Riddle

I suppose any good Tolkienist should be interested in riddles. So here’s a little one for this week. (The answer is posted in a comment below.)

What swirls down hills
And into holes,
But will not fill
Our empty bowls?

The Wise Men

Step softly, under snow or rain,
To find the place where men can pray;
The way is all so very plain
That we may lose the way.

Oh, we have learnt to peer and pore
On tortured puzzles from our youth,
We know all labyrinthine lore,
We are the three wise men of yore,
And we know all things but the truth.

We have gone round and round the hill
And lost the wood among the trees,
And learnt long names for every ill,
And served the mad gods, naming still
The furies the Eumenides.

The gods of violence took the veil
Of vision and philosophy,
The Serpent that brought all men bale,
He bites his own accursed tail,
And calls himself Eternity.

Go humbly . . . it has hailed and snowed . . .
With voices low and lanterns lit;
So very simple is the road,
That we may stray from it.

The world grows terrible and white,
And blinding white the breaking day;
We walk bewildered in the light,
For something is too large for sight,
And something much too plain to say.

The Child that was ere worlds begun
(. . . We need but walk a little way,
We need but see a latch undone . . .)
The Child that played with moon and sun
Is playing with a little hay.

The house from which the heavens are fed,
The old strange house that is our own,
Where trick of words are never said,
And Mercy is as plain as bread,
And Honour is as hard as stone.

Go humbly, humble are the skies,
And low and large and fierce the Star;
So very near the Manger lies
That we may travel far.

Hark! Laughter like a lion wakes
To roar to the resounding plain.
And the whole heaven shouts and shakes,
For God Himself is born again,
And we are little children walking
Through the snow and rain.

~ G. K. Chesterton, 1874-1936

To the Professor

A happy 125th birthday . . . to the one Professor who rules them all.

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

~ J. R. R. Tolkien (Jan. 3, 1892 – Sep. 2, 1973)

Entryway

Whoever you may be: at evening rise
And leave the hearth you know so thoroughly.
The last horizon’s end is where it lies:
Whoever you may be.

Now with your eyes, which you can scarcely free
From that familiar threshold of your own,
Raise up by slow degrees a blackened tree
Against the heaven, slender and alone.

And you have made the world. And it will grow
Like words in stillness—ripe, immense;
And as your will begins to grasp the sense,
Your eyes will sweetly let it go…

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Images

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