Reflection on a Tolkien Quote


And it is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance else that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen.
The Silmarillion, ‘Ainulindalë’

What an alluring way to describe the qualities of the Sea. Beautiful and terrifying at the same time, the Sea is essentially the foundation of our world. There is a mystery in the unfathomable depths of the ocean and a musicality to the waves hitting the shores.

The Sea appeals to all our senses: sight, scent, sound, touch and taste. When I first read this quote, and saw how cleverly Tolkien had associated the Music of the Ainur – this primeval force of majesty and power in shaping his secondary world – with the qualities of the Sea, it truly made me think differently on something that I had so often overlooked and occasionally resented.

Nowadays, whenever I find myself close by to a body of water, I pause to listen for the Music. I never fail to associate the ever-oscillating and intertwining melodies of the waves that reach far back in time and connect our real world to Tolkien’s fantasy. Together, they become one and the same.

This is but a fragment of the deeper meaning that lies hidden beneath the stunning complexity The Silmarillion, and yet another reason why I consider this work to be the author’s most ambitious and groundbreaking of his entire mythos.

One thought on “Reflection on a Tolkien Quote

  1. How have I never really noticed this quote before? There is so much to it. I love that idea of the sea-longing — and I certainly can understand it. There’s something magical about the sound of the waves, like there is a hint of the Music still echoing in the depths. 🙂

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