Archive: Growing Ent-ish

September 15, 2009 at 7:36 pm (Lord of the Rings, Writing) ()

“The Ents” exclaimed Aragorn. “Then there is truth in the old legends about the dwellers in the deep forests and the giant shepherds of the trees? Are there still Ents in the world? I thought they were only a memory of ancient days, if indeed they were ever more than a legend of Rohan.”

“A legend of Rohan!” cried Legolas. “Nay, every Elf in Wilderland has sung songs of the old Onodrim and their long sorrow. Yet even among us they are only a memory. If I were to meet one still walking in this world, then indeed I should feel young again! [1]

Ents have often been overlooked. Their concern is with trees, and as the forests of the world have shrunk it is easy for the world at large to forget about them.

To me Ents have always seemed like an ancient clock which is slowly winding down. They are a dying race – the Entwives are lost; there are no more Entings. They live by the slow and steady tick of time, watching as the world around them grows small and dark, and everything they love disappears. And, eventually, they stop…

In Lord of the Rings Treebeard tells Merry and Pippin about Ents going “tree-ish”, and it seems likely that this would be the fate of all Ents as Middle Earth rolled on into its Fourth Age and beyond.

This bittersweet theme of endings is not unique to Ents in Lord of the Rings. We enter Middle Earth at a precarious time, where things will change drastically, for good or ill. Sauron’s strength is growing, the elves are passing westward, and the Dúnedain will walk uncloaked in the south once more. Yet to me the swan-song of the Ents resounds louder and lingers longer. Their longevity, their consideration, their care and patience is worn away by the world. Are there any among us who haven’t stood on the brink of loneliness and watched the world rush past? Imagine that moment of clarity, of melancholy, that thought of “no-one cares” stretched out into years upon years. This is the sorrow of the Ents.

Tolkien was very aware of the spread of urbanisation in his day, and its cost to both the natural world without, and the natural harmony within – our “inner Ent”, if you will. And we are still besieged – our westernised needs and wants consume with such a hunger and barely a thought. And there is no guardian, no shepherd left to stop us. Only we can stop. We can stop, and consider.

When wind is in the deadly East,
then in the bitter rain
I’ll look for thee, and call to thee;
I’ll come to thee again!  [2]

What is it you love?

Time was when I could walk and sing all day and hear no more than the echo of my own voice in the hollow hills. The woods were like the woods of Lothlorien, only thicker, stronger, younger. And the smell of the air! I used to spend a week just breathing. [3]

What would you fight to protect?

…My name is growing all the time, and I’ve lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. [4]

What story are you telling to the world?

The Ents are dead. Long live the Ents.

Alan Lee: Fangorn Forest

_________________________________

[1] Tolkien, JRR; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; HarperCollins Publishers; London; 2001.
[2] Tolkien, JRR; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; HarperCollins Publishers; London; 2001.
[3] Tolkien, JRR; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; HarperCollins Publishers; London; 2001.
[4] Tolkien, JRR; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; HarperCollins Publishers; London; 2001.

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Archive: Legacy

September 6, 2009 at 7:22 am (Jordi, Lord of the Rings) (, )

Today is Father’s Day here in Australia. The Lord of the Rings is one of the few enjoyments that I share in common with my own father; a fact that makes it all the more personal and precious to me.

Fathers in Lord of the Rings are few and far between. Many of the characters’ fathers are deceased, and those that remain tend to not be featured very heavily – except for Denethor, and we all know how well that turns out. Bilbo and Gandalf make wonderful father figures in their own ways, but to me it is old Hamfast (“the Gaffer”) Gamgee who takes the prize for the best father in Lord of the Rings with his rough-hewn affection and rustic wisdom.

I have mentioned previously that my first reading of Lord of the Rings was from one of my father’s editions. What I haven’t yet confessed to is how, once I’d read the book and fallen madly in love with it, I insisted upon dressing up as a Lord of the Rings character for the movie debut of The Two Towers… and that my dear, sweet, and loving family indulged me by wearing the costumes I had similarly prepared for them. Thus, in the early morning of December 26th, 2002, in a small country town better acquainted with burn-outs than books, two hobbits and a Ringwraith stood waiting outside the cinema. There wasn’t even enough people waiting for the premiere screening to form a queue…

One day I would like to tell my father how grateful I am – how his willingness to dress as a Nazgul, simply because I had asked it, represents a world of love to me. I would like to tell him how treasured this memory is, and how even thinking about it makes me well up with pride. And you know what? I guess now I have.

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