14 Jan 2010

Speak Friend And Enter! Farewell Bill The Pony

At nightfall the Fellowship is by two big holly trees on a narrow strip of land between the tall cliffs and the dark lake. Here stands the Doors of Durin made of two tall slabs of stone that could be pushed open from the inside but require a password to be open from outside. The Doors of Durin are Dwarf-doors and cannot be seen when shut, Gimli will explain to the hobbits, however these doors are special because they were made in collaboration with the Elves. Narvi was the Dwarf-craftsman who made the Doors of Durin, and Celebrimbor was the Elven-smith who drew the design on the Doors.Originally the Dwarves of Khazad-dum which lived in Moria and the Elves of Eregion were in good terms with each other, they used to trade and the Doors of Durin were made to facilitate commerce between the two realms. During this peaceful period, the Doors usually stood open guarded by door-wardens. When moon light shines on the rock surface, faint lines are becoming visible. A hammer and an anvil on top of which a crown and seven stars, two trees and in the middle a single star. These are the emblems of Durin and the Trees of the High Elves. The inscription in the arch is written in an ancient elven-tongue , at first Gandalf believes it not to be of importance in finding the password.


Here is a little master-piece from the Lord of the Riddles himself. Professor Tolkien makes this so plainly easy, and yet, the overly-complex mind of Gandalf finds the task of finding the password very hard. Complexity is not always the key of success, or the key of a secret gate for that matter. Gandalf knows all the spells in all the tongues of Elves, Men, and even Orcs, but here he is in front of the Doors of Durin scratching his head to figure out how to open the door. The riddle in not encoded, the solution is there. One single word is needed 'friend', things are much simpler that what Gandalf wants us to believe, maybe a humble and simple hobbit will help solve the mystery. This is a dangerous place, wolves are near and howling and there is evil lurking beneath the apparently calm waters of the lake.

"With a suddenness that startled them all the wizard sprang to his feet. He was laughing! 'I have it!' he cried.' Of course, of course! Absolutely simple, like most riddles when you see the answer.' Picking up his staff he stood before the rock and said in a clear voice : MELLON! The star shone out briefly and faded again. Then silently a great doorway was outlined, though not a crack or joint had been visible before. Slowly it divided in the middle and swung outwards inch by inch, until both doors lay back against the wall. Through the opening a shadowy stair could be seen climbing steeply up; but beyond the lower steps the darkness was deeper then the night. The Company stared in wonder. 'I was wrong after all,' said Gandalf, 'and Gimli too. Merry, of all people, was on the right track.'" (J.R.R.Tolkien )

And so the 'Journey in the dark' begins. The Fellowship is entering the Mines of Moria, alas the passage of the door's riddle is also a sad one for Sam as he is preparing to leave Bill the Pony behind. One of my favourite passages in the book. Sam in tears is caressing his pony's face, and speaks in a low voice to him ....

"'Go with words of guard and guiding on you,' he said. 'You are a wise beast, and have learned much in Rivendell. Make your ways to places where you can find grass, and so come in time to Elrond's house, or wherever you wish to go.'" (J.R.R.Tolkien)