Quotes by J. R. R. Tolkien
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Wikipedia Summary for J. R. R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist, and academic, best known as the author of the high fantasy works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
He served as the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon and Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford from 1925 to 1945 and the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature and Fellow of Merton College, Oxford from 1945 to 1959. He was a close friend of C. S. Lewis, a co-member of the informal literary discussion group The Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972.
After Tolkien's death, his son Christopher published a series of works based on his father's extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about a fantasy world called Arda and, within it, Middle-earth. Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium to the larger part of these writings.
While many other authors had published works of fantasy before Tolkien, the great success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings led directly to a popular resurgence of the genre. This has caused Tolkien to be popularly identified as the "father" of modern fantasy literature—or, more precisely, of high fantasy.
The most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.
'I wish life was not so short,' he thought. 'Languages take such a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about.'
He Bilbo fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.
Then Morgoth stretching out his long arm towards Dor-lomin cursed Hurin and Morwen and their offspring, saying: 'Behold! The shadow of my thought shall lie upon them wherever they go, and my hate shall pursue them to the ends of the world.
Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool! he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb. You aren't nearly through this adventure yet, he added, and that was pretty true as well.
You ought not to be rude to an eagle, when you are only the size of a hobbit, and are up in hid eyrie at night!
Myth and fairy-story must, as all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of moral and religious truth (or error), but not explicit, not in the known form of the primary 'real' world.
Please don't cook me, kind sirs! I am a good cook myself, and cook better than I cook, if you see what I mean.
Chip the glasses and crack the plates! Blunt the knives and bend the forks! That's what Bilbo Baggins hates.
I should like to save the Shire, if I could -- though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words, and have felt that an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them.
I should like to save the Shire, if I could -- though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words, and have felt that an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them. But I don't feel like that now. I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.
If you're going to have a complicated story, he once explained, you must work to a map; otherwise you'll never make a of it afterwards.
What have I got in my pocket? he said aloud. He was talking to himself, but Gollum thought it was a riddle, and he was frightfully upset. Not fair! not fair! he hissed. It isn't fair, my precious, is it, to ask us what it's got in it's nassty little pocketsess?
This thing all things devours: Birds, beasts, trees, flowers; Gnaws iron, bites steel; Grinds hard stones to meal; Slays king, ruins town, And beats high mountain down.
I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.
The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.
The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like 'religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.
I have the hatred of apartheid in my bones; and most of all I detest the segregation or separation of Language and Literature. I do not care which of them you think White.
Without the high and noble the simple and vulgar is utterly mean; and without the simple and ordinary the noble and heroic is meaningless.
I should have said Welsh has always attracted me. By its style and sound more than any other, ever though I first only saw it on coal trucks, I always wanted to know what it was about.
'Celtic' is a magic bag, into which anything may be put, and out of which almost anything may come. Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason.
It gives me great pleasure, a good name. I always in writing start with a name. Give me a name and it produces a story, not the other way about normally.
The washing-up was so dismally real that Bilbo was forced to believe the party of the night before had not been part of his bad dreams, as he had rather hoped.
And thus it came to pass that the Silmarils found their long homes: one in the airs of heaven, and one in the fires of the heart of the world, and one in the deep waters.
But the only measure that he knows is desire desire for power and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this we shall put him out of reckoning.
In this Music the singing of the angels in harmony the World was begun; for Iluvatar made visible the song of the Ainur,and they beheld it as a light in the darkness.
He was as noble and fair in face as an elf-lord, as strong as a warrior, as wise as a wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer.
Then Aragorn was abashed, for he saw the elven-light in her eyes and the wisdom of many days; yet from that hour he loved Arwen Undómiel daughter of Elrond.
For I am the daughter of Elrond. I shall not go with him when he departs to the Havens: for mine is the choice of Luthien, and as she so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter.
Together we will take the road that leads into the West, And far away will find a land where both our hearts may rest.
Where there are so many, all speech becomes a debate without end. But two together may perhaps find wisdom.
Hobbits delighted in such things, if they were accurate; they liked to have books filled with things that they already knew, set out fair and square with no contradictions.
For the trouble with the real folk of Faerie is that they do not always look like what they are; and they put on the pride and beauty that we would fain wear ourselves.
When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.
Stir not the bitterness in the cup that I mixed for myself,' said Denethor. 'Have I not tasted it now many nights upon my tongue, foreboding that worse lay in the dregs?
Creative fantasy, because it is mainly trying to do something else ... may open your hoard and let all the locked things fly away like cage-birds.
But fear no more! I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo.
I'll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind, said Sam. And I'll carry Mr. Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and heart.
Then Frodo came forward and took the crown from Faramir and bore it to Gandalf; and Aragorn knelt, and Gandalf set the White Crown upon his head and said: Now come the days of the King, and may they be blessed while the thrones of the Valar endure!
I will not give you counsel, saying do this, or do that. For not in doing or contriving, nor in choosing between this course and another, can I avail; but only in knowing what was and is, and in part also what shall be.
Venice seemed incredibly lovely, elvishly lovely -- to me like a dream of Old Gondor, or Pelargir of the Numenorean Ships, before the return of the Shadow.
But if all the fair folk take to the Havens, it will be a duller world for those who are doomed to stay.
It is ever so with the things that Men begin: there is a frost in Spring, or a blight in Summer, and they fail of their promise.
Memory is not what the heart desires. That is only a mirror, be it clear as Kheled-zaram. Or so says the heart of Gimli the Dwarf.
The romantic chivalric tradition takes, or at any rate has in the past taken, the young man's eye off women as they are, as companions in shipwreck not guiding stars.
As she stood before Aragorn she paused suddenly and looked upon him, and her eyes were shining. And he looked down upon her fair face and smiled; but as he took the cup, his hand met hers, and he knew that she trembled at the touch.
And she looked at him and saw the grave tenderness in his eyes, and yet knew, for she was bred among men of war, that here was one whom no Rider of the Mark could outmatch in battle.
'Well, you have now, Sam, dear Sam,' said Frodo, and he lay back in Sam's gentle arms, closing his eyes, like a child at rest when night-fears are driven away by some loved voice or hand. Sam felt that he could sit like that in endless happiness.
I am rather tired, and no longer young enough to pillage the night to make up for the deficit of hours in the day... JRR Tolkien, Letter # 174.
I've always been impressed that we are here, surviving, because of the indomitable courage of quite small people against impossible odds.
You can make the Ring into an allegory of our own time, if you like: and allegory of the inevitable fate that waits for all attempts to defeat evil power by power.
How could such a large door be kept secret from everybody outside, apart from the dragon? Bilbo asked. He was only a little hobbit you must remember.
The world has changed. I see it in the water. I feel it in the Earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, For none now live who remember it.
Books ought to have good endings.How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?
After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth.'
After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth', and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear.
'Nonetheless day will bring hope to me,' said Aragorn. 'Is it not said that no foe has ever taken the Hornburg, if men defended it?' 'So the minstrels say,' said Éomer. 'Then let us defend it, and hope!' said Aragorn.
We were born in a dark age out of due time (for us). But there is this comfort: otherwise we should not know, or so much love, what we do love. I imagine the fish out of water is the only fish to have an inkling of water.
The strongest must seek a way, say you? But I say: let a ploughman plough, but choose an otter for swimming, and for running light over grass and leaf, or over snow- an Elf!
There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.
My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs).
'That's what I meant,' said Pippin. 'We hobbits ought to stick together, and we will. I shall go, unless they chain me up. There must be someone with intelligence in the party.'
Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo! By water, wood and hill, by reed and willow, By fire, sun and moon, harken now and hear us! Come, Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!
And yet, Eomer, I say to you that she loves you more truly than me, for you she loves and knows; but in me she loves only a shadow and a thought: a hope of glory and great deeds, and lands far from the fields of Rohan. -- Aragorn to Eomer, of Eowyn.
And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City.
The way is shut. It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it, until the time comes. The way is shut.
And that's the way of a real tale. Take any one that you're fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don't know. And you don't want them to.
'Come, Mr. Frodo!' he cried. 'I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he'll go.'
I don't see why the likes o' thee
Without axin' leave should go makin' free
With the shank or the shin o' my father's kin;
So hand the old bone over!
Though dead he be, it belongs to he;
So hand the old bnone over!
For so sworn good or evil an oath may not be broken and it shall pursue oathkeeper and oathbreaker to the world's end.
There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made.
I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun; and behold! the Shadow has departed! I will be a Shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.
My own dear mother was a martyr indeed, and it is not to everybody that God grants so easy a way to his great gifts as he did to Hilary and myself, giving us a mother who killed herself with labour and trouble to ensure us keeping the faith.
Evil labours with vast power and perpetual success -- in vain: preparing always only the soil for unexpected good to sprout in.
O Elbereth! Gilthoniel! We still remember, we who dwell In this far land beneath the trees. Thy starlight on the Western Seas.
Speak no evil of the Lady Galadriel! said Aragorn sternly. You know not what you say. There is in her and in this land, no evil, unless a man bring it hither himself. Then let him beware!
Orcs, and talking trees, and leagues of grass, and galloping riders, and glittering caves, and white towers and golden halls, and battles, and tall ships sailing, all these passed before Sam's mind.
Ho! Ho! Ho! To the bottle I go To heal my heart and drown my woe Rain may fall, and wind may blow And many miles be still to go But under a tall tree will I lie And let the clouds go sailing by.
Don't dip your beard in the foam, Father! They cried to Thorin. It is long enough without watering it!
The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.
Today and tomorrow are yet to be said.
The chances, the changes are all yours to make.
The mold of your life is in your hands to break.
Tall ships and tall kings Three times three, What brought they from the foundered land Over the flowing sea? Seven stars and seven stones And one white tree. (The Two Towers).
The Dark Lord has Nine. But we have One, mightier than they: the White Rider. He has passed through the fire and the abyss, and they shall fear him. We will go where he leads.
I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to.
Seek for the Sword that was broken In Imladris it dwells; There shall be counsels taken Stronger than Morgul-spells. There shall be shown a token That Doom is near at hand, For Isuldur's Bane shall waken, And the halfling forth shall stand.
Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the key-hole.
How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart, you begin to understand, there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep...that have taken hold.
This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected.
Dwarves are not heroes, but a calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don't expect too much.
A few melancholy birds were pipping and wailing, until the round red sun sank slowly into the western shadows; then an empty silence fell.
If you do not believe in a personal God, the question: 'What is the purpose of life?' is unaskable and unanswerable.
The Lonely Mountain! Bilbo had come far and through many adventures to see it, and now he didn't like the look of it in the least.
And it is not always good to be healed in body. Nor is it always evil to die in battle, even in bitter pain. Were I permitted, in this dark hour I would choose the latter.
Splendid! They used to go up like great lilies and snapdragons and laburnums of fire and hang in the twilight all evening!
I cannot,' said Merry. 'I have never seen them. I have never been outside of my own land before. And if I had known what the world outside was like, I don't think I should have had the heart to leave it.
Some sang too that Thror and Thrain would come back one day and gold would flow in rivers, through the mountain-gates, and all that land would be filled with new song and new laughter. But this pleasant legend did not much affect their daily business.
Middle-earth is our world. I have (of course) placed the action in a purely imaginary (though not wholly impossible) period of antiquity, in which the shape of the continental masses was different.
Most people have made this mistake of thinking Middle-earth is a particular kind of earth or is another planet of the science fiction sort but it's just an old fashioned word for this world we live in, as imagined surrounded by the Ocean.
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
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.
It is wisdom to recognize necessity when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope.
Far over misty mountains cold To dungeons deep and caverns old We must away, ere break of day, To find our long-forgotten gold.
Hobbits are an unobtrusive but very ancient people, more numerous formerly than they are today; for they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth: a well-ordered and well-farmed countryside was their favourite haunt.