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Old 07-01-2019, 10:04 AM   #1
Huinesoron
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White Tree The Lament for Boromir

I really quite like Aragorn and Legolas' Lament for Boromir, but it does seem to raise a lot of questions that never get answered.
  • Why does Aragorn sing it? Is this kind of lament a common practice in Gondor, and therefore an appropriate mark of respect? Is it an Elvish practice he picked up in Rivendell? Or did he just come up with it his own self? The only other laments I can think of are from Rohan, but they're very different in style.
  • Aragorn tells us at the endthat the Gondorians don't look to the East Wind for tidings - so does that mean they do ask the other winds, like in the song? If so, what possible theological/cosmological basis would there be for that?
  • The 'waters wide and grey' over which Boromir rides must be the ford at Tharbad, where he lost his horse; what, then, are the 'seven streams' he crosses before that? I assume they're part of the Swanfleet marshes.
  • If this is so, it suggests that Aragorn has an intimate knowledge of the route from Gondor to Imladris via Tharbad. Or does it? Could it be that 'seven streams', as an echo of 'seven rivers of Ossiriand', is actually an idiom for 'a lot of streams'? (Like how the Bible splashes '40' on everything.)
  • Is Aragorn speaking from a Gondorian perspective or his own when he describes Arnor as 'the empty lands where no men are'? Obviously there are some, including the Dunlendings...
  • Legolas sings about the Sea. Did Tolkien know he was going to link the two, or is this just a coincidence?
  • That said, Legolas sings about the Sea really creepily. 'Oh, hi - I'm full of corpses!'. Why would he present it that way, rather than in the usual Elvish wistful way.
  • 'On the white shores and the dark shores'. Are these the two banks of Anduin? I'm wondering whether the north, settled side is farmland - dark, rich soil - while the south bank might be more sandy and pale.
  • It's clear that Legolas doesn't know the layout of Minas Tirith - he's claiming the Seaward road runs south from the gate, when actually, the gate faces north.
  • Why is Rauros 'golden'? It faces south, so would reflect the sun around midday - but that wouldn't normally lead to a golden effect. For that, you'd need the sun to be low in the sky, at sunrise or sunset - but then it's off to the side and won't shine on the water.

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Old 07-01-2019, 02:24 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Why does Aragorn sing it? Is this kind of lament a common practice in Gondor, and therefore an appropriate mark of respect? Is it an Elvish practice he picked up in Rivendell? Or did he just come up with it his own self? The only other laments I can think of are from Rohan, but they're very different in style.
It does to me have an Elvish air to it. That isn't surprising from the Chieftain of the Dúnedain, fostered in the House of Elrond. I think he just began it as a tribute to Boromir, befitting his status as the Heir of the Steward of Gondor who had perished nobly.

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Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Aragorn tells us at the endthat the Gondorians don't look to the East Wind for tidings - so does that mean they do ask the other winds, like in the song? If so, what possible theological/cosmological basis would there be for that?
I think it more likely he was just speaking figuratively, in accordance with the just ended song.

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Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
The 'waters wide and grey' over which Boromir rides must be the ford at Tharbad, where he lost his horse; what, then, are the 'seven streams' he crosses before that? I assume they're part of the Swanfleet marshes.
Since it is the West wind speaking, and looking at maps I can only come up with six named watercourses including the Gwathló that Boromir could have crossed on the way to Rivendell, I think you're right.

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Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
If this is so, it suggests that Aragorn has an intimate knowledge of the route from Gondor to Imladris via Tharbad. Or does it? Could it be that 'seven streams', as an echo of 'seven rivers of Ossiriand', is actually an idiom for 'a lot of streams'? (Like how the Bible splashes '40' on everything.)
I think Aragorn was very familiar with all Eriador, Wilderland, and Gondor. Putting a reference to Ossiriand there is a reach, though. There doesn't seem to be a need for it.

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Is Aragorn speaking from a Gondorian perspective or his own when he describes Arnor as 'the empty lands where no men are'? Obviously there are some, including the Dunlendings...
Probably his own. Gondor had precious little knowledge by that time of anything west of Rohan. The reference could mainly have been to Enedwaith.

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Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Legolas sings about the Sea. Did Tolkien know he was going to link the two, or is this just a coincidence?
"Link the two" in what way?

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Originally Posted by Huinesoron;718995That said, Legolas sings about the Sea [i
really creepily[/i]. 'Oh, hi - I'm full of corpses!'. Why would he present it that way, rather than in the usual Elvish wistful way.
Perhaps he had in mind that The Sea was a source of sorrow, especially to the Númenóreans in exile.

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'On the white shores and the dark shores'. Are these the two banks of Anduin? I'm wondering whether the north, settled side is farmland - dark, rich soil - while the south bank might be more sandy and pale.
I think you're reading too much into it. That could be just a way of saying "the Sea is so large and touches so many lands, who can say where anyone is?"

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Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
It's clear that Legolas doesn't know the layout of Minas Tirith - he's claiming the Seaward road runs south from the gate, when actually, the gate faces north.
In his defense, he'd probably never been south of Lórien in his life, and would have known hardly anything of Minas Tirith's layout.

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Why is Rauros 'golden'? It faces south, so would reflect the sun around midday - but that wouldn't normally lead to a golden effect. For that, you'd need the sun to be low in the sky, at sunrise or sunset - but then it's off to the side and won't shine on the water.
Wasn't the song toward the end of the day? Or maybe Aragorn just had seen it before when lighted by a low sun.
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Old 07-01-2019, 03:04 PM   #3
William Cloud Hicklin
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Turin made and sang a lament for Beleg- but was that his Edainic heritage, or Elvish upbringing?

---------------------------------


Gondor is elsewhere poetically referred to as the "land of seven streams"- probably to echo old Ossiriand, although you can't get the count to seven without counting Gilrain and Serni separately, despite the crossing at Linhir being below their confluence.

Or you could include Anduin, which anciently was within Gondor not its border.
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Old 07-01-2019, 05:16 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Huinesoron
It's clear that Legolas doesn't know the layout of Minas Tirith - he's claiming the Seaward road runs south from the gate, when actually, the gate faces north.
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
In his defense, he'd probably never been south of Lórien in his life, and would have known hardly anything of Minas Tirith's layout.
The original Minas Tirith, built by Finrod in the 1st Age, was located on the isle of Tol Sirion to keep watch upon Morgoth on the northern plain of Ard-galen. The watch faced northward, but perhaps the actual gate faced south towards the river (and escape, if necessary). Legolas may have recalled ancient tales of the wrong keep. Or I could just be recalling some useless trivia regarding the name "Minas Tirith", and have actually nothing germane to add to this specific point.
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Old 07-02-2019, 02:47 AM   #5
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"Link the two" in what way?
Ah, sorry - I meant that Legolas winds up with a very strong connection to the Sea ("If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore" &c), and I think this is the first time that link is drawn.

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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
Perhaps he had in mind that The Sea was a source of sorrow, especially to the Númenóreans in exile.
Interesting! I hadn't considered the Numenorean perspective.

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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
I think you're reading too much into it. That could be just a way of saying "the Sea is so large and touches so many lands, who can say where anyone is?"
Who, me? You may be right, and it does say 'shores', plural, which supports this.

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Wasn't the song toward the end of the day? Or maybe Aragorn just had seen it before when lighted by a low sun.
But I don't think it could be. Waterfalls cut back up their courses, so they're usually shielded from the side by rock. I don't think the sun could shine on Rauros except around noon.

Except I guess if it's big enough... hmm. What does Niagara look like at sunset? Okay, admittedly pretty golden:



And that gold is visible from the top, too. Sailing over it, Boromir would have vanished into a golden haze.

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Turin made and sang a lament for Beleg- but was that his Edainic heritage, or Elvish upbringing?
The more I think about it, the more I think it's Elvish. In Lorien, it's the Elves singing about Gandalf that spark Frodo into doing the same. If we ignore Rohan, it's only people who hung out with Elves who sing laments - and Legolas seems very capable of jumping in to join Aragorn.

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Gondor is elsewhere poetically referred to as the "land of seven streams"- probably to echo old Ossiriand, although you can't get the count to seven without counting Gilrain and Serni separately, despite the crossing at Linhir being below their confluence.

Or you could include Anduin, which anciently was within Gondor not its border.
Ohhh, now I'd forgotten that. 'Over seven streams' could absolutely mean 'through Gondor'... were it not that the traditional reading has Boromir riding to Rivendell through Rohan.

Do we know for sure that's the case, though? The exact phrase he uses is:

"If we cannot cross the mountains, let us journey southwards, until we come to the Gap of Rohan, where men are friendly to my people, taking the road that I followed on my way hither. Or we might pass by and cross the Isen into Langstrand and Lebennin, and so come to Gondor from the regions nigh to the sea."

It's just possible that 'the road I followed' is the road to the Gap of Rohan, and he originally came by the second route he proposes.

Except... nah, because Aragorn points out how long that would take, and it doesn't seem like Boromir took his time travelling.

Perhaps it's just a more general statement that the West Wind has often seen him riding across Gondor?

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Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
The original Minas Tirith, built by Finrod in the 1st Age, was located on the isle of Tol Sirion to keep watch upon Morgoth on the northern plain of Ard-galen. The watch faced northward, but perhaps the actual gate faced south towards the river (and escape, if necessary). Legolas may have recalled ancient tales of the wrong keep. Or I could just be recalling some useless trivia regarding the name "Minas Tirith", and have actually nothing germane to add to this specific point.
This argument is brilliant and I love it. ^_^ It's also a great excuse if you're caught somewhere you shouldn't be in Thranduil's Halls. "Oh, this is the wine cellar? Fancy that. I must have been thinking of Menegroth!"

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Old 07-02-2019, 07:40 PM   #6
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If we ignore Rohan, it's only people who hung out with Elves who sing laments - and Legolas seems very capable of jumping in to join Aragorn.
Note also that in Rohan, it's the King's designated minstrel who does laments (both for Eorl, and for Theoden). I'm not seeing ordinary Riders spontaneously composing them.
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Old 07-02-2019, 07:44 PM   #7
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Another thought- it's perhaps significant that Turin composed the Laer cu Beleg in Sindarin, not Hadorian. Although the fact that the only one around to hear was Gwindor might have influenced that!
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