Mechtild (mechtild) wrote,

The Tower of Cirith Ungol Pt. 1: Frodo wakes, plus jan-u-wine's "In Dremes" (#1 of 3).


Because I don't want to detract from jan-u-wine's narrative poem, In Dremes, I am posting my mini-essay for this series in Pt. 2. Her poem complements the images and book text, with its reference to Sam's song, even if the poem is not specifically written to match them.


Film Scene: Frodo realises his plight.

Note: I am posting the script for Sam's attack on Shelob and lament for Frodo at the bottom of this entry. I have not screencapped that scene and don't plan to, but I thought it would be good to be able to read the scene for continuity.)

In the Tower of Cirith Ungol, Frodo is seen stripped to the waist and bound, lying on his side asleep. A bit of webbing still swaths his face. Behind him, Gorbag and Shagrat paw through his belongings. Frodo’s eyes flutter open as Gorbag discovers the Mithril shirt.

Shagrat: Hands off that shiny shirt! That's mine!

Gorbag: It's going to the Great Eye! Along with everything else. (Frodo’s eyes widen; with his bound hands he gropes for the Ring and realises it’s gone.)

Shagrat: I don't take orders from stinking Morgul rats!

Gorbag: You touch it and I'll stick this blade in your gut!

The two fight until Shagrat kicks Gorbag through the trapdoor, who rolls down the stairs where other orcs look up surprised.

Shagrat: (Shouting down to the others.) The scum tried to knife me! Kill him!
(Gorbag 's orcs begin to battle Shagrat's orcs.)


Book scene from The Tower of Cirith Ungol, RotK.

Sam is in the Tower. He has got past the Watchers and sees the carnage inside. An orc survivor runs from Sam, who, because of the Ring, appears to him to be the feared “Elf-warrior” on the loose.

Sam plodded on. He felt that he was on the right road, and his spirits had risen a good deal. He thrust the Ring away and tightened his belt. ‘Well, well!’ he said. ‘If only they all take such a dislike to me and my Sting, this may turn out better than I hoped. And anyway it looks like Shagrat, Gorbag, and company have done nearly all my job for me. Except for that little frightened rat, I do believe there’s nobody left alive in the place!’

And with that he stopped, brought up hard, as if he had hit his head against the stone wall. The full meaning of what he had said struck him like a blow. Nobody left alive! Whose had been that horrible dying shriek? ‘Frodo, Frodo!’ Master!’ he cried half sobbing. ‘If they’ve killed you, what shall I do? Well, I’m coming at last, right to the top, to see what I must.’

Up, up he went....

Sam reaches the top of the turret stairs but can go no further. Frodo is not there.

‘A dead end,’ muttered Sam; ‘and after all my climb! This can’t be the top of the tower. But what can I do now?’

He ran back to the lower storey and tried the door. It would not move. He ran up again, and sweat began to trickle down his face. He felt that even minutes were precious, but one by one they escaped; and he could do nothing. He cared no longer for Shagrat or Snaga or any other orc that was ever spawned. He longed only for his master, for one sight of his face or one touch of his hand.

At last, weary and feeling finally defeated, he sat on a step below the level of the passage-floor and bowed his head into his hands. It was quiet, horribly quiet. The torch, that was already burning low when he arrived, sputtered and went out; and he felt the darkness cover him like a tide. And then softly, to his own surprise, there at the vain end of his long journey and his grief, moved by what thought in his heart he could not tell, Sam began to sing.

His voice sounded thin and quavering in the cold dark tower: the voice of a forlorn and weary hobbit that no listening orc could possibly mistake for the clear song of an Elven-lord. He murmured old childish tunes out of the Shire, and snatches of Mr. Bilbo’s rhymes that came into his mind like fleeting glimpses of the country of his home. And then suddenly new strength rose in him, and his voice rang out, while words of his own came unbidden to fit the simple tune.

In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing.
Or there maybe ‘tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
the Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.

Though here at journey’s end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.

‘Beyond all towers strong and high,’ he began again, and then he stopped short. He thought he had heard a faint voice answering him.



In Dremes

~ by jan-u-wine

.....and I wake,


it has all been a dreme.

Tender fingers of sun warm the floor,
touch with abandoned fire the deep forgetfulness of
the pillow....

drowsy, deep-autumn scent of tea,
roses, sweetly diamonded with dew....

the study,
books belovedly musty with time and use,
ink, sharp-bitter upon the quill.....


how will i ever manage.

how will i manage to get there,

this great weight
upon me?

And I wake again,
in truth this time,

and it is no dreme,

I feel the circle of It
pressing my flesh,

like a knife,

like my own heart,
the rhythm of It
running alongside mine,

*becoming* mine.

If I could but keep It from touching me.....

My fingers seek It out....

And find nothing.

No prisoner's chain about my neck,
the weight only a shadow'd thing,

a ghost of remembered pain and desire.


the desire is more than the pain,
my fingers

darting careless and frantic,
only to find more

Darkness then,
pain and black night
and more dremes,

dremes of Ages I could never have known,
dremes leached of light and sound

dremes of death and desire.

Still (and stilled) in darkness,
I am aware of myself once more.

My throat burns and tastes of copper,
the hand that wishes to claim It
(that wishes to throw it away)

lies senseless and bloodied beneath me.

I have told them nothing.

(my fingers, fallen upon the uneven filth of the
floor, find also there my clothing, warm-wet-cold
and smelling of bile and blood)

I have told them

And I do not remember

with their sharp knives

and foul teeth,

I do


they have told me.

And I sleep,

and dreme of the Western lands, beneath the Sun.

And there is singing in my dreme.

at this,
my journey's end.


Previous film scene: Sam’s battle with Shelob in the tunnel.

Frodo is attacked, pierced below the throat with Shelob's giant stinger. Slowly her poison knocks him out and she wraps him in a cocoon. Sam appears with Sting and Galadriel’s phial.

Sam: Let him go, you filth! Let him go! You will not touch him again! Come on and finish it!

Shelob attacks Sam, who manages to wound her eye and belly. The stab to the abdomen disables her.

Sam: Back! Back! (Shelob retreats and squeezes back through a crevasse.)

Sam: Mister Frodo! (Runs to Frodo, rips the webbing from Frodo’s face.) Oh, no! Frodo! Mister Frodo! Wake up! Don't leave me here alone! Don't go where I can't follow. Wake up! (Sam cradles Frodo’s head and upper body, rocking it as he weeps.) You're not asleep... dead!

Sam sees Sting glow blue and hears Orc voices arguing. From a hiding place Sam watches as the Orcs find Frodo’s web-swathed body.

Gorbag: What's this? Looks like ol' Shelob's been having a bit of fun.

Shagrat: Killed another one, has She?

Gorbag: No. This fellow ain't dead!

Sam: (Whispers to himself.) Not dead?

Gorbag: She jabs them with her stinger, and he goes as limp as a fish! Then she has her way with them. That's how she likes to feed! Fresh blood! Get him to the tower! (The Orcs pick Frodo up.)

Sam: Samwise, you fool!

Orc: This scum will be awake in a couple of hours.

Gorbag: Then he'll wish he'd never been born!


Entries in the Tower of Cirith Ungol series:

~ Pt. 1: Frodo awakes, plus jan-u-wine’s “In Dremes”.

~ Pt. 2: Sam rescues Frodo, plus main essay for this series.

~ Pt. 3: Frodo takes back the Ring.

Tables of Links:

~ Entries with jan-u-wine's poems

~ Frodo and Elijah screencaps Main Page.

~ Mechtild

Tags: frodo screencaps, jan-u-wine, return of the king

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