This quote, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Two Towers” has been on my mind a lot the past couple of weeks (after all, it is finals week of my first college semester, and mental weariness, mediocre work, and lack of sleep are becoming familiar friends). It is a quote that embodies a sort of “tireless hope” (a phrase from this beautiful song).
The context: Frodo and Sam are nearing the Stairs of Cirith Ungol, the more obscure entrance into Mordor that Gollum is leading them through. When they pass by the city of Cirith Ungol, the dwelling place of the Nazgul, an enormous enemy army emerges from the gates, led by the Lord of the Nazgul. This leader pauses, calling to the Ring, nearly forcing Frodo to slip it onto his finger. Frodo’s only defense against this wrenching desire is to grasp the phial of Galadriel. Finally, the Lord of the Nazgul turns away, and leads the army away, to war in the West.
“The storm has burst at last,” [Frodo] thought… “I am too late. I tarried on the way. All is lost. I tarried on the way. Even if my errand is performed, no one will ever know. There will be no one I can tell. It will be in vain.’ Overcome with weakness he wept. And still the host of Morgul crossed the bridge…
Frodo raised his head, and then stood up. Despair had not left him, but weakness had passed. He even smiled grimly, feeling now as clearly as a moment before he had felt the opposite, that what he had to do, he had to do, if he could, and that whether Faramir or Aragorn or Elrond or Galadriel or Gandlaf or anyone else ever knew about it was beside the purpose. He took his staff in one hand and the phial in the other. When he saw that the clear light was already welling through his fingers, he thrust it into his bosom and held it against his heart. Then turning from the city of Morgul, now no more than a grey glimmer across a dark gulf, he prepared to take the upward road” (Tolkien, 401-402).
Citation: Tolkien, J. R. R. “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol.” The Two Towers. Being the Second Part of The Lord of the Rings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965. 401-02. Print. The Lord of the Rings.
Here, also, is a beautiful anthem of victory; of rising to meet the battle.