Tolkien Tribute: The Rangers

Storm and ice howling through the winter passes…
The bellies of the scudding clouds, glowing dull and fitful,
reflecting back the desperate firelight
from which all warmth is blasted by the winds…
Alone is better, the huddled traveler thinks,
Than the company he knows is lurking in these peaks…
And he shivers only partly from the cold…

Brisk chill breeze of spring whips budding hazel branches
Rattling to and fro, little birds a-clinging, feathers ruffled–
Little brothers share the coming season
With one who wanders out from winter, too;
In a visage etched by ice and bitter rains…
A thread of softness starts, and grows,
And blossoms in a faint and weary smile…

Night flows over hard-baked plains, cools the raging furnace-heat of day
Relief becomes a chilly breath no longer welcomed
By one who shivers in the summer night…
A breeze arises somewhere in the west,
Sweeps softly in from distant desert sands,
Unlooked-for cloak, carressing warmth…
A gift beneath the silver net of stars…

Still… Utterly still… Still and silent like the stones, the dead…
A creeping insect makes its way from collar down the back,
It’s purpose is its own, and not betrayal…
Tension ripples just beneath the skin;
Sand teases in the throat, seduces silent breath
to rouse in thunderous cough…
When will the enemy move on?

In the wood, sitting in the mulch and drift of falling leaves…
In the town, the fairy-lights of family hearths and goings-on…
Do they look out and see the little fire
That gives all that it has of warmth and cheer?
They do not, cannot see it, they are blinded by their own…
Complacent in their comforts.
By this little fire rests content.

Clear, the air, as leaded crystal glass, like a bell it rings and calls…
Eagles cry back, soaring upon winds higher than the heights…
No higher place to stand than this,
Toes upon the mountain’s utter peak,
And in this moment, all the world’s free
Of evil, war,  and undermining enemy!
Descent– Much harder than the climb.

A new road, a path unknown, unseen by most men’s eyes, it draws the feet…
Has ever any human foot trod here before, along this secret track?
Trees– ancient, hoary mosses draped, bedewed–
anchor its beginnings in their roots,
from whence it wanders carelessly
to find its way along a fragile rocky ledge
then wanders to the plain and disappears…

The Ranger in his world-stained garb comes to a place he knows, and waits…
Another comes, nods greeting, sits beside him in the glen…
The Company of Rangers–it gathers slowly in,
embracing all the sons of long-dead kings
who in their time cared for the lands
and all the folk that there, within them, dwelt–
These still do the same, and also wait…

The Rangers of the North were the remnant of a race of mighty Men, long-lived and lords of the world. In latter days, they quietly guarded other folk who looked warily upon them as derelict wanderers. Besides that watch, they also kept a secret of their own, for of their line was the last King of Men, and his time was not yet come, to declare himself, and take on the great Evil in the full light of day.

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