The Old Walking Song

This world has not seen many men in the vein of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. His mastery of high fantasy has affected countless lives, including my own. A devout Roman Catholic, Tolkien’s life and testimony were key factors in the conversion of C. S. Lewis from atheism to Christianity, and the world would certainly be worse off without either of their works. His belief in the fundamental truths of Christianity leads commentators to find Christian themes in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien objected strongly to Lewis’s use of religious references in his stories, which were often overtly allegorical; however, regardless of Tolkien’s intent, we are at liberty to draw parallels between the characters, relationships, and overarching storyline of The Lord of the Rings and key figures and events within Christian history. This is a passion of mine, and tonight I took some time to compile some of my favorite quotes and dialogues from J. R. R. Tolkien’s masterpiece.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began,
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many path and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

– Bilbo Baggins, chapter ‘A Long-Expected Party’

“Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.”
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

– Gandalf and Frodo, chapter ‘The Shadow of the Past’

“What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!”
“Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.”

– Gandalf and Frodo, on the betrayer Gollum, chapter ‘The Shadow of the Past’

“He deserves death.”
“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it.”

– Frodo and Gandalf discussing the fate of the betrayer Gollum, chapter ‘The Shadow of the Past’

He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep and every path was its tributary. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to.”
– Frodo, on Bilbo, chapter ‘Three Is Company’

O! Wanderers in the shadowed land
despair not! For though dark they stand,
all woods there be must end at last,
and see the open sun go past:
the setting sun, the rising sun,
the day’s end, or the day begun.
For east or west all woods must fail…

– Song in the Woods, sung by Frodo, chapter ‘The Old Forest

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.
– Tom Bombadil, chapter ‘In the House of Tom Bombadil’

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

– The Riddle of Strider, chapter ‘Strider’

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