Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Road Goes Ever On

"The Road Goes Ever On" by Matěj Čadil
So much of the heart of Fantasy is about the journey, and while a character's personal growth is of critical importance to any good story, Fantasy has the distinction of being able to send both their characters and readers alike to places they never dreamed of. Of blending the inner journey with a wondrous outer one, each affecting the other in key ways; and no author does this better than J.R.R. Tolkien. Having recently read The Lord of the Rings again, I was struck many things that greater age and experience gave me the eyes to see, but perhaps greatest of all was the impression that Tolkien nailed the journey element perfectly. Something I say not out of blind loyalty but rather total conviction and having read countless other Fantasy books since I last picked up LOTR; having walked many roads both wondrous and perilous with more dear friends than can be counted. But when reading The Lord of the Rings again I was struck by how each section, each mini-adventure, was perfectly timed, lasting neither overlong nor short and flowing flawlessly into the next section. One truly feels like one is going on the journey alongside the four Hobbits (five if you count The Hobbit and Bilbo).
Truly Tolkien is the master of the journey, as even his famous The Road Goes Ever On walking song is perfect for sing while walking, each word taking no more than a single breath and arranged to suit of the natural rhythm of walking feet. A fact I know from experience and can thus say that the tune lightens the step and soul after a long day.

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 weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on,
Under cloud and under star.
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen,
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green,
And trees and hills they long have known.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone.
Let others follow, if they can!
Let them a journey new begin.
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

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, East of the Sun."

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