A word…

Maglor Casts a Silmaril into the Sea, by Ted Nasmith

I haven’t read The Silmarillion for years (these days I prefer The History of Middle-earth) but lately I have been thinking about this paragraph from Of the Voyage of Eärendil:

“Great was the sorrow of Eärendil and Elwing for the ruin of the havens of Sirion, and the captivity of their sons, and they feared that they might be slain; but it was not so. For Maglor took pity upon Elros and Elrond, and he cherished them, and love grew after between them, as little might be thought; but Maglor’s heart was sick and weary with the burden of the dreadful oath.”

The word that leaps out to me here is “cherished,” which I have never encountered before in any other of Tolkien’s writings. It’s of Latin derivation, which is uncharacteristic of Tolkien, related to caritas, and here seems to imply a sense of desperate longing, of embracing, of guardianship, and of loneliness. Whenever I read this passage I see the three figures in the fair vale of Sirion, in the land under the wave; an Elf-lord and the half-elven children, forlorn, bereft, caught between the overmastering power of Morgoth and the Doom of Mandos, with nothing left but each other. As a philologist, Tolkien had a gift for visualising landscapes but he could also perfectly convey sentiments and emotions, often in just one word. Cherish is the word most fitting here.

Do readers familiar with Tolkien have other passages to share?

Art: Ted Nasmith.

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