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Old 06-09-2015, 04:27 PM   #1
mark12_30
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1420! Heaven and the ocean

A Facebook post: "Heaven seems a little closer when you are by the ocean."

What about within the Legendarium? Who comes to mind? Which elements of the tale? And why? ....discuss.
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Old 06-09-2015, 04:42 PM   #2
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My first thought is of Frodo's departure at the Grey Havens.

Frodo is leaving mortal lands forever, though he tells Sam that "his time may come". That is to say, "follow my path and you may see me again, in another place".
To Sam, Frodo would have "died", in that he would never be seen again in Middle-earth.
Heaven awaited Sam though, in the form of a sojourn in Valinor, a heaven on earth, as it were.
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Old 06-09-2015, 06:13 PM   #3
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In The Adventures of Tom Bombadil I don't think the sea brings us any closer to heaven. "Fasticocalon" has monster in the sea. "The Last Ship" suggests the song and attraction of the sea has long faded. And "The Sea Bell" is a very complex poem with a unique vision of the sea.

But these I suppose are outside the Legendarium--or so it can be argued.
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Old 06-09-2015, 06:49 PM   #4
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I think of Legolas - "If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore, thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more." Seeing the sea created a longing for something greater than he had previously known.

Numenor, as well - they were put their on their island to be nearer to Valinor.

Thinking a little inductively about the quote as well - what is it about the ocean that makes heaven seem nearer? Is it the ocean specifically, maybe the way the sky touches the horizon? Or is it more a reaction to a specific instance of physical beauty? Because certainly the Legendarium is full of awed or joyful reactions to beauty in creation ("I want to see mountains again, Gandalf" and Frodo delighting in the living wood of Lothlorien are two examples that spring immediately to mind).
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Old 06-09-2015, 06:49 PM   #5
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Burberry, I don't think of the poems as being outside the legendarium.... Maybe someone can enlighten me where the boundaries are.

But for those who do, let's split the question: inside and outside the legendarium.... include Bombadil, and Smith, etc, and HoME.

EDIT: Burberrry?!? I've got to keep a closer eye on spellcheck...
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Old 06-11-2015, 04:36 AM   #6
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Boots Tuor, the Sea and Ulmo

I thought, on reading that post, of when Tuor first saw the Sea, leading to a lifelong love of and longing for it, something later shared with his son. He then met Ulmo, becoming the first Man to speak with one of the Valar, one of the fourteen (formerly fifteen) Ainur who entered Arda.
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Old 06-11-2015, 05:04 PM   #7
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Faramir, I too am reminded of Ulmo... Ulmo seems (if I may say it) the least ... political?... of the Valar, the most likely to show up and do something..
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Old 06-11-2015, 05:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefoot View Post
I
Thinking a little inductively about the quote as well - what is it about the ocean that makes heaven seem nearer? Is it the ocean specifically, maybe the way the sky touches the horizon? Or is it more a reaction to a specific instance of physical beauty? Because certainly the Legendarium is full of awed or joyful reactions to beauty in creation ("I want to see mountains again, Gandalf" and Frodo delighting in the living wood of Lothlorien are two examples that spring immediately to mind).
There's a mention of the extra pull, as it were, that water has because of Ulmo. Believe it's in the Sil.
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"The Last Ship" suggests the song and attraction of the sea has long faded. And "The Sea Bell" is a very complex poem with a unique vision of the sea.
I
Bethberry pondering this some more, I lean more towards that the mortals are feeling unworthy of the world offered...and also its mystery being intimidating. I think Frodo' s dream is more about Frodo being too broken and lost to find his place in reality and society. But it is a society this side of the ocean that he is lost in; he does not yet know how to cross. It's as if darkness and despair still hold him captive.
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Old 06-11-2015, 06:07 PM   #9
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I think Frodo' s dream is more about Frodo being too broken and lost to find his place in reality and society. But it is a society this side of the ocean that he is lost in; he does not yet know how to cross. It's as if darkness and despair still hold him captive.
Frodo's dream is all the more singular in that Hobbits generally did not have a favorable view of the Sea.

Quote:
Few Hobbits had ever seen or sailed upon the Sea, and fewer still had ever returned to report it.....the Sea became a word of fear among them, and a token of death, and they turned their faces away from the hills in the west.
FOTR Prologue

For the Sea to have been a "token of death", some tradition of where the Elves actually went when they sailed from the Grey Havens apparently existed in the Hobbit psyche.

If that view was in Frodo's mind as well, perhaps his dream was indeed a forewarning that the end of the Ring would not leave him in peace; he would be forever "dead" to Middle-earth without it.
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Old 06-15-2015, 10:09 AM   #10
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The thread title could totally be the title of a Florence + the Machine song. I feel obliged to participate.

I'm actually pretty intrigued about the sea/ocean thematics in Tolkien's work. The sea - maybe because of the land beyond it - seems to represent all the "bigger than life" feelings. The Elves' longing, and Frodo's, as well as Faramir's fear of the world ending. Come to think of it, it's a huge element in all Tolkien's stories. It is also a threshold between the mundane world and the mythical west. So as it is a kind of boundary between worlds, you could say that "heaven" (aka the West) is closer when you're by the sea. Maybe even mere mortals can feel it in a way.

The Elves seem to feel this the most keenly with their longing for the Sea. (Interesting question though: are they happy by the sea? Is the longing Legolas feels on the Gondorian shores more painful or rewarding? Is it pain or pleasure?)
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Old 07-07-2015, 08:54 PM   #11
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The Elves seem to feel this the most keenly with their longing for the Sea. (Interesting question though: are they happy by the sea? Is the longing Legolas feels on the Gondorian shores more painful or rewarding? Is it pain or pleasure?)
Generally, it seems to have been only the Elves as a race who felt a special longing for the Sea.

The Dwarves pretty much shunned it, Orcs feared it, Men either ignored (Bree-men and Rohirrim, fex) it, or used it (the Dúnedain), and Hobbits saw it as a token of death.

For the Elves, it served as a call to them, to draw them to what was really their proper place in the Undying Lands. I don't think that the call of the Sea was necessarily painful or pleasurable; but something that just stayed in their thoughts perpetually once it had got hold.
Dwelling near it and for whatever reason not answering the 'summons', I think would have eased their minds somewhat, in a way that Legolas, say, wouldn't have had the benefit of after hearing the gulls then going back to Mirkwood for another thousand years or so.
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Old 07-08-2015, 03:43 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by mark12_30 View Post
A Facebook post: "Heaven seems a little closer when you are by the ocean."

What about within the Legendarium? Who comes to mind? Which elements of the tale? And why? ....discuss.
Not within the Legendarium, I know, but when Annie Lennox sings "Across the Sea", it certainly seems like Heaven is closer to the ocean.
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Old 07-21-2015, 05:10 AM   #13
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The Sea

The Sea calls with the cry of the gulls,
Calls us to leave these changeful lands,
Where leaves fall,
trees are felled,
and mountains crumble.
The gulls call us to cross the Sea
heeding the call of Elbereth to come
to lands undying where
leaves never fall,
flowers never fade,
trees flourish,
and the mountains stand tall
in Eldamar.

I composed this back in 2002 - I think because of some inspiration from this site. It's nothing great, of course, but I thought I'd put myself inside the skin of an Elf, if I could, and see what came.

I think that the ocean - when calm - evokes for us the things that seem most like heaven to us - the mystical, seemingly eternal, peaceful yet powerful, wholly 'other', where we cannot survive without aid. All that water, so very physical but something we cannot take hold of, and yet what it is, is very much what we are.

Still, there are things about the ocean that have something in common with being out in a meadow on a starry moonless night, seeing the milky way banded across the sky.
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