Here at TheOneRing.net, we thought we would open the New Year with some words of hope, inspiration, and wisdom from the Professor himself.
What follows is a little survey of TORn staffers, and some denizens from the Barliman’s chatroom, to find out which Tolkien quotes were favorites. At the end of the article, you will be asked to submit your own favorite words of Tolkien.
J.R.R. Tolkien Quotes – The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and more.
- ‘The Road goes ever on and on…”
- “Still round the corner there may wait. A new road or a secret gate…”
- “Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.”
- “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
- “But you know well enough now that starting is too great a claim for any, and that only a small part is played in great deeds by any hero.”
- “Unless the king should come again?” said Gandalf. “Well, my lord Steward…”
- “Eomer said, ‘How is a man to judge what to do in such times?’…
- “War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness,…”
- “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost;…”
- “No half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly.”
- “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
- “The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair,…”
- “Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
- “Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. `And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started...”
- “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf,…”
- “There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains,…”
- “Though here at journey’s end I lie in darkness buried deep,…”
- ‘… despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.’
- ” …do not cast all hope away. Tomorrow is unknown. Rede is often found at the rising of the sun.”
Tolkien Quotes on Curiosity
So much of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is spent walking, riding ponies, in a boat or raft, or on a barrel; so there is a healthy number of quotes regarding travel, but these next two are more than that. They signal curiosity, wanderlust, optimism, and a sense of adventure – something Hobbits are not supposed to be interested in, but aren’t we all glad that a few of them are?
Tookish says he finds a perhaps not obvious optimism – one that faces adversity and the unknown with a steady resolve – here in Bilbo’s Walking Song:
“The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”
This writer is a Travel Advisor, and these two quotes have always epitomized what I best love about travel: the wonder of experiencing the unknown. This is exemplified in Frodo’s version of the same walking song, but heard at the end of the tale when the hobbits accompany Bilbo to the Grey Havens:
“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon and East of the Sun.”
Tolkien Quotes on Whimsy
Tolkien throws in a lot of whimsy in The Hobbit, and even in The Lord of the Rings, especially in the earlier parts of the story – almost as if he were trying to balance out some of the much more serious drama later in the book.
Asa Swain has always liked this little quote about Gandalf, even though it is not very profound – no matter how true the sentiment is:
“Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.”J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Kristin Thompson, our resident Tolkien Scholar, likes the ever-popular ending to Bilbo Baggins’ birthday speech:
“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
Tolkien Quotes on Wisdom
Dwyna says that she realizes that this isn’t a commonly referenced quote, but it speaks to her of how a person can become a hero by playing even a small part in a much larger story. What is started by one person isn’t always ended by the same … we are connected in a bigger tale.
Said by Gandalf during the Council of Elrond:
“But you know well enough now that starting is too great a claim for any, and that only a small part is played in great deeds by any hero.”
And Kristin gives us another great Gandalf quote from later in the story; one that exemplifies not just wisdom, but a sense of responsibility:
“Unless the king should come again?” said Gandalf. “Well, my lord Steward, it is your task to keep some kingdom still against that event, which few now look to see. In that task you shall have all the aid that you are pleased to ask for. But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?”
Mary Wessel Walker (Ent_Maiden from Barliman’s) suggested this discussion between Eomer and Aragorn, which she loves because it’s ‘words to live by’ that can be a helpful reminder in day-to-day life. She also says this was a very enjoyable passage in the book, because this is their first meeting and they get so deep so fast.
“Eomer said, ‘How is a man to judge what to do in such times?’
‘As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”
Rob Welch gives us a real gem from Faramir, in discussion with Sam and Frodo once they reach the Ranger stronghold. Here is what Rob has to say: “It is from The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 5 ‘The Window on the West’, spoken by Faramir. I love the line because … as a former police officer, and one who would serve again if I had to, I like the distinction Faramir draws between the necessity of the sword, and the love of it. I can use weapons, but I don’t love them … they are a tool to protect those I care about … whether those are personal, the people I was once sworn to serve, or just my fellow human beings and God’s children that might need me. It may be not a concept that is universally accepted, but I firmly believe that, just as Faramir noted in the passage, there are those who would devour in the world, and we need strong men and women who stand against that … and do for the right love.”
“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Numenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom”
TORn staffer Elessar has this quote in his email signature:
“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
Tolkien Quotes on Inspiration
Aaron LaSalle draws this quote directly from Tolkien’s letters:
“No half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly.”
Calisuri really likes Thorin’s quote at the end of The Hobbit, when he finally understands the value of a quiet life:
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
Caitlin O’Riordan says this Haldir quote has kept her going this year:
“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands, love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
Tolkien Quotes on Resolve
There seems to be a deeper theme to some of Tolkien’s words; not just hope or inspiration, but also a resolve to keep going, to stay committed to the mission and to each other.
Saystine’s favorite quote comes from Gimli, shortly before they depart from Rivendell. She has always liked it because she says, “Life is not always easy. There are struggles and hardships, but it takes commitment and faith that a better place lies beyond to get you through them all.”
“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
Ashlee chose Sam’s speech in The Two Towers:
“Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. `And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo; adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into? ‘
`I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. 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.”
Suzanne, Ashlee and Calisuri all mentioned this next quote; and it is probably something our readers have been anticipating:
“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.”
Tolkien Quotes on Hope
Both Anne and Earl chose an important scene from near the end of the story. Anne says it is her favorite and has sustained her throughout this difficult year. Earl acknowledges that this year has been so incredibly difficult for so many, and his choice had to be about ‘light and high beauty’:
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.”
Earl then follows up this scene with a song from Sam in the Tower of Cirith Ungol:
“Though here at journey’s end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.”
Greendragon gives us a short little quote that encapsulates the Hope that Tolkien infused his stories with:
‘… despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.’
Thorongil asks “How does one choose from so many great quotes? Not an easy task, we all love so many.”
He goes on to say, “Like Elessar, my favorite quote is Aragorn’s poem, ‘All that is gold does not glitter…’ Another is a quote from Legolas (that is fairly relatable to how many of us feel now) when he is chasing the Uruk Hai with Aragorn and Gimli”:
” …do not cast all hope away. Tomorrow is unknown. Rede is often found at the rising of the sun.”
And here is a final challenge to our readers from Thorongil:
“I can’t find them now, but there are a few times in the book that the change in wind is mentioned, and hope is renewed in most cases. My memory is really fuzzy here so please help … I think Legolas says it, Gandalf perhaps in Minas Tirith, or at the Black Gates when Frodo is about to cast the One Ring into Mt Doom, Aragorn arriving at Minas Tirith with the help of the South wind … When things are going bad in my real life it seems they continue to get worse until I feel a change in luck. To myself I always say I look forward to the dawning of a new day and hoping “the wind has changed” in my favor. I took that from Tolkien.”
So, find this post on our Facebook Page and see if you can list the quotes about the Wind being associated with a change in luck or in mood; we may even take a few and add them to this post for future readers. Most of the quotes listed here come from The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit, but feel free to draw from other sources, including Tolkien’s Letters.
Feel free to join TORn staffers and readers at one of our two Zoom Tolkien Toasts later on today. See our Tolkien Birthday Toast post for zoom times and links.
May the Professor’s words be a light to you in dark places!