Fly, you fools!
My spirit has darkened slightly
As I feel its whip around my legs.
I, who have stared into the eyes of death before,
Accepted that darkening as companions perish,
Acknowledge these feelings
As part of the cycle of our existence.
There is a flame that burns deep within the gem
Fixed into the ring, Narya, sitting
Still upon my finger.
But there is also a flame that burns within me.
A secret flame, of Iluvatar, of creation.
A searing flame that could scorch
The very essence of this foul beast
Pulling me into the abyss.
It smoulders eternally
Within all of the pure creatures made
By the power and mastery of Eru.
I feel the flame now, as I did when I stood
Across from Manwe in Valinor, begging
Him not to send me to this Middle-Earth.
At that time the flame burned for me,
In cowardice, in desperation,
For I was filled slowly with a crawling,
Slithering sense of dread.
Fear of failure; fear of weakness.
Failure to live up to the
Expectations of my Lord, Manwe.
Fearing I would be too weak
To battle the mighty Sauron,
Who towered over Middle-Earth, as he does again.
Manwe, my master, is wise.
He looked me long in the eyes,
His immeasurable strength pouring into me,
And spoke softly of my inner flame.
"Olorin," He spake, "you are a servant of the secret flame.
From the fear you cherish within, right now,
Is born your greatest strength.
You, who questions your own power,
But never questions mine,
Are me. We are together.
Servants of the secret flame.
Masters of the flames of fear.
And you must go to Arda.
You will be a beacon for all creatures,
Great and small."
And I wept. I felt that I was destined
To fail. So I wept, even on the great
Ship bearing me to these marvellous lands.
I wept then, but I do not weep now.
I have spent many ages upon these lands
Questioning Manwe's wisdom.
I have never doubted him, for his flame,
Like that secret flame,
Could light our whole existence.
I have never doubted you, my master.
I realise I have always doubted myself.
I looked into my soul
And saw only the Gray of my cloak.
It was uncertainty.
Uncertain about my mission;
How I could complete it?;
Did I have the fortitude to endure?;
How could I confer with the
True masters of the Istari?
With Radagast, the wise Wizard of the Wild?;
With Saruman, most considered of our fold?
Only when I looked again
Upon the face of fair Galadriel
Did I reflect upon her calm
And reconcile my worry with her
Confidence and love.
She shines as bright as any of the
So, for her, and her kin,
For all men, for the joyful Hobbits,
For the Dwarves in the mines,
I willingly face death.
And I have faced Death.
I have looked upon that
Which I feared the most,
For I have battled with Sauron himself.
I confronted him upon
The dark ramparts of Dol Guldur
And saw him driven to the darkness.
Death is not my enemy
And when it comes
I will accept it as
A gift from an old friend.
My strength has come from defeat.
I understand that now.
In order to rise, one must fall.
And, in falling,
One can only return stronger.
This fall will be my last.
If arising is to come from this
Another will rise. Not me.
I have witnessed the fall
Of Sauron before.
I have seen his great
Plans fail and punish him
And those failures
Were due to the will
Of Eru. Acts beyond the ken
Of any of us upon this Middle-Earth.
So will it be with this.
My great sword is sharp,
Ready for the battle ahead.
Fly, you fool,
Into the jaws of confrontation!
I still feel that same crawling sense of dread
Spreading unsteadily across my body now,
But quickly I turn it deep;
Turning it sharp; From fear and folly
To triumph and disaster!
For this is my calling;
This is why I was sent to Middle-Earth;
To die in its defence.
J.R.R. Tolkien, English writer, poet and academic, died on this day in 1973.