Tolkien Tribute: A Bitter Parting

A Tolkien fan site I used to write on ran a contest for writing dialogue. The parameters were to choose two characters in a particular setting. I chose Elrond and Arwen’s final meeting. I also added a challenge of my own, to write the scene entirely through the dialogue.

Father, why do you not speak? Will you not say farewell? Come,  do not turn your face from me…

Do you not know I wish you well?  That you have my pride and my heart, as you ever have had?  Shall I tell you what you also know already, that this parting is the most…  grievous of all my long life?  

Yet, you have bid farewell to  many before now,  my Father, parted forever when they fell in battle.    Even Gilgalad, greatest warrior and king, and your friend–to him you gave a last farewell. To men you have loved, you let them go when their brief lives were done.   To my mother, departing for the West when Middle Earth had broken her heart.   Why cannot you speak those little words to me?

Ah, my Daughter!  Arwen!  My jewel, my dear!   No choice is there in battle, nor in the lives of Men.  And your mother–there was always the promise we would join hands again one day, upon that other shore.  But you, my heart, my beloved daughter, never shall we meet again when these our ways part.  And in this there was a choice–made of your own will–setting  between us forever, this ocean, and mortality.

Father, there was no choice for me!  Not from the day I beheld him and knew that my heart and my doom were ever twined with his!  I chose nothing, only bowed to what was, as you must  also.  If there is choice, it is yours, to go.  But going, you will know that I still share the world with you: we shall still walk beneath the same net of stars, the same silver moon, golden sun…  How different, from when I dwealt far from you in Lorien? And I shall live a long while yet!

No, you die not now, nor soon.  But you have accepted Eru’s Gift: one day, Death will come and take you whither none of us can know.   And for that, I grieve even today. Ah, I rue the day his mother came to me, that babe in her arms, seeking refuge!  Had I not sheltered her and her son, had I sent them on to other sanctuary…
…  It would have been no different in the end, Papa!  Estel and I would have met somewhere, in Rivendell or Lorien or on the roads across the wilds! ’T is the nature of doom, Papa–you are wise, you do not need me to tell you this!  You speak as if you do not love Estel well yourself, as if he is not beside me and my brothers in your heart!  But I know thee, and I know better, and so do you!  Nay, do not turn from me! Do not hide your tears from me! See, I do not hide mine! 

In these tears, Arwen, taste the bitter sea  that so soon parts us.

I taste it, Papa, also–and in this it parts us not!  Look at me, Father!  It parts us not!

My heart breaks when I look at you, my daughter–Evenstar!  In you, Tinuviel, they said, dances again under star and moon…   How shall I explain to them, when I set foot in Valinor, ‘the Evenstar comes not, Tinuviel is lost to us again, whom we so greatly rejoiced to have back among us!’   You break the heart of Elvendom, my daughter, not just mine, not just your mother’s, who departed to find healing and peace, but did not imagine to never see her daughter again! 

Again, you speak as if I might have chosen otherwise!  I could not! Never could I have chosen otherwise!  I and Aragorn are one, my Father, and he never may come to Elvenhome, so must I remain here, beside him or sunder the one heart that we share!

Aye, beside him until he dies, as one day he will!  And where will you turn your devotion then, my daughter?  Who in this world will need you then, who will yearn for you as your own people will sorrow and yearn?  For you cannot then unmake this choosing, there will be no grey ship to bring you away from mortality!  Your kin will dance in sorrow, and you will dance alone!

Papa, do you try to break my heart?  Do you think I have not thought of these things?  Do you believe that in loving Estel, I love you less?  That in sitting beside him, I care not that I  abandon you?  I have grieved, too, my Father, ever since I knew the doom that had come upon us!  I mourn every day, that doom decrees sorrow every way we turn!  But when was it ever different in the lives of Eru’s Children?  Life, Father–One doom before the next, one tragic circumstance upon the last, one grievous parting after another…  And each time we find happiness or beauty or victory, it is the wondrous exception to the rule of Life: joy’s a gift, that comes by no right!  Only one such Gift there is,  to which Man is entitled clearly, and it seems a bitter thing! 

And yet you hold out your cup for it…  and Eru’s gifts to us, to Elven-kind,  you  cast aside…

Stop it!  Stop!  My cup is bitter enough, my Father, never fear  I do not taste the same draught as you!  Never imagine that I am not bowed by sorrow, never to touch the hand of my mother again , never see her, nor you again , nor my brothers, when they depart, nor  the dearest friends of my youth,  kin who have gone, or will go…  They are many, Father…  Many!  For I may not be so old as you,  but already, my life has spanned generations of Men, and I have said farewell to every one, holding only to the one, whom I could not loose or I would die of it!  And then you would lose me all the same.
So, say me Namarie, Father, and I say it also to you… Let our roads be sundered, mine the bent and yours the straight,  and pass unto our ends as Doom decreed before we ever walked in Middle Earth!


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