Riddles in the dark:
(detail of an illustration by John Howe)
"What has roots as nobody sees,
Is taller than trees,
      Up, up it goes,
      And yet never grows?"
"Thirty white horses on a red hill,
      First they champ,
      Then, they stamp,
Then they stand still."
"Voiceless it cries,
Wingless flutters,
Toothless bites,
Mouthless mutters."
"An eye in a blue face
Saw an eye in a green face.
'That eye is like to this eye'
Said the first eye,
'But in low place
Not in high place'."
"It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt.
It lies behind stars and under hills,
        And empty holes fill.
It comes first and follows after,
        Ends life, kills laughter."
"A box without hinges, key, or lid,
Yet golden treasure inside is hid,
It lies behind stars and under hills."
"Alive without breath,
As cold as death;
Never thirsty, ever drinking,
All in mail, never clinking."
"This thing all things devour:
Birds, beast, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grind hard stones to meal;
Slays kings, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down."
The Lord of the Rings
Prelude. The Hobbit

Quotes from Tolkien's Novel
The Journey: The Ring. Riddles in the Dark.
.  "When Bilbo opened his eyes, he wondered if he had; for it was just as dark as with them shut. [...] His head was swimming, and he was far from certain even of the direction they had been going in when he had his fall. He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning-point in his career, but he did not know it. He put the ring in his pocket almost without thinking; certainly, it did not seem of any use at the moment."
.  "There are strange things living in the pools and lakes in the heart of mountains."
.  " 'What iss [sic] he, my precious?' whispered Gollum (who always spoke to himself through never having anyone else to speak to). This is what he had come to find out, for he was not really very hungry at the moment, only curious; otherwise he would have grabbed first and whispered afterwards."
.  " 'Sssss,' said Gollum, and became quite polite. 'Praps we sits here and chats with it a bitsy, my preciousss. It likes riddles, praps it does, does it?' He was anxious to appear friendly, at any rate for the moment, and until he found out more about the sword and the hobbit, whether he was quite alone really, whether he was good to eat, and whether Gollum was really hungry. [...]
    'Very well,' said Bilbo, who was anxious to agree, until he found out more about the creature, whether he was quite alone, whether he was fierce or hungry, and whether he was a friend of the goblins."
.  "Riddles were all he [Gollum] could think of. Asking them, and sometimes guessing them, had been the only game he had ever played with other funny creatures sitting in their holes in the long, long ago, before he had lost all his friends and was driven away, alone, and crept down, down, into the dark under the mountains [...] But these ordinary above ground everyday sort of riddles were tiring for him. Also they reminded him of days when he had been less lonely and sneaky and nasty, and that put him out of temper."
.  "The riddle-game was sacred and of immense antiquity, and even wicked creatures were afraid to cheat when they played at it."
.  "He kept a few wretched oddments, and one very beautiful thing, very beautiful, very wonderful. He had a ring, a golden ring, a precious thing. [...] He wanted it because it was a ring of power, and if you slipped that ring on your finger, you were invisible; only in the full sunlight could you be seen, and then only by your shadow, and that would be shaky and faint. [...] But who knows how Gollum came by that present, ages ago in the old days when such rings were still at large in the world? Perhaps even the Master who ruled them could not have said."
.  "Suddenly he heard a screech. It sent a shiver down his back. Gollum was cursing and wailing away in the gloom [...]
    'Where iss it? Where iss it?', Bilbo heard him crying. 'Losst it is, my precious, lost, lost! Curse us and crush us, my precious is lost!'
    Utterly miserable as Gollum sounded, Bilbo could not find much pity in his heart, and he had a feeling that anything Gollum wanted so much could hardly be something good."
.  "Suddenly Gollum sat down and began to weep, a whistling and gurgling sound horrible to listen to. [...] Bilbo almost stopped breathing and went stiff himself. He was desperate. He must get away, out of this horrible darkness, while he had any strength left. He must fight. He must stab the foul thing, put its eyes out, kill it. It meant to kill him. No, not a fair fight. He was invisible now. Gollum had no sword. Gollum had not actually threatened to kill him, or tried yet. And he was miserable, alone, lost. A sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbo's heart: a glimpse of endless unmarked days without light or hope of betterment, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering. All these thoughts passed in a flash of a second. He trembled."
.  "All at once there came a blood-curdling shriek filled with hatred and despair. spoiler
.  "Bilbo blinked, and then suddenly he saw the goblins [...] They saw him sooner than he saw them. Yes, they saw him. Whether it was an accident, or a last trick of the ring before it took a new master, it was not on his finger. With yells of delight the goblins rushed upon him.
    A pang of fear and loss, like an echo of Gollum's misery, smote Bilbo, and forgetting even to draw his sword he struck his hands into his pockets."
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