Dave Mather J.R.R. Tolkien And Trees

     I first read the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien 30 years ago and have been a fan ever since. After seeing the movie, I decided to re-read my old tattered "tri-tome" so I could compare the two. In doing so, I was reminded of something I had forgotten: trees played a huge role in the trilogy and Mr. Tolkien both understood and loved them.
    Two chapters are devoted to the adventures of the hobbits in the Old Forest with Tom Bombadil. In the chapter of "Lothlorien," the heart of elvendom, the mallorn-tree is described:

    The night-wind blew chill up the valley to meet them. Before them a wide gray shadow loomed and they heard an endless rustle of leaves like poplars in the breeze.
    "Lothlorien!" cried Legolas. "Lothlorien! We have come to the eaves of the Golden Wood. Alas that it is winter!"
    Under the night the trees stood tall before them, arched over the road and stream that ran suddenly beneath their spreading boughs. In the dim light of the stars their stems were gray, and their quivering leaves a hint of fallow gold.

    Anybody who has walked in a stand of northern hardwoods on a breezy winter's day knows that he is describing the Beech tree.

    Elsewhere in the book, Southern Mirkwood is described:

    "It is clad in a forest of dark fir, where the trees strive one against another and their branches rot and wither."

    Now that's a simple yet beautiful and accurate description of self-pruning.

    I also cannot wait until the next movie in which the Ents, the tree-herds (as in shepherds) of the Fangron Forest, play an important role. They should make extremely visually interesting characters. However, I think Mr. Tolkien really reveals himself through the sensations of Frodo while he is in Lothlorien:

     As Frodo prepared to follow him, he laid his hand upon the tree beside the ladder: never before had he been so suddenly and so keenly aware of the feel and texture of a tree's skin and of the life within it. He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself.



© 2002 by David Mather. All rights reserved. No parts of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author.