To one who said that myths were lies and therefore worthless, even though 'breathed through silver."
You look at trees and label them just so,
(for trees are 'trees,' and growing is 'to grow');
you walk the earth and tread with solemn pace
one of the many minor globes of Space:
a star's a star, some matter in a ball
compelled to courses mathematical
amid the regimented, cold, Inane,
where destined atoms are each moment slain.
At bidding of a Will, to which we bend
(and must), but only dimly apprehend,
great processes march on, as Time unrolls
from dark beginnings to uncertain goals;
and as on page o'erwritten without clue,
with script and limning packed of various hue,
an endless multitude of forms appear,
some grim, some frail, some beautiful, some queer,
each alien, except as kin from one
remote Origo, gnat, man, stone, and sun.
God made the petrous rocks, the arboreal trees,
tellurian earth, and stellar stars, and these
homuncular men, who walk upon the ground
with nerves that tingle touched by light and sound.
The movements of the sea, the wind in boughs,
green grass, the large slow oddity of cows,
thunder and lightning, birds that wheel and cry,
slime crawling up from mud to live and die,
these each are duly registered and print
the brain's contortions with a separate dint.
Yet trees are not 'trees,' until so named and seen --
and never were so named, till those had been
who speech's involuted breath unfurled,
faint echo and dim picture of the world,
but neither record nor a photograph,
being divination, judgement, and a laugh,
response of those that felt astir within
by deep monition movements that were kin
to life and death of trees, of beasts, of stars:
free captives undermining shadowy bars,
digging the foreknown from experience
and panning the vein of spirit out of sense.
Great powers they slowly brought out of themselves,
and looking backward they beheld the elves
that wrought on cunning forges in the mind,
and light and dark on secret looms entwined.
He sees no stars who does not see them first
of living silver made that sudden burst
to flame like flowers beneath an ancient song,
whose very echo after music long
has since pursued. There is no firmament,
only a void, unless a jewelled tent
myth-woven and elf-patterned; and no earth,
unless the mother's womb whence all have birth.
The heart of man is not compound of lies,
but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,
man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact,
man, sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with elves and goblins, though we dared to build
gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sow the seeds of dragons, 'twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we're made.
Yes! 'wish-fulfilment dreams' we spin to cheat
our timid hearts and ugly Fact defeat!
Whence came the wish, and whence the power to dream,
or some things fair and others ugly deem?
All wishes are not idle, nor in vain
fulfilment we devise -- for pain is pain
not for itself to be desired, but ill;
or else to strive or to subdue the will
alike were graceless; and of Evil this
alone is dreadly certain: Evil is.
Blessed are the timid hearts that evil hate,
that quail in its shadow, and yet shut the gate;
that seek no parley, and in guarded room,
though small and bare, upon a clumsy loom
weave tissues gilded by the far-off day
hoped and believed in under Shadow's sway.
Blessed are the men of Noah's race that build
their little arks, though frail and poorly filled,
and steer through winds contrary towards a wraith,
a rumour of a harbour guessed by faith.
Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme
of things not found within recorded time.
It is not they that have forgot the Night,
or bid us flee to organized delight,
in lotus-isles of economic bliss
forswearing souls to gain a Circe-kiss
(and counterfeit at that, machine-produced,
bogus seduction of the twice seduced).
Such isles they saw afar, and ones more fair,
and those that hear them yet may yet beware.
They have seen Death and ultimate defeat,
and yet they would not in despair retreat,
but oft to victory have turned the lyre
and kindled hearts with legendary fire,
illuminating Now and dark Hath-been
with light of suns as yet by no man seen.
I would that I might with the minstrels sing
and stir the unseen with a throbbing string.
I would be with the mariners of the deep
that cut their slender planks on mountains steep
and voyage upon a vague and wandering quest,
for some have passed beyond the fabled West.
I would with the beleaguered fools be told,
that keep an inner fastness where their gold,
impure and scanty, yet they loyally bring
to mint in image blurred of distant king,
or in fantastic banners weave the sheen
heraldic emblems of a lord unseen.
I will not walk with your progressive apes,
erect and sapient. Before them gapes
the dark abyss to which their progress tends --
if by God's mercy progress ever ends,
and does not ceaselessly revolve the same
unfruitful course with changing of a name.
I will not treat your dusty path and flat,
denoting this and that by this and that,
your world immutable wherein o part
the little maker has with maker's art.
I bow not yet before the Iron Crown,
nor cast my own small golden scepter down.
In Paradise perchance the eye may stray
from gazing upon everlasting Day
to see the day-illumined, and renew
from mirrored truth the likeness of the True.
Then looking on the Blessed Land 'twill see
that all is as it is, and yet made free:
Salvation changes not, nor yet destroys,
garden nor gardener, children nor their toys.
Evil will not see, for evil lies
not in God's picture but in crooked eyes,
not in the source but in malicious choice,
and not in sound but in the tuneless voice.
In Paradise they no more look awry;
and though they make anew, they make no lie.
Be sure they still will make, not being dead,
and poets shall have flames upon their head,
and harps whereon their faultless fingers fall:
there each shall choose for ever from the All.
Arda in the Early Age before Christ was incarnated: the Hidden Theology of J.R.R.Tolkien:
"Proto-Evangelion: the "Old Hope" of the Men of Arda"
by John Augustine
In the year 409 of the First Age, during the Long Peace before Melkor broke the Siege of Angband, an important conversation took place between Finrod Felagund and Andreth the Wise-woman. Finrod was a Noldorin Elf, Lord of Nargothrond, son of Finarfin and grandson of Finw, and known as Edennil (Friend of Men). Andreth was a human woman of the House of Bor, great-great-granddaughter of Bor the Old and great-aunt of Beren One-Hand (whom Finrod joined in the Quest of the Silmaril), and known as Saelind (Wise Heart). Their conversation is recorded in Athrabeth Finrod Ah Andreth, "the Debate of Finrod and Andreth" (which can be found in The History of Middle Earth X: Morgoth's Ring).
The subject of the "debate" between these two friends concerns the brevity of human lives. Is their mortality natural (as Elves had thought) or a result of Melkor the Morgoth's malice (as Men have reason to believe)?
In this conversation, life in Arda among the Children of Eru, the Elves and Men, is considered in three stages (or, perhaps, horizons): Arda Unmarred, Arda Marred, and Arda Healed. In the irretrievable past lies Arda Unmarred, the pure creation Eru (a.k.a. the One, Ilvatar) first made it to be. Finrod and Andreth's present is Arda Marred, a world tragically diminished and tainted by the evil of Melkor. In an unforeseeable (save by Eru alone) future is the possibility of Arda Healed (or Remade), the same Arda and yet unimaginably greater than even Arda Unmarred.
As Finrod and Andreth discuss the origin and meaning of human mortality, an astonished Finrod begins to speculate that healing Arda, "as agents of the magnificence Eru," is the great errand of Men: "to enlarge the Music [through which Arda and all of E was first made] and surpass the Vision of the World!"
Finrod places great trusting hope in the remaking or healing of Arda: "If we [Elves and Men] are indeed the Eruhin, the Children of the One, then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any Enemy, not even by ourselves." Andreth, however, feels the sting of human mortality, and doubts. But some men, she admits, hope for healing: "Among the Atani, as you call us, or the Seekers as we say: those who left the lands of despair and the Men of darkness and journeyed west in vain hope: it is believed that healing may yet be found, or that there is some way of escape." "Those of the 'Old Hope,'" she says, even have an answer how Arda might be healed.
"Those of the Old Hope?" said Finrod. "Who are they?"
"A few," she said; "but their number has grown since we came to this land, and they see that the Nameless [Melkor, the Morgoth] can (as they think) be defied. Yet.... To defy [Melkor] does not undo his work of old.... [Therefore] it was not on the might of Men, or of any of the peoples of Arda, that the old hope was grounded."
"What then was this hope, if you know?" Finrod asked.
"They say," answered Andreth: "They say that the One [Eru, Ilvatar] will himself enter into Arda, and heal Men and all the Marring from the beginning to the end. This they say also, or they feign, is a rumor that has come down through years uncounted, even from the days of our undoing."
"They say, they feign?" said Finrod. "Are you then not one of them?"
"How can I be, lord? All wisdom is against them.... you say: ...Eru is One, alone without peer, and He made E, and is beyond it; and the Valar are greater than we [Elves & Men], but yet no nearer to His majesty. Is this not so? ...for that reason the saying of Hope passes my understanding. How could Eru enter into the thing that He has made, and than which He is beyond measure greater? Can the singer enter into his tale or the designer into his picture?"
"He is already in it, as well as outside," said Finrod. "But indeed the 'in-dwelling' and the 'out-living' are not in the same mode."
"Truly," said Andreth. "So may Eru in that mode be present in E that proceeded from Him. But they speak of Eru Himself entering into Arda, and that is a thing wholly different. How could He the greater do this? Would it not shatter Arda, or indeed all E?"
"Ask me not," said Finrod. "These things are beyond the compass of the wisdom of the Eldar, or of the Valar maybe.... If Eru wished to do this, I do not doubt that He would find a way, though I cannot foresee it. For, as it seems to me, even if He in Himself were to enter in, He must still remain also as He is: the Author without. And yet, Andreth, to speak with humility, I cannot conceive how else this healing could be achieved. Since Eru will surely not suffer Melkor to turn the world to his own will and to triumph in the end. Yet there is no power conceivable greater than Melkor save Eru only. Therefore Eru, if He will not relinquish His work to Melkor, who must else proceed to mastery, then Eru must come in to conquer him.... And if any remedy for [Melkor's multiplying evil] is to be found, ere all is ended, any new light to oppose the shadow, or any medicine for the wounds: then it must, I deem, come from without."
"Then, lord," said Andreth, and she looked up in wonder, "you believe in this Hope?"
"Ask me not yet," he answered. "For it is still to me but strange news that comes from afar. No such hope was ever spoken to the Quendi. To you [Men] only it was sent. And yet through you we may hear it and lift up our hearts."
The proto-evangelion (earliest preparation for the gospel) of Middle-earth is found within the "Old Hope" of Men: that Eru the One, Ilvatar, will Himself enter into Arda to conquer Melkor the Dark Enemy of the World, remake and heal Arda, and rescue His children to be His own again. In this plan of healing Men will play a crucial role as agents of Eru. Finrod is amazed by the possibility.
Andreth is incredulous. It seems to her "all wisdom is against it," that the "Old Hope" is mere foolishness. How could it possibly be? But the ways of Eru are mysterious, beyond the understanding of Men. By foolishness Eru confounds the wise, by weakness He confounds the strong. Is it not through simple Hobbits venturing straight into Mordor that the One Ring will be destroyed in the Third Age?
....Perhaps Eru might even --dare we hope? is it too fantastic?-- enter into Arda as a Man Himself! *
Arda in the Age before the incarnation of Christ, tr. J.R.R.Tolkien
*Manw the wise Elder King and his compassionate Queen Varda (who as Wisdom and Mercy suggest Christ and Mary reigning in heaven)....
Tolkien wanted Galadriel identified with the Blessed Virgin....
From "Crisis" Catholic Publication in the U.S. edition FEBRUARY 2003:
a type of purgatory looms largereflecting Tolkiens Catholic belief. At death the spirits of elves, men, hobbits, and dwarves go to separate chambers in the Halls of Mandos where (they) contemplate their sins. (The ents fate is uncertain.) Silent waiting, not fiery torment, is the lot of the dead.
...Some elves and men recognize their world as fallen. They suspect it will take a direct intervention by Eru to set matters right although they cannot see how. They await a last day when Arda Marred will be destroyed and remade lovelier even than Arda Unmarred of the original Great Music. Then elves and men will add their voices to the chorus of new creation.
But a Ragnarok must precede that glorious rebirth. Morgoth will break into the universe again, destroy the Sun and Moon, and be slain by a "human" hero from the Elder Days. All the silmarils will be recovered. The jewels maker, Fanor, finally repentant for his rebellion, will let them be broken to restore the lost Trees of Light. All the dead will rise to some destiny that totally satisfies the hearts desire. But what this may be, the peoples of Arda know not. They rest in hope alone....
[Ratzinger:"Salt of the Earth"]
May Our Papa's radiant-light continuously shine forth to illuminate Christ for the world!