July: First meeting

Although our reading for today was officially ‘Lothlorien’ and ‘The Mirror of Galadriel’, we still found ourselves working our way through the aftermath of Moria. Carol’s additional comments are added at the end of this report.
Laura observed that Moria is like a cathedral with its great rows of columns, but why, she asked, are they tree-shaped in the dwellings of dwarves? Tim noted that there had been great holly trees outside the western doors.
Still in Moria, Pat remarked on the symbolic nature of Gandalf’s staff breaking as the bridge cracks and the ‘spell’ of his power breaks.
Tim observed that the blinding sheet of flame uses up the last of his power, so that when Gandalf is hanging on the brink he is completely spent.
Angela wondered what would have happened then without the balrog’s whip, and Tim replied that Aragorn and Boromir would have pulled him up. Tim also observed that the approach of the balrog is great writing in the horror-story format.
Angela remarked that it was sad that Aragorn and Gandalf’s relationship had ended on a note of contention and petulance.
Pat noted that after the loss of Gandalf, Aragorn is disturbed and more pessimistic than is helpful in a leader.
Eileen, on the other hand, commented that Aragorn is being realistic, and that she admired him for not being unrealistic and misleading the rest of the Fellowship with false hope. Tim agreed that Aragorn is pragmatic, and uses the force of his personality to keep them moving.
Angela noted that it was Aragorn who pulled himself together first, when he was the one who might have wept most.
Laura observed that Aragorn does not drive the company, but he also has this flaw of that humanises him, and Tim noted that Aragorn addresses the mountain and the lost Gandalf, before addressing the Company, and Laura wondered if Aragorn was angry with Gandalf for dying.
We entered into a lengthy debate on the related matters of Aragorn’s leadership and grief.
Tim then picked up two contrasts, noting that the water before the west gate of Moria was nasty, and the company were frantic to get inside, which contrasts with them being frantic to get out, and finding the calm Mirrormere.
Laura remarked that the myth of the stars was discovered to be true, and though only Frodo was invited to go with Gimli, Sam again goes too.
Eileen and Pat both remarked on the effect of Aragorn’s laughter at the discovery of the mithril shirt, as a relief of grief. Carol also commented on ‘a bit of light-heartedness’.
As we moved into LothLorien, Eileen observed that there is pronounced Elf-Dwarf tension. Angela noted that Gandalf had asked Gimli and Legolas to be friends, and that in the Chamber of Mazarbul it is Legolas who drags Gimli away from Balin’s tomb and saves him.
Carol remarked on Lothlorien – isn’t Legolas’ description just gorgeous. From the underground and ruined dark of Moria to the airy beauty of real trees – Mallorns. Contrasts in location. Laura, however, commented that after the horror of the Moria dark, the trees of Lorien are also intimidating, especially to Boromir, and Eileen noted that Boromir seems less meshed with the group. Angela, however, observed that he’s good at protecting the hobbits.
Carol noted the reports of a ‘strange creature’ being seen, the patter of feet following and 2 gleaming eyes again, and while attempting not to spoil the reading to come for Eileen, Laura observed that the eyes, intermittently mentioned, were yet another thing to be afraid of, and Eileen remarked that a sense of evil comes from each mention.

Laura commented that when crossing Nimrodel the touch of the water is felt to be beneficial, and seems to have biblical significance. Tim noted that the passage into Lorien is characterised by 3s, and the company cross 3 rivers.
Laura likened the transition to myths of entering the fairy world with its odd time, and Tim noted that Tom Bombadil’s ‘realm’ was also characterised by its odd time. Eileen wondered if Tolkien’s use of time and Frodo’s feelings about time meant that he was experiencing and ancient race memory.
Carol commented: ‘it seemed to him that he had stepped over a bridge of time into a corner of the elder days, and was now walking in a world that was no more. in Rivendell there was memory of ancient things; in Lorien the ancient things still lived on in the waking world…on the land of Lorien no shadow lay.’ this is a land out of time and in legend. Frodo feels correctly. Even though we don’t know it yet, there is a power in Lorien to keep Time at bay and though it’s done by artifice against the natural order, I still wish Lorien existed.

Laura commented that Lorien was quite different to Rivendell. Pat quantified this in terms of Lorien being more spiritual. Angela noted that anyone can get into Rivendell but not into Lorien, and Tim remarked that Lorien is another hidden realm like Doriath and Gondolin. Laura commented that the autumnal colours of Rivendell contrasted with the Spring colours of Lorien, in spite of it being January.
Pat wondered if Lorien is Edenic. I thought it was, based on references to Frodo feeling that everything he saw was ‘as if they had been first conceived and drawn at the uncovering of his eyes’, and that he ‘made for them names new and wonderful’, as Adam named the animals in Eden.
Cerin Amroth. Sam says: ‘I feel as if I were inside a song.’ which he is – this is another strand of the Story – the past here is present, the past of which so many songs are sung. I also wondered if Sam’s remark indicated that Lorien is characterised by harmony. Laura observed that it is very controlled.
And with that we needed to decide on our next reading – which will be for the day of Carol and Rosemary’s visit, all being well.
We still have the rest of ‘Lothlorien’ and ‘The Mirror of Galadriel’ to finish, but we agreed to add ‘Farewell to Lorien’ to our chapters for attention, if we have time.
Carol’s comments
‘Lothlorien’ (the dream-flower)

This trip of Gimli’s to Mirrormere and Durin’s stone is a pilgrimage, probably never to be undertaken again, but at least he’s now seen it in reality.

More to Frodo than meets the eye indeed – the discovery of the mithril coat. Frodo’s condition sounds like a good case for a long soak in radox.

On Caradhras Boromir was seen at his best because he had a physical enemy to deal with. Here he says he’d rather be led through a hedge of swords than to go through Lorien. Magic troubles him.

It also shows suspicion between various factions of goodies. Because islands of safety have been created – Lorien, Rohan, Gondor -with leagues of wild land in between and not much interaction, suspicion has grown up as will be seen more as we go on.

Another situational poem, this time about the elves as they sit by the stream of Nimrodel, telling a bit of elvish history. The poem is fine but I always find the content of Nimrodel and Amroth a bit silly. If they loved each other why didn’t they just get on and marry each other instead of fannying about.

Even though Sam isn’t a really learned hobbit, he has more nous than the others when he says: ‘they’re elves…can’t you hear their voices?’ The follower again, getting really brave to climb a Mallorn but the ring pulls doesn’t it?

Here’s another place where I’d have proved useful – the rope-walk over Celebrant. Hobbits didn’t feel up to adventures but they knock me into a cocked hat.

Suspicion between allies: ‘indeed in nothing is the power of the dark lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.’ luckily, now we have ambassadors like Aragorn to smooth the way so that none will be divided in the end – quite the opposite in fact. Suspicion between elves and dwarves, and the contention over blindfolding Gimli, which Aragorn sorts out with sensible diplomacy, one mark of his great character; but a plague on stiff necks – even Aragorn has his stiff neck moment outside Meduseld.

Haldir speaks of the passing of the elves – sad.

[Frodo] felt a delight in wood and the touch of it neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree.’ trees are so often viewed for their usefulness – wood for building and making, fruit for eating, but seldom just for their sheer beauty and strength. tree huggers are scoffed at but more tree huggers might mean less global warming

‘Aragorn standing silent…light was in his eyes. he was wrapped in some fair memory…the grim years were removed from the face of Aragorn…Arwen vanimelda namarie!…he left the hill of Cerin Amroth and came there never again as living man.’ the end of this chapter is very poignant and reaches both backwards and forwards in Aragorn’s life and gives one of those few insights into his mind – troth-plighted to Arwen – Arwen’s grave. When it says he never came back there as a living man, does it imply that his soul joined Arwen there in the end. I hope so.

As you can see I like this chapter. There’s so much beauty and poignancy in
it and too much to quote.

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