A heart full of dead darkness in sunlit valleys

Croaker

Member
You're in France. It's July 16, 1916. You're in a sunlit valley near the River Somme, thinking about the poem you just read from another member of the TCBS, a poem in your breast pocket. After two weeks in battle, half your unit is dead, and now is being pulled off the front line trench. You look forward to writing a letter to your friend with your thoughts on the poem. But then, just before your unit moves out, you receive new orders. In 30 minutes, you must lead your unit across No Man's Land, to rescue a battalion 200 yards away, stranded in a trench and surrounded by Germans in other trenches.

As you you prepare to lead your men you over the top, in the sunlit morning, your heart is filled with a dead darkness.

I think this is what Frodo is feeling. My thinking is tainted by just finishing "Tolkien and the Great War." Thoughts?
 
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Rachel Port

Active Member
I think there has been no response because your scenario is perfect to describe that feeling. Some of us have felt it, but probably less dramatically.
 

Croaker

Member
Thank you. When listening to the episode discussion, I kept thinking of a time when my wife and I were called to something that we knew was going to cost us. But, you know, the feeling wasn't quite right. Then I started thinking about Tolkien and his 2 friends who didn't survive the trenches, and the story of how one of them died, leading men over the top. It's unimaginable what they must have felt from one moment to the next.

And I think of poor Frodo, entering the council thinking, "This is the baton hand-off, then I can chill out for a few weeks and then head home. Maybe I can even get Bag End back." But the whole meeting, he's realizing his future lies not behind, but ahead in... dead darkness. It's dark because he cannot see the future, but he's certain it'll cost him his life and who knows what between now and then. I'm also just finishing up The Return of the King, re-reading it much slower than I have in years, (thanks to the podcast), just soaking in every word, and... yes Sam is the hero, but Frodo... really does belong up there with Beren.
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
I listened again to this episode and realized that the other thing I feel from Frodo is foreshadowing how he will feel after the Ring is destroyed. Corey mentions the passage during the discussion, when Frodo is clutching his white stone and saying all is empty now, in one of his relapses/flashbacks after the scouring of the Shire.
 

Rachel Port

Active Member
I thought of this thread when I read the following in The War of the Ring. It's in an early drafting of the chapter The Last Debate. Imrahil asks Gandalf what would be a sign that Sauron has gotten the Ring.

"Darkness," said Gandalf. "That is my dread. And darkness began, and therefore for a while I felt a despair deeper than Denethor. But the darkness that is to be feared is not such as we have endured: it would need no clouds in the air; it would begin in our hearts feeling from afar the power of the Ringlord, and grow till by sunlight or moonlight or under heaven or under roof all would seem dark to us."

And this is the darkness that remains with Frodo after the destruction of the Ring, and this dead darkness he feels in the Council is a foreshadowing of that deepest despair.
 
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