For the Anniversary of the Fall of Barad-dur; 'Hope' by jan-u-wine and art by John Cockshaw.
~ Detail from The Stronghold of Barad-dûr and The Fires of Mount Doom, Variation 2, by John Cockshaw.
I can never let the anniversary of the fall of the Dark Lord go by without commemorating it. This year jan-u-wine has risen to the occasion, going deep inside Frodo's consciousness for telling glimpses of his experiences during that day. Below I have copied out what is, for me, the most compelling description of the place where Frodo must contend, within and without, with the Eye. It's not from Return of the King, though, but from the end of Fellowship of the Ring. Frodo, in grief and fear, has put on the Ring to escape Boromir and ascended Amon Hen. Looking out from the Seat of Seeing, recovering himself, he finds his sense of perspective restored -- that is, until he finds his gaze drawn and held by the Dark Lands and its Lord.
This passage meant all the more to me after reading Jan's poem, where a similar thing happens, or so it seems to me, in reverse. In 'Hope', Frodo emerges from a state of thrall, his perspective narrowed to a point, to find his perspective restored after the Ring is destroyed and the Tower fallen. Not only perspective, but hope.
A brief discussion of the illustrations featured in this post, and their creator, John Cockshaw, follows the poem.
From The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Breaking of the Fellowship":
He was sitting upon the Seat of Seeing, on Amon Hen, the Hill of the Eye of the Men of Númenor. Eastward he looked into wide uncharted lands, nameless plains, and forests unexplored. Northward he looked, and the Great River lay like a ribbon beneath him, and the Misty Mountains stood small and hard as broken teeth. Westward he looked and saw the broad pastures of Rohan; and Orthanc, the pinnacle of Isengard, like a black spike. Southward he looked, and below his very feet the Great River curled like a toppling wave and plunged over the falls of Rauros into a foaming pit; a glimmering rainbow played upon the fume. And Ethir Anduin he saw, the mighty delta of the River, and myriads of sea-birds whirling like a white dust in the sun, and beneath them a green and silver sea, rippling in endless lines.
But everywhere he looked he saw the signs of war. (...) All the power of the Dark Lord was in motion. Then turning south again he beheld Minas Tirith. Far away it seemed, and beautiful (...). Hope leaped in his heart. But against Minas Tirith was set another fortress, greater and more strong. Thither, eastward, unwilling his eye was drawn. It passed the ruined bridges of Osgiliath, the grinning gates of Minas Morgul, and the haunted Mountains, and it looked upon Gorgoroth, the valley of terror in the Land of Mordor. Darkness lay there under the Sun. Fire glowed amid the smoke. Mount Doom was burning, and a great reek rising. Then at last his gaze was held: wall upon wall, battlement upon battlement, black, immeasurably strong, mountain of iron, gate of steel, tower of adamant, he saw it: Barad-dûr, Fortress of Sauron. All hope left him.
No longer do I know the day.
It is not only the Sun, withheld…..
not only fearsome dark pressing upon me,
to the vomited sharpness of the Mountain’s
I count upon my fingers the days…..
I number with the night’d wheel of my thoughts
what month it should be,
Only a waiting silence answers.
Only the surety that this day, this day, when-ever it might be,
this day will bring an end.
I am beyond fear, beyond courage
A silencing runs though me,
my heart stilling like a great river
stopping beneath Winter’s touch.
Somehow, it is good
to loose myself, to not be Seen,
longer, by so foul an Eye,
to not hear, longer,
the thistle-barb of them wrapped
about my every thought.
It becomes a resting, to give over,
a place of dreme and sweet sleep by compare to all those
days I have forgot.
There is something,
something I was sent here to do,
some thing that yet yearns within me,
the taut fingers of it bloody with desire.
yet my hand
touches that which it should not,
frees It from Its chain,
It will look fair upon my hand.
And the World opens before my eyes, bare
and barren, sullied for all of time.
My heart keeps pace with the fire waiting but one shortened step below.
Someone, someone is crying out.
They are screaming, great tearing
rents of sound,
like gouts of blood,
stabbing and showering the air,
the red of the walls, the thickened atmosphere of this terrible place.
I think I shall scream
If I were able to know such things, still,
able to measure time (instead of being measured by it), I should know
how very shortly quiet (and all save one of my companions)
There was nothing, then.
Once again, I am carried beyond myself.
Beyond this place, this moment,
this ending, I am borne,
the world a glorious tumult,
a soft-clouded, wondrous ruin.
I know this day.
It is a day of shadow and sun,
death and life,
defeat and victory.
It is the day of
The Summit of Doom, by John Cockshaw.
Author's Note: March 25 is, indeed, the day ‘of Hope’. Frodo and Samwise were named “Hope” by Gandalf (Bronwe Athan Harthad (Endurance Beyond Hope) and Harthad Uluithiad (Hope Unquenchable) after their sacrifices in the War of the Ring. Perhaps of more import, one of Aragorn’s many names was Estel, meaning “Hope”, and given to him at his fostering by Lord Elrond.
When Aragorn and Gilraen, his mother, parted, she said, knowing that his destiny was to attempt to restore Middle Earth, and that they would not meet again:
“I give Hope to the Dunedain. I keep no hope for myself”.
About the Art:
I originally planned to make this entry a part of my ongoing "Tolkien Landscapes" series in which I've been featuring drawings and paintings by J. R. R. Tolkien. But his only detailed drawing of Orodruin is more a reference sketch than an illustration, as if he made it to help keep the setting clear in his mind as he created the scenes in which the Ring is finally destroyed.
The pieces above, like most of the work featured in Cockshaw's blog, show scenes from Tolkien's tales, especially natural and architectural settings of narrative significance. Many are remarkably evocative, using form and colour in a way that invites the viewer to enter into the scenes imaginatively. Most are created digitally, using photographic elements, but at least one blog entry demonstrates Mr. Cockshaw is a talented draftsman: see New collection of pencil work: the silence, the wisdom, and the watchfulness... , posted in an entry from last month.
~ Happy 122nd Birthday, J.R.R.T., with vintage photos and new poem by jan-u-wine, 'Mea Cuppa'.