Thursday, March 2, 2006

White Shores

One of my very favorite scenes from the entire Lord of the Rings film trilogy was the exchange between Gandalf and Pippin as Minas Tirith crumbled around them and it seemed more than likely to Pippin that he wasn't going to live to see another day. I didn't expect it because it wasn't in the book, and I'm not at all sure Tolkien would have approved of it. A delibrate tweaking of Tolkien's theology for Middle-earth, perhaps. Or just Gandalf blowing off smoke. But I preferred to take it as a delicious secret, hidden there all along, that suddenly was brought into the light of day. White shores are not reserved for the heroic likes of Frodo alone. The ordinary shmucks have a chance, too. Or so I'd like to think, anyway.

White Shores

The old and grizzled wizard had a hobbit by his side,
And a nervous, tender-hearted soul was he.
Little more than just a child, the Halfling’s innocence had died
In the face of war’s colossal misery.

All that he had to cling to was this figure robed in white,
This stern and distant leader he admired,
And gazing in the distance, fairly shivering from fright,
Pippin felt alone and miniscule and tired.

Torn from his true companion - Oh, where was Merry now? -
He wondered if they’d ever meet again,
And what he’d say to make up for his foolishness, and how
He’d ever manage to survive till then.

The day grew ever darker, and the enemy’s advance
Left him on the verge of sobs and short of breath.
Biting back his inhibitions, Pippin dared to take a chance
And engage the mentor who had stared down death.

“I didn’t think,” he stammered, “that it would end this way…”
And Gandalf turned and gazed into his eyes
And painted him a picture he could see as clear as day
While Pippin blinked in gratified surprise.

“White shores,” the wizard promised with a voice warm as the sun.
“A far green country.” Greener than Shirelands?
“A swift sunrise.” Could it be that when this dark day was done,
New life would dawn? He clasped the wizard’s hands.

Perhaps the words were empty, just some murmured loveliness
To calm a shattered spirit at the end
Of a long and valiant struggle. They’d have hardly moved him less
As the final desperate comfort of a friend.

He took them to be truthful, though; if nothing else, they meant
That his little life was worth a little more
Than he’d dared to dream. “That’s not so bad,” he whispered as he bent
Toward the battle, unafraid to take the oar.

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