The one line in "Lord of the Rings" that I really hate…

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The one line in "Lord of the Rings" that I really hate…

Postby Felarof » Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:08 am

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?
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Re: The one line in "Lord of the Rings" that I really hate…

Postby solicitr » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:10 pm

Maybe Anduril was forged by the same smith as Caudimordax (or, in the vulgar, Tailbiter)
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Re: The one line in "Lord of the Rings" that I really hate…

Postby ToshoftheWuffingas » Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:28 pm

"I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:"

That may be the origin of the thought.
I agree that it jars and when I did my TV treatment I changed it to him girding Anduril and saying it would not leave his side till the last battle. I suppose one could have a page bear it naked ceremoniously before him as a talisman if you wanted to treat it literally.
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Re: The one line in "Lord of the Rings" that I really hate…

Postby Felarof » Wed Mar 22, 2017 3:42 pm

Yes, the line from Jerusalem might have been a source. I don't think he'd have had someone else carry it, though. That would clash with the scene in front of Théoden's hall, where Aragorn was very particular that no one else should touch his sword.

Thanks for the thoughts.
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Re: The one line in "Lord of the Rings" that I really hate…

Postby Old_Begonia » Sat Mar 25, 2017 10:40 am

Tosh may be on to something though. At Edoras, Aragorn was among strangers and had not been joined by the Grey Company. At Minas Tirith, the situation had changed. I can see him allowing someone qualified to bear it for him.
"And it is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance else that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen."

There is something profound about standing AT sea level.
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Re: The one line in "Lord of the Rings" that I really hate…

Postby Old_Begonia » Sat Mar 25, 2017 10:51 am

Felarof wrote:Yes, the line from Jerusalem might have been a source. I don't think he'd have had someone else carry it, though. That would clash with the scene in front of Théoden's hall, where Aragorn was very particular that no one else should touch his sword...


I had not heard [of] this poem until this last weekend when I attended a concert of "Music of Downton Abbey", being a presentation of both the themes from the PBS series, as well as pieces the Downton lot would have been familiar with. It reminded me of Leslie Howard's recitation in the Scarlet Pimpernel https://youtu.be/5kIccHNNQaU
"And it is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance else that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen."

There is something profound about standing AT sea level.
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Re: The one line in "Lord of the Rings" that I really hate…

Postby Thismole7 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 7:28 pm

I came across the same issue. :cry:
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Re: The one line in "Lord of the Rings" that I really hate…

Postby Felarof » Sat Jun 10, 2017 2:29 pm

Thismole7 wrote:I came across the same issue. :cry:

I can only suppose that Tolkien had a solid reason in his mind when he wrote it, but the reason has failed to come across in print.
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Re: The one line in "Lord of the Rings" that I really hate…

Postby IrisBrandybuck » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:57 am

It may just be hyperbole on his part, like, "I'll never stop until you are avenged!" type thing. The person is going to stop,
they have to stop, but they will persevere. I think Aragorn is indicating the same thing...he will sheath his sword, he has to (can you imagine taking care of certain "needs" with sword in hand?) but the meaning is that he will keep on fighting until it is all over.

Not every line needs to be taken literally. ;)
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