Friday 10 June 2011

Surrendering life versus clinging to life


Tolkien's Numenoreans were mortal men - but they did not suffer illness, lived about three times as long as we do, and when it came to die were able to surrender their lives of their own free will.

But when the Numenoreans later became corrupted, they would cling to life, suffer pain and misery, become senile, and eventually die anyway - unwillingly.


What about us? Sadly we cannot do as the old and uncorrupt Numenoreans; but is there any reason why we must cling to life like the dark Numenoreans - the one's who worshipped Morgoth?


How about this?

When we reach the time of life when our vitality is waning and we know it is about time to die; and when we then get sick and suffer (unlike the Numenoreans); maybe we should not take antibiotics, not have life-extending surgery, not use life support systems, not sustain our exhausted physiology with medication and mechanization, and certainly not get resuscitated?

Maybe we should just avail ourselves of painkillers and palliatives (but preferably not to the extent of clouding our consciousness - trying to keep a clear head) and 'let nature take its course'?

Be Aragorn, not Arwen.


Aragorn: "At last, Lady Evenstar, fairest in this world, and most beloved, my world is fading. Lo! we have gathered; and we have spent, and now the time of payment draws near."

Arwen knew well what he intended, and long had foreseen it; nonetheless she was overborne by her grief. "Would you then, lord, before your time leave your people that live by your word?" she said.

"Not before my time," he answered. "For if I will not go now, then I must soon go perforce. And Eldarion our son is a man full-ripe for kingship." (...) 

Then all left him save Arwen, and she stood alone by his bed. And for all her wisdom and lineage she could not forbear to plead with him to stay yet for a while. She was not yet weary of her days, and thus she tasted the bitterness of the mortality that she had taken upon her. (...)

Aragorn: "Let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring. In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound forever in the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory, Farewell!"

"Estel, Estel!" [Arwen] cried, and with that even as he took her hand and kissed it, he fell into sleep.

Then a great beauty was revealed in him, so that all who after came there looked on him with wonder; for they saw the grace of his youth, and the valor of his manhood, and the wisdom and majesty of his age were all blended together. And long there he lay, an image of the splendour of the Kings of Men in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world.

But Arwen went forth from the House, and the light of her eyes was quenched, and it seemed to her people that she had become cold and grey as nightfall in winter that comes without a star.

Then she said farewell to Eldarion, and to her daughters, and to all whom she had loved; and she went out from the city of Minas Tirith and passed away to the land of Lórien, and dwelt there alone under the fading trees until winter came. Galadriel had passed away and Celeborn had also gone, and the land was silent.

There at last when the mallorn-leaves were falling, but spring had not yet come, she laid herself to rest upon Cerin Amroth; and there is her green grave, until the world is changed, and all the days of her life are utterly forgotten by the men that come after, and elanor and nimphredil bloom no more east of the sea.

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien - The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen



TrueNorth said...

That is a beautiful passage. I will have to read more of the extra tales. Which book can it be found in?

Bruce Charlton said...

The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen is rather lost - and easily overlooked - in the middle of Appendix A of The Return of the King (volume 3 of The Lord of the Rings).

The Crow said...

And when in death, am I, this tree,
with youth, and strength, I remember me.
With muscle, pulled me to its top,
all unafraid of harm, I'd drop.

And run before the North Sea gales,
as all around my coat would wail,
lifting, billowing, like a kite,
to laugh at such a dizzy height.

To know the course of blood inside,
a joy so fierce that none could hide,
in time does fade, and darkness creep,
and youth prefers to fall asleep.

And as that gauze of knowing slips,
away from finally silent lips,
a smile, and nothing more, remains,
that smile, that all of this, explains.