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Mt. Doom river of fire

For the Anniversary of March 25: Jan's 'The Plea of the Evenstar' , art by Bandwench and Alan Lee.

Posted on 2012.03.25 at 08:12
Tags: , , ,
~*~



~ detail from a manip by Bandwench.



It was marked on my kitchen calendar. March 25: "Fall of Sauron". The destruction of the Ring and the Tower of Barad-dûr, the rescue of Frodo and Sam, the 'eucatastrophe' from which the hopes of the Free Peoples rose out of the smoke and ash of the Dark Lord's ruin. Of course I would have to celebrate it. Jan-u-wine agreed. But I'd screencapped every bit of the film scenes. In image and verse we'd pored over the destruction and fall and the rescue by the Eagles and the recovery in Ithilien.

It was another, quieter but no less pivotal event that captured my imagination this year, jan-u-wine's too . Re-reading the draft of a letter Tolkien wrote in 1963 to Mrs. Eileen Elgar (who had questions about whether Frodo failed or not), the matter of Arwen's gift of the jewel and her passage to the Undying Lands caught my attention. I sent it on and it provided the catalyst for a new and beautiful piece of jan-u-wine poetry.

Many of you are familiar with Letter 246. Listen again to this section on Frodo's state, after the completion of his task, and how the new queen would come to his aid. The asterisked paragraph is Tolkien's accompanying footnote.

Frodo appears at first to have had no sense of guilt (III 224-5); he was restored to sanity and peace. But then he thought that he had given his life in sacrifice: he expected to die very soon. But he did not, and one can observe the disquiet growing in him. Arwen was the first to observe the signs, and gave him her jewel for comfort, and thought of a way of healing him.*

*It is not made explicit how she could arrange this. She could not of course just transfer her ticket on the boat like that! For any except those of Elvish race ‘sailing West’ was not permitted, and any exception required ‘authority’, and she was not in direct communication with the Valar, especially not since her choice to become ‘mortal’. What is meant is that it was Arwen who first thought of sending Frodo into the West, and put in a plea for him to Gandalf (direct or through Galadriel, or both), and she used her own renunciation of the right to go West as an argument. Her renunciation and suffering were related to and enmeshed with Frodo’s: both were parts of a plan for the regeneration of the state of Men. Her prayer might therefore be specially effective, and her plan have a certain equity of exchange. No doubt it was Gandalf who was the authority that accepted her plea. The Appendices show clearly that he was an emissary of the Valar, and virtually their plenipotentiary in accomplishing the plan against Sauron. He was also in special accord with Cirdan the Ship-master, who had surrendered to him his ring and so placed himself under Gandalf’s command. Since Gandalf himself went on the Ship there would be so to speak no trouble either at embarking or at the landing.

How sensitively, intelligently and beautifully jan-u-wine opens up this passage through the magic of her poetry.

The primary illustration for this piece is a manip Bandwench made several years ago, which she called "Prince Elijah". Although the source image was a photo of Elijah Wood, to my mind it was an image of Frodo, but Frodo no longer living in the Shire. To me it was Frodo as imagined across the Sea, dressed in foreign clothes (the Gaffer, surely, would not approve), yet clothes appropriate to one whom Gandalf called Bronwe athan Harthad, who was the King's friend, sung by minstrels, and hailed by armies. Bandwench had made the manip in an array of colour effects, but the one she did in 'gray scale' had the most magic for me, with its soft diffuse glow, revealing a bit of the inner light Gandalf had seen in Frodo as he recovered in Rivendell. I showed it to jan-u-wine and she, too, thought it was stunning, worthy of a poem.

For the additional images, jan-u-wine and I searched far and wide to find the images that spoke best to us for this piece. After much browsing, getting it down to a half-dozen possibles, it was jan-u-wine who found the Alan Lee picture that heads the poem. It is not a picture of Arwen, however, but a Welsh goddess or super-heroine named Rhiannon. She is associated with horses. It makes a splendid Arwen illustration, nonetheless. Jan-u-wine found the bottom illustration as well, another painting by Alan Lee. The little image (between the manip and the Lee) was made from a picture of an antique decorative tile.

I was thinking, re-reading this, how Tolkien must have considered self-sacrifice the greatest vehicle and magnifier of grace. Giving of himself, the giver receives. The greater the gift or sacrifice, the greater the redounding grace. Arwen gives Frodo her passage to the Undying Lands -- her inheritance, so to speak -- making Frodo her heir. Her gift is a boon to him, but, in giving it, she is ennobled. Similarly Frodo will give his inheritance to Sam. Receiving Frodo's worldly possessions, as well as a spiritual inheritance in the form of Frodo's story, is certainly a boon to Sam, but, at the same time, the giving ennobles Frodo that much more.

Now. Read, look, enjoy, and let your hearts be lifted to know that the hobbit who lost so much and gave so much also received.






~*~



















The Plea of the Evenstar


An Entreatment of the Lord Mithrandir (Minas Tirith, Summer, 3019)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Of late, my Lord,
I have cause to know

what
it might mean to be mortal.

In joy and
sorrow

I have come to understand
the Gift of Men.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A Prince
we have named him,

clothing him
in raiment

like to the Elder days.

Pearls of fair ivory
adorn his tunic,

gems,
blue as Mirrormere,

shine

upon the very hem
of his coat.


About his neck,
where lately dwelt evil,

pigeon-blood rubies,
bound by starr'd mithril,

depend.


Is it with such
weak finery

we honour him,
my Lord?

Is it with such poor stuff
we commend

his sacrifice,

this.......

Prince
of the West?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pale, like a grey-clad
Sea,

the light which falls

softly
about him.


Sorrowfully,
it has not the strength
you had hoped,

my Lord.

It fades.

He fades.

Beneath the burden
of bitter-found

truth,

beneath the harsh

resonance
of remember'd

desire and sharp-toothed regret,

he fades,

the small

moments
of his life

fleeing
towards

a lonely ending.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And shall he die,
thus,

my Lord,
this small one

who has given

and been

and borne
so much?

Are we shamedly
content

to farewell
him

so?


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


By your leave, my Lord.

There is but one
small portion

of that which I was
remaining,

one gift I might
yet bestow.

By your leave, my Lord.

By......your......leave.

In this,

the wondrous summer of
our hope fulfilled,

in this,
my own autumn,

I implore you:

grant that
he should

know
himself rightly,

cleansed and whole.


Upon a deserving brow
bind the signet of life,

unblemished.

Let him depart
from grey sorrow

in my place.

All this,
with my mortal heart,

I entreat you,

I enjoin you, my Lord:

make of him a
Prince,

A Prince

of the Uttermost
West.















Images:
'Prince Elijah' by Bandwench.
'Magic Ship', from a decorative antique tile.
'Rhiannon' by Alan Lee.
'The Grey Ship of the Elves' by Alan Lee.




Previous Tolkien entry:
~ Happy 120th Birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien, with jan-u-wine's 'On the Greatness and Littleness of Being', posted 01/03/12.

Other Links:
~ All entries featuring jan-u-wine's poems.



Comments:


bagma
bagma at 2012-03-25 13:39 (UTC) (Link)
What a beautiful and moving poem! Thank you for sharing it.:)

I never saw Bandwench's magnificent manip before, but I agree with you: I see Frodo here, not Elijah. Either way, she did an amazing work.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-03-25 14:19 (UTC) (Link)
Aren't they beautiful, the both of them? We're so glad Bandwench gave us permission to use the piece. I think the image and poem only enhance each other. :)

Peachy
aussiepeach at 2012-03-25 13:51 (UTC) (Link)
Both poem and manip are exquisite. A Prince indeed.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-03-25 14:21 (UTC) (Link)
Yep, it's only fair that Frodo should get some prince time in. Seriously, I love both pieces.
Shirebound
shirebound at 2012-03-25 14:12 (UTC) (Link)
Ohhhh, that poem brings me to tears. What love, what perception, what determination to see a worthy soul valued and healed.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-03-25 14:23 (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad it moved you, Shirebound. Me, too. I wept reading it, both at the beauty of the writing and beauty of the characters, and of their souls, portrayed by it.
Rakshi
rakshi at 2012-03-25 14:43 (UTC) (Link)
As always, utterly exquisite and deeply moving.

You both grace our lives with your presence and your talent.

Love....
Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-03-25 19:01 (UTC) (Link)
You both grace our lives with your presence and your talent

This could as easily be said of you, little lassy. Thanks for your appreciative heart, Rakshi. :)
ambree40
ambree40 at 2012-03-25 14:54 (UTC) (Link)
What a beautiful tribute to Frodo and to Arwen Undomiel. Thank you both so much. Jan_u_wine’s poem brought me to tears, as happens so often when I’m reading her poems.
You chose some wonderful illustrations from Alan Lee, and the “Prince Elijah” manip from Bandwench shows Frodo’s damaged soul so well.
It’s interesting that you refer to “the inner light Gandalf had seen in Frodo as he recovered in Rivendell”. That passage was also in my mind when I thought of a celebratory LJ post for today. I decided on film images of Frodo’s awakening in the Houses of Healing. ‘He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can.' Whether intentional or not, for me that film scene resonated strongly with Gandalf’s words in Rivendell.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-03-25 19:16 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, his poor soul. But I can't help thinking his sojourn in the West restored it.

That light. Yes, light is a huge revealer in Tolkien, no? The high Elves radiated light, to those with eyes to see, reflecting the light of the Two Trees under which they'd lived in Aman, ages before, the same light that was in the Silmarils, and Earendil (with a Silmaril on his brow as he sailed the sky), whose light gave hope to the people of Middle-earth. I am sure the light, in both cases, Frodo's and the high Elves', was meant to be the same thing: the light of divine illumination. Surely that light would have increased in Frodo, living in the presence of the Elves and the Valar, the agents of Iluvatar's power to create and heal and restore. Well, maybe I just *want* it to, but I am sure it came to pass. :)

And, yes, that scene of Frodo waking, even though no book lines were spoken to refer to it, was bathed in light. Not just Frodo but the whole scene glowed.
antane at 2012-03-25 17:54 (UTC) (Link)
Happy Day! Well, of course, another masterpiece as expected! Le hannon, both of you dears! So true that the magnitude of Frodo's sacrifice should have an equal reward. I love the whole poem, but the ending the most. Another great work of art is The Last Ship by Tim Kirk. I think of it being Frodo (and think I've read it is Frodo) but lately I've been wondering if it was Sam, who would be on the last ship, not Frodo. And more moving it would be if it was Sam, who despite his fear of boats and water, is standing so high up to get his first glimpse of the treasure there waiting for him.

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-03-25 19:24 (UTC) (Link)
Do you mean this one, Antane? 'The Last Shore'?

http://tolkiengateway.net/w/images/1/12/Tim_Kirk_-_Last_Shore.jpg

Jan-u-wine likes this painting quite a lot. I think she said it was supposed to be Frodo, but she would know best. Perhaps she will say when she comments.

Thanks so much for stopping in. It was a splendid treatment of the material, wasn't it, Jan's poem? I was so moved.
Belleferret
belleferret at 2012-03-25 18:26 (UTC) (Link)
Ah that poem makes me weep. Such a moving plea from Arwen to Gandalf, how could he not grant her request.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-03-25 19:25 (UTC) (Link)
Me, too (wept.). A gorgeous piece on a gorgeous moment in the story, but greatly and beautifully expanded.
(Deleted comment)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-03-25 19:29 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for stopping in, Mews. And I'm so pleased you appreciated the poem and images. I have been very non-present on LJ, messageboards, the works. I barely know what's going on with The Hobbit! But as I haven't been keeping up, I hope you haven't been ill. It's been a hard spring for many people. I don't mean me, I'm fine. Just busy with real life stuff, and distracted.
(Deleted comment)
addie71
addie71 at 2012-03-25 21:47 (UTC) (Link)
What a beautiful and moving poem. The pictures are perfect. I see Frodo, not Elijah in the first one, too.

Edited at 2012-03-25 09:47 pm (UTC)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-03-25 22:41 (UTC) (Link)
I see Frodo, not Elijah in the first one, too.

Bandwench really transformed Wood in that manip. I think the expression on his face, helped along by the picturesque costume, is so like some of his signature expressions playing Frodo, ideas of Elijah Wood are set aside.

I'm pleased you were moved by the post, Addie. And just as pleased you stopped in to say so. :)
Prim
primula_baggins at 2012-03-26 02:18 (UTC) (Link)
I remember when Bandwench did that beautiful manip of Prince Elijah. It's great to see it once again.

I enjoyed reading the excerpt from Tolkien and your thoughts about it. Jan's poem is perfect.

Thanks to you all.
Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-03-26 02:52 (UTC) (Link)
Primula, the post seems to have pleased you in all its aspects. I am very, very happy! Thanks so much for commenting. :)

I loved all its "ingredients", too, although it wasn't at all apparent to me a few weeks ago how we might use some or all of them to do March 25 justice. I love how all the elements came together.
(Deleted comment)
Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-03-26 14:32 (UTC) (Link)
March, 25. Such a strange day. Day of victory and their worst suffering. So strange and so spesial

That says it very succinctly. Tolkien's work is embedded in variations on this irony. Maybe its the bedrock of the book's enduring truth and gut appeal.

Thank you so much for stopping by to read. If you liked this poem, you will probably like reading jan-u-wine's work further. This piece is representative of her work. There's a link to a page I made listing all her work posted in this LJ. It's in the side bar, but here it is in this comment, if you would care to browse her work:

http://mechtild.livejournal.com/62922.html

For the poems posted with sets of screencaps, you'll see the order is per the order of the film's scenes. But the posts were not done in chronological order. There are lots of other pieces, not posted with screencaps, which you can find linked in the sections below the screencap one. Jan-u-wine has done reams of splendid, thoughtful work. I am not typically a reader of fanfic poetry, but hers is in a category all its own. I think it is my favourite fanfic I've read, although it is in the form of verse, not prose.
(Deleted comment)
verangel
verangel at 2012-03-26 20:55 (UTC) (Link)
"I was thinking, re-reading this, how Tolkien must have considered self-sacrifice the greatest vehicle and magnifier of grace. Giving of himself, the giver receives. The greater the gift or sacrifice, the greater the redounding grace. Arwen gives Frodo her passage to the Undying Lands -- her inheritance, so to speak -- making Frodo her heir. Her gift is a boon to him, but, in giving it, is ennobled. Similarly Frodo will give his inheritance to Sam. Receiving Frodo's worldly possessions, as well as a spiritual inheritance in the form of Frodo's story, is certainly a boon to Sam, but, at the same time, the giving ennobles Frodo that much more."

*teared up* Beautifuly reasoned and broken down. Can't you imagine how honored Tolkien was to know that people worried over the fate of Frodo. He did suffer and sacrifice so much with a pure heart. He touched Arwen's soul and through this absolultely magnificent poem, beseached that Frodo would replace her. Be honored and allowed the possibility to heal and have dignity restored to a troubled inner soul.

beneath the harsh

resonance
of remember'd

desire and sharp-toothed regret,

he fades,

the small

moments
of his life

fleeing
towards

a lonely ending.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And shall he die,
thus,

my Lord,
this small one

who has given

and been

and borne
so much?

Are we shamedly
content

to farewell
him

so?

These words would cut into the heart of one such as Gandalf who had a special bond with Frodo. He would accept this gracious and selfless gift to Frodo. They took care of each other. In the appendecies the indication is that Sam would be accorded a place on a ship to join Frodo. I wonder about that in thinking of Arwen's place being given to Frodo.

I love when you two do this. The picture by Bandwench is stunning, absolutely stunning. So much in those eyes. A wounded prince, one very humbled and deserving.
Love you both tons xoxoxoxo hugs v
Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-03-26 22:29 (UTC) (Link)
Verangel, I am pleased to the depths to read how much this poem meant to you, and the ideas surrounding it, and how much you liked the beautiful manip Bandwench made. We spent a long time preparing this piece; it's gratifying when people, especially people who love Frodo and Tolkien so much, appreciate it.

These words would cut into the heart of one such as Gandalf who had a special bond with Frodo

Oh, dear, yes....
Lavender Took
lavendertook at 2012-03-29 06:17 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, such an exquisite poem! This may be the finest of the poems I have read of Jan's yet. Every word is perfect. Such a brilliant entreaty--so hard driven, from truths so bitterly won, and heart so full of love to a heart equally so full, which will well in gratitude with the armament of words she bestows on him to wield fiercely against any of the higher powers that would oppose him. How great must have been Gandalf's admiration for this queen of two peoples upon receiving this entreaty.

I love how Jan illustrates the majesty of Arwen's intellect and wisdom that Tolkien outlines in that letter, along with the great compassion she is most known for. I love her unusual use of the words, "depends", "farewell", and "remaining". Without stumping or distancing the reader, it gives the sense of an alien use of the language to befit Elven difference and antiquity. Just gorgeous.

And what a complementary frame you fashion for Jan's jewel. I agree that is Frodo in Bandwench's lovely manip and not Elijah. And that pic of Alan Lee's is so perfect for the Arwen speaking here--that face does speak those words as she rides along Belfalas. It's so wonderful that it's Alan Lee's and he made it to illustrate another character and it's so perfect here. Such a beautiful piece you wove together.

I do love the Letters so. I poured over them when I was 17 and again after the film brought me back to the trilogy 22 years later. I don't remember that passage and I don't know why it didn't stick with me--it tells us so much about Arwen and so deepens her character. It's definitely time for a reread for me. That passage sure cries out for fanfic embroidery, and Jan and you gave us such a fittingly lovely one.

You know, it makes me think that maybe this is the passage that inspired Boyens, Walsh, and PJ to add the unfortunate plot twist of Arwen's fate being tied to the ring, but how poorly they plopped it onto their canvas, deciding it needed no blotting. Tolkien's outline here deserved such better treatment, as did the grand work they themselves wrought--I'm glad you and Jan fixed that.

Lovely--thank you both and I hope you had a happy Tolkien reading Day.



Mechtild
mechtild at 2012-03-29 12:33 (UTC) (Link)
Lavender, what a beautiful, beautiful response to the piece. Thank you so much for your complex thoughts and the time you took to express them.

How great must have been Gandalf's admiration for this queen of two peoples upon receiving this entreaty.

Yes. And his love. These are two people who understand love and compassion: their burden, their gift. Think of Gandalf sponsoring Frodo as Ring-bearer. To think a hobbit the best in the Shire, to love him, yet let him go on a journey of sacrifice and probable personal ruin.... Should he save the one but let the rest fall? Or must he let that one go and do his appointed task, whatever the end, probably dark? Compassion and love, both gift and burden. Arwen, if she only intimates what will be her final experiences of mortal life, show how well she already knows the gift and burden of these feelings. The Elves can seem cold, hard in the tales, but never Arwen. A true heir of Luthien Tinuviel.

I think it's one of Jan's best, too, although there are many, many 'bests', it's hard to choose!

I hadn't thought about Philippa getting "Arwen's fate is tied to that of the Ring" from this. If not that, then the "What grace is given me, let it pass to him, let him be spared," what she said at the Ford. I know most viewers had a fit about the Ford because it took away yet another opportunity for Frodo to show what he was made of and capable of, but I thought that one moment had the ring of authenticity. Maybe because it referred back to this.
(Deleted comment)
jan_u_wine
jan_u_wine at 2015-12-11 04:21 (UTC) (Link)
thank you, Mews.....it's been a while since I looked at this post (well, a LONG while). It brings me to tears, now, but for different reasons. I look at this LJ and it feels to me like an old person looking at a book of photos taken when they were young: I see the beauty, the energy, the passion, the love, but I am no longer in the midst of it. Tolkien says it best, here:
http://allpoetry.com/I-Sit-And-Think

But no matter what time has passed, the world of Middle Earth resonates. It cannot help but carry the sound of our hearts. And that is a wonderful thing, indeed.

It is wonderful to *see* you, Mews!
Elwen
elwenlj at 2015-12-10 18:22 (UTC) (Link)
Your words moved me to tears.
jan_u_wine
jan_u_wine at 2015-12-11 04:22 (UTC) (Link)
....and they were of the good sort (or so, at least, I hope!)

thank you!
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