Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day

(from a message list that I'm on, as I walk to Rivendell - more on that later)

Today is Memorial Day (in the US), a day to honor and remember those who have fought and fallen in battle - and hopefully to look beyond what any of us thinks of any particular situation and honor and remember those that served. Tolkien was keenly aware of the loss that comes in war, having served in World War I and lost most of his best friends in the process. There is glory in war in LOTR, but also death and loss, and no victory is complete because of that loss. The dead are to be remembered, and not forgotten.

From Return of the King, "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields":

No few had fallen, renowned or nameless, captain or soldier; for it was a great battle and the full count of it no tale has told. So long afterward a maker in Rohan said in his song of the Mounds of Mundberg:

We heard of the horns in the hills ringing,
the swords shining in the South-kingdom.
Steeds went striding to the Stoningland
as wind in the morning. War was kindled.
There Theoden fell, Thengling mighty,
to his golden halls and green pastures
in the Northern fields never returning,
high lord of the host. Harding and Guthlaf,
Dunhere and Deorwine, doughty Grimbold,
Herefara and Herubrand, Horn and Fastred,
fought and fell there in a far country:
in the Mounds of Mundburg under mould they lie
with their league-fellows, lords of Gondor.
Neither Hirluin the Fair to the hills by the sea,
nor Forlong the old to the flowering vales
ever, to Arnach, to his own country
returned in triumph; nor the tall bowmen,
Derufin and Duilin, to their dark waters,
meres of Morthond under mountain-shadows.
Death in the morning and at day's ending
lords took and lowly. Long now they sleep
under grass in Gondor by the Great River.
Grey now as tears, gleaming silver,
red then it rolled, roaring water:
foam dyed with blood flamed at sunset;
as beacons mountains burned at evening;
red fell the dew in Rammas Echor.