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What's one of your favorite Tolkien quotes/passages? (books or movies)

CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 7, 10:17pm

Post #1 of 25 (2304 views)
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What's one of your favorite Tolkien quotes/passages? (books or movies) Can't Post

I'm spurred to ask this so I can also share a great passage from his Letter #94, which was, after all, a private letter to his son and not meant for publication, making it all the more delightful to read (a heavy fog was frozen into ice):

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We woke (late) on St Stephen’s Day to find all our windows opaque, painted over with frost-patterns, and outside a dim silent misty world, all white, but with a light jewelry of rime; every cobweb a little lace net, even the old fowls’ tent a diamond-patterned pavilion. . . The rime was yesterday even thicker and more fantastic. When a gleam of sun (about 11) got through it was breathtakingly beautiful: trees like motionless fountains of white branching spray against a golden light and, high overhead, a pale translucent blue. ..About 11 p.m. the fog cleared and a high round moon lit the whole scene with a deadly white light: a vision of some other world or time.


OK, so passionate writing about natural beauty like this is why he makes us fall in love with Middle-earth.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 8, 12:48pm

Post #2 of 25 (2195 views)
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'The air was very still...' [In reply to] Can't Post


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The air was very still, and the dell was dark, and the Elf-lady beside him was tall and pale.'

LOTR The Mirror of Galadriel


I'll offer that one as one example of something I admire in Tolkien's writing. In very simple words he's managed to conjure up something both vivid and mysterious. I suspect the ryhthm and the sounds (if the passage is spoken) contribute , as well as the meaning of the words.

Thanks for starting a round of this game - it's been some time since we've played it.

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 8, 2:16pm

Post #3 of 25 (2184 views)
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Tolkien's simple language [In reply to] Can't Post

I normally read Tolkien just for the pleasure of it and don't always stop to analyze his lexicon, but when I do, I repeatedly find that he uses simple, common words to great effect. He also uses forms of "to be" quite powerfully too, even though writers are told that's a weak verb which must be substituted by stronger ones. I think you're right about the rhythm creating the strong effect too.

From conventional writing advice, that line would probably be corrected as:


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"The air felt stagnant, the dell looked sombrous, and the Elf-lady stood beside him tall and pale."


Not the same feel, eh? I think there's more of an oral story-teller feel to Tolkien's diction. Oral story-tellers can't use complex words that make readers pause to think "what does 'adumbrated' mean?" or they would lose the audience's attention. So they stick to simpler grammar and vocabulary so listeners instead focus on the pace, feel, and imagery of the story.


squire
Half-elven


Jul 8, 6:32pm

Post #4 of 25 (2160 views)
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Really? Someone - anyone - would actually recommend the substitute line you provide? [In reply to] Can't Post

I know you're trying to make a point. But it seems to me a bit of a straw man to say "writers are told" the "conventional writing advice" that 'the dell looked sombrous' is better writing than 'the dell was dark'. If sombrous is even a word, it shouldn't be. And why throw away some nice d-d alliteration?

Not to even mention losing in the complete example the extended alliteration of five ell's across the three clauses, and the lively anapestic rhythm of the two short clauses followed by the longer clause, and the slightly archaic/liturgical style of repeated 'and', rather than a comma'd list, which removes the sentence from the modern era.

Now, you know this - that's what your post supports, as NoWiz's did: that Tolkien's language has both power and artful style that supports the world he's created for his story to live within. (I would note, though, that Tolkien does use some brain-bustingly obscure vocab at times. Never sombrous, though. Never.)

So really, I am just questioning the counter-example. Who are these artless people telling writers what to do 'conventionally'?



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 8, 7:43pm

Post #5 of 25 (2139 views)
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I'm not going to name names. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Bracegirdle
Valinor


Jul 12, 1:19am

Post #6 of 25 (2043 views)
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Theoden’s charge on the Pelennor cannot be read goosebumpless. [In reply to] Can't Post

Do yourself a favor and reread this entire passage at the end of Bk. 5, Ch. 5, RotK.
Suddenly the king cried to Snowmane and the horse sprang away. Behind him his banner blew in the wind, white horse upon a field of green, but he outpaced it.
. . . . . . . .
And then all the host of Rohan burst into song and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the city.

But now here, Tolkien has taken what might have been droll or mundane and turned it into a visual delight describing the Northern Marches of Ithilien.
Primeroles and anemones were awake in the filbert-brakes; and asphodel and many lily-flowers nodded their half-opened heads in the grass: deep green grass beside the pools, where falling streams halted in cool hollows on their journey down to Anduin.

TT, IV, 4, Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit


‘. . . the rule of no realm is mine . . .
But all worthy things that are in peril . . . those are my care.
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?'

Gandalf to Denethor




CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 12, 3:11pm

Post #7 of 25 (1983 views)
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Horns, horns, horns [In reply to] Can't Post

Brace delurks at last. Smile

But seriously, thanks for both of those, each moving in their own way.


VeArkenstone
Lorien

Jul 12, 5:47pm

Post #8 of 25 (1973 views)
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I am amazed that, in a private unpublished letter, Tolkien's words turn one's [In reply to] Can't Post

imagination on to the extent that the brain can "see" the words he writes. My brain has no doubt that what Tolkien saw that morning was amazingly beautiful, a morning to be remembered.

Please, call me Ve.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 12, 5:53pm

Post #9 of 25 (1971 views)
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Yes, and I can't "unsee it", but in a good way [In reply to] Can't Post

This image adheres to my neurons in particular. My letter would have said: "The trees were pretty."


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trees like motionless fountains of white branching spray against a golden light



Thor 'n' Oakenshield
Rohan


Jul 13, 3:05pm

Post #10 of 25 (1898 views)
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The way Tolkien writes about nature is awe-inspiring [In reply to] Can't Post

One of the passages from LOTR that, for some inexplicable reason, always resonates with me is this one, in the House of Tom Bombadil, page 128:

"Frodo ran to the eastern window, and found himself looking into a kitchen-garden grey with dew. He had half expected to see turf right up to the walls, turf all pocked with hoof-prints. Actually his view was screened by a tall line of beans on poles; but above and far beyond them the grey top of the hill loomed up against the sunrise. It was a pale morning: in the East, behind long clouds like lines of soiled wool stained red at the edges, lay glimmering deeps of yellow. The sky spoke of rain to come; but the light was broadening quickly, and the red flowers on the beans began to glow against the wet green leaves."

Don't ask me why this paragraph is just so beautiful to me, for I have no idea. My sister, oddly, also loves it. I think, for me, it conjures up an image almost identical to that of one of my favorite Dutch paintings, "The Courtyard of a House in Delft" by Pieter de Hooch. Again, I have no clue why. I don't even know why I love that painting so much: but that, and Tolkien's passage about bean-flowers and sunrises, will always be inextricably linked in my mind.

"It is my duty to fight" - Mulan


squire
Half-elven


Jul 13, 3:26pm

Post #11 of 25 (1891 views)
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Yes, that's a classic example [In reply to] Can't Post

What the heck are 'glimmering deeps of yellow'? Whatever they are, they make perfect sense here!

What's distinctive about this is that it has nothing to do with action, plot, character, etc. It's purely a description of setting, that is, Middle-earth itself. And writing like this, which seems to come easily to Tolkien, is a large part of the reason his readers form a bond with his imaginary world over 1000 pages of 'heroic romance.'



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Thor 'n' Oakenshield
Rohan


Jul 13, 3:38pm

Post #12 of 25 (1891 views)
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I love the way he uses color - for example, glimmering deeps of yellow [In reply to] Can't Post

The descriptions are so vibrant, so alive! And I think the vagueness is also helpful: it's up to the reader to decide what, exactly, a "glimmering deep" is: is it the layers of clouds, or the color of the sky? Fog? Sunlight? All of the above?

And I find it amazing that Tolkien was able to use the word "grey", seemingly one of the more drab, uninspiring colors in the palette, and make it just as vivid as any of his reds, yellows and blues. In fact, I would hazard a guess that he uses grey more times in his books than any other color: Tolkien, the Patron Saint of Grey.

"It is my duty to fight" - Mulan


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 13, 4:03pm

Post #13 of 25 (1877 views)
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Maybe someone's done an official word count of colors, but by my gut, I think you're right. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 13, 4:08pm

Post #14 of 25 (1878 views)
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I like how he makes inanimate things so alive [In reply to] Can't Post

From Bracegirdle's example:

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Primeroles and anemones were awake


And yours:

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The sky spoke




Solicitr
Rohan

Jul 13, 6:34pm

Post #15 of 25 (1867 views)
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It's [In reply to] Can't Post

a pity that so many readers skim the Bombadil chapters, because despite being very early work they contain some of Tolkien's most splendid prose. For example


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Eastward the Barrow-downs rose, ridge behind ridge into the morning, and vanished out of eyesight into a guess: it was no more than a guess of blue and a remote white glimmer blending with the hem of the sky, but it spoke to them, out of memory and old tales, of the high and distant mountains.


Not just the wonderful word-painting here, but the hint that Middle-earth is itself a character; it isn't just landscape, but history as well and the two are inextricably intertwined; the hobbits know of the mountains, and so much else, from old tales.

And this:


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A golden afternoon of late sunshine lay warm and drowsy upon the hidden land between. In the midst of it there wound lazily a dark river of brown water, bordered with ancient willows, arched over with willows, blocked with fallen willows, and flecked with thousands of faded willow-leaves. The air was thick with them, fluttering yellow from the branches; for there was a warm and gentle breeze blowing softly in the valley, and the reeds were rustling, and the willow-boughs were creaking.


With what sublime artistry did Tolkien choose that last word! One discordant note - aurally as well - into the picture of drowsy respite, and one which just, barely, foreshadows menace. (Oxford locals and September visitors might recognize the Cherwell near its juncture with Isis).

And then there's this, Tom's tale-telling:


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They heard of the Great Barrows, and the green mounds, and the stone-rings upon the hills and in the hollows among the hills. Sheep were bleating in flocks. Green walls and white walls rose. There were fortresses on the heights. Kings of little kingdoms fought together, and the young Sun shone like fire on the red metal of their new and greedy swords. There was victory and defeat; and towers fell, fortresses were burned, and flames went up into the sky. Gold was piled on the biers of dead kings and queens; and mounds covered them, and the stone doors were shut; and the grass grew over all. Sheep walked for a while biting the grass, but soon the hills were empty again.


With what 'distant immediacy," and very simple words, does Tolkien convey the great well of time and history, and his ever-present mood of sic transit gloria mundi! Here I think one feels it more intensely than in Gandalf's grand account of Rings and Elf-lords and Sea-kings somewhat earlier. And again the lapidary word-choice while also bookending the passage, the touch of a poet: "Sheep walked for a while biting the grass" - not "eating" the grass, or "grazing"- but two hard plosives, not quite onomatopoeic but still inviting one to hear the clack and tearing, a sound that makes the surrounding silence so much deeper!


Thor 'n' Oakenshield
Rohan


Jul 13, 7:59pm

Post #16 of 25 (1850 views)
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I think the Bombadil chapters are some of the most beautifully written [In reply to] Can't Post

in the entire book. They're just so...alive. Tolkien uses so many unexpected, interesting words in those chapters and he uses them so perfectly. The effect is enchanting.

"It is my duty to fight" - Mulan


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 14, 5:25pm

Post #17 of 25 (1765 views)
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That's especiallly what I like [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Not just the wonderful word-painting here, but the hint that Middle-earth is itself a character; it isn't just landscape, but history as well and the two are inextricably intertwined;


Thanks for the great examples.


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jul 14, 6:01pm

Post #18 of 25 (1765 views)
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For some reason I’m obsessed with Melian’s words to Galadriel in the Grey Annals [In reply to] Can't Post

After Thingol has placed a ban on Men entering into Doriath, it says this:


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Melian said naught to him at that time, but she said after to Galadriel: ‘Now the world runs on swiftly to great tidings. And lo! one of Men, even of Bëor’s house, shall indeed come, and the Girdle of Melian shall not restrain him, for doom greater than my power shall send him; and the songs that shall spring from that coming shall endure when all Middle-earth is changed.’


"Behold! the hope of Elvenland,
the fire of Fëanor, Light of Morn
before the sun and moon were born,
thus out of bondage came at last,
from iron to mortal hand it passed."
-The Lay of Leithian


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 14, 8:32pm

Post #19 of 25 (1749 views)
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*waves* Nice to see you, and great quote. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jul 15, 12:26pm

Post #20 of 25 (1684 views)
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*waves back* Nice to see you, too!// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"Behold! the hope of Elvenland,
the fire of Fëanor, Light of Morn
before the sun and moon were born,
thus out of bondage came at last,
from iron to mortal hand it passed."
-The Lay of Leithian


dormouse
Half-elven


Jul 27, 7:06pm

Post #21 of 25 (1618 views)
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That is beautiful...... [In reply to] Can't Post

This is one of my favourites:

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But let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring. 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.


For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood and every spring
there is a different green. . .


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Jul 27, 10:01pm

Post #22 of 25 (1597 views)
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One of my favourites, too! [In reply to] Can't Post

Not surprisingly.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Ethel Duath
Half-elven


Jul 28, 12:38am

Post #23 of 25 (1579 views)
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Yes, oh yes. I often read [In reply to] Can't Post

passages like these over and over, just for the pleasure of it.



CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 29, 2:36pm

Post #24 of 25 (1493 views)
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It's wonderful when his characters speak poetically like that. Thanks for the quote. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 12, 6:17pm

Post #25 of 25 (1391 views)
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glimmering deeps [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the glimmering deeps of yellow are the cloudless part of the sky, as in this (sunset) picture I took in Cheshire, England, in between heavy rains. It's not as nice as it was in real life, and not as nice as full resolution, but it shows what I mean, I think.

The 'deep' bit, I think, is because it looks far away (rather than 'deep yellow' etc. )

Caption: sunset picture that shows dark grey clouds with some red parts, and a bright yellow part where there's a gap in the cloud

~~~~~~
"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.

 
 

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