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Old 12-13-2004, 03:40 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril LotR -- Book 3 - Chapter 04 - Treebeard

This is a long chapter, and as the upcoming holidays (and the release of RotK EE! ) are keeping us all busy, we will take two or three weeks to discuss it. (The next chapter thread will go up the last Monday of the old year or the first Monday of the new year, depending on how active this thread is in the meantime.)

This is the third chapter in which we are introduced to a new people of Middle-earth, after the Riders of Rohan and the Uruk-Hai. The Ents are a unique creation of Tolkien's, not taken from folklore or previous myths, as other creatures are. As a matter of fact, he wrote that he himself was surprised by their appearance! Here's the small print quote (in its entirety, since not everyone has access to the Letters) from Letter #163:
Quote:
Take the Ents, for instance. I did not consciously invent them at all. The chapter called 'Treebeard', from Treebeard's first remark on p. 66, was written off more or less as it stands, with an effect on myself (except for labour pains) almost like reading some one else's work. And I like Ents now because they do not seem to have anything to do with me. I daresay something had been going on in the 'unconscious' for some time, and that accounts for my feeling throughout, especially when stuck, that I was not inventing but reporting (imperfectly) and had at times to wait till 'what really happened' came through. But looking back analytically I should say that Ents are composed of philology, literature, and life. They owe their name to the eald enta geweorc of Anglo-Saxon, and their connexion with stone. Their part in the story is due, I think, to my bitter disappointment and disgust from schooldays with the shabby use made in Shakespeare of the coming of 'Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill': I longed to devise a setting in which the trees might really march to war. And into this has crept a mere piece of experience, the difference of the 'male' and 'female' attitude to wild things, the difference between unpossessive love and gardening.
This chapter is rich in linguistic aspects, including bits of Entish and some Elvish, and in poetry. There is the list of Middle-earth creatures, 'In the willow-meads of Tasarinan', 'When Spring unfolds the beechen leaf', 'O Orofarnë', and the marching song(s) of the aroused Entmoot. At this reading, I also noticed something magical about Ents - Entdraught is not necessarily supernatural, but doesn't making the bowls of water light up seem magical? The fact that they are two, a golden and a green light, that blend together, is very reminiscent of the Two Trees and their light.

And what about the Entwash itself? After the hobbits drank from its water, they were not only refreshed (normal reaction) but their hearts were cheered, and "the cuts and sores of their captivity had healed and their vigour had returned."

The conversations have a special charm, with too many quotable lines to mention in one post. I'd like to mention a few of my favorites:
the name conversation
"...it is easier to shout stop! than to do it!"
"But if we stayed at home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway, sooner or later." (This reminds me of Éowyn's statement that those who do not use the sword can still die by it.)

There are lovely descriptions: "...stars were shining already in lakes between shores of cloud."; the tantalizing comparison between Ents and Trolls; the mention of Saruman’s corruption; and two different Ent characters that we get to know more closely.

Add to that the poignant sadness of the relationship gone wrong between Ents and Entwives, and there's much food for thought and discussion here!
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Old 12-13-2004, 08:07 AM   #2
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I love how Tolkien brings out the Entish Race. He describes the Ents more as a "human," than as a tree-like being, and that's what I like about it.
Quote:
They found that they were looking at a most extraordinary face. It belonged to a large man-like, almost troll-like figure, at least fourteen foot high, very sturdy, with a tall head, and hardly any neck. Whether it was clad in stuff like green and grey bark, or whether that was its hide, was difficult to say. At any rate the arms, at a short distances from the trunk, were not wrinkled, but covered with brown smooth skin. The large feet had seven toes each. The lower part of hte long face was covered with a sweeping grey beard, bushy, almost twiggy at the roots, thin and mossy at the ends. But at the moment the hobbits noted little but the eyes. These deep eyes were now surveying them, slow and solemn, but very penetrating. They were brown, shot with a green light.
I love this because he gives the Ents "human" features head, hands, face, legs, toes...etc. He doesn't make them seem like trees, but an actual race (which they are). I admit when I first read this chapter, with the description, and the human features I actually thought it was a 15 foot tall giant.

Another thing, Tolkien influences on the Ent's eyes, throughout this whole chapter. I haven't figured this out yet. First,
Quote:
These deep eyes were now surveying them, slow and solemn, but very penetrating. They were brown, shot with a green light.
Quote:
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 of green fire in his eyes.
In the first encounter there is a "green light," the second when Treebeard gets angry at Saruman there is a "green fire."

Quote:
Bregalad, his eyes shining...
Quote:
At last Pippin looked up, and Pippin could see a sad look in his eyes, sad but not unhappy. There was a light in them, as if the green flame had sunk deeper into the dark wells of his thought.
Tolkien is definately directing us to the Ents eyes, and especially this "green light/flame" in Treebeard's. And Pippin is intrigued by these "eyes," what is happening with them? Well, I'll leave that up to one of are great philosopher's to try and explain.

Some smaller things I wanted to point out were the Entwives, and the historian. I don't know if anyone on these forums believe this, but a common thought is Ents are slow and dumb. Slow, yes, because they like to go into deep thought. But not dumb, they were cured from their dumbness. If you look in this chapter, I am amazed how knowledgeable (it's a word now) Treebeard is, he is almost like a historian. He knows of the days long gone, when "woods filled the world," he remembers days when Celeborn was younger, he knows quite a bit about Saruman (eventhough he won't admit it).

The entwives is a sad story. I think the fact that their are "walking trees" spotted around the Shire, and Treebeard did say the Entwives would enjoy the Shire, would give some solid evidence the the Ents around the Shire are Entwives. However, Tolkien doesn't answer this question (atleast to my knowledge), and there's still room for doubt, if you ask me. They are Entwives . I think the moral behind the story of the Entwives is, that if you let go, or let slip past the people you care about, they could let you go .

Lastly, one quick comment. Treebeard says...
Quote:
[Saruman] has a mind for metal and wheels...
This got me thinking about the upcoming battle between the Ents and Isengard. A battle of nature vs. metal(industry). The Ents (nature) vs. Isengard (industry). Reminded me of one of the best silent movies ever made, Metropolis. Where the main character (forget his name), has a stick, and he tries to pry open the metal doors he was locked in. This is the battle of nature vs industry in the movie, and the stick breaks!!!!.

Edit: Estelyn, you got me thinking again! (mutters of "darnit")
Quote:
"But if we stayed at home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway, sooner or later." (This reminds me of Éowyn's statement that those who do not use the sword can still die by it.)
Reminds me of what Rudy Guilliani said,
Quote:
"When good people sit back, and let evil happen, that is the greatest of evil."
Also, got me thinking Treebeard seems very Grandpa-ish. As up above, he knows a lot of the stories from the past, you know those grandpa stories "I remember when....," "Did I tell you about the time..." Treebeard is like the Grandpa (only great, great, great, great, great, great, (times 3,000), to the hobbits. Or maybe even the grandpa of Middle-earth?

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Old 12-13-2004, 02:14 PM   #3
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Eye

I've got my book out now and I'm just going to type as I read. This will result in real-time random ramblings, but maybe I will say something that will spark a discussion amongst those who aren't taking a bunch of finals this week (people who have time to organize their thoughts).

First, as Boro pointed out, there's this whole metal versus nature thing going on here. Note the ent-draught and Elrond's cordial versus the burning liquid the orcs gave Merry and Pip, as well as Elrond's healing skill and the healing virtues of the Entwash versus the paste the orcs put on Merry's wound.

But what about the manner in which the hobbits were carried? The orcs-
Quote:
An Orc seized Pippin like a sack, put its head between his tied hands, grabbed his arms and dragged them down, until Pippin's face was crushed against its neck... The Orc's clawlike hand gripped Pippin's arms like iron; the nails bit into him.
Notice the reference to metal ("like iron") and also, though it may be a coincidence, the reference to the nails of the Orcs (which made me think of the other type of nails, metal nails).

But here's how Treebeard carried the Halflings-
Quote:
Holding the Hobbits gently but firmly
And later it says they felt "safe and comfortable". That's more than a little bit different than their experience with the Orcs.

Did Tolkien mean for us to compare the two situations? Was he saying "Industry and nature can both take you someplace, but with nature the ride is more comfortable"?

And was anyone else captured by a desire to see the darker parts of Fangorn?
Quote:
'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.
I am very intrigued by this. I want to hear these "hollow dales" described in full detail. I want to know exactly what is dangerous about them, and I want to see them, places where the trees are older than Treebeard and more dangerous than Old Man Willow. What would happen if Treebeard and the other Ents attempted to attack these places? What sort of battle would there be? Could an army of men charge into one of these pockets and burn down the evil or would the trees come alive and grab them before they could do anything?

I don't know why I'm so fascinated by this. It's sort of like the way Pippin was drawn to the well in Moria, or to the palantir.

And does anyone know- did Tolkien ever see the great sequoias of California? I saw them years ago and still remember them clearly. Did Tolkien get his ideas for the giant mallorn trees from the sequoias? They also could've given inspiration for Fangorn. The Hobbits note how "treeish" Fangorn is. The sequoia groves are similar in the way the trees are absolutely the dominant force.

Well, I've really got to get back to work now. If I have time I'll post more thoughts later.
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Old 12-13-2004, 11:08 PM   #4
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Pipe

As for entwives north of the Shire, that seems rather unlikely:
In "Letters #144:
Quote:
I think that in fact the Entwives had disappeared for good, being destroyed with their gardens in the war of the Last Alliance...when Sauron pursued a scorched earth policy and burned their land against the advance of the Allies down the Anduin. They survived only in the 'agriculture' transmitted to men (and Hobbits)... Some, of course, may have fled east, or even have become enslaved: tyrants even in such tales must have an economic and agricultural background to their soldiers and metal-workers. If any survived so, they would indeed be far estranged from the Ents, and any rapprochement would be difficult-unless experience of industrialized and militarized agriculture had made them a little more anarchic. I hope so. I don't know.
Also, it's interesting that the estrangement of the ents and the entwives
seems an instance of "blame" accruing to both sides, rather reminiscent
of the long-term hostility of elves and dwarves, similarly with "blame"
being possible to attribute to either side.
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Old 12-14-2004, 03:02 PM   #5
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A very interesting note concerning this chapter can be found in a footnote of the Letter #163:

Quote:
Take the Ents, for instance. I did not consciously invent them at all. The chapter called 'Treebeard', from Treebeard's first remark on p. 66, was written off more or less as it stands, with an effect on my self (except for labour pains) almost like reading some one else's work. And I like Ents now because they do not seem to have anything to do with me. I daresay something had been going on in the 'unconscious' for some time, and that accounts for my feeling throughout, especially when stuck, that I was not inventing but reporting (imperfectly) and had at times to wait till 'what really happened' came through. But looking back analytically I should say that Ents are composed of philology, literature, and life. They owe their name to the eald enta geweorc of Anglo-Saxon, and their connexion with stone. Their pan in the story is due, I think, to my bitter disappointment and disgust from schooldays with the shabby use made in Shakespeare of the coming of 'Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill': I longed to devise a setting in which the trees might really march to war. And into this has crept a mere piece of experience, the difference of the 'male' and 'female' attitude to wild things, the difference between unpossessive love and gardening.
There are some details nice to know while reading the chapter.
Speaks for itself, I think. ;-)
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Old 12-14-2004, 08:20 PM   #6
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I find it interesting that this Chapter opens with some slightly conflicting messages in its description of Fangorn Forest. Merry and Pippin feel a "queer stifling feeling" come over them, but they are refreshed (and indeed healed) by the waters of the Entwash. The forest is dim and stuffy, yet it feels to Pippin like an old Hobbity room. It does not look or feel like Bilbo's description of Mirkwood (a pretty fearsome place), but the Hobbits don't imagine it to be a place for animals - or indeed Hobbits.

Pippin's comparison of the place to "the old room in the Great Smials" suggests to me that he does not feel threatened by it, but that he sees it as somewhere where he shouldn't be, like a child playing somewhere where he has been told not to go. An old room used by adults that is out of bounds, but nevertheless somehow comforting. Indeed, Pippin feels that he "almost likes the place".

And when Treebeard first speaks to them, it does not come across as threatening. It does, of course, come as a surprise (both to Hobbits and the reader), an effect which Tolkien achieves by starting a paragraph with his unbidden response to Pippin's comment. There is, perhaps, a moment of tension in the reference to Treebeard as "almost Troll-like". But it is quickly dispelled by the remainder of the description and, in particular, the reference to Pippin's subsequent attempts to describe his first impression of Treebeard’s eyes (suggesting that he will come to no danger here) and to his initial feeling of fear quickly disappearing. Like Pippin (and indeed Tolkien himself), we are amazed, rather than concerned, at the Ent's sudden introduction into the story.

I find all this interesting, because Tolkien could have used this moment to suspenseful effect: a giant, Tree-like being suddenly comes to life right next to the two young Hobbits. But he does not. We are very soon assured that Treebeard is a friend, or at least not someone who poses a threat to Merry and Pippin (having thankfully not mistaken them for small Orcs). And the fact that he does not use this as an excuse for a moment of tension suggests to me that, once he decided who Treebeard was (not, for example, an evil giant), he was quite concerned to portray him sympathetically right from the outset.

As for the slightly contradictory descriptions of the forest, these tie in with Treebeard's subsequent comments about its "hollow dales ... where the Darkness has never been lifted". There is both good and evil in this forest, so Tolkien steers away from portraying it as either too safe on the one hand, or too forbidding on the other.

It occurred to me that, in the absence of Hobbits from Treebeard's list of the free peoples and in Merry's rueful comment that:


Quote:
We always seem to have got left out of the old lists, and the old stories ...
Tolkien is commenting wryly upon the absence of Hobbits from his own old stories. His tales of the First Age (as eventually compiled in The Silmarillion), at least in their original versions, considerably pre-date LotR. Hobbits did not feature in his reckoning until The Hobbit (the book) came along, and was incorporated into the Legendarium. And it was his readers' appetite for more tales of Hobbits that led him to embark upon its sequel, which eventually became LotR. Hobbits almost seem to have thrust themselves into the history of Middle-earth and, despite their absence from "the old stories", they become (in terms of the story) central figures in it and (in terms of Tolkien's own ideas) wonderful "devices" for his exploration of the "ennoblement" of the humble (as well as many other of his central themes, such as friendship, loyalty, sacrifice etc). And given how important they have become, it seems to me that, with the benefit of hindsight, Tolkien is here, on one level, commenting with some irony on the Hobbits’ absence from all that went before.

I do wonder, however, why this Chapter (as well as the previous one and, as I recall, those concerning Isengard) focusses primarily on Pippin's point of view, rather than Merry's. Is there something in Pippin's character that makes him a more suitable vehicle for observation of the events that they experience? Is this perhaps linked to the idea of Pippin being the more intuitive, the more "feeling", of the two?

Finally, I cannot let this Chapter go without commenting on the tragic story of the Ents and the Entwives. Quite apart from adding flavour and background to the Ents, it does seem to me that Tolkien is building on an earlier theme here, one that he hints at in the Letter quoted by Esty and A_Brandybuck above:


Quote:
And into this has crept a mere piece of experience, the difference of the 'male' and 'female' attitude to wild things, the difference between unpossessive love and gardening.
We considered, in the discussion of The Old Forest, Tolkien's differing portrayals of nature in the Shire and the Old Forest, tamed on the one hand, and wild and unpredictable on the other. And it seems to me that this distinction is brought into sharp relief by Treebeard's tale of the Entwives. Like the Hobbits of the Shire, the Entwives are portrayed as wishing to tame nature:


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; for the Entwives desired order, and plenty, and peace (by which they meant that things should remain where they had set them.)
The identification of the Entwives with the Shire is further suggested by Treebeard's comment that it is a place that they would have liked.

This leads me to think of the conflict that occurred between the Hobbits of the Shire and the denizens of the Old Forest, starting with the encroachment of the trees on Buckland and culminating in the events which led to the Bonfire Glade. The same conflict, albeit emotional rather than physical, features in the differing approaches that leads to the estrangement of the Ents and the Entwives.

Treebeard, however, is clearly no Old Man Willow (although the suggestion is that there are worse things living in those dark hollow vales, and Pippin himself makes the point that Ents are not "quite as safe and, well, funny as they seem"). In the earlier discussion, I speculated whether, in Treebeard, we have someone who has learned a lesson that Old Man Willow has not: the necessity of living in harmony with his fellow inhabitants of Middle-earth. And perhaps it is the Ents' estrangement from the Entwives that has taught them this lesson.

It is interesting though that, in the differing (conflicting) attitudes of the Ents and Entwives (and as indicated in the Letter quoted above), Tolkien is suggesting that the difference here is between "male" and "female" attitudes to nature. Although it is a generalisation, there does seem to be something in this. I would hazard a guess, for example, that nicely ordered gardens appeal more to women, whereas men prefer nature in its wild, untamed state. On the other hand, on a more general level, men's brains do seem to be more prone to ordering and commanding, while the female brain might be described as being more passive and intuitive (and therefore, perhaps, more in touch with nature). (Before any feminists (or their male equivalents) start throwing fruit (whether it be wild or cultivated ) at me, I am, as I said, generalising here.) For some interesting thoughts on this issue, however, see: Are you an Ent or an Entwife?

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.

Hmm (or should I say Hroom). And I thought that this was going to be a short one.
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Old 12-15-2004, 10:06 PM   #7
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Hmm (or should I say Hroom). And I thought that this was going to be a short one.
Well, we know that nothing regarding the Ents can ever be short. Good post, though.

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Old 12-16-2004, 07:47 AM   #8
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Middle Earth Forests

I noticed last night that there's something strange about the forests of Middle Earth. There are three forests mentioned by name between The Hobbit and LotR, and all three are forboding and dangerous. One, the Great Forest outside the Shire even possesses a sort of living malenvolence - a shared vegitation memory, if you will, of past injustices. It is described as forcing the Hobbits down the valley towards Old Man Willow.

In The Hobbit, Mirkwood is similarly dangerous, if not with the intellegence of The Old Forest. The Dwarves are warned not to stray from the path for any reason, and to take enough food and water for the entire trip. Now, the elves of Mirkwood may have a different experience, but from the outside it is certainly a dangerous place. On the trip back, even Beorn and Gandalf take the northern route around the forest, rather than through it. Bilbo's description, passed down to Merry and Pippen was as a place all "dark and black, and the home of dark black things."

Lastly, Fangorn is described as "dim and frightfully treeish. You can't imagine animals living here at all, or staying for long." It is a definitely unsettling place. I liked Saucy's description of children playing in a room in the house they knew they were not permitted in. But even Treebeard admits there are places in Fangorn where the darkness has never completely lifted. Has anyone else wondered at Treebeard being call the oldest living thing, but then he himself describes tress in these dark hollows as even older than he is? Or maybe I'm misremembering Gandalf's description of him.

Now, in the Silmarillion, there are different experiences with named forests. Doriath is a great example. At the same time, the Silm is written essentially from an elvish perspective, so the view of the forests would be accordingly more benevolent.

Some food for thought.
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Old 12-16-2004, 08:04 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Aldarion
Has anyone else wondered at Treebeard being call the oldest living thing, but then he himself describes tress in these dark hollows as even older than he is?
Can anyone give the exact line that Gandalf says? Surely, he is simply describing Treebeard as the oldest living Ent, rather than the oldest living creature. After all, it was the Elves who "woke" the Ents, and Cirdan at least (if not others) must have been around in those days. And then there's old Tom ...
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Old 12-16-2004, 08:05 AM   #10
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1420!

Good conclusions Aldarion, I also think Tolkien is trying to draw connections to Bombadil and Treebeard.

They are two of the oldest members of Middle-earth. Bombadil teaches the Hobbits that there is much more to the world then the Shire. Treebeard is as I posted earlier, like a historian, he tells Merry and Pippin about the older days. They both have disrupted speaking habbits. Bombadil pops out into rhymes and his "dol's", Treebeard breaks up his sentences with "hrum, hoom." They both live in a forest that is perilous, but yet the Hobbits find comfort with these two characters.

In contrasting, Tom Bombadil is more upbeat, busy and fast. Where Treebeard is like "don't be hasty...don't be hasty."
Quote:
"I'm Tom Bombadil. Tell me what's your trouble! Tom's in a hurry now. Don't you crush my lillies."
I think Tolkien is showing their simularities, because both help the Hobbits develop into the mature Hobbits they become by the end of the story. I think the reason Tolkien shows how much these characters are both similar, yet different is for the above reason. But, they are two different people, with different personalities. Tom doesn't care about the rest of the outside world, he doesn't care about the Ring, his power lies in the forest, and he doesn't care about the fate of Middle-earth. Treebeard on the other hand, once he gets roused, he's off. He said he's not interested in wars, since nobody cares about the forests anymore, but it just took some nudging before he went furious about Saruman.

So, they both help the Hobbits understand Middle-earth better, and mature, but one cares about Middle-earth, the other cares about his own things he needs to get done.
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Old 12-16-2004, 08:10 AM   #11
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With pleasure:

Quote:
'The little that I know of his long slow story would make a tale for which we have no time now. Treebeard is Fangorn, the guardian of the forest; he is the oldest of the Ents, the oldest living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-earth
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Old 12-16-2004, 08:37 AM   #12
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Hmm, it's difficult to doubt Gandalf. But surely there must still be Elves in Middle-earth who outstrip Treebeard in terms of age. Wasn't Cirdan one of the Elves who originally woke by Lake Cuivienen? And what about Tom? I believe that there is a thread about this somewhere around here ...

As for Treebeard's reference to the trees in the dark hollows that were even older than he, perhaps, like Old Man Willow, they were not able to walk.

Edit: There are a few threads on this. Here are two of them:

Who’s the oldest?

Who’s the oldest? (2)
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Old 12-16-2004, 08:54 AM   #13
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Wakening of the Ents by Elves - I always figured that as consisting mainly in teaching the former speech - awaking from slumber. Thing which slumbers is alive by definition. When fully awoke and able to hum-burarum-ram-roms and similar, it is allegedly more alive than before, drowsy as it was, but it were not dead matter, it were 'alive and kicking', though dumb and speechless.

Besides, does Cirdan walk per se? He rather sits on his wossname most of the time, on the very brim of ME.

And another besides - it may be mere slip of the tongue on Gandalf's part - he may have not remembered exeptions right on the spot, or maybe he was reluctant to break an impression of antiquity he was working up in his listeners etc. It would have been lecture rather than recollection if it ran as follows:

he is the oldest of the Ents, the oldest living thing, apart from Iarwain, who is [insert appropriate here] and therefore older, and Cirdan, who was born, as you may know, by lake Cuivienen, which is now lost, that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-earth

And the third besides (being a speculation, rather than statement): Cirdan is an elf - therefore his life would last as long as Arda lasts, even if he's killed and goes to Aman. Tom is unknown entity (whatever my personal opinions), but allegedly not bound by such a trifle as death. Ents, on the other hand, are similar to humans in ageing and dying, which may take a long time, but the process is evident - Ents are old, some of them die, and all of them will die out unless the Entwives be found. So, it may be that Gandalf has mental proviso, including that class of creatures (dying with true death), and that's among those is Treebeard the oldest - for obviously, Tom is an exeption and elves are special.

EDIT. Just another 'walking' thought (supporting third 'besides') - Gandalf is incarnate, therefore living being, and by that he may be the older one - but he does not draw himself in, neither Saruman, nor Radagast - i.e. different class of beings does not count. So I proclaim speculation plausible END OF EDIT

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Old 12-16-2004, 08:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
Hmm, it's difficult to doubt Gandalf. But surely there must still be Elves in Middle-earth who outstrip Treebeard in terms of age. Wasn't Cirdan one of the Elves who originally woke by Lake Cuivienen? And what about Tom? I believe that there is a thread about this somewhere around here ...
Oh this is another one of those sticking points which Tolkien fans love to stretch out as if it were one of those old-style taffy-pulls of days gone by.

An authority no less than Tom himself tells the hobbits:

Quote:
"Who are you, Master;" [Frodo] asked.

"Eh, what?" said Tom sitting up, and his eyes glinting in the gloom. "Don't you know my name yet? That's the only answer. Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless? But you are young and I am old. Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless--before the Dark Lord came from Outside."
Where oh where was Christopher Proof-reader on this one?

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Old 12-16-2004, 09:01 AM   #15
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The difference in forests in the bulk of Middle-earth, as opposed to
Beleriand and Numenor- which hold no apparent significant evil-
is interesting, Fangorn's etc. evil due to the influence of Morgoth and Sauron?

For example, about the Bay of Eldanna:
Quote:
All about that place, up the seaward slopes and far into the land, grew the evergreen and fragrant trees that they brought out of the West, and so throve there that the Elder said that almost it was fair as a haven of Eressea. They were the greatest delight of Numenor, and they were remembered in many songs long after they had perished for ever, for few ever flowered east of the Land of Gift: oiolaire and lairelosse, nessamelda, vardarianna, taniquelasse, and yavannamire with its globed and scarlet fruits. Flower, leaf, and rind of those trees exuded sweet scents, and all that country was full of blended fragrance...only here grew the mighty golden tree malinorne, reaching after five centuries a height scarce less than it achieved in Eressea.
Perhaps an echo of what Fangorn, Mirkwood, etc. could have been without
the machinations of Morgoth and Sauron
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Old 12-16-2004, 09:11 AM   #16
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Wonderful quote Bethberry, maybe there is no slip up in the proof-reading of Christopher Tolkien. Maybe, it's simply pointing out that Gandalf himself made a slip up. I agree with SpM, that Gandalf is one of the more trusted peoples from LOTR, but he even makes his slip ups. Denethor is right when saying Gandalf doesn't know everything, I think Gandalf is more reliable then Denethor, but Gandalf has made some occasional slip ups. Even some of the most reliable sources of info can make wrong judgements (as I'm sure we are well aware of).

This right here is what makes Tolkien interesting to read. With all these POV's you got to pick out who is more reliable, one or the other. There is no clear answer, but some people are just more reliable then others. I would hold Bombadil, Treebeard, Glorfindel, Galadriel, to name a few who are more reliable then Gandalf.
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Old 12-16-2004, 09:42 AM   #17
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I think I just found a reasonable argument to solve this question. But, of course, I am open to debate .

In Bethberry's quote:
Quote:
Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless--before the Dark Lord came from Outside.
Tom remembers the time before the rivers and the trees, and he says "Tom is the eldest....mark my words."

Where Treebeard's account of "time" only goes to when Middle-earth was filled with forests:

Quote:
"It is a rather strange and sad story," he went on after a pause. "When the world was young, and the woods were wide and wild....and the Entwives gave their thought to other things, for the Ents loved the great trees, and the wild woods, and the slopes of the high hills; and they drank of the mountain-streams...."
Treebeard doesn't mention anything about the time before the rivers, and the woods, so their are two possibilities: Either Treebeard has no need to get into the time before, and can't remember, or Bombadil was here before. Since, he can mention about the time before the trees and rivers.

One quick observation, I think there are a lot of simularities between Lorien and Fangorn.
Quote:
"Then lead on!" said Boromir. "But it is perilous."
"Perilous indeed," said Aragorn, "fair and perilous; but only evil need fear it, or those who bring some evil with the. Follow me!"
I think the same can be said for Fangorn. If you are an orc destroying trees, and "bring evil into the forest," then it is perilous, since you just ticked off the Ents. but, if you are a good-hearted Hobbit, then you don't need to worry.

Celeborn instructs the Fellowship to not go into Fangorn. Where Treebeard says "And I might have same, if you had been going the other way. Do not risk getting entangled in the woods of Laurelindorenan!"

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Old 12-16-2004, 09:55 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HI
Wakening of the Ents by Elves - I always figured that as consisting mainly in teaching the former speech - awaking from slumber. Thing which slumbers is alive by definition.
True, but could they walk before they were awoken? Since they become more "tree-like" with age and inactivity, I imagine that this is how they were before the Elves awoke them. And I suspect that Gandalf's inclusion of the words "walks beneath the Sun" are important, since there could well be trees that are older than Treebeard (for example, those in the deep dark hollows).

I go along with your theory as far as Ainur and Tom are concerned, HI, but I am not sure that it entirely explains the inconsistency as far as Elves are concerned. Perhaps, as you suggest, Gandalf was just talking in "shorthand".


Quote:
Originally Posted by Boro
There is no clear answer, but some people are just more reliable then others. I would hold Bombadil, Treebeard, Glorfindel, Galadriel, to name a few who are more reliable then Gandalf.
In one of Tolkien's Letters, he casts doubt on Treebeard's reliability (though not his integrity), saying that he does not know everything. And, as one of the Maiar, I would class Gandalf as more reliable than Glorfindel and Galadriel, although their direct involvement in Middle-earth is the longer. As for Tom, well who knows ...?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bb
Oh this is another one of those sticking points which Tolkien fans love to stretch out as if it were one of those old-style taffy-pulls of days gone by.
Indeed. And I am one of those taffy-pullers.

But there is much more to discuss in this Chapter. I would, for example, be interested to hear other views on the tale of the Entwives, Tolkien's "male v female approach" comment in his letter and how this all relates back to the Old Forest Chapter and Tolkien's own views on nature (wild v tamed).

Also, why the focus on Pippin rather than Merry?

Finally:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuor of Gondolin
Perhaps an echo of what Fangorn, Mirkwood, etc. could have been without the machinations of Morgoth and Sauron
Although Middle-earth does have this in Lothlorien which, though perilous, is entirely different in character to Fangorn, Mirkwood and the Old Forest.

EDIT: Cross-posting with Boro's edit, expressing a different view. I agree with you on that one point, although I suspect that Lorien does not have the deep dark hollows that Fangorn has (and which are reminiscent of the Old Forest).
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Old 12-16-2004, 10:01 AM   #19
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The reason I go with Glorfindel, atleast over Gandalf the "grey," would be since Glorfindel's death I think he learned a lot. I believe what he says in The Council of Elrond to be quite accurate, although it's just suposition. Maybe, not necesarrily more then Gandalf the White, since I also believe Gandalf learned a lot from his death, and reincarnation, but it's just a matter of opinions .

You might be right about Treebeard, since he does "shut himself," into Fangorn, and for countless amounts of years stayed out of the wars, saying it was for Elves, Men and wizards. And he didn't have much care, besides for Fangorn, that could cast in some doubt. I take his knowledge about Saruman to be accurate, since he used to spend time with the guy .
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Old 12-16-2004, 11:27 AM   #20
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Eye

Quote:
Surely, he is simply describing Treebeard as the oldest living Ent, rather than the oldest living creature. After all, it was the Elves who "woke" the Ents
I thought that the Elves woke the "trees".

Isn't there a difference?

Ents came from Yavanna's thought. Eru told her (through Manwe) that at the same time the elves woke up, her thoughts would awaken and summon spirits from afar to go and dwell in some of the plants and animals. So ents have a fea and woke up at the same time as the first elves.

But this doesn't mean that the elves couldn't have roused trees from their sleep. Tolkien said that animals could be raised to a higher level and taught to speak, but that speaking does not necessarily indicate a soul. So talking trees are basically just animals that got raised to a higher level by the elves. Ents, however, have feas, and were already awake before the elves came walking by.

Does this work for everyone?
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Old 12-17-2004, 05:51 AM   #21
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I’m later than usual for this thread & a lot of important points have already been made. Its difficult to know where to begin. As this is a long chapter, & we have a couple of weeks to go into it, I’ll take it bit by bit. First off:

Its clear at least, that the LotR Ents appeared first, & that Tolkien wrote them back into theSil. In HoME we find him speculating on their origin:

Quote:
Did first lord of the Elves make Tree-folk in order to or through trying to understand trees? And...

Notes for Treebeard.

In some ways rather stupid. Are the Tree-folk (Lone-walkers) hnau that have gone tree-like, or trees that have become hnau*?

Difference between trolls - stone inhabited by gobli-spirit, stone-giants, & the ‘tree-folk’
* hnau are a Lewisian idea - conscious beings with souls.

So, Tolkien has invented the Ents, but hasn’t come up with an account of them. It seems like he knew they were there, but had no idea where they had come from. In fact, in letter 157 he says:

Quote:
I always felt something ought to be done about the peculiar Anglo-Saxon word ent for a ‘giant’ or mighty person of long ago - to whom all old works were ascribed.
It does seem though that he ‘knew’ they weren’t beings like Trolls - unnnatual creatures - stone animated by goblin spirits, or stone- giants - natural creatures who had existed always in their current forms. The Ents are rational beings who may have once been something else - ordinary trees, perhaps, which were given sentience.

Whatever, Tolkien, through Treebeard, does have something interesting to say about tom Bombadil:

Quote:
What about whom? said Treebeard. ‘Tombombadil? Tombombadil? So that is his what you call him. Oh, he has got a very long name. He understands trees, right enough; but he is no herdsman. He laughs & does not interfere. He never made anything go wrong, but he never cured anything, either


It seems Treebeard feels that it is important to be an active participant in the world - Bombadil is in the wrong as far as the Ent is concerned, because while he may not have done anything bad, he hasn’t done any good, either. Yet Treebeard himself has been passive enough in his own land up to this point, & has to be stirred up to take action. Treebeard seems to think a lot, but he isn’t a great doer. And he doesn’t have Bombadil’s excuse, either.

Another interesting tidbit from HoME, perhaps tying it into the Lorien theme, is Treebeard’s comment on the distance he has carried Merry & Pippin to his Ent-house:

Quote:
’I have brought you three times twelve leagues or thereabouts, if measurements of that kind hold good in the country of Fangorn.
It almost seems as if at this point Tolkien is thinking of Fangorn as an otherworldly place similar to Lorien; In Lorientime may move differently to the outside world, in Fangorn it is
space[/i] that follows different laws. Or perhaps just as the Elves perceptions affect their understanding of time, the Ents perceptions affect their understanding of distance. Perhaps the Ents are more complex beings than may at first appear.

But to the actual chapter under discussion. Th efirst thing that struck me was Treebeard’s statement:

Quote:
"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 in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say. It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.
Which ties in with what he said in the draft about Tom Bombadil:

Quote:
[i]Tombombadil? Tombombadil? So that is his what you call him. Oh, he has got a very long name.
So, in Entish a ‘name’ isn’t just a ‘label’, its a ‘story’. Its the story of the thing itself. To know a thing or person’s Entish name is to know their history, their nature, everything about them.

Quote:
’Hm, but you are a hasty folk, I see,’ said Treebeard. ‘I am honoured by your confidence; but you should not be too free all at once. There are Ents & Ents, you know; or there are Ents & things that look like Ents but ain’t, as you might say.’
This is interesting, not simply because its a warning to innocents who have strayed into a potentially dangerous place, but for another reason. Names were once considered to be magical things. To know a thing’’s true name was believed to give him or her power over it. Le Guin uses this idea in the Earthsea books, but it was a common belief once uopn a time. But Tolkien uses the idea himself in the Conversation with Smaug. Bilbo, there, is extremely careful to avoid telling his right name to Smaug.

The other interesting thing about Entish names is that they are very often incomplete or unfinished. The ‘right name’ of a person or thing is their story, & it continues to change & develop as long as their ‘story’ (their life or existence) goes on. Perhaps it doesn’’t even attain a final form even then - not if their acts or one time existence continue to have repercussions after they’ve gone. Its easy to understand Treebeard’s confusion over Pippin’s statement about Gandalf’s fall:

Quote:
’But you speak of Master Gandalf as if he was in a story that had come to an end.’
Because to him its not just a case of Gandalf dying, but of the end of that particular story. Gandalf, for Treebeard, was both in a story & the story itself. He is being told that the story ‘Gandalf’ has been finished. The Entish name of anything is its story, but do the Ents see everything as just a ‘story’? Perhaps for the Ents the story is more is more important than the person or thing it is told about? Treebeard seems incredibly concerned about the ending of stories, because when a story ends it may be put aside & forgotten, & the telling of tales is the reason Entish exists. Perhaps Treebeard feels some connection between the fading of his race & the fading of his language? After all, when the Ents finally die out, Entish will die out too, & so will the stories which were told in it. After the last Ent has died there will be no-one left who knows the name of the ‘thing’:

Quote:
’we are on, where i stand & look out on fine mornings, & think about the Sun, & the grass beyond the wood, & the horses, & the clouds, & the unfolding of the world....
Its Entish name will be lost forever, hence it’s story will be lost forever, & it will become just a ‘hill’, one among many, & thus nothing special - even as the trees Treebeard has known from nut & acorn, trees with voices & names of their own - stories of their own - will become simply ‘trees’, sources of timber, any of which may be cut down - to feed the fires of Orthanc, or anything else ‘orcs’ may decide to do with them.

When a thing’s ‘right name’ is forgotten, its story is lost, & then it becomes worthless. It is only the Ents who keep those stories alive - even the Elves have developed other concerns. Ents are the ‘record keepers’ of Middle earth, & something vital will be lost with their passing. Its easy to overlook that - that the Ent’s role in Middle earth is to be its ‘living memory’ - & see their passing as a tragedy for them alone. It isn’t. Its a loss for the whole of Middle earth & everyone in it, because the ‘stories’ that make up ‘Middle earth’ are the stories of its people, places & things, & the only ones who know those stories are the Ents. The right names of things, their stories, will be forgotten, & those things will then begin to lose any sense of their real value & their unique identity. The Ent’s tragedy is Middle earth’s tragedy, because their passing will inevitably bring about its passing. Middle earth will become the world we know, precisely because there are no Ents who know every ‘thing’s’ ‘right name’,& are able to tell it’s story. No ‘right name’ means no true story, & no true story means no uniqueness, no meaning.

We are witnessing the beginning of a terrible loss - even greater in some ways for the world than the loss of the Elves - but we may not realise it, because the form it takes is the dying out of a bunch of strange walking & talking trees.
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Old 12-17-2004, 01:01 PM   #22
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Quote:
Its Entish name will be lost forever, hence it’s story will be lost forever, & it will become just a ‘hill’, one among many, & thus nothing special - even as the trees Treebeard has known from nut & acorn, trees with voices & names of their own - stories of their own - will become simply ‘trees’, sources of timber, any of which may be cut down - to feed the fires of Orthanc, or anything else ‘orcs’ may decide to do with them.
An interesting find davem, and it's possible that Treebeard, and the Ents decided to go take out Saruman in an attempt to be remembered for something. If the Ents sit back in the forest, and die out, their language, their stories will pass away. But, perhaps if they do something to help the people's of Middle-earth, will sing songs, and make stories about them.

Quote:
"Of course, it is likely enough, my friends," he said slowly, "likely enough that we are going to our doom. The las march of the Ents. But if we stayed at home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway, sooner or later. That thought has long been growing in our hearts; and that is why we are marching now. It was not a hasty resolve. Now at least the last march of the Ents may be worth a song. Aye," he sighed, "we may help the other peoples before we pass away...
Treebeard seeing that the Ents are fading away, and will eventually fade away, fears that Ents will be forgotten. That is if the Ents sit back and did nothing. Ahh, but if he helps the other people, then perhaps they may be remembered yet.

Back to my first post about the "green light," within Treebeard's eyes, as well as Bregalad. Perhaps the "green light" is the Ent spirit, or symbolism of the Ents being a race that is fading away. When the Hobbits first see Treebeard...
Quote:
These deep eyes were now surveying them, slow and solemn, but very penetrating. They were brown, shot with a green light.
When Treebeard considers no thought of Saruman, or helping out Middle-earth, Treebeard's eyes is just a "green light," and represents the fading away of the Ents. But, when Treebeard gets roused...
Quote:
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 of green fire in his eyes.
Now the "green light," is a "flame," and there may be hope of the Ents being remembered in history. Then Treebeard suppresses these thoughts, saying he got "caught up in the moment...
Quote:
At last Pippin looked up, and Pippin could see a sad look in his eyes, sad but not unhappy. There was a light in them, as if the green flame had sunk deeper into the dark wells of his thought.
After Treebeard suppresses his thought, the "green flame," sinks back deeper into his eyes, as if fading, a long with the Entish race. The final occurance when the Bregalad realizes the Ents are going to war...
Quote:
Bregalad, his eyes shining...
again, hope remains that the Ents will be remembered.

The Ents, as davem has pointed out, don't have Bombadil's excuse to stay out of things. When the Ents have their chance to help Middle-earth, there is a chance that the Ents will be remembered, represented by the "green flame," and "shining eyes." If the Ents pull a Bombadil, then they will fade away, they won't be remembered, and their green flame reduces to a green light, and fades away, deeper into their eyes. Sorry, if it seems a bit jumbled, but the thought just came to me, and I'm spewing it out .
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Old 12-17-2004, 01:08 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Boromir88
Treebeard seeing that the Ents are fading away, and will eventually fade away, fears that Ents will be forgotten. That is if the Ents sit back and did nothing. Ahh, but if he helps the other people, then perhaps they may be remembered yet.
Very interesting point - this desire to be remembered, to continue in the 'Tale' ...(Following on from my last post, a few more thoughts on the nature of Ents: )

Quote:
"We are tree-herds, we old Ents. Few enough of us are left now. Sheep get like shepherds, and shepherds like sheep, it is said; but slowly, and neither have long in the world. It is quicker and closer with trees and Ents, and they walk down the ages together. For Ents are more like Elves: less interested in themselves than Men are, and better at getting inside other things’.. And yet again Ents are more like Men, more changeable than Elves are, and quicker at taking the colour of the outside, you might say. Or better than both: for they are steadier and keep their minds on things longer.
‘Ents are more like Elves: less interested in themselves than Men are, and better at getting inside other things’.

Are Elves less interested in themselves than Men? When did that happen? The Elves of the First Age certainly couldn’t be said to be uninterested in themselves. If Treebeard is right this must be something that has happened to the Elves of Middle earth over time. And yet to what extent have they grown uninterested in themselves? Their chief concern seems to be departing into the West, leaving Middle earth forever. This does not seem to imply a lack of self interest. In fact, the Elves of Lorien in particular seem pretty much self obsessed, with not much interest in the outside world, or anything but their living dream.

Again, what does he mean when he says that Men are more changeable, quicker at taking on the colour of the outside - in fact, [i]what is that supposed to mean when its at home? ‘Taking on the colour of the outside’? does it mean that Men are too swayed by ‘surfaces’, by image, or that they are more prone to be swept along by ‘fashions’ & trends, carried along by the crowd, the concerns of the moment?

And does this give any insight into Treebeard’s words about the Elves? Does he mean that Elves are not concerned with themselves as a power, a force for change & domination within Middle earth any longer? Elves are no longer thinking of themselves as having a role in Middle earth. They have turned inwards, focussed on their individual destinies, not on the destiny of Middle earth. That role has passed to Men. Yet Treebeard’s judgement of Men’s new role doesn’t seem too high. The Elves have succumbed & accepted their destiny, but they are not up to it apparently, as far as Treebeard is concerned. They will probably make a mess of things.

In his opinion (understandably perhaps) the Ents are better than Elves or Men. They are more consistent than the Elves - they ‘have their feet on the ground’ (or in it), - & are less fickle than Men, less prone to wandering off looking for pastures new. For an Ent the grass is never greener on the other side of the fence.

The Ents are deeply ‘rooted’ both in the earth, & in the past. This is probably because their language is a language of ‘’right names’, which tells the stories of the earth & the beings which inhabit it. Every story is worth hearing & telling for the Ents. Their constancy is the constancy of the storyteller who tells his story through, even if there is no-one to hear it. The storytelling traditon is very old, & there’s an account of one traditional storyteller from the West of Scotland told in Rees’ ‘Celtic Heritage’ in the aftermath of the appearance of TV & Radio:

Quote:
There came a time when it was but rarely that he had an opportunity himself of practicing his art in public. So, lest he should lose command over the tales he loved, he used to repeat them aloud ... using the gesticulations & the emphasis, & all the other tricks of narration, as if he were once again the centre of fireside storytelling ... On returning from market, as he walked slowly up the hills behind his old grey mare, he could be heard declaiming his tales to the back of the cart. (Quoted in Matthews’ The Western Way’ (vol 1: The native Tradition)
Its not too difficult a stretch to see the last Ent in Middle earth in a similar position, wandering through the last lonely stretch of forest, sadly singing the stories of all the lost places & beings he had once known.

Treebeard is lamenting the fact that no-one loves the woods as he does - we could probably extend that & say that no-one loves the plants & animals & people of Middle earth as he does, because no-one knows their stories as he does - & even he is forgetting - he cannot remember the rhymes of lore. Perhaps the Ents will finally die out not through grief or sickness, as with Elves, or through natural mortailty as with Men & other races, but through forgetfulness. They wiil forget, slowly, all their lore, all their true stories, & return to what they had been, before they were awakened & taught to speak the ‘right names’ of things.

As for the Entwives, it would seem that the deep difference between them is that while the Ents want to discover & tell the stories of things the way they are, the Entwives want to change the stories, adapt them to suit their own temperament:

Quote:
But the Entwives gave their minds to the lesser trees, and to the meads in the sunshine beyond the feet of the forests; and they saw the sloe in the thicket, and the wild apple and the cherry blossoming in spring, and the green herbs in the waterlands in summer, and the seeding grasses 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. The Entwives ordered them to grow according to their wishes, and bear leaf and fruit to their liking; for the Entwives desired order, and plenty, and peace (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 to the gardens now and again.
If the Entwives refused to speak to the plants & trees it could only be because they did not want, or need, to hear their stories. And that being the case, what, really, would Ents & Entwives have in common? The very stories the Ents lived to tell would be an irritation to the Entwives. And the ‘stories’ the Entwives wished to tell would have been empty & felt ‘contrived’ to the ents. Neither Ents nor Entwives had any desire to hear what the other had to say. A classic breakdown of communication - grounds for separation in anyone’s book .....
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Old 12-17-2004, 01:45 PM   #24
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It almost seems as if at this point Tolkien is thinking of Fangorn as an otherworldly place similar to Lorien; In Lorientime may move differently to the outside world, in Fangorn it is space[/i] that follows different laws. Or perhaps just as the Elves perceptions affect their understanding of time, the Ents perceptions affect their understanding of distance. Perhaps the Ents are more complex beings than may at first appear.
Is distance in Fangorn similar to a 'country mile', i.e. much more than a mile, or is it a concept which is lost in such a strange and magical place? This is interesting, as in Lorien, the peculiar concept of time is similar to that in the underworld - people being taken there may spend just a day, or so they think, when they have really spent seven years there. In Fangorn, maybe there is no set pattern to distance and space, and after all, such things are only a human construct to 'help' us fathom the world out. Maybe those trees move about so much that distance becomes irrelevant - who hasn't found themselves lost in a woodland and had the distinct feeling that the tress are somehow conspiring to make us lost?

Quote:
If the Entwives refused to speak to the plants & trees it could only be because they did not want, or need, to hear their stories. And that being the case, what, really, would Ents & Entwives have in common? The very stories the Ents lived to tell would be an irritation to the Entwives. And the ‘stories’ the Entwives wished to tell would have been empty & felt ‘contrived’ to the ents. Neither Ents nor Entwives had any desire to hear what the other had to say. A classic breakdown of communication - grounds for separation in anyone’s book .....
Sometimes I think that a parallel could be drawn with the coming of agriculture to this world. At one time there was a vast 'wildwood' covering all of Britain, even right across our moors and mountains, and we humans lived as hunter gatherers there. But then came agriculture and the ordering and taming of the land, just as the Entwives did in Middle Earth. And the wildwood became an entirely separate entity (sorry...) to the tamed landscape. Neither side of our landscape would have anything worth saying to the other side; the woods must be kept trimmed back and the fields must be sprayed with pesticides and kept in order. Perhaps we have forced our own wildwood in to the situation of that of the ents. In Sherwood Forest there is an oak tree so old and immense it must be supported by props, and I wonder what tales that tree could tell; there are certainly many legends surrounding it.

And then what happens to trees for commercial reasons? They are cut down and in the rings we really can read the story of the times those trees have lived through - we can work out what years were dry, which were wet, which years the tree suffered damage. But when we read those tales it is too late, and that tree is alas dead, and will never tell any more stories of our times or anyone else's.
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Old 12-17-2004, 02:50 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Lalwende
In Fangorn, maybe there is no set pattern to distance and space, and after all, such things are only a human construct to 'help' us fathom the world out. Maybe those trees move about so much that distance becomes irrelevant - who hasn't found themselves lost in a woodland and had the distinct feeling that the tress are somehow conspiring to make us lost?
I think its easy to get the idea that Fangorn is a 'natural' place - even the Ents themselves seem absolutely 'natural' beings, but look at the way Treebeard creates illumination in various forms - jets of light from the vessels on the table, the water droplets he shakes off turning into sparks of light, the trees all around him shining with light - what causes this effect? Does Treebeard have some kind of 'magical' power - & if so, what is its nature? We discussed the different kinds of magic in Middle earth back in the Khazad dum chapter, the Word of Command, etc - is this 'magic' displayed by Treebeard of a similar kind or different?
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Old 12-17-2004, 03:58 PM   #26
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‘Ents are more like Elves: less interested in themselves than Men are, and better at getting inside other things’.
I always thought that this meant that Elves were not fascinated with themselves, as, say, Sam was fascinated with them, and that they (in general) did not have these great inner conflicts such as Men sometimes did (as seen in Boromir, especially). Instead, they were able to put their time to better use, getting things done rather than sitting about contemplating their navels. This doesn't really sound like Ents to me, though, seeing as they take a long time to do anything. But since they've been around for thousands of years, then I suppose maybe it could apply to the Ents as well.

Or, "better at getting inside other things" could refer to the way they both could communicate with and understand the trees.
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Old 12-20-2004, 07:45 AM   #27
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some spices for the soup

See also The oldest people of ME? by Sharkû
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Old 12-20-2004, 03:45 PM   #28
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Davem wrote:
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Its clear at least, that the LotR Ents appeared first, & that Tolkien wrote them back into the Sil.
This is certainly true. But there is one much earlier note that has always intrigued me. From the outlining for the Tale of Earendil in BoLT:

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Voronwë and Eärendil set sail in Wingilot. Driven south. Dark regions. Fire mountains. Tree-men. Pygmies. Sarqindi or cannibal-ogres.
Tree-men. It is impossible to guess what lay behind these words. But one can at least speculate that Tolkien may have had a vague idea about tree-like people very early on.
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Old 12-27-2004, 09:24 AM   #29
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Just a few quick comments.

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For Ents are more like Elves: less interested in themselves than Men are, and better at getting inside other things’.. And yet again Ents are more like Men, more changeable than Elves are, and quicker at taking the colour of the outside, you might say. Or better than both: for they are steadier and keep their minds on things longer.
davem had mentioned the preceding quote which also stuck me as an odd thing for Treebeard to say. I can only conclude that perhaps these opinions of elves and men were formed from earlier days or maybe he had been misinformed? I do think that from an Ent's viewpoint the both men and elves would seem unable ‘to keep their minds on things’, even if it did not seem like it from their own standpoint. I am thinking for example of Gondor’s watch over Mordor. Granted they had less population than earlier, but one gets the impression that their vigilance was superceded by more mundane concerns.

As for the elves being less interested in themselves, maybe this can be true in a sense. I think their experience in ME had been a rather humbling one and you don’t seem to have the same ambition in them as once was there.


Quote:
‘…And these-burarum,’ he made a deep rumbling noise like a discord on a great organ- ‘these Orcs, and young Saruman down at Isengard?…’
Quote:
‘They are falling behind the world in there, I guess,’ he said. ‘Neither this country, nor anything else outside the Golden Wood, is what it was when Celeborn was young.’
It is interesting that Treebeard appears to view Saruman as young and Celeborn as no longer young. This could be due to Saruman’s later arrival in Treebeard’s ‘stomping grounds’ but still it is curious, and makes me wonder where exactly wizards would fall in the Ent’s lists, if indeed they are included at all.

One last impression. I am running on the intuitive side as usual…. Regarding Entwives. I can’t help getting a rather sinister feeling in the description of them. All this talk of order and orders reminds me terribly of Saruman’s pitch to Gandalf. The ends justify the means. Really I feel quite unsympathetic to them, and wonder if it is unintentional, simply a result of viewing them through an Ent’s eyes. But there is no mention of the concern of the Entwives for their charges. They nurture it is true, but in a rather bizarre and stunting way. I could imagine a great revolt in the orchard if the elves ever woke those trees! And a pile of mulch where the Entwives once stood! Quite a contrast with Quickbeam and his rowans!
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Old 12-27-2004, 12:33 PM   #30
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‘Ents are more like Elves: less interested in themselves than Men are, and better at getting inside other things’.
This has made me think again about the nature of time and immortality. Men have finite lives, and as we ourselves know, much of that time is taken up with considerations of spirituality, the nature of life and death, and this grows as we get older. If we did not face the inevitability of death, we would not need to consider such things; as it is, we spend a lot of time thinking about ourselves and our essential nature and purpose.

Elves may of course consider the nature of death in Men, but Elves also seem to keep themselves separate from Men in Middle Earth - and I often think that this is to spare them the grief which will inevitably arise from all too brief friendships with Men. A good example of a friendship between Elves and mortals is that between Legolas and Gimli - inevitably, that friendship will come to a halt when Gimli reaches the end of his days - leaving Legolas to face an eternity of grief. It would be like having a best friend for only a week of your entire life. I think that for Ents, much the same would happen. Perhaps this is one reason why they isolate themselves within Fangorn.

But for most Elves, living separate from Men, not facing death, having no end, there would be all the time and the space to consider other matters; perhaps this is why Elves have the time to teach Ents to speak. This will be why Elves spend time thinking about the essential nature of other creatures and other species; they have the time for it, and they do not need to consider their own ends.

Now consider Saruman - he too is immortal, like Elves and Ents but his time in Middle Earth is limited. He works quickly, he studies quickly, he destroys the woodlands and builds up his forces quickly. Saruman only has so long to do what he must do - or wants to do. And to an Ent he would indeed be young - and very hasty.

Thinking about this brings up another question: Are Ents immortal? Are we presuming this? What happens to an aged Ent? Does he become more treelike, eventually ceasing to move altogether? And if he does, is he still an Ent?
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Old 12-28-2004, 05:36 AM   #31
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Very nice thoughts on Elves Lalwendë ! And it rings very true as well.

But I am wondering now about the immortality of Ents. I take it that you question whether they have a doom of their own or go to some Undying Land. I would guess (mind you, it is a guess) that they are immortal, as Treebeard said, none have died, not from the inside. Where precisely they wind up is another matter, though. I don't think that they fall into the same catagory as either Elves or Men, so it is hard to think what would become of them. I should like to think of them sheparding trees in the blessed realm.

It also occurred to me this morning, that there is a very weak parallel between the Ents and Entwives and the story of Cain and Abel, one shepards and one gardens, and in the end, the gardener heads east. Of course the Elves sing of the Entwives eventually meeting up with the Ents in the West again, and the Entwives didn't harm the Ents....
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Old 12-31-2004, 09:04 PM   #32
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Ents vs. Tom: The Eldest

Since I sort of kicked off this discussion of the Ents vs. Tom Bombadill w/respect to age (at least in this thread), I thought I would add some rambling, barely coherent thoughts to the conversation. I think that the apparent contradiction between Treebeard and Tom both being the oldest living thing that walks the earth might simply be semantic. Let's first look at Gandalf's quote concerning Treebeard:

Quote:
"The little that I know of his long slow story would make a tale for which we have no time now. Treebeard is Fangorn, the guardian of the forest; he is the oldest of the Ents, the oldest living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-earth."
Now, here is what Tom says about himself:

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"Who are you, Master;" [Frodo] asked.

"Eh, what?" said Tom sitting up, and his eyes glinting in the gloom. "Don't you know my name yet? That's the only answer. Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless? But you are young and I am old. Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn."
It is quite clear from Tom's quote that he pre-existed the ents - "Tom remembers ... the first acorn." But Gandalf says that Treebeard is "the oldest living thing that still walks beneath the sun..."

So, how do we balance these two authorities? I believe that the answer lies not in the authority of the respective sources, but in the nature of Tom Bombadill, himself. I think this is similar to the passage in the Gospels when the Saducees ask Jesus concerning the theortical woman with 8 successive husbands to whom she would be married in the afterlife, we don't understand the very nature the of question we are asking. (Matt 22:23-33)

One more quote. This is from Chapter 2 of the Silmarillion, Of Aule and Yavanna:

Quote:
"When the Children awake, then the thought of Yavanna will awake also, and it will summon spirits from afar, and they will go among the kelvar and the olvar, and some will dwell therein..."
When it comes right down to it, all of the Ainur are essentially the same age, and all pre-exist the world, much more the Ents. By that definition, any creature in Middle Earth inhabited by a Maiar spirit (Istari, Ents, certain Eagles, Sauron, etc.) is the same age. The only difference is when they entered the limits of physical form in ME. The Eagles and Ents were inhabited at the same time as the awakening of the Elves. It is also apparent that the four major spirit/flesh beings (Sauron and the Istari, not including the two that disappeared into the East) are the only ones that retain a great portion of their pre-incarnate knowledge.

So, "The Oldest Living Thing that still walks beneath the sun" implies to me that it is very likely that all the Elves that awoke next to the waters of Cuivienen have passed to the Halls of Mandos, but Treebeard was also inhabited at that moment of awakening. So, how do we deal with the stated fact that Tom was there "before the first acorn?"

I believe that these two statements can only be reconciled if we accept that Tom Bombadill is something other than Valar or Maiar (no, not Eru Iluvatar). It has been postulated elsewhere that Tom (and his partner, Goldberry) is a being of the spirit of the earth, and his essence is that of the earth. What I'm saying is that Tom is not alive in the sense that Elves, Ents and even Istari are alive. He and Goldberry exist as an extension of the being of the earth, and are simply an animation of the forces that move the world, itself. They don't live, per se, they simply are, and have been since "before the first acorn".

Therefor, Tom is eldest, and Treebeard is oldest.

Oh, and Balrogs have wings...
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Old 01-02-2005, 12:04 PM   #33
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It seems to me that this long chapter has not yet been exhausted; the poetry, for example, has not been discussed yet. I'd like to give those who didn't have time due to the holidays a chance to join in, so I will wait another week to start the next chapter discussion. I hope for many good contributions during the next days!
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Old 01-03-2005, 09:33 AM   #34
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Boots Herding Stories

Thank you, Estelyn, for keeping this thread on top for another week. I too think there is much we can still natter about, although it is a challenge deciding just where to jump in with so many excellent ideas already raised. SpM, however, has asked for more discussion about Pippin and about the entwives, and who am I to deny a gentleman such a polite request? So, for this post, on to Pippin!

There is a fascinating passage about Pippin, our peregrinating hobbit. Whether this relates to his alleged greater intuitiveness I cannot say, but I think it is part of Tolkien?s belief in the importance of story or of language. We have already discussed in a previous chapter how Tolkien suggests that Pippin will survive. (Being neither Ent nor Entwife, memory fails me now and I cannot remember if it is in ?The Riders of Rohan? chapter or ?The Uruk-hai.?) We have here a more extensive suggestion of what Pippin will make of his adventures. Settle down for a long read now?don?t be hasty--for this is a long quotation.

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They found that they were looking at a most extraordinary face. It belonged to a large Man-like, almost Troll-like, figure, at least fourteen foot high, very sturdy, with a tall head, and hardly any neck. Whether it was clad in stuff like green and grey bark, or whether that was its hide, was difficult to say. At any rate the arms, at a short distance from the trunk, were not wrinkled, but covered with a brown smooth skin. The large feet had seven toes each. The lower part of the long face was covered with a sweeping grey beard, bushy, almost twiggy at the roots, thin and mossy at the ends. But at the moment the hobbits noted little but the eyes. These deep eyes were now surveying them, slow and solemn, but very penetrating. They were brown, shot with a green light. Often afterwards Pippin tried to describe his first impression of them.

"One felt as if there was an enormous well behind them, filled up with ages of memory and long, slow, steady thinking; but their surface was sparkling with the present; like sun shimmering on the outer leaves of a vast tree, or on the ripples of a very deep lake. I don't know, but it felt as if something that grew in the ground?asleep, you might say, or just feeling itself as something between root-tip and leaf-tip, between deep earth and sky had suddenly waked up, and was considering you with the same slow care that it had given to its own inside affairs for endless years."
my bolding
If I am reading this correctly (well, of course I think I am ) the first paragraph is spoken by the third-person narrator while the second is spoken by Pippin. The first paragraph reports Merry's and Pippin's first sight or perception about this wonderous strange new creature; it uses ?they? and talks about what the hobbits saw. The second paragraph is not part of the ?regular? narrative but reflects Pippin's future recollections, using the first person pronoun ?I? and the British form of the self-effacing first person pronoun, ?one.? This is personal recollection; it even addresses the Reader as "you". As such, this paragraph looks forward to the time when Pippin attempts to create story ought of this direct, personal experience.

And, more particularly, we see Pippin developing an extended metaphor to account for his perception of Treebeard's eyes. And not simply his eyes, of course, but of the effect of them and the particular springs of Entish nature. The first paragraph offers simple description, a listing of Treebeard's physical characteristics. The second paragraph supplies the comparison to the well of water illuminated by the light of ages and obviously will therefore include Pippin's further experience of Treebeard. This second paragraph of first person recollection extends our knowledge of the Ents beyond what a first, cursory perception would offer. Pippin's metaphor, as recollection after the fact, represents a summation of his experience of ents. All of his time with Treebeard and the other ents, the Entmoot and Quickbeam, and of course the subsequent events of the War of the Ring, are part of this metaphor.

Thus, Tolkien is able to suggest a depth of character to the Ent even at a first meeting with this remarkable character. He is also able to show a facet of Pippin beyond the "Fool of a Took" which characterised him early on in the Quest. Tolkien 'breaks' narrative time to do this in an extraordinary way. It is part, I think, of the many examples in this chapter which suggest his profound respect for story. It is through story that language and people live. This is the significance, I think, of the exchange between the hobbits and Treebeard over the hobbits' place in the old stories. Saucepan is right that this reflects Tolkien's own subtle play about reading the hobbits back into the legendarium, but it also reflects Tolkien's own concept of how stories are developed synchretically. This is a grammatical point and part of Tolkien's philological approach. (To provide a definition: ?the merging, as by historical change in a language, of two or more inflectional categories in a specified environment.? I am using this by analogy of course. from Random House College Dictionary.)

But how extraordinary to jump ahead in time, as it were, to provide a future recollection! (As this post is long enough, I think I shall have to return another time for the entwives.)
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Old 01-03-2005, 09:47 AM   #35
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pip

good analysis Beth!
Battles, adventures, and Captains of Gondor and Rohan aside, I always thought that the capture of M and P by the orcs and the meeting of the Ents was the most significant, life changing experience for those two, and was relayed as such by the author.
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Old 01-08-2005, 11:39 AM   #36
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Aside from Bêthberry's excellent contribution and drigel's comment, this chapter discussion has lain dormant for the past week. I was hoping our resident poetry experts would jump at the chance to discuss Treebeard's poems, but apparently they're all still hibernating. Since I don't want the poems to go unmentioned, I will at least briefly touch upon them in hopes that my post might spark interest and encourage some last-minute posting before the next chapter thread goes up.

All of the poems are Entish ones, though they are given in 'Westron'. The first one is the 'old list', beginning "Learn now the lore of Living Creatures". It is alliterative verse and only a portion of the whole work is quoted. From the fragment we have, it is difficult to deduct if there is any particular logic to the order in which the animals are named. The Free Peoples seem to be listed in order of the age of each race, which would place Ents between Dwarves and Humans. Though hobbit poetry is normally written in rhyme, the line Pippin adds for Hobbits is in the mode of the rest of the poem.

There are two lines given in Elvish when Treebeard speaks of Lothlórien:
Quote:
Laurelindórinan lindelorendor malinornélion ornemalin,
Taurelilómëa-tumbalemorna Tumbaletaurëa Lómëanor.
The first word I can recognize, the longer name for Lothlórien, but perhaps someone has a translation of the whole text. I cannot tell if it is meant to be part of a poem or just prose.

Next comes "In the willow-meads of Tasarinan"; I have heard this sung to the tune by Donald Swann, a very nice version in my opinion. I'm not sure I can identify the type of poetry - it does not rhyme, but it's not in the alliterative mode either. It is wonderfully descriptive and evocative, following the seasons in the various woods, most of which have disappeared under the water at this time.

"When Spring unfolds the beechen leaf" is written in a simple rhyme scheme, with some repetition of whole or partial phrases. It also follows the seasons from spring to winter, and the stanzas alternate speakers, with Ents and Entwives given their varying views of each. Only the last two lines are spoken by both. It is also very descriptive and shows by the viewpoints of the genders how different they are. So much could be said about it, but I lack the time to go into detail. The most interesting thing to me is the fact that the only season they find a common ground is the winter, or a joined future in the West.

Quickbeam is the speaker of the next poem, “O Orofarnë”. It mourns the passing of trees that were his friends and is written in rhyme. The contrast between the appearance of the trees while alive to the way they looked after being destroyed is made almost visible.

The last poem is a marching song, beginning with “We come, we come with roll of drum” and continuing with “To Isengard!” It is very strongly rhythmic and repetitive; I have heard the recording of Tolkien reading this and increasing the speed – very dramatic! The sound of the words is very important in this poem – especially the word “doom” emphasizes the spirit of the marching Ents. I find it almost impossible to read the poem without getting on my feet and moving!

I’d be more than delighted to hear your comments on the poems and their significance to you!
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Old 01-08-2005, 02:40 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Esty
]From the fragment we have, it is difficult to deduct if there is any particular logic to the order in which the animals are named.
This is a question which has intrigued me for a long time in light of the tradition of 'The Oldest Animals'. I'll give an excerpt from the Mabinogion story of Kilhwch & Olwen (don't worry Esty, it's from Lady Guest's translation & is long out of copyright!)

Quote:
They went forward until they came to the Ousel of Cilgwri. And Gwrhyr adjured her for the sake of Heaven, saying, "Tell me if thou knowest aught of Mabon the son of Modron, who was taken when three nights old from between his mother and the wall." And the Ousel answered, "When I first came here, there was a smith's anvil in this place, and I was then a young bird; and from that time no work has been done upon it, save the pecking of my beak every evening, and now there is not so much as the size of a nut remaining thereof; yet the vengeance of Heaven be upon me, if during all that time I have ever heard of the man for whom you inquire. Nevertheless I will do that which is right, and that which it is fitting that I should do for an embassy from Arthur. There is a race of animals who were formed before me, and I will be your guide to them."

So they proceeded to the place where was the Stag of Redynfre. "Stag of Redynfre, behold we are come to thee, an embassy from Arthur, for we have not heard of any animal older than thou. Say, knowest thou aught of Mabon the son of Modron, who was taken from his mother when three nights old?" The Stag said, "When I first came hither, there was a plain all around me, without any trees save one oak sapling, which grew up to be an oak with an hundred branches. And that oak has since perished, so that now nothing remains of it but the withered stump; and from that day to this I have been here, yet have I never heard of the man for whom you inquire. Nevertheless, being an embassy from Arthur, I will be your guide to the place where there is an animal which was formed before I was."

So they proceeded to the place where was the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd. "Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd, here is an embassy from Arthur; knowest thou aught of Mabon the son of Modron, who was taken after three nights from his mother?" "If I knew I would tell you. When first I came hither, the wide valley you see was a wooded glen. And a race of men came and rooted it up. And there grew there a second wood; and this wood is the third. My wings, are they not withered stumps? Yet all this time, even until to-day, I have never heard of the man for whom you inquire. Nevertheless, I will be the guide of Arthur's embassy until you come to the place where is the oldest animal in this world, and the one that has travelled most, the Eagle of Gwern Abwy."

Gwrhyr said, "Eagle of Gwern Abwy, we have come to thee an embassy from Arthur, to ask thee if thou knowest aught of Mabon the son of Modron, who was taken from his mother when he was three nights old." The Eagle said, "I have been here for a great space of time, and when I first came hither there was a rock here, from the top of which I pecked at the stars every evening; and now it is not so much as a span high. From that day to this I have been here, and I have never heard of the man for whom you inquire, except once when I went in search of food as far as Llyn Llyw. And when I came there, I struck my talons into a salmon, thinking he would serve me as food for a long time. But he drew me into the deep, and I was scarcely able to escape from him. After that I went with my whole kindred to attack him, and to try to destroy him, but he sent messengers, and made peace with me; and came and besought me to take fifty fish spears out of his back. Unless he know something of him whom you seek, I cannot tell who may. However, I will guide you to the place where he is.

So they went thither; and the Eagle said, "Salmon of Llyn Llyw, I have come to thee with an embassy from Arthur, to ask thee if thou knowest aught concerning Mabon the son of Modron, who was taken away at three nights old from his mother." "As much as I know I will tell thee. With every tide I go along the river upwards, until I come near to the walls of Gloucester, and there have I found such wrong as I never found elsewhere; and to the end that ye may give credence thereto, let one of you go thither upon each of my two shoulders." So Cai and Gwrhyr Gwalstawd Ieithoedd went upon the two shoulders of the salmon, and they proceeded until they came unto the wall of the prison, and they heard a great wailing and lamenting from the dungeon. Said Gwrhyr, "Who is it that laments in this house of stone?" "Alas, there is reason enough for whoever is here to lament. It is Mabon the son of Modron who is here imprisoned; and no imprisonment was ever so grievous as mine, neither that of Lludd Llaw Ereint, nor that of Greid the son of Eri." "Hast thou hope of being released for gold or for silver, or for any gifts of wealth, or through battle and fighting?" "By fighting will whatever I may gain be obtained."
So we have a tradition of moving back through time to the eldest of all natural creatures. I don't know whether Tolkien was using the creatures mentioned in Treebeard's song in the same way - maybe it was just a nod to the old tale, but who can say...

(The whole story can be found here)

Last edited by davem; 01-08-2005 at 02:45 PM.
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Old 01-08-2005, 03:18 PM   #38
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Quote:
There are two lines given in Elvish when Treebeard speaks of Lothlórien:

Quote:
Laurelindórinan lindelorendor malinornélion ornemalin,
Taurelilómëa-tumbalemorna Tumbaletaurëa Lómëanor.
The first word I can recognize, the longer name for Lothlórien, but perhaps someone has a translation of the whole text. I cannot tell if it is meant to be part of a poem or just prose.
I quote Ardalambion; some information here is taken from Appendix F under "Ents":

Quote:
In a few cases, Treebeard also used Quenya elements and strung them together as he would do in his own language, like laurelindórenan lindelorendor malinornélion ornemalin. In Letters:308, Tolkien explains that "the elements are laure, gold, not the metal but the colour, what we should call golden light; ndor, nor, land, country; lin, lind-, a musical sound; malina, yellow; orne, tree; lor, dream; nan, nand-, valley. So that roughly he means: 'The valley where the trees in a golden light sing musically, a land of music and dreams; there are yellow trees there, it is a tree-yellow land.' " Another example of the same is Taurelilómëa-tumbalemorna Tumbaletaurëa Lómeanor, that Tolkien renders "Forestmanyshadowed-deepvalleyblack Deepvalleyforested Gloomyland". By this Treebeard meant, "more or less", there is a black shadow in the deep dales of the forest (Appendix F).
The first line is in the context that Treebeard is talking about Lothlorien, describing its beauty. Then he states that "Neither this country, nor anything else outside the Golden Wood, is what it was when Celeborn was young." He then recites the second line, which I suppose is in reference to his own land of Fangorn and how it has become dark and gloomy.
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Old 01-08-2005, 03:30 PM   #39
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Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Thanks for that information, Encaitare!
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Old 01-11-2005, 10:26 AM   #40
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Coming in very late, I know, and I probably wouldn’t bother but I want to be sure to post to each chapter thread! (Is there a prize Esty for those of us who do so?)

The two elements of this chapter that I have always found the most interesting have already come in for some really excellent discussion here: the tale of the “split” between the Ents and the Entwives and the nature of Ent language. In reading through what’s here, I’m beginning to get a weird idea that we can actually relate these together.

The Entwives have a “possessive” view of nature insofar as they want to order it; to take what’s wild and untamed and to make it agricultural. This is what truly distinguishes them from the Ents and their more ‘accepting’ view of nature. They just like it without wanting to control it. But I’m not so sure I buy this.

Sure, the Ents are happy to let trees be trees, but they are an awful lot like the Entwives in their approach to language. As davem has already pointed out, for the Ents, the ‘ideal’ word is one that tells the complete story of a thing. For them, naming (Bob) and identifying (a man) are one and the same, whereas in our more ‘simple’ language they are different (for us Bob and ‘a man’ can refer to the same person; for Ents, presumably, there would only be one word-name for Bob that would render the general noun ‘man’ irrelevant (or at least hasty).

The Ents want to tame language in the same way that the Entwives want to tame nature. Or, rather (and rather more problematically) the Ents want to tame/contain reality with language. The list of the speaking peoples is a great example of this. All the conscious beings must have a place in their poem: poetry being, of course, the most wrought (i.e. worked upon) and even artificial form of language. When confronted with the treachery of Saruman and the hobbits, they spend their first night debating how to include hobbits in their list. They are as obsessive with their desire to control and tame life as are the Entwives, its just that their methods differ. While the Entwives are content to grow gardens, the Ents are rather doomed to try and capture all of reality in a language that will just get longer and longer as it tries to come up with words that capture the entirety of a thing.

They are in this respect a bit like the Elves, aren’t they? The Elves want/need to capture the present and to keep it static and unchanging forever. The Ents want/need to capture reality in a single word that can be the Final Word: that call tell the whole story – but of course for this to happen the story would have to stop. As long as time continues and new things happen to that hill, the name/word of it will change and grow as well. Treebeard says as much about his name: that it is always growing.
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