The Road Goes Ever On

howe_gandalf

I always think of Tolkien in the fall.  It is a season for adventure, a season with brisk air and beautiful landscapes–perfect walking weather.  The time of year that you venture out with a sweater on and walk for hours through the fields, knowing all the while that the chill of the dew on the grass and the crisp autumn winds will be mitigated by the fire back home and a cup of something warm.  It’s the season when both Bilbo and Frodo set out on their respective adventures, the season when even the homeliest of hobbits feels the gentle heat of longing in their blood.

I most often reread The Lord of the Rings during the fall for this reason.  In that spirit, and in the spirit of romantic adventurers everywhere, one of my favorite of Tolkien’s poems/songs* to whet your appetite for the ever-moving road:

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on,
Under cloud and under star.
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen,
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green,
And trees and hills they long have known.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone.
Let others follow, if they can!
Let them a journey new begin.
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

Still ’round the corner there may wait
A new road or secret gate;
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

a_hobbit_dwelling

* This is a synthesis of several different versions and stanzas of the song, which is sung by various characters at various times throughout both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  Like the Road itself, the song changes, depending upon who’s doing the singing, and where they are when they’re singing it.  After all, “[i]t’s a dangerous business…going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

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