The Houses of Healing Pt. 1: Frodo wakes ~ jan-u-wine’s “Naught to be Forgiven”.
I love the moment when Frodo wakes up in the Houses of Healing. I love the conceit of letting his face in the eagles scene "turn into" the face in Minas Tirith, and the way the scene is bathed in white light. ~Frodo's face, illuminated, looks beatified. (Proofing this post, Jan-u-wine observed that the arch-shaped piece of trim in the headboard resembles a halo, further adding to the iconic effect.) ~I love the laughing exchange with Gandalf, whose laugh brings to life the laugh Sam hears in the book. And I love the smiling exchange between Frodo and Sam (to appear in Pt. 2), which implies so well the depth of understanding that has developed between the two, an understanding forged by shared, life-altering experience. There are no lines, but no lines are needed. I don't mind at all that the order is reversed, with Frodo waking after Sam, rather than before.
The Jumping Cousins are another matter. Although I think the moment is rather cute, Merry and Pippin (hadn't they grown up by then?) jumping blithely on the bed of the newly-wakened-from-near-death invalid is not a choice I would have made, were I writing a scene to take the place of the book's superb, but longer sequence in "The Field of Cormallen".
I was deeply gratified, therefore, to find poems by jan-u-wine that I had not posted previously, which are written to illuminate the Cormallen chapter. The poem for this entry is Naught to be Forgiven. It is a poetic "gap-filler", actually, depicting Frodo's waking, a moment not portrayed in the book (which only shows Sam waking). Because it imagines Frodo's waking according to the book scene, rather than the film's, I have posted it after the book excerpt, which appears after the screencaps.
The image of his sleeping face emerging out of the last frames of him being carried by the eagle, Frodo is shown waking up in an unfamiliar place, bathed in soft white light. It is not a tent (as if on the Field of Cormallen), but apparently a room in the Houses of Healing. His gown, the bandage on his wounded hand, the linens on the bed—all pristine—glow with the same light.
Gandalf laughs, as does Frodo. The cousins enter and leap upon the bed, embracing Frodo. Although Frodo and the cousins are speaking, the sound of their talk is almost inaudible, the music taking the lead in setting the scene’s emotional tone.
Frodo: Gimli! Aragorn!
The rest make their entrances in turn, coming to stand by the bed, smiling as they watch the hobbits cavort. Last comes Sam, wearing the same sort of gown as Frodo. He does not enter, but smiles from the doorway. Frodo sees him and they exchange smiles that seem to speak over what must be the noise in the room, as the visitors speak and the cousins bounce and chatter.
Book scene, from The Field of Cormallen:
When Sam awoke, he found he was lying on some soft bed, but over him gently swayed wide beechen boughs, and through their young leaves sunlight glimmered, green and gold. All the air was full of a sweet mingled scent.
He remembered that smell: the fragrance of Ithilien. ‘Bless me!’ he mused. ‘How long have I been asleep?’ For the scent had borne him back to the day when he had lit his little fire under the sunny bank; and for the moment all else between was out of waking memory. He stretched and drew a deep breath. ‘Why, what a dream I’ve had!’ he muttered. ‘I am glad to wake!’ He sat up and then he saw Frodo was lying beside him, and slept peacefully, one hand behind his head, and the other resting upon the coverlet. It was the right hand, and the third finger was missing.
Full memory flooded back, and Sam cried aloud: ‘It wasn’t a dream! Then where are we?’
And a voice spoke softly behind him: ‘In the land of Ithilien, and in the keeping of the King; and he awaits you.’ With that Gandalf stood before him, robed in white, his beard now gleaming like pure snow in the twinkling of the leafy sunlight. ‘Well, Master Samwise, how do you feel?’ he said.
‘But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: ‘Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?’
‘A great Shadow has departed,’ said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the hours he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then, as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from his bed.
‘How do I feel?’ he cried. ‘Well, I don’t know how to say it. I feel, I feel’—he waved his arms in the air—‘I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the song I have ever heard!’ He stopped and he turned towards his master. ‘But how’s Mr. Frodo?’ he said. ‘Isn’t it a shame about his poor hand? But I hope he’s alright otherwise. He’s had a cruel time.’
‘Yes, I am alright otherwise, said Frodo, sitting up and laughing in his turn. ‘I fell asleep again waiting for you, Sam, you sleepy-head. I was awake early this morning, and now it must be nearly noon.’
‘Noon?’ said Sam, trying to calculate. ‘Noon of what day?’
‘The fourteenth day of the New Year,’ said Gandalf; ‘or if you like, the eighth day of April in the Shire reckoning. But in Gondor the New Year will always now begin upon the twenty-fifth of March when Sauron fell, and when you were brought out of the fire to the King. He has tended you, and now he awaits you. You shall eat and drink with him. When you are ready I will lead you to him.’
‘The King?’ said Sam. ‘What king, and who is he?’
‘The King of Gondor and Lord of the Western Lands,’ said Gandalf; ‘and he has taken back all his ancient realm. He will ride soon to his crowing, but he waits for you.’
‘What shall we wear?’ said Sam; for all he could see was the old and tattered clothes that they had journeyed in, lying folded on the ground beside their beds.
‘The clothes that you wore on your way to Mordor,’ said Gandalf. ‘Even the orc-rags that you bore in the black land, Frodo, shall be preserved. No silks and linens, nor any armour or heraldry could be more honourable. But later I will find some other clothes, perhaps.’
Then he held out his hands to them, and they saw that one shone with light. ‘What have you got there?’ Frodo cried. ‘Can it be—?’
‘Yes, I have brought your two treasures. They were found on Sam when you were rescued; the Lady Galadriel’s gifts: your glass, Frodo; and your box, Sam. You will be glad to have these safe again.’
[…the reception of Frodo and Sam by the King on the seats of turves…]
And at the last, as the Sun fell from the noon and the shadows of the trees lengthened, he ended. ‘Praise them with great praise!’ he said and knelt. And then Aragorn stood up, and all the host arose, and they passed to pavilions made ready, to eat and drink and make merry while the day lasted.
Frodo and Sam were led apart and brought to a tent, and there their old raiment was taken off, but folded and set aside with honour; and clean linen was given to them. Then Gandalf came and in his arms, to the wonder of Frodo, he bore the sword and the elven-cloak and the mithril-coat that had been taken from him in Mordor. For Sam he brought a coat of gilded mail, and his elven-cloak all healed of all the soils and hurts that it had suffered; and then he laid before them two swords.
‘I do not wish for any sword,’ said Frodo.
‘Tonight at least you should wear one,’ said Gandalf.
Then Frodo took the small sword that had belonged to Sam, and had been laid at his side in Cirith Ungol. ‘Sting I give to you Sam,’ he said.
‘No, master! Mr. Bilbo gave it to you, and it goes with his silver coat; he would not wish anyone else to wear it now.’
Frodo gave way; and Gandalf, as if he were their esquire, knelt and girt the sword-belts about them, and then rising he set circlets of silver upon their heads. And when they were arrayed they went to the great feast; and they sat at the King’s table with Gandalf, and King Éomer of Rohan, and Prince Imrahil and all the chief captains; and there also were Gimli and Legolas.
But when, after the Standing Silence, wine was brought there came in two esquires to serve the kings; or so they seemed to be: one was clad in the silver and sable of the Guards of Minas Tirith, and the other in white and green. But Sam wondered what such young boys were doing in an army of mighty men. Then suddenly as they drew near and he could see them plainly, he exclaimed:
‘Why, look Mr. Frodo! Look here! Well, if it isn’t Pippin. Mr. Peregrin Took I should say, and Mr. Merry! How they’ve grown! Bless me! But I can see there’s more tales to tell than ours.’
‘There are indeed,’ said Pippin turning towards him. ‘And we’ll begin telling them, as soon as this feast is ended. In the meantime you can try Gandalf. He’s not so close as he used to be, though he laughs now more than he talks. For the present Merry and I are busy. We are knights of the City and of the Mark, as I hope you observe.’
Naught To Be Forgiven
~ by jan-u-wine
the gentl'd spill of his voice
imagined sunlight, through the edges of my dremes....
drifted dremes of Shadow
and Light, red-hazed fire,
I remember this voice.
This voice, an age ago, asked me, in just this quiet tone,
how my shoulder might be.
This voice told me to trust to myself.
bade me flee.
And so I did.
And so I do.
At the roughened edges of my sleep, where fire waits and weights my eyes, I know it cannot be he who says my name as if it were the only word
left to an echoing world.
It cannot be.
I do not wish to wake and find that only emptiness has called me back.
In my mind, I seek the Sea, hold to its slow-cadenced music,
smoothing its waves like a soothing hand over the corners of my fear.
No matter that I do not desire any longer the world that will greet my opening eyes:
light and sound are before me, pulling me forward to where dreme meets waking.
The unspoilt sky....
a shock of wide, fierce blue,
marbled by gentle clouds, holds me silent.
I feel my heart beating in my throat.
A form, sparking brilliance, like the snow of long-ago Caradharas, stands sentinel against the sky,
against the poured gold of the Sun.
It is true.
We are both here: both
I cannot speak for the tears tightening my throat.
I am no longer a simple Hobbit, nor he a wizard of the second degree.
My mind fills with all the Ages of Light and Shadow he has known,
all the little joys, all the wearing despair.
In truth, I see there was no other way.
He takes my hand.
It hurts, still.
It desires, still.
After all his long years, after all his wise eyes have seen,
he can still cry.
He is saying he is sorry.
I turn my head away.
I have forced myself (and been forced) to bear much.
This oh, this I cannot bear:
the still body a mere breath,
a step from mine,
feet bound by red-tinged linen.
My eyes take account of every hurt,
every breath that struggles there.
From the beginning, he knew the end of this Road.
Like poison, anger rises and shakes me.
Bitter knowledge joins it.
What else, who else, was there?
We are here, we are alive.
It is wondrous Spring.
Our hurts will heal.
I turn and meet his eyes.
They are an old man's eyes, soft with begging sorrow.
Just for this little moment, out of all time, I must be the wise one.
I make my mouth smile, and take his hand in return.
It seems strange to stand again, to breathe air
minted with Spring, to
accept his embrace, as if I were yet a child of the Shire.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When he has gone, blinding whiteness bleeding into the sunlight beyond the canopy, I am happy to sit by your side, quiet upon the dead whisper of grass that covers the ground.
Maybe I will sleep a bit, my head at rest upon the arm that held me safe through many a dark hour.
Maybe you will forgive me when you wake.
Maybe you will help me see there is nothing to forgive.
~ The Houses of Healing Pt. 1: Frodo wakes, plus jan-u-wine’s “Naught to Be Forgiven”.
~ The Houses of Healing Pt. 2: Frodo sees Sam, plus jan-u-wine’s “Harthad Uluithiad” and “Bronwe Athan Harthad”.