In the chapter "The Last Debate," the captains of the west agree that they will march an army against the Black Gate. At the end of the chapter, Aragorn
drew Andúril and held it up glittering in the sun. 'You shall not be sheathed again until the last battle is fought,' he said.
But the last battle is days away – they will not even leave Minas Tirith for two days. Are we to believe that Aragorn went around all that time, doing the essential organisation and then the long ride, with a naked sword in his hand? In fact, there's a clue that he did not, in the meeting with the Mouth of Sauron, when Aragorn
took the other's eye and held it, and for a moment they strove thus; but soon, though Aragorn did not stir nor move hand to weapon, the other quailed
That implies Aragorn didn't have a weapon in his hand. Where was Andúril? Tucked unsheathed into his belt? Not very practical. Aragorn's statement about not sheathing Andúril always strikes me as a vainglorious boast, and one which he could not, in practical terms, fulfil.
So why did Tolkien write that? The 50th Anniversary "Reader's Companion" by Hammond and Scull doesn't mention it at all. I have wondered if it's an echo of a line in Beowulf or some other early work which Tolkien was familiar with. Can anyone enlighten me, or suggest any reason for the line which would help me to tolerate it?
And does anyone else have some least-liked part of the story that they always find difficult to deal with?