March 23: jan-u-wine's 'Report From the Road', illustration by Eissmann.
March 23: Frodo and Sam in the wastes of Gorgoroth.
Written from Sam's point of view, jan-u-wine's 'Report From the Road' takes readers to Sam in near-despair. On March 14, Sam rescues Frodo from the tower-dungeon of Cirith Ungol. Clothing themselves in the armour of dead Orcs, they escape, only to be over-taken on the road and forced to march north, away from their goal, with a group of soldiers headed for Udûn, and its fortress, Durthang. In the tangle which follows the simultaneous arrival of several companies of Orcs at a cross-road, Frodo and Sam manage to escape, leaving the road and turning east once more to face the smoking wastes of Gorgoroth. Frodo, his burden heavier with each step he takes toward the Mountain, grows weaker and slower every day. On March 23, he is unable to carry extra weight any further and casts the hated Orc gear away. Sam throws away his beloved pots and pans. Lightened, Frodo recovers some strength, but by the end of the day he is worse than ever. It is at this halt, Frodo collapsed and Sam falling into dark thoughts, that Jan's poem takes place.*
I don't like everything Anke Eissmann has done, but her picture of a distraught Sam beside an unconscious Frodo is "worth a thousand words". You will have to judge for yourself. Born in Dillenberg, Germany in 1977, Eissmann is a younger artist whose portfolio is already bulging with work. Besides reams of Tolkien illustrations, there are myriad pictures made for other works. If you are interested, Eissmann's online gallery is extensive.
The book scene, from Mount Doom:
At their last halt he sank down and said: 'I'm thirsty, Sam,' and did not speak again. Sam gave him a mouthful of water; only one more mouthful remained. He went without himself; and now as once more the night of Mordor closed over them, through all his thoughts came the memory of water; and every brook or stream or fount that he had ever seen, under green willow-shades or twinkling in the sun, danced and rippled for his torment behind the blindness of his eyes. He felt the cool mud about his toes as he paddled in the Pool at Bywater with Jolly Cotton and Tom and Nibs, and their sister Rosie. ‘But that was years ago,’ he sighed, ‘and far away. The way back, if there is one, goes past the Mountain.’
He could not sleep and he held a debate with himself. ‘Well, come now, we’ve done better than you hoped,’ he said sturdily. ‘Began well, anyway. I reckon we crossed half the distance before we stopped. One more day will do it.’ And then he paused.
‘Don’t be a fool, Sam Gamgee,’ came an answer in his own voice. ‘He won’t go another day like that, if he moves at all. And you can’t go on much longer giving him all the water and most of the food.’
‘I can go on a good way though, and I will.’
‘To the Mountain, of course.’
‘But what then, Sam Gamgee, what then? When you get there, what are you going to do? He won’t be able to do anything for himself.’
To his dismay Sam realized that he had not got an answer to this. He had no clear idea at all. Frodo had not spoken much to him of his errand, and Sam only knew vaguely that the Ring had somehow to be put into the fire. ‘The Cracks of Doom,’ he muttered, the old name rising to his mind. ‘Well, if Master knows how to find them, I don’t.’
‘There you are!’ came the answer. ‘It’s all quite useless. He said so himself. You are the fool, going on hoping and toiling. You could have lain down and gone to sleep together days ago, if you hadn’t been so dogged. But you’ll die just the same, or worse. You might just as well lie down now and give it up. You’ll never get to the top anyway.’
‘I’ll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind,’ said Sam. ‘And I’ll carry Mr. Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and my heart. So stop arguing!’
At that moment Sam felt a tremor in the ground beneath him, and he heard or sensed a deep remote rumble as of thunder imprisoned under the earth. There was a brief red flame that flickered under the clouds and died away. The Mountain too slept uneasily.
Report From the Road
these days, is marked by at least equal amounts of a lack thereof.
if it were a morning at home,
I would laugh and shake my head at the lie-abed ways of my Master,
my friend, the gentle-hobbit.
I cannot remember what laughter feels like.
it is no joke to see you thus, lying full asleep, heedless to the open eye of the World.
still.... you managed to keep your feet through all the moonless night..
you did well, this time.
it were one of the last times, I know....
one of the last times......
when the Sun drew a little above Her eastern haven, you lay down without a word.
Before even I could speak, your eyes drifted......
at least, you seem at ease,
drowned in dreams….
strangely fearless as time slips silently by.
it frightens me, it does, as each day crawls to another night and still we seem no closer...
and still you speak less and hold to It more and look about you at the shadows as if you knew them.... as if they were every bit of Light you ever wanted.
do not think I have not noticed that even the goodness of the Lady's gift, is lost to you.
you turn away from me now so that I cannot see it pains you.
I see. I know.
It burns, doesn't it?
You are becoming like him...
I bow my head.
I must not give up.
I think of those we left behind....
how long ago that seems.
I suppose they are fighting now.....
they are already at peace.
I wish we were at peace.
I am glad that you sleep and cannot see my tears.
I miss them.
I miss you.
Right here beside me and I miss you.
It isn't ever going to come right, is it?
It is time....
time to go on
I put sunlight in my touch and find a memory'd smile to greet you with.
happiness lives and dies in the confusion of your eyes.
wordless, voiceless, you stand.
* Heartfelt thanks to jan-u-wine for writing the scene intro.
Next Frodo entry:
~ March 25 Anniversary: "Naked in the Dark", with painting by Tim Kirk.
Previous Frodo entry:
River-Dawn, with illustrative painting by Martin A. Poole. [or a Mother's love]