Friday Thoughts: Tolkien and War

Good morning! We made it to another weekend! Unless you work on the weekend then I wish you much strength and courage.

On my commute, I have been reading Lord of the Rings. I am happy to say that in six hours worth of riding the train, I have finished The Fellowship of the Ring.

It has been many years since I last read these three books and I am disappointed in myself for this. However, the long wait is over and I am much better for it. I once again walked through the Shire, saw the beauty of Elrond’s home, and felt the terror of the Nine Riders. In the recent news of attacks in England, disappearances of children from around the city, and the poor representation of “heroes” in the world, it is good to have some wholesome things to read.

I have noticed that in the movies, no one quite puts enough weight on the numbers killed. Regardless whether the hero slew them or the villain. In DC’s Man of Steel, an entire city was destroyed but no one mentioned it. Going further back, every single Transformer movie. No one notes it. More recently, in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, Yondu is seen killing an entire crew of a ship and enjoying it.

And the audience laughed.

It was disturbing to hear people enjoying one man and a garbage panda kill hundreds of men. Without warning. Without mercy. Perhaps it was justice because they killed his entire crew. Perhaps it is because Yondu has a black soul*. But was it necessary? Was it needed?

In Tolkien’s story, either the characters note the number of dead. Or the narrator does. From the number of men killed in the defense of Gondor to the number of Urak-Hai slain for control of Helm’s Deep, you can see the cost of war. You can also see why the war was fought. Or why the hero had to fight.

I think that is something we are in danger of losing. That we forget just how horrible war is because of the gory movies we watch or how easy the “hero” takes to killing the enemy. Or why some battles must be fought or why some battles are not worth the fight.

But that is just me. Maybe I am a strange individual who believes in fighting but at the same time wishes to avoid it. Maybe I am strange for wanting to be like Faramir: a warrior and a scholar. But then again, these are my thoughts.

In light of this, I will leave you with this question:

If you fight all the time, are you able to know when you must fight?

*Disclaimer: when I use the word “black” I mean in relations to evil deeds.

The Battle

The morning dawns bright and clear
Yet a silence hangs upon the land
As solid as any wall

The air is still
And the birds are silent
Even the light seems duller

Man and beasts whisper
A clang of spoon on bowl
Sounds like a fire cracker

Here and there
A young man would look
Hoping to see a sign

Yet the morning grows old
And the men joke
Yet the silence remains

As physical as a man
Yet as unnatural as a ghost
A silent spectre in our midst

Then the silence shatters
With a roll of far off thunder
That shakes the air and ground

And as if in answer
The air splits into a scream
That ends with a unnatural boom

Whenever the air screamed
The earth became dust
And the flesh became ash

I would see my friend one moment
And the next I could only see his hand
The rest had become a stain

On and on the thunder rolled
Again and again the air screamed
The ground trembled and men cried

Then came the call
That the enemy was advancing
We gathered ourselves

Black dots across the way
Approached like ghosts
Across the barren field

I pull out a silver locket
On one side is a picture
Of two girls and a woman

The other holds these words
“We love you daddy.
Come home soon!”

I kiss their faces
Praying I seem them again
Then I tuck it away

And defend them
So far away

Battles of Old

Battles of Old

 

Clouds weigh heavy

Like my heart,

Dark and ominous

 

Drop by drop

Their heavy burden

Falls gently to the ground

 

Drop by drop

My regret slips away

With each tear fall

 

A storm gathers without

A storm wars within

Water from without

Fire from within

 

A driving force

A death march

Passion’s life

A deadly force

 

What shall I do?

Strength unmatched

Life failing

 

Shall I stand and fight,

Or shall I yield and die

To the pain of past?

 

Through the storm

A light breaks through

An ever-widening beacon

 

Slowly the darkness fades

Slowly the rain stops

Slowly the clouds break

 

I raise my head

The fire slowly dies

Yet my resolve remains

 

 

 

The light touches my face

Drying tears

Encouraging life

 

The blue sky

Breaks through,

Bright and clear

A stunning sight

 

My Soul rises

From the darkness

Into which it had sunk
Life flows through me

 

Strength rises up
A smile tugs at my face

My steps become lighter
My shoulders straighter

 

I hold my head up high

I reach for my sword
For my enemies are before

 

They rush towards me

A dark wave

A single wave

 

The first falls

With a single swing

His cry silenced

 

Again and again

I swing and swing

Till the ground is covered

By the dead

 

A hundred in a minute

Two hundred in an hour

Till all have fallen

And all is silent

 

I walk slowly

Blades broken

Shields shattered

Banners torn

 

The day slowly ends

A brilliant fire

Upon horizon’s line

 

A brilliant end to

A blood filled day

 

I stare at the heavens

As darkness takes over
I have defended my family

I have defended my keep

I have defended my king

I have done my duty.

 

January 7, 2011

 

Guardians

Guardians

Up into the skies they rise

Among thunderous claps and mighty roars

The Lords of Fire and War rise

On wings of red, green, and gold

‘Round and ‘round they go

Higher and higher

Till only a faintly heard roar

Mark their presence high ‘bove

Those that stay behind

Watch their guardians rise

Their armor glinting like gems

Their skin flashing like star light

Onward now they go

In waves of ten and twenty

Their blades are sheathed

But their teeth are bare

Riders are calm before the battle

Their Mounts ache for blood

Upon their beast shine their device

With their palm they hold their blade

Five leagues pass beneath their wings

Till the soft rolling lands

Rise into hard mountains

And the sun burns red as the day ends

Ahead roars are heard

Specks of thirty and fifty

Swiftly come over mountains

Bright flicks of light appear

Five leagues pass again

The specks grow to giants

And their riders’ call can be heard

‘Round and round they all go

Around the crown of mountain tops

The sides draw near together

Riders draw their blades

Mounts’ hearts beat harder

‘Round and round the darkening sky

They wheel about

Teeth flash in the dying light

With their voices shake the mountains

Their riders wave their blades

As light finally fades

And clouds raise their heads

As spectators to a fight

With a sudden blast,

Lighting forks across the sky

Between the two, a single line is drawn

In its wake, thunder quakes

With one beat, the dragons dive

With one move, the riders strike

With one sweep, the battle starts

With one sound, the storm joins

Captain against captain

Chief against chief

Iron against iron

Fire against fire

In the dying light of the ending day

In the dark of the storm’s wake

The ancient and the young

Fight side by side

Between the fork tongues

Of storm’s terrible wrath

Mighty beast die

Young warriors become old

Down in steep dives

Do the predators fly

To catch their fleeing prey

Ever gaining, ever hunting

Around the mountain peaks

Beneath ancient stones

Through forgotten canyons

Beneath the storm’s wrath

Rising high in quick beats

The hunted evade their enemies

Twisting and turning through air

The hunted become hunters

Ceasing their rise,

They turn to fight

Eye to eye,

Snout to Snout

They face one another

The hunted and the hunter

Riders make no move

Mounts make no sound

Slowly as one,

Blades are raised high

Wings are stretched out

Like great and deadly gods

Twin tongues of flame

Flash out like the lighting all around

Like rivers of lava in the night air

They meet in a fiery clash

Round and round

The two swing around

Their deadly breathe

Becoming their deadly dance

The wind hollows

The lightning falls

Still the fire burns bright

Up and down, round and round

They fall as one giant

Like mighty fiery stones

The giants fall to the ground

Their masters scream their call

Upon the ground

The monsters land

The mountains crack

And the earth shatters

The two charge on foot

In a clash that splits the rocks

In a clash that torches the ground

The dragons meet

Tails swing like clubs

And claws tear flesh

Jets of fire burns the air

The roars deafen all who are near

Their masters lash when they can

Twisting and turning

Seeking the points where blades can bite

Slicing wings and eyes

A sudden turn by one

And the upper hand is gained

With a swift strike

The neck is broken

The two fall to the ground

The rider cut in two

The mount slowly dying

The battle won

With a head raised high

With body lifted on hind legs

A victory call is loosed

As five lightning strikes all around

With that said and done

He and his master rise again

Into the sky they fly

To join their comrades once again

The storm breaks, its fury spent

The moon shone through the pale clouds

The distant thunder mark fading lightning

The clouds retreat and the stars awake

All below fires mark the grave of the dead

The ten and twenty

Now number four and twelve

Yet the battle is theirs

They turn slowly back

To home and hearth

No joyous sound is heard

Only the lamentations for the fallen

The mountains retreat into the earth

Becoming fields of grass

The night stars slowly wheel down

The old warriors touch down

Fellow warriors and loved ones

Greet the weary guardians

Another battle fought

Another day secured

April 14, 2011