Poems and Tales of Middle-Earth:
(illustrations by Alan Lee)
The Dead Marshes
(Gollum's song in Mordor)
"The cold hard lands
They bites our hands,
   they gnaws our feet.
The rock and stones
are like old bones
   all bare of meat.
But stream and pool
is wet and cool:
   so nice for feet!
And now we wish-
'Alive without breath;
as cold as death;
never thirsting, ever drinking;
clad in mail, never clinking.'
Drowns on dry land,
thinks an island
is a mountain;
thinks a fountain
is a puff of air.
So sleek so fair!
   What a joy to meet!
We only wish
To catch a fish,
   so juicy-sweet!"
   
     
The Lord of the Rings
Part II. The Two Towers

Quotes from Tolkien's Novel
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Mordor: The Dead marshes.
.  "Mists curled and smoked from dark and noisome pools. The reek of them hung stifling in the still air. Far away, now almost due south, the mountain-walls of Mordor loomed, like a black bar of rugged clouds floating above a dangerous fog-bound sea."
 
.  "So after a brief rest they set out again and were soon lost in a shadowy silent world, cut off from all view of the lands about, either the hills that they had left or the mountains that they sought."
 
.  "Presently it grew altogether dark: the air itself seemed black and heavy to breathe. When lights appeared, Sam rubbed his eyes: he thought his head was going queer. He first saw one with the corner of his left eye, a wisp of pale sheen that faded away; but others appeared soon after: some like dimly shining smoke, some like misty flames flickering slowly above unseen candles; here and there they twisted like ghostly sheets unfurled by hidden hands."
 
.  "Suddenly he stumbled against Frodo, who was standing lost in thought, looking at the pale lights. His hands hung stiff at his sides; water and slime were dripping from them.
   'Come, Mr. Frodo!' said Sam. 'Don't look at them! Gollum says we mustn't. Let's keep up with him and get out of this cursed place as quick as we can - if we can!'
   'All right,' said Frodo, as if returning out of a dream.
 
.  "For a moment the water below him looked like a window, glazed with grimy glass, through which he was peering. Wrenching his hands out of the bog, he sprang back with a cry. 'There are dead things, dead faces in the water,' he said with horror. 'Dead faces!' [...]
   'I don't know,' said Frodo in a dreamlike voice. 'But I have seen them too. In the pools when the candles were lit. They lie in all the pools, pale faces, deep deep under the dark water. I saw them: grim faces and evil, and noble faces and sad. Many faces proud and fair, and weeds in their silver hair. But all foul, all rotting, all dead. A fell light is in them.' Frodo hid his eyes in his hands."
 
.  "To Frodo and Sam it seemed that they heard, far away, a long wailing cry, high and thin and cruel. They shivered. At the same moment the stirring of the air became perceptible to them; and it grew very cold."
 
.  "In fact with every step towards the gates of Mordor Frodo felt the Ring on its chain about his neck grow more burdensome. He was now beginning to feel it as an actual weight dragging him earthwards. But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself. It was that more than the drag of the Ring that made him cower and stoop as he walked. The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with great power to pierce all the shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable. So thin, so frail and thin, the veils were become that still warded it off."
 
.  "Gollum probably felt something of the same sort. But what went on in his wretched heart between the pressure of the Eye, and the lust of the Ring that was so near, and his grovelling promise made half in the fear of cold iron, the hobbits did not guess. Frodo gave no thought to it. Sam's mind was occupied mostly with his master, hardly noticing the dark cloud that had fallen on his own heart. He put Frodo in front of him now, and kept a watchful eye on every movement of his, supporting him if he stumbled, and trying to encourage him with clumsy words."
 
.  "The remainder of that journey was a shadow of growing fear in which memory could find nothing to rest upon. For two more nights, they struggled on through the weary pathsless land. The air, as it seemed to them, grew harsh, and filled with a bitter reek that caught their breath and parched their mouths."
 
.  "The gasping pools were choked with ash and crawling muds, sickly white and grey, as if the mountains had vomitted the filth of their entrails upon the lands about. High mounds of crushed and powdered rock, great cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-stained, stood like an obscene graveyard in endless rows, slowly revealed in the reluctant light."
 
.  "Then as he had kept watch Sam had noticed that at times a light seemed to be shining faintly within; but now the light was even clearer and stronger. Frodo's face was peaceful, the marks of fear and care had left it; but it looked old, old and beautiful, as if the chiselling of the shaping years was now revealed in many fine lines that had before been hidden, though the identity of the face was not changed."
 
   
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