“We look towards Númenor that was, and beyond to Elvenhome that is, and to that which is beyond Elvenhome and will ever be.”
So we come to the last of these three reflections on Faramir’s explanation of the silence that he and his men observe in his refuge of Henneth Annûn before they eat, a silence that is woven into the life of Gondor and most particularly into Faramir’s own heart. In the first we thought about the tragic fall of Númenor as recounted by Tolkien in The Akallabêth a chapter near the end of The Silmarillion. In the second we thought about the two mysteries of the Children of God, the immortality of the Elves and the mortality of Humankind, which neither Elves nor Humankind can penetrate. And in this last we will think about that which “will ever be”.
It was Sauron who, when a prisoner of Númenor, denied the reality of any reality beyond that which his captors could perceive save only that which they already knew which was the darkness. For all the Númenorians could perceive in respect of their mortality was the experience of death and decay and an unknown that lay beyond their perishing. So Sauron spoke to them of what he named “the Ancient Darkness”. And of this, he told them “the world was made. For Darkness alone is worshipful, and the Lord thereof may yet make other worlds to be gifts to those that serve him, so that the increase of their power shall find no end.”
And Ar-Pharazôn, mighty king of Númenor, facing his own mortality as an implacable limit upon all his ambitions and perceiving the Valar, the angelic rulers of the earth, as the greatest enemy of those ambitions, listened to all that Sauron had to say to him and so became a worshipper of the Dark and of its Lord first secretly and then openly desiring the worlds of which Sauron had spoken and a power that would “find no end”.
It was part of the lie that Sauron told that he should deny any other reality than the Dark, even to claim that any other reality was the malicious invention of the Valar in their desire to deny immortality to Humankind, “seeking to enchain Men in servitude to themselves.” Now, in the likelihood of the victory of the Dark and of its messenger, Sauron, Faramir rejects the Dark. He will face it courageously even in defeat. He will be a true follower of Elendil and the Elf-friends of old until the end. He will accept the limitation that his own mortality imposes upon him not as a punishment but as a gift looking towards a home that “is not here, neither in the land of Aman nor anywhere within the Circles of the World.”
Augustine, writing in the fifth century, spoke of humankind as those eager to “achieve unity by themselves, to be their own masters and to depend only on themselves”. In The Lord of the Rings it is Faramir who is given the part of articulating the rejection of such desire, a renunciation of the despair that leads to the worship of the Dark. Faramir affirms the hope that the last word of all belongs, not to the Dark, but to the Light. It is in this renunciation that his greatness lies but what will he do when he learns that the Ring of Power, the very symbol of the greatness that the Dark can confer upon its master, lies within his grasp?
8 thoughts on “Faramir remembers “That which is beyond Elvenhome and will ever be.””
You have uncovered so much depth in Faramir’s explanation, this is wonderful. And when presented in this way it really does help to confirm Faramir’s greatness. This makes me want to re-read the chapter so I can better appreciate it , with the benefit of this new insight. Thank you!
Thank you for your comment. As I said a few weeks ago I wanted to spend some time on Faramir. He is almost the reason I started to write this blog. For me the key to writing these last few postings has been The Akallabêth from The Silmarillion and a letter from Tolkien to Milton Waldman in 1951 also in The Silmarillion. They are worth reading as well as the chapter in The Two Towers.
I appreciate how vividly you bring Middle-Earth history into this discussion. I admit I couldn’t make it through The Silmarillion when I picked it up many years ago (shameful fan confession here :P) but I’d like to give it another go, if just to grasp the depth behind some of the references in LOTR.
I wish you well if you do pick up The Silmarillion again. As far as Tolkien was concerned it was his major work but if it hadn’t been for his son, Christopher, it would never have been published. Thank you for your encouraging words about my postings.
The old aching lie… that freedom and self-rule can coexist. That we can gain ourselves by clinging instead of surrendering.
The clinging relates to the pride we spoke about elsewhere. We do not need to cling to the true self because it is hidden with Christ in God and loved by God. God cannot love the ego self because it is not real even if it might be necessary for a time. We all require an ego self with strong boundaries to help us emerge from childhood.
I long for the time when I can shed it, again. Freedom. 🙂
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