Poems and Tales of Middle-Earth:
(illustration by John Howe)
The Siege of Minas Tirith
The Siege of Minas Tirith
The Rohirrim leave for battle:
"From Dark Dunharrow
   in the dim morning
with name and captain
   rode Thengel's son:
to Edoras he came,
   the ancient halls
of the Mark-wardens
golden timbers were
   in gloom mantled.
Farewell he bade
   to his free people,
hearth and high seat,
   and the hallowed places,
where long he had feasted
   ere the light faded.
Forth rode the king,
   fear behind him,
fate before him.
   Fealty kept he;
oaths he had taken,
   all fulfilled them.
Forth rode ThÉoden.
   Five nights and days
east and onward
   rode the Eorlingas
through Folde and Fenmarch
   and the Firienwood,
six thousand spears
   to Sunlending,
Mundburg the mighty
   under Mindolluin,
Sea-kings' city
   in the South-kingdom
Doom drove them on.
   Darkness took them,
horse and horseman;
   hoofbeats afar
sank into silence:
   so the song tells us."
The Attack on Minas Tirith
The Lord of the Rings
Part III. The Return of the King

Quotes from Tolkien's Novel
Gondor: The Siege
.  "Pippin looked ruefully at the small loaf of and (he thought) rather inadequate part of butter which was set out for him, beside a cup of thin milk. 'Why did you bring me here?' he said.
   'You know quite well,' said Gandalf. 'To keep you out of mischief; and if you do not like being here, you can remember that you brought it on yourself.' Pippin said no more." "
.  " 'We who have lived long under the Shadow may surely listen to echoes from a land untroubled by it? Then we may feel that our vigil was not fruitless, though it may have been thankless.' " (Denethor)
.  "It was dark and dim all day. From the sunless dawn until evening the heavy shadow had deepened, and all hearts in the City were oppressed. Far above a great cloud streamed slowly westward from the Black Land, devouring light, borne upon a wind of war; but below the air was still and breathless, as if all the Vale of Anuin waited for the onset of a ruinous storm."
.  "Pippin knew the shuddering cry that he had heard: it was the same that he had heard long ago in the Marish of the Shire, but now it was grown in power and hatred, piercing the heart with a poisonous despair. [...] But now wheeling swiftly across it, like shadows of untimely night, he saw in the middle airs below five birdlike forms, horrible as carrion-fowl yet greater than eagles, cruel as death."
.  " 'If what I have done displeases you, my father,' said Faramir quietly, 'I wish I had known your counsel before the burden of so weighty a judgement was thrust on me.'
   'Would that have availed to change your judgement?' said Denethor. 'You would still have done just so, I deem. I know you well. Ever your desire is to appear lordly and generous as a king of old, gracious, gentle. That may well befit one of high race, if he sits in power and peace. But in desperate hours gentleness may be repaid with death.' "
.  " 'Do you wish then,' said Faramir, 'that our places had been exchanged?'
   'Yes, I wish that indeed,' said Denethor. 'For Boromir was loyal to me and no wizard's pupil. He would have remembered his father's need, and would have not squandered what fortune gave. He would have brought me a mighty gift."
.  " 'Stir not the bitterness in the cup that I mixed for myself,' said Denethor. 'Have I not tasted it now many nights upon my tongue, foreboding that worse yet lay in the dregs?"
.  " 'Comfort yourself!' said Gandalf. 'In no case would Boromir have brought it to you. He is dead, and died well; may he sleep in peace! Yet you deceive yourself. He would have stretched out his hand to this thing, and taking it for his own, and when he returned you would not have known your son.' "
.  "For a moment the eyes of Denethor glowed again as he faced Gandalf, and Pippin felt once more the strain between their wills; but now almost it seemed as if their glances were like blades from eye to eye, flickering as they fenced."
.  "But when men ran to learn what it might be, they cried aloud or wept. For the Enemy was flinging into the City all the heads of those who had fallen fighting at Osgiliath, or on the Rammas, or in the fields. [...] But marred and dishonoured as they were, it often chanced that thus a man would see again the face of someone he had known, who had walked proudly once in arms, or tilled the fields, or ridden in upon a holiday from the green vales in the hills.
   In vain men shook their fists at the pitiless foes that swarmed before the gates. [...] But soon there were few left in Minas Tirith who had the heart to stand up and defy the hosts of Mordor. For yet another weapon, swifter than hunger, the Lord of the Dark tower had: dread and despair."
.  "The Nazgúls came again, and as their Dark Lord now grew and put forth his strength, so their voices, which uttered only his will and malice, were filled with evil and horror. Ever they circled above the City, like vultures that expect their fill of doomed men's flesh. Out of sight and shot they flew, and yet were ever present, and their deadly voices rent the air. More unbearable they became, not less, at each new cry. At length even the stout-hearted would fling themselves to the ground as the hidden menace passed over them, or they would stand, letting their weapons fall from nerveless hands while into their minds a blackness came, and they thought no more of war; but only of hiding and of crawling, and of death."
.  "Ane as he [Pippin] watched, it seemed to him that Denethor grew old before his eyes, as if something had snapped in his proud will, and his stern mind was overthrown. Grief maybe had wrought it, and remorse. He saw tears on that once fearless face, more unbearable than wrath."
.  "Over the hills of slain a hideous shape appeared: a horseman, tall, hooded, cloaked in black. Slowly, trampling the fallen, he rode forth, heeding no longer any dart. He halted and held up a long pale sword. [...] Then the Black Captain rose in his stirrups and cried aloud in a dreadful voice, speaking in some forgotten tongue words of power and terror to rend both heart and stone."
.  "In rode the Lord of the Nazgúl. A great black shape against the fires beyond he loomed up, grown to a vast menace of despair. In rode the Lord of the nazgúl, under the archway that no enemy ever yet had passsed, and all fled before his face.
   All save one. There waiting, silent and still in the space before the Gate, sat Gandalf upon Shadowfax: Shadowfax who alone among the free horses of the earth endured the terror, unmoving, steadfast as a graven image in Rath Dínen.
   'You cannot enter here,' said Gandalf, and the huge shadow halted. 'Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back! Fall into nothingness that awaits you and your Master. Go!'
   The Black Rider flung back his hood, and behold! he had a kingly crown; and yet upon no head visible was it set. The red fires shone between it and the mantled shoulders vast and dark. From a mouth unseen there came a deadly laughter.
   'Old fool! he said. 'Old fool! This is my hour. Do you not know Death when you see it? Die now and curse in vain!' And with that he lifted high his sword and flames ran down the blade.
   Gandalf did not move."
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