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On the Song of Eärendil the Mariner

by Riverlight


This was an essay I had to turn in for school. I figured someone might like to read a nonpolitical work I had written for once XD

The Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zY_mQC4bnL0

    Bilbo's Song of Eärendil the Mariner (Many Meetings, Ch. 2 of Book 2) is a significant part of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series as it intrigues the historically-minded, the lore lovers, and the average reader, foreshadowing what is to come and detailing what once was. This Rivendell chant also marks a major plot point in the story, as it prepares the reader with what is to come in the following chapter (The Council of Elrond, Ch. 1 of Book 2) by defining the great adventures of ancient, mostly forgotten lore. It remains one of the most appealing and descriptive parts of the series as a whole.

    Tolkien’s craftsmanship of the written word and his power over language enabled him to create such an elegant work, thereby showing the reader much information without it being overwhelming or too confusing. His use of archaic and lesser-known words, such as “habergeon,” “chalcedony,” and “carcanet” work towards developing the theme of the rest of the chapter and many that followed-- even deeds that seem small and unimportant can prove to be mighty and of the utmost importance.

     A poet and linguist at heart, Tolkien emphasizes his uses of rhyme and many of his stanzas include are trisyllabic rhyme schemes, though some are only near-rhymes. His use of metonymies cannot go unnoticed, especially in the final stanzas, where Tolkien describes “Forever still a herald on/An errand that should never rest/To bear his shining lamp afar,/The Flammifer of Westernesse.” Tolkien’s use of adjectives and verbs appropriately dictate all of the information that a reader needs to know to understand the tale of Eärendil, and thus the early years of the Second Age, followed by the goings-on of the Third Age. With his descriptions of Eärendil, Elves, and mere “mortals,” it is more than appropriate to label this poem as highly descriptive high fantasy. Additionally, Tolkien makes use of alliteration, alliterative assonance, grammatical repetitions and variations, and many other elements of both poetry and prose.

     Tolkien vividly describes Eärendil as a knight with an eagle-plume upon his helmet and wearing “chainéd rings.” Tolkien goes on to describe the Mirner’s shield, sword, bow, arrows, and other tools and weapons that will be needed on Eärendil’s journey. The written illustration of Eärendil ship, Vingilótë, as a silver-white nautical marvel. Her shell was formed of birch trees, and both her sails and lanterns were made of the finest silver that could be found. Tolkien describes the prow as being “like a swan,” thus enhancing the mental image any reader may have of Eärendil.

     Much of the poem describes the future of Eärendil in the form of a chanted song or story. In reciting his poem to the Elves, Bilbo fully details how Eärendil and his men set forth, sailing westward in Vingilótë, to seek the help of the Valar and the Maiar (the gods and goddesses of Tolkien’s mythologies). With the help of his wife Elwing, Eärendil obtains a Silmaril, which Tolkien translates as literally “radiance of pure light.” According to the poem, the gods made a new ship for Eärendil, forging it of mithril and using the Silmaril as the only lantern, hanging it up on the mast of the new ship. Eärendil goes on to sail forever in the skies as a morning star, a beacon of hope in darker times, acting as a navigational tool for simple sailors. His ultimate fate is unknown, though Tolkien seems to say that the fate of Eärendil is meant to be shrouded in mystery, leaving the reader to wonder what happened to both the Silmaril and the Mariner.


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Tue Dec 29, 2020 7:42 pm
pelsteam wrote a review...



Hello, pelsteam here to review and to help you get this out of the Green Room!

Full disclaimer: I haven’t read the Lord of the Rings in a long time (I’m not sure if I’ve even finished it) so I’ll be reviewing on a purely academic standpoint.

(Many Meetings, Ch. 2 of Book 2)


I won’t comment too much on the referencing style you’re using as presumably you’re using the style you’ve been taught (unless you haven’t been taught to use one, in which case I would recommend looking at common referencing conventions in English literature). However, I would personally recommend referencing the title of the work rather than simply “Book 2”.

Bilbo's Song of Eärendil the Mariner (Many Meetings, Ch. 2 of Book 2) is a significant part of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series as it intrigues the historically-minded, the lore lovers, and the average reader, foreshadowing what is to come and detailing what once was. This Rivendell chant also marks a major plot point in the story, as it prepares the reader with what is to come in the following chapter (The Council of Elrond, Ch. 1 of Book 2) by defining the great adventures of ancient, mostly forgotten lore. It remains one of the most appealing and descriptive parts of the series as a whole.


A good opening paragraph. You’ve told the reader what it is and why it matters in the context of the narrative. I would recommend giving the reader some more context to your statement “prepares the reader with what is to come in the following chapter” as they may not be intimately familiar with the text or know exactly what you mean.

The final line in the paragraph makes it sound as though you are declaring your opinion as fact. Be careful of doing this; I would personally say “It is arguably one of the most appealing”.

Tolkien’s craftsmanship of the written word and his power over language enabled him to create such an elegant work, thereby showing the reader much information without it being overwhelming or too confusing. His use of archaic and lesser-known words, such as “habergeon,” “chalcedony,” and “carcanet” work towards developing the theme of the rest of the chapter and many that followed-- even deeds that seem small and unimportant can prove to be mighty and of the utmost importance.


I would personally put this paragraph after your mention of him being a poet and linguist. Also, any unusual word should ideally have a definition in parentheses after it.

A poet and linguist at heart


The point about him being a linguist would fit very nicely with your mention of his craftsmanship. Bear in mind he wasn’t just a hobbyist, which your sentence somewhat implies; he was a professor and academic with a strong linguistic knowledge.

Additionally, Tolkien makes use of alliteration, alliterative assonance, grammatical repetitions and variations, and many other elements of both poetry and prose.


Examples here would be helpful.

Tolkien vividly describes Eärendil as a knight with an eagle-plume upon his helmet and wearing “chainéd rings.” Tolkien goes on to describe the Mirner’s shield, sword, bow, arrows, and other tools and weapons that will be needed on Eärendil’s journey. The written illustration of Eärendil ship, Vingilótë, as a silver-white nautical marvel. Her shell was formed of birch trees, and both her sails and lanterns were made of the finest silver that could be found. Tolkien describes the prow as being “like a swan,” thus enhancing the mental image any reader may have of Eärendil.


This is nicely written, but could do with more point to it. What is the purpose of these descriptions and how is he enhancing the mental image? Initially I thought you meant these descriptions make the reader think Eärendil is noble and beautiful, but on a re-read I’m guessing you simply mean it helps them imagine him a little better.

One point I notice: you’ve mentioned eagles and swans. Can you make the case for Tolkien’s use of bird imagery? This paragraph definitely contains some nice little bits you can pick out and explore.

Much of the poem describes the future of Eärendil in the form of a chanted song or story. In reciting his poem to the Elves, Bilbo fully details how Eärendil and his men set forth, sailing westward in Vingilótë, to seek the help of the Valar and the Maiar (the gods and goddesses of Tolkien’s mythologies). With the help of his wife Elwing, Eärendil obtains a Silmaril, which Tolkien translates as literally “radiance of pure light.” According to the poem, the gods made a new ship for Eärendil, forging it of mithril and using the Silmaril as the only lantern, hanging it up on the mast of the new ship. Eärendil goes on to sail forever in the skies as a morning star, a beacon of hope in darker times, acting as a navigational tool for simple sailors. His ultimate fate is unknown, though Tolkien seems to say that the fate of Eärendil is meant to be shrouded in mystery, leaving the reader to wonder what happened to both the Silmaril and the Mariner.


Again, this is nicely written and flows well. I’m just wondering what the point is, as you haven’t really explained what you’re setting out to explore in this essay. You have some nice analysis early on in the essay, but these paragraphs are a bit too descriptive.

Overall your writing itself is good and you’re strong on the summaries, but take care to avoid excess descriptiveness without the analysis to back it up.

I have a BA in Linguistics, so writing essays has been my torment for many years and I’m always happy to help out anyone who’s going through similar pain. Let me know if you have any questions!




Riverlight says...


Thanks for the review!

(I'll be able to respond in more detail alter, internet issues :P)



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Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:56 pm
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Stringbean wrote a review...



Hey Vil!

Aye, yeah, something different here for sure from your usual political stuff XD

Now.. *kicks back into writing tutor mode* *cracks knuckles* Yeah not really XD Let's take a look at the specifics.

Overall, a pretty nice intro paragraph, though I think your thesis could have been clearer/stronger. Does a nice job of introducing the poem in relation to the rest of the story though which is definitely important so that I feel orientated.

Touch on a lot of good points within the body paragraphs-- poetic and literary techniques for instance, including imagery and diction.

In your second paragraph, I think you could have used a touch more clarification to draw you point together. You said this:

His use of archaic and lesser-known words, such as “habergeon,” “chalcedony,” and “carcanet” work towards developing the theme of the rest of the chapter and many that followed-- even deeds that seem small and unimportant can prove to be mighty and of the utmost importance.

But I'm not really sure how that claim follows from the evidence you provided maybe I just need to look up the words.

Nice language throughout though! Writing flows well, especially within paragraphs, always a good thing. Also-- just a cool part of the story to focus on! The song link is neat c:

Until next time, my friend
~Stringbean


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Riverlight says...


XDDDDDDD
THAT FINE PRINT!!!!!

Grammar mistake :P

Thanks for the review!



Stringbean says...


XDD




Who overcomes by force, hath overcome but half his foe.
— John Milton (Poet)