Today is Tolkien Reading Day, and this year’s theme is “Hope”. There are so many expressions and manifestations of hope in Tolkien’s work, from Hurin hewing down trolls at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears and crying “Day shall come again!” to the figure of Earendil, “the looked for that cometh at unawares, the longed for that cometh beyond hope!” Without question my favourite, however, is Sam’s vision of a solitary star as he and Frodo make their slow tortuous way through Mordor in “The Return of the King”:
“Far above the Ephel Duath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach”.
I hope (ha!) that you enjoy whatever Tolkien-related activities you have planned for today – whether it’s reading the books, or watching the films (or for that matter Kate Madison’s “Born of Hope”, which would be appropriate given this year’s theme). Or even settling down with a six-pack of cider and marathoning the Bakshi and Rankin-Bass adaptations (yes, I actually did this once). Each to their own!