Some years ago I was active on a Tolkien-based site that featured writing and poetry contests. This was a dialogue-writing competition with set parameters:
Characters: an elf and a dwarf
Setting: outside Doors of Moria
Theme: Speak, Friend, and Enter
I gave myself the added challenge of using the dialogue alone
to show the scene and the action.
—Greetings, friend Elf! What’s that th’art doing, kneeling by the doorstep of Khazad-dum? Elf? I speak to thee– Wilt not look up and greet me?
–I do rise now, Friend Dwarf, and I greet thee, too. I was conversing, as thee came out through the great doors.
–Yes, I did perceive that. But not to me.
–No, not to thee.
–That’s as well, Elf, because I do not understand thy language. And yet, there’s no one here but thee and me.
–Is there not, Dwarf?
–I look there… I look here… See, I even look up…! I see no one else.
—Ah? What, ah? Don’t thee look down thy delicate Elven nose at me, friend Elf, and say Ah, as if thee knows all of my kind, and all of my nature! I beg thy pardon if I interrupt thy converse, I do so but in ignorance. And if thou would but introduce me to whom thee speaks, mayhap the chat can encompass us all!
–I bow to thee, friend Dwarf, and humbly I beg thy pardon. I did not intend rudeness. Let me introduce thee to these two holly trees, just now planted by the doors: I water them from the gate stream, just so… and nurture them with words.
–These two wee twigs? They are to whom thee speaks?
–Indeed, they are! Twigs they are in seeming, but they are trees, too, great and lovely in the fullness of Time, and in the heart of them even now. It is indeed to them that I speak.
do forgive my mirth, friend Dwarf, but the tone of amaze in thy voice
and the bafflement upon thy brow remind me that though we are friends
we are not kin, and not all things are understood between us!
I speak to them because they are young : and newly planted are their feet in this soil. Because they are uncertain and shy.
–Aye, my friend, they are– and I would not have them shrivel, feeling that, being so slight and meek, they do not belong in this place by the great Gateway to the wondrous Realm of Khazad-dum! My words to them awaken their strength and courage, and remind them who they are. For they are already what they will be.
–And they–these wee baby trees– they understand thy words, do they?
speak to them in their own language, that they shall… Every
Elf knows the tongue of every living thing.
Why now thy creased brow, friend Dwarf?
–It is a mystery to me, a Dwarf, my friend, this language of twigs and trees. And now I understand thee, I am sorry that I cannot give to these young lordlings the gift of nurturance, too, for I also wish to see them, one day seasons hence, standing brave beside the Door. It grieves me I cannot bless them as thee does, though they grace the doorstep of my home. Therefore, I sigh, and thee sees the furrowing of… Wait a moment, though… Ha! Make a little room there…
course… but to what purpose does thee kneel? Dwarf? Dost
thou hear me? Dwarf…? Why does thee bow thy head beside thine
own door? Dwarf…?
Very well then, I shall wait…
Elbereth’s stars are wondrous bright this night, and light the new letters Narvi made… These letters and these words, together, shall speak the welcome of friend to friend down the ages of this Middle-earth, and give honor to the love and respect of the Free Folk, each for the other.. Fades the daylight from the sky, and the Moon, she rises great and brilliant among them and Narvi’s work blazes…!
—Ahh… Oh! Stiff knees, Elf… May thee never know them! I see the Sun has gone through the Gates in the West, and the Moon, she climbs the sky… I did not realize… I did not mean to keep thee waiting… By Durin’s beard, look at how the words shine out above our heads! Oh, but, again, thy pardon, Friend Elf…
–No matter, Dwarf, there is plenty of time in the world! And the lights of the Doorway are good to see… Did thee speak to the trees?
–Nay, that I cannot do in any tongue they could hear. I leave that to thee and thy kin.. I addressed myself to another.
–Friend Dwarf, now it is I who see no other.
–Ah! Thy quick and lively kind see and speak to the green and growing things, and those that scurry about all across the land, but it takes a Dwarf to converse with stone!
–With stone? Stone? This is a marvel! I had not thought stone had will to hear, or speak!
–Yet, my friend, it does! One must have not the quick ears of the Elf, , but the deep ears of Dwarves, to hear it. And the language of stone is one that every Dwarf knows!
–And what words had thee for the stone, friend Dwarf? for I am mightily curious to know!
then, I shall ease your curiosity! I asked the wild rock of the
mountain, and the tamed stone of the door and the step, to welcome
and make way for the roots and branches of the wee trees; to share
the nurture that they are made of, with these younglings, to shade
and cool them when the sun beats hard, and shelter them from pounding
weather. I asked the stone to give of the warmth it
soaks up from the summer sun, when winter freezes the land, and
to give the blessings of the mountain’s own roots to encourage and
instruct these trees, that their own roots will hold fast and be
strong and go deep.
This is what I spoke to the stone.
—Ah, indeed! Now, we have both spoken, friend– Let us enter, and sup together in good-will, and raise a cup that our friendship shall last as long as the stones and the trees!