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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Sam Grieves by the Shore ~ screencaps and a poem by jan-u-wine....

Posted on 2006.09.23 at 21:43
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~ “Wanderer Above the Mists”, by Caspar David Friedrich, 1818:


From Tolkien’s text, The Grey Havens:

But to Sam the evening deepened into darkness as he stood at the Haven; and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow on the waters that was soon lost in the West. There still he stood far into the night, hearing only the sigh and murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-earth, and the sound of them sank deep into his heart. Beside him stood Merry and Pippin, and they were silent.

At last the three companions turned away, and never again looking back they rode slowly homewards; and they spoke no word to one another until they came back to the Shire, but each had great comfort in his friends on the long grey road.


After the Ring-bearer had sailed Tolkien switches from Frodo’s POV -- with its sense of quickening hope, freshening breezes and dawning renewal -- and returns to the hobbits standing on the shore. In one short paragraph he establishes a mood that is introspective, almost bleak in its grief. It’s only three sentences long, but his choice of words conveys it sparely and well. The evening “deepened into darkness” as they stood and watched into the night. The sea was “grey”; the ship was a “shadow” on the waters, soon “lost” in the West. The “sigh” and “murmur” of the sea “sank deep” into Sam’s heart.

There is no film scene to approximate this moment. In the film, the scene at the Grey Havens has no sense of gloom to it. It is terribly sad, but in an elevated, elegiac way. The firth is not grey; the sea does not murmur and sigh. It ripples serenely and soundlessly like molten platinum and gold. The setting is not dark and drear but the colour of pale jewels, bathed in soft ethereal light. And as the hobbits watch the boat glide into the illumined distance, the boat is not a “shadow” upon the water, finally lost, but a beautiful, graceful silhouette sailing into the liquid gold until it merges with the sea of light.

As much as I found this unspeakably lovely, it used to aggravate me because it was so unlike the brooding, angsty description in the book (which I cherished). Looking at the scene now, I think I understand their choices better. I think what they (the filmmakers, the art designers) were trying to do was to show Frodo’s friends (and us) not what the book-hobbits saw but what Frodo saw as he sailed: giving us a sense of his dream in the house of Goldberry and Tom Bombadil: the grey rain curtain rolled back, all turned to silver glass, and white shores under a swift sunrise.

After the boat disappears in the film, the mood remains very different from the book. The hobbits left behind are sorrowful, but the mood is peaceful, almost beatific. It is almost as if they had witnessed Frodo being taken up into heaven (which he has, in a way). The film hobbits don’t stay and watch into the night. After Sam takes a last look they all turn away, ostensibly towards home and life in the Fourth Age.


To convey a sense of Sam’s mood in the book’s darker scene, I have asked permission to post jan-u-wine's poem (which I adore), Not So Easily Mended. It’s written from Sam's point of view, after Frodo has left.

For images, I have chosen paintings by nineteenth-century artist Caspar David Friedrich and screencaps from the boat scene at the end of FotR -- the fierce hug they share after Frodo pulls Sam from the Anduin.

“I made a promise, Mr. Frodo. A promise!” Sam sputters between sobbing breaths. “‘Don't you leave him, Samwise Gamgee’ -- and I don't mean to. I don't mean to.”

In the pass of Cirith Ungol, Sam expresses a similar sentiment, but said the other way around. When he thinks Frodo has left him again, this time for ever, he cries, “Don't leave me here alone! It’s your Sam calling! Don’t go where I can’t follow!”

Perhaps as Sam stands on the shore he is thinking of these things, looking across the sundering Sea so vast and wide, wider than any Anduin.

~ From the boat scene near the end of RotK, full-screen theatrical version:


Not So Easily Mended

~ jan-u-wine

This book
the fair
of your hand -
fine lines
by the Sea.

The Sundering Sea.

might you be
Adventuring now?

Deep in the night,
when there is naught
but dark
and a fear which I cannot

and the warm comfort of Rosie,
sleeping soft by my side,

I hear the whisper of wave to bow,
I see wind gentling a white sail.

I cannot accustom myself
to missing the sound of your voice.

Like the fool I was,
and the fool I remain,
I startle at not seeing you
upon the star-washed Hill.

You said
I was not meant to be torn in two.


But whether meant or no,
that is what I am.


It was cold upon the Hill this morning,
brilliant, white cold -
and Rosie,
made tea in that cracked,
mustard-yellow pot
that somehow you favored.

My thumb traces all the broken lines
upon its face....


and mended.....

and yet mended....


Still broken,
for all the mending,

still less than what it was,

though without doubt,
still of use.

Like me.

Like you.

Like us.


I am,
a Gardener.

I tend to growing things
and find my rest,
my hope,
my heart
in the green ways
of the earth.

And so,
the days will pass,
soft with springs
easing to summer,
blazed autumns
unmarked to snow-held winter...

they will pass
and fill the empty place
inside me
with time
and memories
of other people,
other places,
other things.

I have been
in dreams which have no meaning.

burnished to the soft gold
of an old farthing,
falls upon the table.

Rosie is holding my hand.

I kiss her cheek,
wet where tears
have run a salty path.

Her skin tastes of the Sea.

Oh, my Rose,
what have I done,
that you should cry so?

Upon the floor at my feet,
the yellow of the pot
lies broken.....

this time forever,

shards scattered across
the board
like sun-flower petals,
dying beneath the eye of the sun.

It will be
all right,

It is easily replaced.

does not see
with what care
I gather each piece,
puzzling them together
in the haven of my hands.

It is that very deep hour
of the night,
and no one waking,
not my Rose,
not my fair Elanor,
when I stand
beneath the flowering
of the Tree.

The clear light of Earendil
is caught
the stars of its leaves.

With only my hands
(always only my hands)
I reach down into the earth
where its roots cling.

(As if in a dream,
I see a ship upon bright waters,
hear waves upon a shore
beyond time).

(With a joy made larger by sorrow,
I know you are safe,
I know you are Home
at last).

My fingers touch,
in quiet remembrance,
each scarred fragment
(only a humble pot,
and useless, at that,
I remind myself,
and weep)
as I lay them
to rest within the cradle
of dark earth.


On the morrow,
there is little Elle,
bright as the sunshine
upon her golden head,

and Rosie,

as she pins the billowed white
of sheets to twisted

I will not think of sun glinting
upon water,
nor the sharpen'd run of sail
playing out beneath wind's breath.

I gather them to me,
my flowers:
she of the sweet earth,

Elanor, my star-blossom.

I hold them,
hold to them,

as only a gardener could.

They are my world,

they must be
my world.

within the warming circle
of their arms,
I pretend not to hear
the call
wheeling upon the errant wind -
a wind strayed from another time,
another place:

the lost cry of a gull
caught in the grey web of a far-away sky.

~ “Monk by the Sea”, by Caspar David Friedrich.


Previous screencap entry (“Frodo Sails” ~ Parting Smile caps) HERE.

Next entry ("Frodo Waits For Sam Across the Sea" ~ 'Soon' by jan-u-wine, caps from FotR) HERE.

Listing of all Frodo Screencap entries HERE.

~ Mechtild


(Deleted comment)
mechtild at 2006-09-24 21:57 (UTC) (Link)
I think it's a brilliant poem. I love what she did with the cracked yellow pot, threading it in the narrative to show us different things. She's a real artist, that jan-u-wine.

I think I agree with you. I know jan does (about the bottom painting). She first sent me a link to it as an illustration of Frodo waiting for Sam on the other side of the sea (see next post). But I didn't use it for Frodo because it was so grey and drear. Not Tol Eressea-ish enough for my more literal imagination. The mood is perfect, though.
whiteling at 2006-09-24 17:18 (UTC) (Link)

Thank you, Mechtild, for all those fantastic screencap/poem/book excerpt posts... I wish I had more energy for commenting, but I’m just so involved in painting at the moment...
But know, my friend, that I am reading and looking and digesting all your and jan’s gems.

This post was especially precious to me, as it gave me a new point of view on David’s paintings - perhaps you’ve seen my LJ entry (here) on an exhibition of David’s work I visited back in June, which left me quite puzzling over the fact that I couldn't get emotionally into his paintings… taerie’s comment helped me to understand that it was probably an unconscious reaction that protected me from being overwhelmed by a springtide of sadness and desperation. I had to shield myself from it. -- Thank you so much for connecting it to Sam and Frodo!

mechtild at 2006-09-24 22:03 (UTC) (Link)
Whiteling, a pleasure to see you. I hope the painting is going well.

Actually, not only you pointed out the Freidrich, but also jan-u-wine. When I told her I wanted to post "Soon" (in the next entry), about Frodo longing for Sam's arrival on the other side, she sent me that painting, as well as the Friedrich on the bottom. I used them for Sam, because I thought they portrayed the greyness of the scene and the greyness of Sam's mood as he stood and watched. I made myself look for something else for Frodo.

After you posted about Freidrich, I looked up more of his stuff online. Googling his name I found a WONDERFUL portrait of him in his studio done by Georg Kersting. Here's a link to it at WGA:

whiteling at 2006-10-02 09:02 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Mechtild for posting this fabulous Kersting painting (I only seen it now)! It appears to me, as though it showed the essence of Friedrich's way of working: concentrated, demure and without any gewgaw that could cause distraction. In spite of his romanticistic topics, his compositions were of mathematical precision. The scantiness of his studio brings this treat out even more. He could be a Zen monk, doing calligraphy, striving for THE perfect line.
mechtild at 2006-10-02 12:39 (UTC) (Link)
The scantiness of his studio brings this treat out even more. He could be a Zen monk, doing calligraphy, striving for THE perfect line.

Indeed! And Kersting's style, intentional or unintentional, seems to bring that sense out. It seemed to me like a painting from a much earlier era, either like a story illustration by an artist trying for a much older look, or the work of an artist from the early Renaissance -- except for the fact that Friedrich was wearing 19th century dress, of course.
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2006-09-28 09:56 (UTC) (Link)
Good luck with the painting Whiteling! Is your studio as neat and tidy as Freidrich’s in the portrait of him done by Georg Kersting? :-D
whiteling at 2006-10-02 09:10 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Este. :-)
No, my studio (or better the corner of my room which serves as studio) isn't that perfectly organised, I'm afraid. I really try to keep it simple and clear, but miraculously there are always copious things lying and standing around. I wonder how they get there. ?
taerie at 2006-09-26 01:07 (UTC) (Link)
This is the first poem that actually made me shed real tears. I think cause it's the only one I let fully in.
Not sure why.
Maybe because Sam's pain is so reachable to me. I've been the one left behind and picking up the pieces lots of times. Frodo has gone. What he sees and feels now I can only guess at and hope.
mechtild at 2006-09-26 01:32 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Taerie, I know. I have perhaps already bored you with this before, but all during my early readings of LotR, I only identified with Sam, always *crushed to dust* by Frodo's departure. It was only when I read the book in more recent readings, twenty years later, that I began to be able to identify with Frodo when I read. Now I am able to appreciate the positive side of his sailing. But not then. When I read this Sam poem, it hits me all over again. But I confess I think I get the most misty just because I think the poem is so darned good. Art always make me cry when it really works.
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2006-09-28 10:02 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you Mechtild. This is the first time I’ve been able to see Frodo’s tears in this scene. It all happens so quickly.

Jan-u-wine’s poetry is outstanding. I have never before been moved to tears so much as I have been by her poetry. Her words reminded me of how heartbreaking it was when I found a pair of shoes, hidden away in a wardrobe, that had belonged to a departed loved one.

mechtild at 2006-09-28 20:16 (UTC) (Link)
Well, Este, I wouldn't be asking jan-u-wine to let me feature her poetry if it didn't slay me with poignancy and sheer expertise. *sniffles and sighs* She really has a pronounced gift for writing Frodo, as if she were channelling him, making him a poet while she is at it (his stabs at making verse weren't any great shakes in LotR, just average).

Her words reminded me of how heartbreaking it was when I found a pair of shoes, hidden away in a wardrobe, that had belonged to a departed loved one.

Yes, she has a facility for "seeing" just the right details, telling us in small ways very big things. I love that in her writing and the way she imagines things. And so appropriate for Frodo.
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