Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Quote

My friend Syd told me about the following intriguing quotation from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

When Sam awoke, he found that he was lying on some soft bed, but over him gently swayed wide beechen boughs, and through their young leaves sunlight glimmered, green and gold. All the air was full of a sweet mingled scent.

He remembered that smell: the fragrance of Ithilien. 'Bless me!' he mused. 'How long have I been asleep?' For the scent had borne him back to the day when he had lit his little fire under the sunny bank; and for the moment all else between was out of waking memory. He stretched and drew a deep breath. 'Why, what a dream I've had!' he muttered. 'I am glad to wake!' He sat up and then he saw that Frodo was lying beside him and slept peacefully, one hand behind his head, and the other resting upon the coverlet. It was the right hand, and the third finger was missing.

Full memory flooded back, and Sam cried aloud: 'It wasn't a dream! Then where are we?'

And a voice spoke softly behind him: 'In the land of Ithilien, and in the keeping of the King; and he awaits you.' With that Gandalf stood before him, robed in white, his beard now gleaming like pure snow in the twinkling of the leafy sunlight. 'Well, Master Samwise, how do you feel?' he said.

But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: 'Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What's happened to the world?'

'A great Shadow has departed,' said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then, as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from his bed.

'How do I feel?' he cried. 'Well, I don't know how to say it. I feel, I feel' -- he waved his arms in the air -- 'I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard!' He stopped and he turned towards his master. 'But how's Mr. Frodo?' he said. 'Isn't it a shame about his poor hand? But I hope he's all right otherwise. He's had a cruel time.'

'Yes, I am all right otherwise,' said Frodo, sitting up and laughing in his turn. 'I fell asleep again waiting for you, Sam, you sleepyhead. I was awake early this morning, and now it must be nearly noon.'

'Noon?' said Sam, trying to calculate. 'Noon of what day?'

'The fourteenth of the New Year,' said Gandalf; 'or if you like, the eighth day of April in the Shire reckoning. But in Gondor the New Year will always now begin upon the twenty-fifth of March when Sauron fell, and when you were brought out of the fire to the King. He has tended you, and now he awaits you. You shall eat and drink with him. When you are ready I will lead you to him.'

Syd pointed out an interesting thing about this passage. The day when "everything sad [is] going to come untrue" and when "A great Shadow has departed" is the 25th of March, a day we do not celebrate. Instead, we celebrate nine months later. And now the King who has tended and will tend us, and with whom we shall eat and drink, awaits us. "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests".

(cross-posted at Agent Intellect)

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7 comments:

Evan said...

25 march, my birthday, used to be celebrated as the conception of Christ. May his spirit in us bring new birth to ourselves and the world!

Fr Ant said...

Evan - I think you mean the Feast of the Annunciation - we still celebrate it in the Coptic Church.

Anonymous said...

March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, has long been observed in the west as well as in Egypt, and is still a Solemnity in the Roman Catholic Church. It is, of course, 9 month's before Christ's birthday.

It is a very auspicious day. Ancient astrologers considered it the birthday of the universe. It was reckoned the first day of the year in England for many centuries. I had forgotten that it was considered New Year's day in the fictional realm of Gondor as well. Thanks for this reminder!

Figulus said...

March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, has long been observed in the west as well as in Egypt, and is still a Solemnity in the Roman Catholic Church. It is, of course, 9 month's before Christ's birthday.

It is a very auspicious day. Ancient astrologers considered it the birthday of the universe. It was reckoned the first day of the year in England for many centuries. I had forgotten that it was considered New Year's day in the fictional realm of Gondor as well. Thanks for this reminder!

johnf said...

25th March was the start of the civil year in England until 1752, when it was moved to 1st Jan at the same time as the Gregorian calendar was adopted.

Don't we still have a record of it in that the start of the Income Tax year in the UK is 5th April which looks suspiciously close to 25th March (Old Style)

Aberfa olwen said...

Christmas quotes are the wonderful collection on this blog, Christmas is the great event and people enjoying this events..

Barbara Cook said...
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