The Lord of the Rings is, as I’ve already proved in Tuesdays with Tolkien, chuck full of pearls of wisdom. The quotes I think are often neglected are the quotes that are simply beautiful. The ones that aren’t what’s generally termed ‘inspirational’ – the ones that fill you with a kind of ache whether you’re familiar with Middle-earth or not. These are my top ten.
“For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
“I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved – but not for me.”
“In the twilight of autumn it [the last Elven ship] sailed out of Mithlond, until the seas of the Bent World fell away beneath it, and the winds of the round sky troubled it no more, and borne upon the high airs above the mists of the world it passed into the Ancient West, and an end was come for the Eldar of story and of song.”
“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
“For I am the daughter of Elrond. I shall not go with him when he departs to the Havens: for mine is the choice of Luthien, and as she so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter.”
“And he sang to them, now in the Elven tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.”
“Then he [Sam] heard Merry change the note, and up went the Horn-cry of Buckland, shaking the air.
Awake! Awake! Fear, Fire, Foes! Awake! Fire, Foes! Awake!”
“And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.”
“War is upon us and all our friends, a war in which only the use of the Ring could give us surety of victory. It fills me with great sorrow and great fear: for much shall be destroyed and all may be lost. I am Gandalf, Gandalf the White, but Black is mightier still.”
“Then Legolas built a grey ship in Ithilien, and sailed down Anduin and so over Sea; and with him, it is said, went Gimli the Dwarf. And when that ship passed an end was come in the Middle-earth of the Fellowship of the Ring.”