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The Tolkien Ensemble: Treebeard’s Song

Maple Trees Canopy

On more than one occasion, I’ve been tempted to write a feature on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The trilogy along with The Silmarillion is dear to me, a master feat of world-building and myth-making that remains unrivalled in scope and grandeur. (I remain one of the unfashionable few who enjoys the irreverent songs and lengthy descriptions) Even a cursory glance at the text reveals a host of themes and motifs ripe for an Ekostory exploration: The pastoral Shire threatened by looming machinations; the fading of the Elves giving way to the coming age of Men; the propensity of power to corrupt all with noble and pure intentions; the quiet courage of ordinary folk. And yet, I hesitate. So much already exists in terms of Tolkien scholarship – I don’t feel like I have anything original to contribute. The work speaks for itself.

But while I may not be up for analyzing Tolkien’s magnum opus, I can at least express my appreciation for some small portion of it. It’s not quite autumn here yet, but I’m in the mood for a stroll and a bout of wandering. Come and walk in the woods with me. Come and note the maple highlights of chartreuse and emerald above our heads. You’ll stoop down to read the sunshot patterns of shadows fanned out across the forest floor, and I’ll point to the tree in the distance that resembles an Ent of old. Then together we’ll hum the tune of this melody as performed by The Tolkien Ensemble, as sung by the late and great Sir Christopher Lee, whom if I had the power to choose would be in the running for The Most Interesting Man in the World.

“…Ah! the gold and the red and the sighing of leaves in the
Autumn in Taur-na-neldor!
It was more than my desire…

…My voice went up and sang in the sky.
And now all those lands lie under the wave,
And I walk in Ambarona, in Tauremorna, in Aldalómë,

…In my own land, in the country of Fangorn,
Where the roots are long,
And the years lie thicker than the leaves

(The Two Towers, p. 78-79)

Reference

Tolkien, J.R.R. (1954). The Two Towers. HarperCollins Publishers. 1999 Paperback edition.

Treebeard’s Song. (2003) At Dawn in Rivendell. The Tolkien Ensemble ft. Christopher Lee.

10 Comments

  1. Isaac, well done post. I love the songs in the books, I didn’t realize there was a recording. Christopher Lee’s singing is remarkable. I remember finishing the Silmarralion and wishing there were more books. I have been working with my piano teacher to create songs for the novels I am trying to write. I wonder if Tolkien felt or heard songs as he wrote. I wish I could write as well as he did.

    • That’s a good question. I’m sure someone more versed in Tolkien’s life history would know how his creative process works. My guess is that he drew a lot of inspiration from various mythologies – especially Norse.

  2. I love Treebeard and the Ents most of all Tolkien’s creations. I have often wished for an Ent to come and take care of tree destroyers the way they did to Saruman! Ironic that Christopher Lee was the actor who played the Ents’ arch enemy! Thanks for the clip; I really enjoyed his singing.

    • I did notice that bit, Nancy 🙂 Maybe the song should be named Saruman’s regret hehe.
      What I think I like most about Tolkien’s Middle-Earth is its vastness. There are so many stories of so many races, like the Ents, that remain largely untold, but everything seems so alive with history. It’s really the art of telling just enough and then leaving the rest to the imagination.

  3. I have often wondered how you would attempt talking about some of the themes in Tolkien’s work. Don’t sell yourself short…what you did for Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind proves to me that you might have new insights to contribute. Like so many, I have been a Tolkien fan since I was a kid. Pertaining to trees (and art), I have a soft spot for the short story “Leaf by Niggle”.

    • It’s one of those big projects I’m not sure I have the energy to tackle at the moment. 🙂 Maybe one day I’ll revisit the text and see if I can come up with any original thoughts.
      Thanks for pointing out the short story, I’ll have to check it out!

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