love to go to the Sea again, someday.


CuriousG
Valinor


Dec 25 2013, 2:10am

Post #23 of 23 (126 views)
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I'm very late [In reply to] Can't Post

but remain in awe of your writing. Thanks for letting the rest of us read it, Swordwhale!

 
 

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