The Very Wine of Blessedness

Justin Fike '07, English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2003

After great pain and danger, and countless miles of travel, Frodo and Sam finally manage to destroy the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. The resulting eruption of the mountain nearly destroys them, but Gandalf and the great eagles swoop to the rescue at the last minute. They awake to discover a new world free of Sauron's evil, a world in which they are hailed as the greatest of heroes.

As they came into the opening in the wood, they were surprised to see knights in bright mail and tall guards in silver and black standing there, who greeted them with honor and bowed before them. . . .and men cried with many voices and in many tongues: "Long live the Halflings! Praise them with great praise!" [p.932]

All the men and heroes of the great war against Sauron rejoiced and celebrated their victory, and especially the great courage and virtue of the Hobbits As the night wore on, a minstrel forward and proclaimed, "I will sing to you of Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom" (p.933).

And when same heard that he laughed aloud for sheer delight, and he stood up and cried "O great glory and slendour! And all my wishes have come true!" and then he wept. And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold. . .until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness." [p. 933]

Questions

1. Why does Tolkien have the great warriors that we would consider the heroes of the book honoring the Hobbits above everyone else?

2. What do phrases like "wounded by sweet words", "their joy was like swords", and "tears are the very wine of blessedness" mean, and why did Tolkien use them in such a happy scene?

3. In this scene, the characters both laugh and cry, and it is difficult to separate joy and pain, why is that?

References

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. Houghton Mifflin, Boston: 1966.


Victorian Web Overview J. R. R. Tolkien Victorian courses

Last modified 2 March 2004