Angel crying

Of Death and Glory

Haldir`s Lament

Ar sindanóriello caita mornië
Ar ilyë tier undulávë lumbulë

And out of a grey country darkness lies
And all paths are drowned deep in shadow

English and Quenya Texts by J.R.R. Tolkien

Death of Haldir

Haldir`s lament is one of those compositions that perfectly suit the situation and without strong accents or drama deliver a beautiful eulogy for the Lothlórien Elf. For me, this is one of the most beautifully written pieces of music of both trilogies.

It conveys sadness and loss in an ethereal almost unpinnable way. It is a strongly dynamic piece that does not venture to stay static and envelops you in a heartbreaking state of mind. 

To me, it represents the flow of life that everyone must pass. Haldir being an Elfkind gives the piece a fluidity that, in my opinion, could only be described as otherworldly. As the music flows, Aragorn holds Haldir in his arms until his last breath. Every action surrounding the Aragorn and Haldir slows. Nothing is heard but Haldir`s Lament. This is to honor Haldir`s passing and done so with incredible ease and elegance.

Haldir`s death brings new energy to the battle, a fresh kind of spite. It gives Aragorn a sense of purpose. He rallies against the Uruk-hai on his own but finds support in Gimli and Legolas. 

Defeat vs. effort

As dawn breaks over Helm`s Deep, the black flags with the white hand of Saruman professing the victory of evil. The remainder of Théoden`s men barricades the gate into the Hornburg. 

Théoden: “The fortress is taken. It is over.”

Aragorn: “You said this fortress would never fall while your men defend it. They still defend it. They have died defending it. Is there no other way for the women and children to get out of the caves? Is there no other way?”

Whilst Aragorn tries to find a way for the women and children to save themselves from an inevitable breach, Théoden remains still. He has surrendered to the evil of Saruman. This is his end and it wasn`t honorable or valiant as he himself wished it to be. It hasn`t been the end he was hoping for. 

Aragorn`s words wash over him, not touching his heart in the slightest. His men are still there with him, defending what little is left of the Keep to defend, but their King does not acknowledge their efforts, for all he sees is his own failure. 

Théoden`s reaction was almost expected to be as such. He was doubtful when they were leaving Edoras, he was doubtful when he prepared for the battle, and now that it has reached its climax when they should stand united and strongest, he simply folds.

Taking charge

Gamling: “There is one passage. It leads into the mountains. But they will not get far. The Uruk-hai are too many.”

Aragorn: “Send word for the women and children to make for the mountain pass. And barricade the entrance!”

Aragorn takes over leadership as he finds the King useless. He orders Gamling but Gamling does not respond, for he only takes orders from his King. Another show of the strength of the character of Aragorn.

He tries to salvage that which can still be saved. Aragorn provides a solution in an impossible situation, thinking only of the people of Rohan who still wait terrified in the caves and only hear the destruction brought upon the men that defend them. 

So much death. What can Men do against such reckless hate?

Théoden

An understandable argument. When we feel defeated, the arguments in our favor start to rush into our minds. If we decide to stay in a crushed state of mind then every ounce of positivity is turned into a hopeless glimmer that evaporates on thought.

The easiest way to cope is to simply give up and give out all possible reasons why this is the right thought. Théoden hasn`t taken long to react in this way. As soon as the Deeping Wall had crumbled under the enemy’s fire, his sense of security over the structural integrity of the Keep had been proven false. After that, he could only seek refuge in the Hornburg. This left him cornered with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

A call to bravery

Aragorn: “Ride out with me. Ride out and meet them.” 

Théoden: “For death and glory.”

This triggers Théoden`s pride and necessity of dying in a dignified way. This seems to be the perfect setting for it. Theóden is much too preoccupied with his own need of importance and remembrance as a worthy King of Rohan.

However, in this particular situation, Aragorn has taken the helm. Without his steering, Théoden would have given up, remained there to be killed by the Uruk-hai and let the women and children die a terrible death.

For Rohan. For your people.

Aragorn

This is what it all comes to, the people of Rohan who have stood by their King and died defending their last home. This is for the women and children that quiver in the caves, frightened.

As Aragorn corrects his false assumption over the motive of the charge against the Uruk-hai, Théoden`s facial expression changes from excited and purposeful to guilty and serious. It had taken a “Ranger” to teach him the importance of fighting for the right cause.

The sun rises

Aragorn looks towards a narrow window at the rays of sun signaling the dawn of the day. But not just any day.

Look to my coming at first light on the fifth day. At dawn look to the east.

Gandalf

Théoden: “Yes. Yes. The Horn of Helm Hammerhand shall sound in the Deep one last time. 

Gimli: Yes.” 

Théoden: “Let this be the hour when we draw swords together. Fell deeds, awake. Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red dawn. Forth Eorlingas!”

With all the pride and tradition of their people, Théoden, his guard and the Three Hunters prepare for the charge. Gimli blows the horn to announce their arrival. As the Uruk-hai burst into the Hall, so does the convoy ride towards them in all their might and power.

They know they may be riding into their own deaths, but that doesn`t stop their will and determination to face their enemy for the last time.

Sunrise over mountains
Photo by Tyssul Patel on Unsplash

The banished return

Gandalf: “Théoden King stands alone.”

Éomer: “Not alone. Rohirrim! To the King!”

Théoden: “Éomer.”

It brings tears to my eyes the loyalty that permeates the entire story. The coming of Gandalf with the Rohirrim and Éomer shouting “for the King” is a powerful image. Men standing together for their King no matter what. 

Yes, Éomer had returned to fight for his King. The evil that had banished Éomer does not hold any ties now, for he is free to come and defend his people. Théoden is beyond glad to see his nephew charging down the slope.

There is a sense of pride and gratitude in his voice and expression. Even though he disregarded the possibility of his aid as he planned his next move in Edoras, Éomer did not need a cry for help or invitation to come and help his King. 

The arrival of Éomer, without Théoden`s plead for help, makes me think of the possibilities he could have had, and the lives that could have been saved in the battle, had he set aside his pride and called for aid. 

As the Rohirrim rush down the steep slope to their part in this battle, the sun rises over the hill, blinding the Uruk-hai, thereby giving the Rohirrim a perfect opportunity to overpower the Uruk-hai. After they lost to the sun and the Rohirrim, the Uruk-hai flee into the forest to run and hide. 

What they don`t know is that this sudden forest, not having been an obstacle as they marched upon Helm`s Deep, is made out of Ents. They have “their own business with the Orcs”, as Treebeard said. Let us explore that side of the story. Follow me to my next post. 

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