May 8 2009 12:02pm

LotR re-read: Fellowship II.8, “Farewell to Lórien”

cover of The Fellowship of the Ring Time to bid “Farewell to Lórien,” in Fellowship II.8. Spoilers and comments after the jump.

(Also, as I noted in comments to the last post, I’m now planning to do movie re-watch posts after each volume of the book. I haven’t yet decided between theatrical and extended editions. Do not suggest that I watch both unless you’re willing to wait a really long time between posts, or possibly to babysit.)

What Happens

Celeborn and Galadriel summon the Company and ask about their plans. On hearing that they don’t know whether they’re all going to Minas Tirith, Celeborn offers them boats so that they don’t have to pick a river bank yet. The Company debates this question, but comes to no decision. Boromir seems to question the wisdom of destroying the Ring, but Frodo is the only one who notices.

The next morning, Elves bring the Company lembas and cloaks. Haldir returns to guide them to the river, where they find three boats (with ropes!) and are met by Celeborn and Galadriel. After a parting feast, Celeborn describes the lay of the land downriver, and Galadriel gives the Company gifts: for Aragorn, a sheath for Andúril, and an Elfstone from Arwen; for Boromir, a gold belt; for Merry and Pippin, silver belts; for Legolas, a bow and arrows; for Sam, a box of blessed earth for his garden; for Gimli, three strands of her hair (at his request, after she bids him speak); and for Frodo, a phial of water from her fountain with the light of Eärendil’s star.

The Company leaves Lórien to Galadriel singing of profound loss. Grieving, they float down a dreary and cold river.


This chapter is full of the world as a place of irreparable loss. There’s Galadriel’s two songs; her injunction upon bringing the cup of farewell, “And let not your heart be sad, though night must follow noon, and already our evening draweth nigh”; the statement that Frodo never returns; and Gimli and Legolas’s conversation about whether it is better to have loved and lost, in which Legolas says it “is the way of it: to find and lose,” for “all that walk the world in these after-days.” (Oh, there’s an implicit comment in the Elves’ boat being swan-shaped.) Not much of a respite, after all.

We’re told that “(t)o that fair land Frodo never came again.” This difference in construction from the comment that Aragorn “came there never again as living man” could support legionseagle’s theory that Aragorn was ultimately buried at Cerin Amroth. Regardless, the pervasive mood of loss makes this comment seem to me less of an attempt to heighten suspense and more of just one more example. And at least we know why Frodo didn’t go back: he was in a hurry to see Bilbo, and then he left.

As for Galadriel’s songs:

The first is the one about singing of leaves, wind, and ships. I thought at first that the golden leaves across the Sea were of one of the Trees whose light was captured in the Silmarils, but that can’t be the case since the song speaks of the Tree as still standing. As for the question of whether the song references her exile in the lines “What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?”, I don’t think so: the rest of the verse is about the passage of time and the decay of the world—Winter coming, leaves falling, “Too long I have dwelt upon this Hither Shore”—and so I think the doubt about a ship is not “because I’m not allowed” but “because it might be too late.”

Her second song is again about what lies over the Sea. It’s always puzzled me for two reasons: first, it’s translated into prose not verse, and second I don’t understand its closing lines: “Now lost, lost to those from the East is Valimar! Farewell! Maybe thou shalt find Valimar. Maybe even thou shalt find it. Farewell!” —What is “it”? Not Valimar (and by extension the entire land of Valinor) by a natural reading, but nothing else in the song seems to be up to the weight of “even . . . find it.”

* * *

One of the things I’m noticing on this re-read is the way that the book doesn’t go into the characters’ heads at places where I would expect it to. I don’t know if this is a matter of literary conventions differing over time, or Tolkien’s own style. But last time we were left to infer Frodo’s motivations for offering Galadriel the Ring, and now we are left wholly in the dark as to his thoughts on whether to go directly to Mordor or to go to Minas Tirith first.

Aragorn, whose thoughts we do get, wonders “what help could he or any of the Company give to Frodo, save to walk blindly with him into the darkness?” I’m not very good at the counterfactual game, but I bet a bunch of you have considered just that, and I’d love to hear it.

* * *

The gifts:

Is it weird that lembas is the first thing that I really had an “okay, that has to be magic” reaction to? But seriously, one very thin cake sustaining a tall warrior over a day of work? (Here I delete discussion of calories and nutrients, because all that matters is the end result: it’s magic.)

The exchange over the cloaks—“Are these magic cloaks?” “They are Elvish”—is another example of what DBratman pointed out last post about how Elves don’t categorize the world the way humans & hobbits do.

When the Company arrives at the boats, Sam picks up a rope and asks, “What are these?” The Elf who answers must think he’s an idiot, to answer “Ropes”; good for Sam to respond, “You don’t need to tell me that!” Because, seriously.

It’s very nice that Aragorn gets his big green stone and all, but if I were Galadriel, wielder of one of the Three, who helped lead the Noldor over the ice to Middle-earth and has fought the long defeat for three Ages of the world, I would like to think that there is more praise to be said of me than “I produced a child who produced a grandchild.” Even from the man in love with said grandchild.

* * *

On leaving:

“All” their eyes were filled with tears? Even Boromir’s? Somehow I doubt it.

I like Legolas’s comment to Gimli that because his heartbreak was the result of his own choice to do the right thing, his memories “shall remain ever clear and unstained in your heart.” It’s a pet peeve of mine, the privileging of romantic attachment over morality and ethics, and so I think Legolas has much the better view.

And we end floating on the cold dark ominously-quiet river, in a kind of limbo as we wait for the plot to gear back up.

* * *


Early, in response to the problem of what side of the river to ultimately choose, Galadriel tells the Company, “Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid before your feet, though you do not see them.” If this is supposed to be comforting . . . well, either the Elves think differently, or I do.

Celeborn’s preview of the lands ahead includes a mention of “the Noman-lands” near the Dead Marshes. This strikes me as a rare clunker of a name.

Finally, my new vocabulary word for this chapter is “hythe,” which is apparently an archaic spelling of “hithe,” a landing-place.

« Fellowship II.7 | Index | Fellowship II.9 »

1. legionseagle
Strong preference for extended editions over theatrical releases here. Some of the cuts to make it short enough for the theatres lose shed-loads of nuance.
Mari Ness
2. MariCats
Ditto the preference for the extended editions. While the opening pace of the theatrical film is considerably tighter, and I have a mild preference for the entrance into Lothlorien from the theatrical release, the theatrical release also left out several critical bits. This is clearest in the second film, where the theatrical film left out far too much about Aragorn's background, the Ents, Frodo and Sam dialogue and so on.
Terry Lago
3. dulac3
Kate: For Galadriel's songs I think that the golden leaves likely refer to the Mallorn trees which are not only the emblems of Lothlorien, but I believe were brought to Middle Earth from the Undying Lands. Also, I'm pretty sure that "it" in Galadriel's second song has to refer to Valimar/Valinor...there's nothing else in the song that I can see it referring to. Why do you think a natural reading precludes this? (Maybe I'm not a natural reader :) I think it may be a reference to the fact that Frodo, as a Ringbearer, will be able to go there, even though he is not of the Eldar. I guess it could also simply refer to a state of happiness analagous to that which is experienced by those who can make it/have made it to Valinor?

Yeah, lembas is definitely magical from a human point of view. The Elves seem to have such an intimate knowledge of, and control over, the various elements of nature (at least when compared to Humans) that what they are able to produce seems "magical" when it is really just exceptional, whether from the point of view of power imbued or quality attained. I think "Elven magic" is, in Middle Earth at least, not what we would normally consider 'magic' (i.e. something that contravenes the laws of nature), but rather the ability to make something that is truly the best that it can possibly be...something so good that it seems like magic to those without the ability to do this. Contrast this with the 'magic' of Morgoth and Sauron which is all about changing the nature of created things in order to control them...ultimately to subvert/pervert the nature of creation, not complement it.

I think Galadriel's fate comment can be seen as comforting simply in that it removes the burden of choice from them, a burden which many (esp. Frodo & Aragorn) felt acutely. I don't think it's meant to truly imply that they have no free will in what is occurring. In an analagous way that Gandalf's earlier comment that Frodo was "meant to find the Ring" was "an encouraging thought", Galadriel is perhaps implying that the element of fate that is "already laid before feet" is the beneficent working of the Valar. Basically that they can trust that the 'right' choice will be made even though all choices seem bad right now. Not, perhaps, a totally comforting thought to a post-modern liberal mind, but to a Catholic one it speaks to the abiding presence of Grace in the world.
John Rodenbiker
4. jrodenbiker
Extended, for your own sake. They really are so much better, IMHO.
5. DemetriosX
Definitely, the extended versions. It only adds about 30-45 minutes, but gives a clearer version of Jackson's vision.

The thing that really stands out to me here is that of all the gifts, the only ones that go beyond practicality to actual utility are those for Frodo and Sam. They are also connected to the visions the two of them experienced in the previous chapter. Indeed, the only other gifts to be mentioned at all after this are the hairs for Gimli and the elfstone for Aragorn (which technically isn't even from Galadriel). I conclude that, unless she is especially inspired, Galadriel is a terrible gift-giver.

The whole staging of the gifting scene puts us very firmly in medieval romances and Victorian high fantasy. The swan boats and the low, green island are very dreamlike. In many ways, it is a relief to say farewell to Lórien.

Sam, of course, knows all about rope. He has family in the business and has helped out there occasionally. But to his way of thinking, these elvish ropes are too thin and light to be of any real use. More like package string or for tying up things in the garden. He is suitably impressed with their strength as compared to weight and thickness when it is explained to him.
j p
6. sps49
I meant to mention this at the Mirror of Galadriel chapter, but Galadriel is not allowed to return to the Undying Lands yet. I do not recall if there is anyone else mentioned as being banned after the War of Wrath, but she definitely is. I'll try and find where, but I don't even know where my books are.

I recall thinking in 7th grade that some of those gifts were lame. If Frodo got a cool magic light and I got a silver belt I'd feel gypped.
7. Confusador
I've spent a lot of time paying attention to just how much of Frodo's thoughts we get to see throughout the book because it's fascinating to me how gradually Tolkien transitions from Frodo to Sam as the protagonist. At this point it's still clearly Frodo, but as you notice we're not seeing as much of his thoughts anymore. As he falls under the influence of the ring (i.e. throughout book 4), that's only going to increase. In book 6 we don't see hardly any of his thoughts, it's all Sam.

@dulac3 - Interesting the way you describe their magic. It makes it seem like simply "sufficiently advanced technology", which in a way it really is. They understand more than just the physical nature of things, so they are able to do these things.
Terry Lago
8. dulac3
Confusador @7: yeah I guess there is a bit of Clarke's Third Law there, it is in many ways merely technology, not magic...from the point of view of the Elves at least.

I think for Tolkien there may have been an additional (and one might say contrary) element here as well: much of what the Elves create seems to have some sort of blessed or hallowed element to it. They thus not only make things of exceptional quality beyond the skill of mere mortals from a purely technical perspective, but also seem able to imbue it with some kind of almost sacred quality. There is an inherent 'goodness' to what they create...we see that any of their artifacts, whether it be bread or rope, seem to give pain to creatures of evil intent (as with Gollum).
9. DBratman
The tree in Galadriel's song is in Eldamar, so it can't be one of the Two Trees, which were in Valinor. Some critics think it's symbolic.

The "it" in the other song is definitely Valimar. I'm puzzled as to how you could read it otherwise. "It" is a pronoun repeating the noun from the previous sentence. And finding Valimar/Valinor is definitely what Galadriel has in mind. See Tolkien's comments in The Road Goes Ever On.

Tolkien had some very interesting remarks to make on lembas and what's "magic" (to our eyes) about it. In his letters he was extremely cross at a synopsis-writer who called it a "food concentrate." The science-fiction mode of thinking was entirely alien to him, he said. No scientific analysis would come up with anything physically unusual about it, he said.

It is clear, especially from Frodo and Sam's experiences living on it later on, that lembas feeds the soul, not the body. You could starve to death on it, but you'd keep going until the very last minute. Its sustenance is spiritual, and that's why it's like communion wafer, which in Catholic theology is profoundly different from other wafers, while remaining - as Tolkien said of lembas - physically indistinguishable.

There's also a few paragraphs about its making in The Peoples of Middle-earth, in which it's implied that its virtue comes from the fact that it's grown from a grain given the Elves by Yavanna.

Movies: The Extended Edition of Fellowship sucks considerably less than the theatrical release. The Extended Edition of Two Towers sucks slightly more than the theatrical release. I've never seen the Extended Edition of Return; once through that film was enough for me.
Kate Nepveu
10. katenepveu
Apparently I am an alien, but

"Maybe thou shalt find Valimar. Maybe even thou shalt find it."

reads, to me, as though someone said,

"Maybe you'll find (lost thing). Maybe you'll even find (even better lost thing)!"

Otherwise, why the "even"?

(Also, I am not as impressed with the extended editions as most people here, apparently, but maybe that's why I should watch them, to give them a fairer shot. Though the thought of making Helm's Deep even freakin' _longer_ makes me want to cry.)
Kate Nepveu
11. katenepveu
DemetriosX, re: Galadriel's gifts--oh, not terrible, surely, just not inspired. The other gifts are practical, after all. (And I think Legolas uses the bow in the next chapter to shoot down a Nazgul.)

But re: Frodo and Sam's gifts: They are also connected to the visions the two of them experienced in the previous chapter.

Good catch!
Tim May
12. ngogam

Doesn't "even" modify "thou"? "Maybe even you will find it."
13. HArai
Katenepveu @10:

I parse that as "maybe even thou shalt find it."
As others have mentioned, to me it indicates that Galadriel forsees the possibility Frodo will get special dispensation and go to Valimar. When tied with a song where she wonders if she will end up going it seems to fit.
Tudza White
14. tudzax1
Starve to death on lembas because it only feeds the soul? I think you read that part wrong. I believe Sam and Frodo are rationing their food and hence are starving for the usual reasons, they are getting calories and magic calories or no just not enough of them.

If you want to feed just the soul, you drink that stuff Gandalf got from Rivendell and passed out at various points from there to Moria. I always associate this magic cordial from Rivendell with the nasty stuff the orcs force on Merry and Pippin later on to keep them marching, corrupt the Elves and their food, truly evil.

Off topic, but this reminds me of this old space food film I have. The guy asks the lady nutrition expert ( at MIT? ) why they don't just take pills. "Well, the food that we know of that is densest in calories is fat. I don't think people want to eat a hockey puck of fat for every meal though."!!!!!
15. firkin
my take is that, for the purposes of this blog, the extended editions would make more sense. the theatrical versions were edited to make good plot-centered films that would be clear enough without outside context, while the extended versions include a lot of worldbuilding and other stuff that might be more fruitful for book-driven reaction or analysis. though, as DBratman suggests, taking them case-by-case is not a bad idea.
16. UnderHill
I'd be delighted to babysit! But you'd have to pick me up and drive me home...
Sam Kelly
17. Eithin
Galadriel, I think, mirrors Denethor (if you'll excuse the phrase - and remember that he uses the palantir) closely here; she's despairing after such a long defense, trying to hold fast to the idea that there will be a future across the Sea, but having trouble believing it. But unlike Denethor, she resolves to remain who and what she is. (I don't think it's any coincidence that Galadriel's and Faramir's responses to temptation are so similar.)

It also mirrors that utterly indescribable line of Frodo's in Mordor - At least, I know that such things happened, but I cannot see them now. No taste of food, no feel of water, no sound of wind, no memory of grass or flower, no image of moon or star are left to me. I am naked in the dark, Sam, and there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire. (May not be precise - I only have the radio-series scripts on hand, not the actual book.)

The belts, I think, are a good symbolic gift - it looks like the symbolism of knighthood, to me, and rather echoes True Thomas. Merry's and Pippin's are perfect for them, looked at this way. Boromir's, well, presumably he had to be given something, and I can't help but wonder whether the material is significant. I'm still having a lot of trouble getting a handle on his character, though, compared to most of the rest of the Fellowship.
Kate Nepveu
18. katenepveu
So, "thou" and "thou" are supposed to be different people in that quote? That . . . does not strike me as an improvement.

More later.
19. Nicholas Waller
re: "archaic" hythe: There's a Hythe a couple of miles from me, near Cheddar in Somerset, which was a landing place.

re: Noman-lands - presumably Tolkien was trying to suggest "no man's land" without actually saying it, as that would have been too specifically associated with the dead space between the opposing lines of trenches in WWI.
Terry Lago
20. dulac3
Kate @18: Still not sure about the confusion...why must "thou" and "thou" be different people? Maybe thou (Frodo) shall find Valimar. Maybe even thou (Frodo) shall find it. I think it's merely repetition.
21. other alias
No, 'even' is an intensifier. 'hou' in both sentences refers to the same person, Frodo.
Tolkien reciting the poem:
22. DavidT
Kate @18: Ditto dulac3 and other alias -- "I don't think this word means what you think it means".

Of the OED's 9 listed adverbial senses of 'even', I think this one is #8: "Prefixed to a subject, object, or predicate, or to the expression of a qualifying circumstance, to emphasize its identity. Obsolete, except in archaisms. Also in 16th-17th c. (hence still archaic, after biblical use) serving to introduce an exegesis; = 'namely', 'that is to say'.

Shakespeare, 2 Gent. of Verona II.i.42
Speed: She that you gaze on so as she sits at supper?
Valentine: Even she I meane.

King James Bible, John 8:25
"Then they said unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning."

If there's any additional ironic meaning beyond mere repetition or intensification, it might be "you, Frodo, unexpectedly".
23. DemetriosX
kate @11 I'm sticking with terrible. Sam and Frodo got cool toys, Gimili got what he asked for, and Aragorn got jewelry from his fiancee. Everybody else got socks and underwear. High-end, good quality stuff, but still... Maybe it's more like a husband buying his wife a vacuum for their anniversary.

As for the nutritional qualities of lemabs, I'm going to come down on the side of physically nutritious. We are told that one wafer can sustain a grown man for a full day, and throughout Book 3, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas will subsist on nothing more from Rauros to at least Edoras, if not Helm's Deep. And that while engaging in very strenuous, physically taxing activity. If lembas only gave spiritual nutrition, they'd have either collapsed or been useless in the battle.
Andrew Mason
24. AnotherAndrew
sps49: I think it's clear that there is one version of the story in which she is banned, and another (worked out later) in which she isn't. I don't think there is anything in the text of LOTR which commits Tolkien one way or the other.

On the other hand, I'm not sure how else to interpret what she sings here. 'Because it is too late' seems very vague; why would it be too late? She does not believe - does she? - that no ships are ever going to sail again? Clearly they do in fact go on sailing for a while after this. (Interestingly, though, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil does include a poem about 'The Last Ship'. I'm not sure if we know when it is supposed to have been composed.)
25. DBratman
Kate: I'm with the peanut gallery on the meaning of Galadriel's words. Interesting that you don't see what others do: readings can vary, can't they?

tudzax @14: No, I didn't say Frodo and Sam are starving on lembas, but that you could starve on it. The particular character of lembas is not a mere function of the fact that they're eating only a little of it, but the opposite: that it keeps them going even though they're eating only a little.

The miruvor, the drink that Gandalf gave them on Caradhras, is not something you would take instead of lembas; rather, it has the same function as lembas, and does so for the same reason: it apparently has some connection with Yavanna. (Page references omitted for the sake of sanity.)

The specific description of lembas that shows its distinctive character is in Book 6, Chapter 3:

"The lembas had a virtue without which they would long ago have lain down to die. It did not satisfy desire, and at times Sam’s mind was filled with the memories of food, and the longing for simple bread and meats. And yet this waybread of the Elves had a potency that increased as travellers relied on it alone and did not mingle it with other foods. It fed the will, and it gave strength to endure, and to master sinew and limb beyond the measure of mortal kind."

See italics. It doesn't fill your stomach. It doesn't quench hunger. It gives you strength to persevere, nothing more. If you ate it and it alone, you'd probably starve to death, but you'd keep going until the last minute. Frodo and Sam are in Mordor, and (mostly, as I recall offhand) without other food, for two weeks.
26. DBratman
DemetriosX @23: spiritual vs. physical nutrition is a false dichotomy. The kind of spiritual nutrition that it gives is a strength of will that keeps you going physically. This is very clear from the description in the quote I just gave. Frodo and Sam are beginning to be literally starving, yet the lembas gives them the strength to go on. The Three Hunters were stronger, less hungry, and (even more importantly) less in despair when they started, they're probably eating more lembas than Frodo and Sam who have to ration themselves, and they certainly got something to eat at Edoras. "Now my guests, come!" says Theoden. "Come and take such refreshment as haste allows."

AnotherAndrew @24: Christopher Tolkien says somewhere that he doubts that JRRT had a ban in mind when he wrote those words for Galadriel. He came up with the idea at one point, dropped it, reconsidered it again later. However, the general humbling and apologetic attitude of the Elves in LOTR is pretty much a constant.
27. DBratman
In any case, DemetriosX, I don't think that Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli had only lembas to eat on their wild chase. Here's what happens before they leave:

"They drew up the last boat and carried it to the trees. They laid beneath it such of their goods as they did not need and could not carry away." Presumably, then, they did need and could carry away something, and it would have been more than lembas.

The advantage of the lembas is that you can eat and run, literally: "Often in their hearts they thanked the Lady of Lorien for the gift of lembas, for they could eat of it and find new strength even as they ran."
28. legionseagle
DBratman @25: The portion you quote ""The lembas had a virtue without which they would long ago have lain down to die. It did not satisfy desire, and at times Sam’s mind was filled with the memories of food, and the longing for simple bread and meats" does not, I think, support your conclusion that "If you ate it and it alone, you'd probably starve to death".

The problem with most calorie controlled diets (to take a rather banal real-world example) is that while they are specifically designed so that you would not starve to death if eating them, the elements which compose them have exactly the properties Sam describes of lembas, namely that they don't fill you up and they bore you rigid. What I think lembas manages to combine is sufficient calories and key food groups to keep the body going physically, together with stimulant properties. Kendal Mint Cake, wrapped in coca leaves with a side order of beef jerky, say.

One of the interesting points about this passage "And yet this waybread of the Elves had a potency that increased as travellers relied on it alone and did not mingle it with other foods" is how closely Lewis mirrors it when they start drinking drinkable light, in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I wonder if this is another of those points, like Lewis's reference to "Numinor" in That Hideous Strenght which Tolkien considered to be "a plagiarism.

Kate: while I agree with the interpretation of "Maybe thou shalt find Valimar. Maybe even thou shalt find it" in which it=Valimar, I also feel that the slightly problematic usage of "even thou" is the sense it carries of "I suppose even you, my furry-footed short-arsed little friend might get to Heaven in a push" that is, it's a sort of formulation expecting the answer "No" - it's the sort of sense in which you might say, "Even Susan Boyle might win Britain's Got Talent; even she might win it".

Now, it's not an unreasonable thing for Galadriel to say, since only two out of the eight people she is addressing have any general expectation of getting to the Undying Lands in the ordinary way of things (the fact that five of them in fact do make it might suggest that her Mirror has been working overtime and she has her doubts about whether it might have gone on the blink). But there's something about it which sounds slightly rude.

Finally,can anyone who knows more about First Age stuff tell me whether my vague recollection that Feanor asked for a lock of Galadriel's hair way back when and was refused, making her gift to Gimli a pretty big gesture of reconciliation given Celeborn's "We want no dwarves here" comments.
29. DBratman
legionseagle @28: No, I think not. First, it is a category error to compare lembas to any sort of food concentrate; Tolkien specifically denied that it was anything of the sort. Physically and nutritionally, it's just a wheatmeal cake.

Second, in practical terms, you're not supposed to eat very much of it, not enough to nutrify you. It's very clear from the descriptions here and elsewhere that its benefit is what the Elves refuse to call "magical." "It fed the will, and it gave strength to endure, and to master sinew and limb beyond the measure of mortal kind." No calories, "key food groups," and stimulants could do that.
30. Steve Morrison
legionseagle @28:
The passage about Fëanor and Galadriel is in a section of The Peoples of Middle-earth titled "The Shibboleth of Fëanor". Here is the paragraph:
Her mother-name was Nerwen 'man-maiden', and she grew to be tall beyond the measure even of the women of the Noldor; she was strong of body, mind, and will, a match for both the loremasters and the athletes of the Eldar in the days of their youth. Even among the Eldar she was accounted beautiful, and her hair was held a marvel unmatched. It was golden like the hair of her father and her foremother Indis, but richer and more radiant, for its gold was touched by some memory of the star-like silver of her mother; and the Eldar said that the light of the Two Trees, Laurelin and Telperion, had been snared in her tresses. Many thought that this saying first gave to Fëanor the thought of imprisoning and blending the light of the Trees that later took shape in his hands as the Silmarils. For Fëanor beheld the hair of Galadriel with wonder and delight. He begged three times for a tress, but Galadriel would not give him even one hair. These two kinsfolk, the greatest of the Eldar of Valinor, were unfriends for ever.
31. legionseagle
Steve Morrison: Thanks for that. So as well as being conspicuously gracious to Gimli she's also saying "Up yours, Feanor," especially since she only gives her hairs to Gimli after he specifically tells her he proposes to enshrine it in imperishable crystal. That really is a compliment: "Well, I didn't trust the artist of the Silmarils to do it justice, but I'm sure you will show it off to advantage." No wonder Celeborn looks a bit boggled.
Andrew Mason
32. AnotherAndrew
Regarding 'even', it might be worth mentioning that 'I, even I' is quite a common phrase in the bible, e.g. at Genesis 6.17. : 'And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth'.


only two out of the eight people she is addressing have any general expectation of getting to the Undying Lands in the ordinary way of things (the fact that five of them in fact do make it might suggest that her Mirror has been working overtime

I make it one and four. (Two and five from the entire Fellowhip, but that includes Gandalf.)

"I suppose even you, my furry-footed short-arsed little friend might get to Heaven in a push"

Sort of, but of course Valimar isn't heaven - it's the equivalent, in a way, of heaven for elves, but presumably Hobbits, when they die, go to the same place as humans (which, famously, elves know nothing of).
33. legionseagle
AnotherAndrew@32 You're quite right, of course; I was counting Gandalf when I shouldn't. I appreciate, of course, that for non-Elves Valinor isn't Heaven, but when Galadriel is mourning her exile from it in the songs (whether that exile is legally imposed, a factor of circumstances or simply a function of her dread of what Sauron will do if he succeeds) she sees it as a heaven unattainable (perhaps) to her but reachable (perhaps) by her audience.

DBratman@29: To be fair, it is a category error to consider Kendal Mint Cake a "food concentrate", too. It's a food which is supremely effective at what it does, namely sustaining life and energy levels while not physically disintegrating or deteriorating after being transported over very arduous terrain, and being edible at the end of it - sufficiently edible that plenty of people choose to eat it when they haven't just climbed Everest, though that too, of course. Admittedly, if you tried living on it for as long as Sam and Frodo live on lembas you'd probably get scurvy and your teeth would fall out, but it doesn't stop it being a perfectly valid food.

That can't really be said of anything which could properly be called a "food concentrate" particularly not something so labelled in 1958, which is when Tolkien made the comment. That summons up nasty images of portable soups and those sci-fi (I use this contraction deliberately) pills which the advertising men liked to think would be replacing food the whole way through the 50s, that decade of added colouring and artificial flavouring.

To read that comment in its true context, incidentally, which is Tolkien in full-on grump-mode, shredding (with considerable justification, I'm sure) a proposed film treatment of the book by a Mr Zimmerman, what he says is as follows:

"I dislike equally any pull towards 'scientification',of which this expression is an example... No analysis in any laboratory would discover chemical properties of lembas that made it superior to other cakes of wheat-meal".

This, to me, suggests that lembas is on one level a wheat-meal cake if a Platonic ideal wheat-meal cake (also born out by Gimli's comparison of it to the cram of Dale and the honey-cakes of the Beornings) and that its "magic" lies in the perfect alignment between its form and its function, which is the essence of elven craftsmanship. As part of elven skill (bearing within it the seeds of their temptations) is the ability to retard age and decay, it naturally follows that one of the qualities it possesses in abundance is the ability to keep fresh for many days.

But the essential function of food is to nourish, physically as well as spiritually, so for me your suggestion that lembas only works on the spiritual and not the physical level and that it would give you an illusion of being nourished physically while in fact leading you to starve to death comes over as something of a perversion of what I believe to be Tolkien's concept. There is a food which does that (introduced by Famine) in Good Omens and I the idea gives me the creeps - intentionally, of course, in the case of Pratchett and Gaiman.
Andrew Foss
34. alfoss1540
Regarding Lembas - one of the few/only comic relief additions from the movies I enjoyed was when Pippin comment he was on his second or third cake. Departure from everything maybe, but I laughed about how funny it was considering its true value to them. I always liked the idea of Lembas because I hated the thought of cram - from D&D days and descriptions of similar war rations from the Civil war. The idea of something tasty and you could live off of was comforting.

The Belts - the others received something useful. She should have come up with something that would have been personally meaningful or valuable later - The Cloaks had more value in the end than the belts. I always wondered what she might have given to Gandalf - or how this interlude would have played out had Gandalf had made it through Moria.

Movie - Extended - Especially for Fellowship - but I may fast forward through Lorien - Before you start it, it might be good to have a checklist of especially interesting points to watch for to expect comment on later - and to be prepared to hold your stomach (no matter how many times I watch the scene passing the Argonath, I do not catch the point about the statues that people have questioned). It is so easy to flip pages through a chapter when we are discussing it. Clicking through a DVD to remember specific sequences may be a little hard.
35. Jon Meltzer
#31: The Galadriel-Feanor story appeared in Tolkien's late writings, in which he was trying to find a role for a character not in the original Silmarillion story and manuscripts. It's a retcon and it's pretty clear from what Christopher Tolkien has published that J.R.R. wasn't thinking of Galadriel that way when the Lorien chapters were written. He made many later attempts at trying to figure out who she was; none of them satisfied him.

Personally I find this late Galadriel to be rather Mary Sue-ish. It actually added something, IMO, to the First Age mythology and the decline of the Elves theme for her to be, yes, a member of the Noldorin royal family, but not an especially prominent one, and definitely not Feanor's equal. But for some reason Tolkien felt he had to magnify her role to an extent that he would have had to rewrite much of the First Age story.
36. DBratman
legionseagle @33: "your suggestion that lembas only works on the spiritual and not the physical level and that it would give you an illusion of being nourished physically"

My goodness, I made neither suggestion; in fact both were specifically denied.

Re the first half, I wrote at 26: "spiritual vs. physical nutrition is a false dichotomy. The kind of spiritual nutrition that it gives is a strength of will that keeps you going physically."

Re the second half, Tolkien himself emphasized there was no such illusion: "It did not satisfy desire, and at times Sam's mind was filled with the memories of food, and the longing for simple bread and meats." Those are not the thoughts of someone under the illusion he's being nourished physically. Thus, the person who'd die under a diet of lembas is not one who's being fooled into thinking he's not hungry, though the Elves and their works are tricksy and dangerous - Boromir and Eomer have reason to feel cautious - but one who has made the deliberate choice under extremis. Frodo has made the choice to sacrifice his life to destroy the Ring - he tells Sam he doesn't think they'll live to return - in part for the practical reason that they don't have enough supplies for the journey back, lembas or no. (Sam thinks they might make it anyway.) But without lembas it'd be impossible to reach the goal, let alone return.

So, as whoever you're taking issue with, it is clearly not me, I feel no need to address the rest of your comments, except to note your implication that the reason Tolkien dismissed food concentrates is because the 1950s had inferior food concentrates. I've seen the same argument in regard to Tolkien's scorn at the SFX in fantasy drama, which he brings up in "On Fairy-Stories." These people say, "Oh, but that was the 1930s, when things were so primitive. We have much better SFX today, and Tolkien would surely be wowed by Peter Jackson's films, because I was." This again is fallacious. They don't see that Tolkien's objection was categorical and principled, and not due to the limitations of practice. No food concentrate - and still more no "natural" food like mint cakes - of the 1950s could do what lembas does, and nothing whipped up in today's laboratories could either.
37. DBratman
Jon Meltzer @35: I tend to agree. Tolkien's last thoughts were not always his best. So rather than Galadriel's gift to Gimli being a dig at Feanor, the Feanor incident was created retroactively so that the gift to Gimli could be a dig at it.

Re Galadriel's magnification, there is a footnote to the relevant passage in "The Shibboleth of Feanor" seeming to suggest that Feanor, Galadriel, and Luthien are the three chief characters in the Elves' view of their own history. That is, looking back at earlier conceptions, a bit surprising.
Kate Nepveu
38. katenepveu
Quickly, in between periods of being offline:

Last thing on Galadriel's song: in my dialect (Northeast US middle-/upper-class), "even " signals a comparison. Hence my confusion. Thanks to DavidT @ #22 for posting the OED's "archaic" definition.

Nicholas Waller @ #19, I agree that Tolkien was going to "no man's land"; I meant that the literalism of the name was clunky.

Also, I like Galadriel's gift better when it's not a dig at Feanor but a reaction solely to Gimli in its own right.
39. Quercus
The gifts never struck me as especially odd. The members of the fellowship who really needed help for the future got it, reconciliation between Elves and Dwarves was achieved (slightly too late for both races, but never mind), and the junior members of the expedition got something befitting their rank.

Boromir of course gets something gold and encircling...admittedly around his waist, not his finger, but still. As he'd was a bit grumpy about what Galadriel might have seen in his mind earlier, maybe it was a deliberate choice of gift.

Noman-Land sounds surprisingly clunky, so I wonder if it's meant to be a rough translation "We call it which in is something like Noman-Land".
Kate Nepveu
40. katenepveu
Quercus, welcome, and oh, ouch! about Boromir's gift.

I was leaning toward Noman-Land being a colloquial human name rather than a translation; I definitely agree it's not Elvish in origin.
41. Viviannn
DBratman, I must disagree with your contention that lembas only feeds the soul and you could starve to death on it. The elves make good things. A thing that fooled you into thinking you were fed when you weren't and therefore encouraged starvation would *not* be good.

You offer as proof (in post 25) the quote "It did not satisfy desire" and then interpret that as meaning, "It doesn't fill your stomach. It doesn't quench hunger." I find that a farfetched interpretation. Physical need and desire are not equivalent. Some nutritious food is not tasty, but will keep you alive if you're lost in the wilderness and it's all you have. Conversely, I may desire chocolate but that doesn't mean it's good for me.

I refuse to see lembas as the equivalent of a cocaine-dispensing lever that a rat will push until it dies.

But I'm coming late to this discussion and maybe nobody's going to read this comment anyway.
Kate Nepveu
42. katenepveu
Viviann, it probably doesn't help that I'm reading but I'm not that interested in the great lembas debate?

But welcome anyway. Have some chocolate-covered lembas. =>
43. NetJim
A gift for Gandalf? Elvin beard detangler.
44. Judith Proctor
Interesting to read the comments on Galadriel's gifts. My reaction on first reading the book, many years ago as a teenager, was the opposite.

Merry, Pippin and Boromir got silver and gold belts, and Frodo only got a flashlight - poor Frodo.

Looking at it now, I think she gave people what they needed. Merry and Pippin will fight in battles. They have swords already, the belts add emphasis to the fact that they will use them and gain renown.

Boromir already has a name as a warrior. There is nothing Galadriel can give him that will help with what he really wants which is the ring.
He knows, though he does not talk about it, that Aragorn threatens the status of his own family. Galadriel gives him a gift of a golden belt - she is saying that he still has status, even if the King returns to Gondor.

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