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Old 01-11-2005, 11:08 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
Treebeard says as much about his name: that it is always growing.
But isn't that a source of pleasure for him? In contrast to Elves, he takes pleasure in the natural process of change which promotes the continued growth and vibrancy of his language. It is only "unnatural" change, such as that wrought by Saruman on the forest, which disturbs and angers him.
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Old 01-11-2005, 12:01 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
But isn't that a source of pleasure for him? In contrast to Elves, he takes pleasure in the natural process of change which promotes the continued growth and vibrancy of his language. It is only "unnatural" change, such as that wrought by Saruman on the forest, which disturbs and angers him.
Good point. . .OK. . .how about this?

Seems to me that for Elves and Ents change is something that presents a problem to their desires. Treebeard may enjoy the process of change as it gives him a chance to make his words longer and longer, but this traps him in a process that can only end with the ending of time. Just as the Elves become locked in their forests and dreams, unable or unwilling to go beyond them except to pass into the West for good, so too is Treebeard locked in his words. . .?

For Entwives and hobbits, change is something that is cyclical and seasonal. There is no impossible 'endpoint' beyond or at the edge of time when their job will be complete for fulfilled: for them, the present of flux and change is the 'endpoint' and fulfillment they desire and need. Crops come and are harvested; hobbits grow and die and take their place in their family trees.

Seems that each of these modes (Elves/Ents & Hobbits/Entwives) is a different approach to time. The Elves and Ents (a 'masculine' approach?) are directed toward immortality: that is, living one's life in a purely forward looking, linear way within the confines of time, until it ends. The Hobbits and Entwives, however, seem directed toward eternity: that is, living one's life in cyclical pattern within time that through its endless and constant repetition will transcend time.

Like I said -- just trying to get in my post to this chapter thread. You solicitors (or is it barrister?) are all the same: won't let anyone get away with anything.
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Old 01-12-2005, 01:47 AM   #43
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Pipe Fordim:

Quote:
The Elves and Ents (a 'masculine' approach?) are directed toward immortality: that is, living one's life in a purely forward looking, linear way within the confines of time, until it ends. The Hobbits and Entwives, however, seem directed toward eternity: that is, living one's life in cyclical pattern within time that through its endless and constant repetition will transcend time.(Mr. Hedgethistle)
Sort of like a Road and Ring for the passage of Time?
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Old 01-12-2005, 10:35 AM   #44
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Boots Getting back to the garden

Fordim's suggestive comment about masculine and, by analogy, feminine approaches to time provides me with an opportune moment to introduce the other point I wished to make, which I promised way back on January 3. It is a long and winding point, replete with brambles along the way, so let me pick our way carefully through the thicket.

Tolkien's love for trees has become a truism devoutly acknowledged by all readers of the books. Indeed, his invocation to trees is rather unique I think and might bear some relationship to such Old English poems as "The Dream of the Rood" where Christ's Cross is given a speaking role and portrayed not as a piece of lumber but as a sentient, living tree, aware of its role in the torture of God. There is a darkness as well as a charm in the boreal canopy which Tolkien brings out both in Lothlorien and in Fangorn. What I find fascinating, though, is how he marries the forest with concepts of the pastoral. The pastoral is itself a literary tradition: simplicity of thought in a rural setting, mixed in with romance and shepherds. Perhaps a very early version of pastoral was Eden.

Yet if we search through LotR we don't find an Eden myth, although we find many other myths, wound together in Tolkien's magestic way. Lothlorien is a forest cornucopia rather than a garden, a place where time is held still by the power and strength of Galadriel and her ring. It would be Eden had there been no Fall, but the elves did fall and so we know that this version of the pastoral is a desperate one, not long for Middle-earth. But what of Fangorn?

Here is another forest, but this one a forest where time endures long. Fangorn is not static as is Lorien, but full of change.

Quote:
Some of my kin look just like trees now, and need something great to rouse them; and they speak only in whispers. But some of my trees are limb-like, and many can talk to me. Elves began it, of course, waking trees up and teaching them to speak and learning their tree-talk. They always wished to talk to everything, the old Elves did. But then the Great Darnkess came, and they passed away over the Sea, or fled into far valleys' and hid themselves, andmade songs about days that would never come again. Never again. Aye, aye, there was all one wood once upon a time from her to the Mountains of Luen, and this was just the East End.
And of course that change is one which in part derives from a story of the Fall, the parting of ways of the ents and entwives. I put it to you that this story represents Tolkien's imaginative recreation of the Fall, with the discord between Adam and Eve.

The ents are those who are satisfied with 'the woods wide and wild', happy to glean the fruit which falls from the trees. Yet to the entwives Tolkien gives the desire to control and dominate.

Quote:
They did not desire to speak with these things; but they wished them to hear and obey what was said to them. The Entwives ordered them to grow according to their wishes, and bear leaf and fruit to their liking;
Agriculture--gardening--becomes a version of the desire for fruit which follows the entwives' wishes, not the wishes of the pastoral idyll in which the ents are happy. And this desire of the entwives is linked with the Darkness.

Quote:
Then when the Darkness came in the North, the Entwives crossed the Great River, and made new gardens, and tilled new fields, and we saw them more seldom. After the Darkness was overthrown, the land of the Entwives blossomed richly, and their fields were full of corn. Many men learned the crafts of the Entwives and honoured them greatly; but we were only a legend to them, a secret in the heart of the forest. Yet here we still are, while all the gardens of the Entwives are wasted: Men call them the Brown Lands now.
And Treebeard's prophecy clearly links the entwives' gardens with the darkness of Sauron:

Quote:
For if Sauron of old destroyed the gardens, the Enemy today seems likely to wither all the woods.
Interestingly, Treebeard claims of the elven song about the separation that the Ents could have more to say: "But the Ents could say more on their side, if athey had time!" He is unable to imagine what more the Entwives might add to the elven song.

It seems that this is a story not only of the lack of communciation between the male and female genders but also of the greater propensity of the female aspect for succumbing to evil. Treebeard claims that the ents might be at fault for not seeking out the gardens of the entwives more strenuously, but the association of the Entwives's desire to control the nature world according to their wishes is clearly related to Sauron. Too much knowledge is a danerous thing! It leads to the dark side! And this mistake, this error is, like the fault of disobedience attributed to Eve, attributed to the female of the tree species. And whereas Eve was punished by being made subservient to Adam, the Entwives face a starker fate: they seem to have vanished from the face of Middle-earth.

I would not push this possibility too far, yet it is tantalizing to consider how Tolkien has melted the ancient stories of agriculture and horticulture with the garden, with Darkness, and with a melancoly version of the different perspectives of male and female.
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Old 01-12-2005, 06:58 PM   #45
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Pipe Just two points . . .

1. Concerning the issue of names and control:

Merry and Pippin gave away their names as though it is of small consequence. Perhaps it is due to their innocence or (here’s where speculation begins) like Dwarves, it is very hard to dominate them. For instance, Sam tried to stay awake even when Old Man Willow is putting them to sleep. Plus there’s the Gaffer withstanding Khaműl’s interrogation (he should have been in Minas Tirith, teaching those weak-kneed Men!). And then of course there’s Frodo, resisting the power of the Ring until the very end.

2. Concerning Red Dawn
“Awake! Awake!” [Legolas] cried. “It is a red dawn! Strange things await us by the eaves of the forest. Good or evil, I do not know, but we are called. Awake!”
LR III 2
The idea that this message was for Treebeard could explain the events that transpired between the Ent and the Hobbits.
[Treebeard: ]I almost feel I dislike you both, but do not let us be hasty.
LR III 4
[Treebeard: ] . . . if I had see you before I heard you, I should have just trodden on you, mistaking you for little Orcs . . .
ibid
Treebeard was there, relatively near the eaves of the forest, perhaps listening to the tales of the trees from the very edge of the forest. There were trees cut down by the Orcs, and more were felled by the Rohirrim. Obviously, Treebeard is furious, and wary perhaps of anyone entering the forest. And then these little people—which he has never seen before—come up to him! What would come to his mind first?!

I think the “strange things” message of the rising sun—perhaps along with Pippin almost liking the place—saved the two from the wrath of Fangorn.
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Old 01-12-2005, 08:06 PM   #46
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Pipe Entwives - the first GM scientists?

Interesting thoughts, Bęthberry. It ties in with the quote that Esty gave at the beginning of this thread suggesting that, in the Ents and the Entwives, Tolkien was, in a very general way, articulating his thoughts on the difference between male and female approaches to nature. My own thoughts in this regard are set out in my first post on this thread.

But I do wonder how far we can take the Entwife/Eve/Sauron analogy. I said in my first post:


Quote:
In any event, I wonder which approach Tolkien felt more drawn towards. It seems to me that he had some sympathy for both. Neither the Ents nor the Entwives are portrayed as being "wrong", although the description of the Entwives' approach (involving, as it does, a rejection of love of something for its own sake) is perhaps the less sympathetic. And, while he had what might be described as an "unpossessive love” of trees, Tolkien also had a great deal of time for the landscape of rural England which was (and is), like the Shire, tamed to quite a considerable degree. So it seems quite possible to me that, in both The Old Forest Chapter and in this Chapter, with the tale of the Ents and the Entwives, he is working through his own feelings and attitudes to nature.
The approaches of the Entwives and the Hobbits of the Shire seem remarkably similar to me. Treebeard even comments that the Shire seems to him to be a place that the Entwives would have liked. So I am not sure that he was entirely unsympathetic towards the Entwives and their approach to nature.

Although (in reference to the title of this post) I have no doubt that he would have disapproved of their approach taken to its extreme.
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Old 01-13-2005, 04:34 PM   #47
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Boots A garden by any other name

My apologies, Sauce, if you believe I have overlooked yours and Esty's considerable contributions here. As Esty can attest, the vicissitudes of the holiday kept me away from posting at the time and I had been waiting for a moment to reply that would not intrude upon a different topic in the discussion.

What I had been hoping to do was hightlight a different aspect of the entwives tale. Unlike you, I was more than a little perplexed at the associations Tolkien gave to the entwives and to 'females' in general. Let me attempt to retrace what set me off on my interpretive scheme.

One of the outstanding themes of this chapter, for me, is the importance of language and of story. You have already suggested that the omission of the hobbits from Treebeard's list is an example of Tolkien's ironic play upon the absence of hobbits from the Legendarium. I like this idea, as it suggests a more light-hearted and playful Tolkien than we sometimes recognise. Yet this is just one of a series of examplea of the use of story and language in the chapter.

Consider for example Treebeard's warning about the hobbits telling their own names. (A reservation shared, we know, with the dwarves.)

Quote:
Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language.
We go from a list that 'proves' or describes existence to an idea of hidden stories within words in this Old Entish. The context surrounding this is a delightful back and forth dialogue between the hobbits and Treebeard. They listen to each other. (This is in very interesting contrast to the meeting between Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Gandalf in the subsequent chapter, where almost before any words are spoken or listening is done, weapons are raised. ) It is the language, the stories within the language, which make the experience 'real'.

We then learn a very important lesson about the elves. Treebeard recounts the story.

Quote:
it was the Elves that cured us of dumbness long ago, and that was a great gift that cannot be forgotten, though our ways have parted since.
It would almost appear that there is a reverse kind of Babel going on here, with the Elves encouraging the spread of language, although I am not sure how Old Entish derives from Elvish or which the Shepherds of the Trees spoke first. But the coming into awareness or sentience is thoroughly equated with language. And not just one language, but apparently many languages, for each species of sentient being.

So, the chapter sets up a very important theme. This theme then becomes a major aspect in distinguishing the ents from the entwives. Others have quoted part of the passage, but I would like here to give it in its entirety.

Quote:
But our [the ents' and the entwives'] hearts did not go on growing in the same way: the Ents gave their love to things that they met in the world, and the Entwives gave their thought to other thngs, for the Ents loved the great trees, and the wild woods, and the slopes of the hight hills; and they drank of the mountain-streams, and ate only such fruit as the trees let fall in their path; and they learned of the Elves and spoke with the Trees. But the Entwives gave their minds to the lesser trees, and to the meads in the sunshine beyond the feet of the forests; and tahey saw the sloe in the thicket; and tahe wild apple and the cherry blossoming in spring, and the green herbs in the waterlands in summer, and the seedling grassess in the autumn fields. They did not desire to speak with these things' but they wished them to hear and obey what was said to them..
This is the opposite of the value which the chapter has previously promoted, listening and learning each other's language and despite Spm's claim of some sympathy for the entwives' position, I find it very interesting that to the female of the species is given the reject of cooperative language. So I won't be accused of cutting off the quotation, let me conclude it.

Quote:
The Entwives ordered them [the plants] to grow according to their wishes, and bear leaf and fruit to their liking; for the Entwives desried order, and plenty, andpeache (by which they meant that things should remain where they had set them.) So the Entwives made gardens to live in. But we Ents went on wandering; and we only came ot the gardens now and again.
While it is clear that the Ents are not held blameless, I am intrigued by these values that are given to the females. Often in mythology--and this is a generalisation I grant--females are depicted as being the wild ones who cannot live within discipline and restraint. I also have little personal experience with this sense of women being resistent to other languages, for most often it seems to me that it is women who have the communicative skills to create community and family. For instance, in my country, women are accounted better managers and owners of small businesses because they 'manage' their employees less hierarchically than male managers. But to return to "Garden": here I think i it pertains to much more than simply the typical English country garden. Perhaps it functions as a way of expressing distain for domesticity as opposed to the stirring desire for adventure.

But to link "garden" this way with linguistic traits is to take the reference out of the purely floral range I think. thus, I started to ruminate on the garden in literature and that of course leads to the old story of knowledge of good and evil. I too would not want to take the allusion to Sauron too far, but I think it clearly exists, particularly in that allusion to "unpossessive love". And while Saucy might be right to point out the similarities here with The Shire, the Entwives are also give the same attribution as the Elves themselves: they wanted things to remain "whree they put them". That is, they wished to stop change. Or to control change.

It is a most complex story and one which I am sure, as Tolkien himself wrote, "percolated" in his mind for a very long time.
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Old 02-21-2005, 08:50 AM   #48
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straggling, yet persevering...

I have much catching up to do. The following notes were written before reading the thread; having now read the thread, several (davem and boromir in particular) hunted some of the same things I did. Having to choose between correlating all my comments to all those who posted on similar topics or ideas on this thread, or, moving on to the next chapter-- I hope you all do not think me rude in moving on. The thread has been quite enjoyable, yet I have many miles to go...

The casual introduction of Treebeard is delightful:
Quote:
High up, almost level with the tops of forest-trees, there was a shelf under a cliff. Nothing grew there but a few grasses and weeds at its edge, and one old stump of a tree with only two bent branches left: it looked almost like the figure of some gnarled old man, standing there, blinking in the morning-light.
How Gnarled and how Old, they are about to discover!
Quote:
If the stair had been made it was for bigger feet and longer legs than theirs. .... They came at length to the edge of the shelf almost at the feet of the old stump; then they sprang up and turned round with their backs to the hill, breathing deep, and looking out eastward.
Which means they also have their backs to "the old stump". This is delightful! A moment later the Old Stump speaks and "A large knob-knuckled hand was laid on each of their shoulders". Doesn't it make your shoulder tingle?

Quote:
For I am not going to tell you my name... For one thing it would take a long while: my name is growing all the time, and I’ve lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to...
Deep. It made me wonder what story each of us has, and what kind of a name we would have. Strider's long list of names is like chapter headings... what kind of autobiographical chapter headings would each of our lives produce? I may tackle this for my own satisfaction... but it is even more satisfying to think that Eru could write each of those books.
Quote:
you know, the thing we are on, where I stand and look out on fine mornings, and think about the Sun, and the grass beyond the wood, and the horses, and the clouds, and the unfolding of the world. What is going on? What is Gandalf up to?
And now we know what was on the mind of that Gnarled Old Stump! Magnificent storytelling.

Quote:
...Let us leave this – did you say what you call it?’
‘Hill?’ suggested Pippin. ‘Shelf? Step?’ suggested Merry.
Treebeard repeated the words thoughtfully. ‘Hill. Yes, that was it. But it is a hasty word for a thing that has stood here ever since this part of the world was shaped. Never mind. Let us leave it, and go.’
Makes me look at hills, and all the bones of the earth, in a whole new way.

Good and evil trees and their roots:
Quote:
When that happens to a tree, you find that some have bad hearts. Nothing to do with their wood: I do not mean that. Why, I knew some good old willows down the Entwash, gone long ago, alas! They were quite hollow, indeed they were falling all to pieces, but as quiet and sweet-spoken as a young leaf. And then there are some trees in the valleys under the mountains, sound as a bell, and bad right through. That sort of thing seems to spread. There used to be some very dangerous parts in this country. There are still some very black patches.’
‘Like the Old Forest away to the north, do you mean?’ asked Merry.
‘Aye, aye. something like, but much worse. I do not doubt there is some shadow of the Great Darkness lying there still away north; and bad memories are handed down. But there are hollow dales in this land where the Darkness has never been lifted, and the trees are older than I am."
Odd-- isn't Treebeard extremely old, sometimes called the Eldest? Eldest of the ents, maybe? Interesting.
And how dark those dales must be! "Hollow" dales says something about the nature of evil; hollowness in life, purpose, etc. And yet it is not physically the trees that are hollow-- but the dells they are rooted in. Contrast this with the "Sweet old willows down the Entwash" rooted near the nutritious and healthy river-- Psalm 1, anyone?


Quote:
And the smell of the air! I used to spend a week just breathing.’
Speaks for itself...


Quote:
dusk was twined about the boles of the trees. ...Down the hillside the young Entwash, leaping from its springs high above, ran noisily from step to step to meet them.
Gorgeous writing.


WELLINGHALL

I find the whole Wellinghall passage fascinating because of the connection between Treebeard, water, ent-draughts, stone pots and bowls and vessels, and light. Here are a few exerpts:
Quote:
... two great vessels and stood them on the table. They seemed to be filled with water; but he held his hands over them, and immediately they began to glow, one with a golden and the other with a rich green light; and the blending of the two lights lit the bay; as if the sun of summer was shining through a roof of young leaves. Looking back, the hobbits saw that the trees in the court had also begun to glow, faintly at first, but steadily quickening, until every leaf was edged with light: some green, some gold, some red as copper; while the tree-trunks looked like pillars moulded out of luminous stone.
Does this connect with the two trees, or at least with the Golden tree? There's no white tree reference (light being golden and green, not silver) but is Treebeard supplying some sort of link to the Golden tree, which was the predecessor of the sun? Is this an illustration connecting sunlight (first vessel) and the green light found, for instance, in a newly-opened beech glade in spring? But then how do the rest of the luminous trees connect? Regardless, it's a beautiful, mysterious, and fascinating passage.

Quote:
He went to the back of the bay, and then they saw that several tall stone jars stood there, with heavy lids. He removed one of the lids, and dipped in a great ladle, and with it filled three bowls, one very large bowl, and two smaller ones. ...The drink was like water, indeed very like the taste of the draughts they had drunk from the Entwash near, the borders of the forest, and yet there was some scent or savour in it which they could not describe: it was faint, but it reminded them of the smell of a distant wood borne from afar by a cool breeze at night. The effect of the draught began at the toes, and rose steadily through every limb, bringing refreshment and vigour as it coursed upwards, right to the tips of the hair.
John ch. 2 on Stone and water and wine -- and power:
"Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”


Light when Treebeard is roused:
Quote:
And there are wastes of stump and bramble where once there were singing groves. I have been idle. I have let things slip. It must stop!’
Treebeard raised himself from his bed with a jerk, stood up, and thumped his hand on the table. The vessels of light trembled and sent up two jets of flame. There was a flicker like green fire in his eyes

Light when Treebeard calms himself:
Quote:
He strode to the archway and stood for some time under the falling rain of the spring. Then he laughed and shook himself, and wherever the drops of water fell glittering from him to the ground they glinted like red and green sparks.
A few, varied quotes that strike me as "Wisdom":
On Sarumen:
Quote:
his face... became like windows in a stone wall: windows with shutters inside.
On happiness:
Quote:
....the Entwives. We believe that we may meet again in a time to come, and perhaps we shall find somewhere a land where we can live together and both be content. But it is foreboded that that will only be when we have both lost all that we now have.
Marching to War:
Quote:
and Pippin could see a sad look in his eyes, sad but not unhappy.
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Old 02-22-2005, 08:03 AM   #49
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Quote:
Does this connect with the two trees, or at least with the Golden tree? There's no white tree reference (light being golden and green, not silver) but is Treebeard supplying some sort of link to the Golden tree, which was the predecessor of the sun? Is this an illustration connecting sunlight (first vessel) and the green light found, for instance, in a newly-opened beech glade in spring? But then how do the rest of the luminous trees connect? Regardless, it's a beautiful, mysterious, and fascinating passage.
Nice! Its a wonderfully subtle reference to Yavanna, is it not? The ents being the counterpoint to Aules dwarves, if Im not mistaken.
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Old 09-10-2018, 05:38 PM   #50
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Leaf

Few chapters in The Lord of the Rings exist as completely in their own world as "Treebeard"--including the Bombadil chapters, the Lórien chapters, the Mordor chapters. It's a gift of Tolkien that his most distinctly "otherworldly" setting (i.e. the most fantastical place we visit) is the most earthy: maybe some of us live in places like Arizona or Egypt (or Saskatchewan ) where trees are rare, but most of us live with trees as part of our daily landscape, even if forests are not, and Tolkien takes this element of daily backdrop and makes it magical.

It's not a major passage, but it is one commented on a few times in this thread that caught my imagination this time through:

Quote:
‘Aye, aye. something like, but much worse. I do not doubt there is some shadow of the Great Darkness lying there still away north; and bad memories are handed down. But there are hollow dales in this land where the Darkness has never been lifted, and the trees are older than I am."
"The Great Darkness."

"The Darkness."

Moreso than in previous reads, this brought the Silmarillion to mind: the first great growth of trees in the darkness of Middle-earth before the rise of the Sun and Moon. Treebeard is talking of a figurative darkness too: a darkness in the hearts of the trees, but he's also talking about literal darkness. It's an evocative image of the ancientry of parts of the forest: by the time the Sun and Moon rose, the canopy of some glades was already so thick that when they rose, their light did not pierce through--"the Darkness has never lifted."

The thread actually ended before on a related note:

Quote:
Originally Posted by drigel View Post
Nice! Its a wonderfully subtle reference to Yavanna, is it not? The ents being the counterpoint to Aules dwarves, if Im not mistaken.
"It" in this case is the two jars of lights, green and golden, that Treebeard seems to use to nourish the trees of Wellinghall. Given that there was no light but starlight before the rise of the Sun and Moon and yet there was the massive growth of ancient forests, is this the "artificial sunlight" that nourished the primordial trees? It certainly nourishes the trees of Wellinghall--and the visiting hobbits--and a tie to Yavanna is quite appropriate, though I do suspect that the origin story of the Ents in Silmarillion as creatures of Yavanna had not been quite worked out when this chapter was written.

Is it any wonder that Legolas (a Sylvan/Sindarian Elf) wanted to visit Fangorn? The desire of the Elves (especially the non-High Eldar) in The Lord of the Rings is represented with their use of the Rings, especially in Lórien, to try and preserve the Elder Days--and for the Eldar of Middle-earth, there is a special poignancy of the Elder Days before the Rise of the Sun. To visit those dark dells in Fangorn is not even like going to Lórien, where Cerin Amroth is likened to stepping into the living Elder Days--a kind of time-travelling trick almost--but of finding a survival of the Elder Days. Maybe it is not everything an Elf's heart could want, but that it would hold deep fascination is not surprising--remember that it is to Legolas what the Glittering Caves is to Gimli.
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