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Reviewer: NiennaSorrowing Signed [Report This]
Date: February 01, 2011 - 10:08 pm
Title: Eärendil the Mariner

Wonderful essay, as always, Oshun. The tale of Earendil is probably my favourite of all of the tales, and Then the Elves looked up, and despaired no longer; but Morgoth was filled with doubt the most uplifting and moving line in the Sil.

As to the question of whether the ending of the tale of Earendil is happy or not, I would bring up not only the earlier works and the thread that made it into the published Sil, but even in Fellowship of the Ring, Bilbo's poem on Earendil has a distinctly ambiguous ending:

From World's End then he turned away,
and yearned again to find afar
his home through shadows journeying,
and burning as an island star
on high above the mists he came,
a distant flame before the Sun,
a wonder ere the waking dawn
where grey the Norland waters run.
And over Middle-earth he passed
and heard at last the weeping sore
of women and of elven-maids
in Elder Days, in years of yore.
But on him mighty doom was laid,
till Moon should fade, an orbed star
to pass, and tarry never more
on Hither Shores where mortals are;
for ever still a herald on
an errand that should never rest
to bear his shining lamp afar,
the Flammifer of Westernesse.

Earendil remains, even in the Third Age, the greatest sign of hope Middle Earth has: a promise that evil cannot win forever. And yet Earendil himself is forever forbidden from returning home, trapped quite literally in the endless dark. It is this simultaneous twinning of hope and sorrow that runs throughout Tolkien's works and remains, I believe, one of the reasons for their enduring power.

Author's Response:

Thank you so much for reading and commenting and especially for adding to the discussion. I very much appreciate having this poem attached.

I agree the hope and sorrow mixed is so much more moving to read that a simple happy ending,

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