The Departure of BoromirPosted: 5 March 2011
The following is a recording of myself reading from one of my favourite parts of The Lord of the Rings.
The Departure of Boromir is, in my opinion, the saddest part of the whole trilogy. Those who haven’t read the books will perhaps not be entirely familiar with this beautiful and melancholic passage, which can be found in the first chapter of The Two Towers.
Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli come across Boromir, lying among the woods upon Amon Hen. The son of the steward has fallen to the hands of the cruel Uruk-hai in a valiant effort to protect his charges, the hobbits Merry and Pippin; the great horn he carried split in two. In their grief, the three place the fallen Boromir into a boat with his shield and horn and the swords of his enemies at his feet. Then follows Tolkien’s most elegaic poetry; the song of the three winds, which Aragorn and Legolas sing as they send their companion out on his final journey.
Sorrowfully they cast loose the funeral boat: there Boromir lay, restful, peaceful, gliding upon the bosom of the flowing water. The stream took him while they held their own boat back with their paddles. He floated by them, and slowly his boat departed, waning to a dark spot against the golden light; and then suddenly it vanished. Rauros roared on unchanging. The River had taken Boromir son of Denethor, and he was not seen again in Minas Tirith, standing as he used to stand upon the White Tower in the morning. But in Gondor in after-days it long was said that the elven-boat rode the falls and the foaming pool, and bore him down through Osgiliath, and past the many mouths of Anduin, out into the Great Sea at night under the stars.
For a while the three companions remained silent, gazing after him. Then Aragorn spoke. ‘They will look for him from the White Tower,’ he said, ‘but he will not return from mountain or from sea.’ Then slowly he began to sing:
Through Rohan over fen and field where the long grass grows
The West Wind comes walking, and about the walls it goes.
‘What news from the West, O wandering wind, do you bring to me tonight?
Have you seen Boromir the Tall by moon or by starlight?’
‘I saw him ride over seven streams, over waters wide and grey;
I saw him walk in empty lands, until he passed away
Into the shadows of the North. I saw him then no more.
The North Wind may have heard the horn of the son of Denethor.’
‘O Boromir! From the high walls westward I looked afar,
But you came not from the empty lands where no men are.’
Then Legolas sang:
From the mouths of the Sea the South Wind flies, from the sandhills and the stones;
The wailing of the gulls it bears, and at the gate it moans.
‘What news from the South, O sighing wind, do you bring to me at eve?
Where now is Boromir the Fair? He tarries and I grieve.’
‘Ask not of me where he doth dwell-so many bones there lie
On the white shores and the dark shores under the stormy sky;
So many have passed down Anduin to find the flowing Sea.
Ask of the North Wind news of them the North Wind sends to me!’
‘O Boromir! Beyond the gate the seaward road runs south,
But you came not with the wailing gulls from the grey sea’s mouth.’
Then Aragorn sang again:
From the Gate of Kings the North Wind rides, and past the roaring falls;
And clear and cold about the tower its loud horn calls.
‘What news from the North, O mighty wind, do you bring to me today?
What news of Boromir the Bold? For he is long away.’
‘Beneath Amon Hen I heard his cry. There many foes he fought.
His cloven shield, his broken sword, they to the water brought.
His head so proud, his face so fair, his limbs they laid to rest;
And Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, bore him upon its breast.’
‘O Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze
To Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days.’