More unnumbered tears
I’m rereading the Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time. As with the Silmarillion, it seems, with each reading, I find something new to think about (or cry about, as in this case.)
The departure of the Fellowship from Rivendell has always been a very moving scene for me to read–more so after I read the Silmarillion and realised just why Elrond was so adamant about no one swearing an oath. I’ve always loved the exchange he has with Gimli about it. But today the words struck me again and I realised I had missed the nuances of another phrase of great significance in one of Elrond’s answers to Gimli.
“… No oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will. For you do not know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road.”
“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,” said Gimli.
“Maybe,” said Elrond, “but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.”
“Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,” said Gimli.
“Or break it,” said Elrond.
Now every other time I have read this (post reading the Silmarillion) I’ve focused on Elrond’s mentioning oaths and his response to Gimli’s second comment about oaths breaking hearts–because he actually saw that happen, he lived and was raised for a time by Elves whose hearts were broken by an Oath and he saw how things ended for Maedhros and Maglor. I kind of skimmed by the first comment he made to Gimli previously, I suppose. But today it just stopped me in my tracks. Because of course–they experienced the ultimate ‘nightfall’–the destruction of the trees–before they traveled to the darkness of Middle Earth in pursuit of Morgoth. I really don’t know how I’ve missed the overwhelming significance of this phrase every other time I’ve read it. So once again, I’ve found a way to cry about dead First Age Elves without even actively reading the Silmarillion.
So–off to blast some Blind Guardian and wallow in First Age angst.