Denethor Poetry Writing Challenge

Reason or Feeling?

2. The Scale Leans

This game of stares and glances that we play
Disturbs the reason of my path and way;
For though you look, and answer, and obey
‘Tis not your heart you’re giving me today.

Yet, should I scold, although I know what’s true:
That mine own heart I still share not with you?
But mine’s my own, and no one else should prove
to wish to know much more than is their due.

“Rubáiyát. At least this one involves more thought, more planning.”

Soft rocking of the waves, a steady sight
That warms the thoughts, but lacks worth to the mind
Leaves one adrift, therefore can it be right?

For even when her image’s clear as light
Repeats itself so much the eyes go blind!
Soft rocking of the waves, a steady sight

That, though it brings not comfort, brings delight
It makes one lively, dizzy, like a child!
Leaves one adrift, therefore can it be right?

It takes reason away, turns day to night
And stumbling upon stone grips forth to grind
Soft rocking of the waves, a steady sight

Appearing fair the mind to snare in flight
For even though one thinks ‘tis good and kind
Leaves one adrift, therefore can it be right?

And even when her image’s clear as light
All features drown in billows with the tide
Soft rocking of the waves, a steady sight
Leaves one adrift, therefore can it be right?

“Drown in billows?” He snorted, took another sip of tea and leaned back on his chair. That is one of the strongest images I’ve produced. ‘Poetry is the commingling of the abstract and the particular in the same plane of thought.’ But there are so many flaws here it does not look like anything I could ever have written. He glanced briefly at it, placed it on top of a pile of written parchment by his side, and took another page.

When your glance tells me tales that speak of truth
I want to seize them, but you look aside;
Aware that I may read you like a book
You try, with words, to tell me otherwise.
Thus showing what your lips would never tell
The riddle that you are acquires more depth;
And, by my thoughts concealing to myself,
Your will to read me turns to mere attempt.
Wherefore should we keep trying to suppress
The truths our eyes scream, but tongues wouldn’t say?
For not to have you close brings me distress
And when you want me near, I stay away.
Therefore give me your heart to read at ease;
Thus, solving each our riddle, we’ll find peace.

Denethor pushed his elbows against the table, propping his head on his hands. There it was! Or, at least a part of it. “Give me your heart to read at ease.” Was that what he wanted? What was it he wanted, after all?

I seek an answer I seek to avoid
What question, then? I really do not know
No words yet come and aimlessly I trail
Groping for meaning, content or just sense
My mind denies what my heart seems to feel
Through words, I’ll state the truth that lies within

For there are secrets, outside and within
And deep, dark crevices the heart hopes to avoid
Although, at times, reason seems not to feel
Times also come when feeling does not know
Is there a way to bend this to make sense?
To answer this, all Middle-earth I’ll trail

And, if by chance or fate I have to trail
through heights and depths, I’ll always keep within
the safety of my thoughts a gleam of sense:
There’s duty, honor, love I won’t avoid!
By oath I’m bound to Gondor, this you know,
As husband is to wife, or so I feel

What say you, then, to all these things I feel?
Fumbling with feelings, words, I’ve lost the trail
of certain, safer thoughts that I should know
and tread. -----------------------

Is there a balance between heart and sense?

What lies in hiding, then, within the trail
of rocks I feel and step on and avoid?
I know that I should know- This makes no SENSE!

And he grabbed the page, crumpled it and tossed it away.

The wind has blown the waves to white and black
Struggling to keep their pace, I stare and frown-

“No! No. That is not what I wish to say.” What do I wish to say? Do I say that she’s disturbed me, that I think only of her, that I both want and dread to see her? And yet he had to say something and reached for his page to do it but realized that his hands were slippery with sweat and, trying to prevent the quill from slipping away from his grasp, he clutched it so tightly that it almost snapped in two and leaked some ink. He picked up the parchment and blew over it to help it dry, then added two more lines that were hardly legible because of the haste in which they were written.

Not knowing how to swim or to get back
The water beckons, I take breath and drown.

Drown. The word carried a lot of meaning but he was not sure he liked the connotations. Too much water imagery that was not appealing to him, and nonetheless it came. Perhaps he should seek for another form, another image.

My mind begins to recognize thy sway
If I do burn, hast thou kindled the flame?
Until I know for certain, I’m astray

For thou art gone toward the seaward vale
Yet I remain with questions I won’t face
If I do burn, hast thou kindled the flame?

These wretched doubts have roots I cannot trace,
That brings me much discomfort and distress;
Yet I remain with questions I won’t face

And ask myself: what doth thy glance possess?
A park of light! True mirror of thy sense
That brings me much discomfort and distress;

So thus examined by thy judging lens
My pride’s abashed. I wonder: do I care?
A spark of light, true mirror of thy sense,

Does this to me, who am the Steward’s heir?
My mind begins to recognize thy sway
I’m almost willing to burn in this flare
Until I know for certain, I’m astray.

“Flare? To burn in a flare?”

The reason of my mind alerts desire
Bewares that when there’s feeling, flames go bright
But mind and reason quail consumed by fire

Passion, or virtue, would make one their Sire
if something is surrendered under plight
The reason of my mind alerts desire

For scarce I’ve known a time of greater ire!
when by thoughts, logic, sanity I’d fight
But mind and reason quail consumed by fire

Beneath logic’s ice emotions conspire
against the better judgement of my might
The reason of my mind alerts desire

And cares not of what lies and truth inquire,
making the heart seek desperately for light
But mind and reason quail consumed by fire

Feeling and reason both great things require
Should I, then, shun restraint without a fight?
The reason of my mind alerts desire
But mind and reason quail consumed by fire.

Fire. There was another word with great meaning, but what did it mean to him? Water and Fire... Ah, if she knew just what she had caused, she would surely regret ever placing a foot in Minas Tirith- No, she would not regret it. He would not regret it.

The room suddenly became dark and Denethor walked to the window to glance outside. A thick cloud was blocking what little light was in the sky and had left him with no clue as to what hour it was. He would have to wait then, as everybody else did, before he learned that it was time to depart, though he was not so eager to leave now: the answer he so much needed had not come to him, but ride away he had to, and soon. He grabbed the papers and scrolls by his desk and started to arrange them in neat stacks according to size and parchment color... What in blazes was he doing? Was he losing his mind? Reaching for his quill once again, he picked another leaf and scribbled a couplet.

I shall not be tormented by my thoughts
But walk the path of reason, as I ought

I shall not be tormented by my thoughts
nor let such winds of feeling shake resolve
but walk the path of reason, as I ought

Nor let such winds of feeling shake resolve

For doubts beset me, thinking that there’s aught

“Resolve, solve, alcove...”

His eyes were fixed on the words in front of him, but there was nothing else he could say, nothing else the words could tell him. Why, in the name of all the Valar, did he love, or want to love Finduilas? He would try for an answer yet another time.

The steadfastness of stone I like, and hate-
The paths of mind and reasoning adore
I tire of those who leave their lives to fate
and sway like foamy waves upon the shore
But now I see there’s rhythm on the roll
of waves, like there are patterns in the mind
And my own mind delights in its new goal:
To read what secrets in your depths I’d find
Thus, gathering the clues you share and keep
I’m building my own puzzle with your name
“Who knows, but there is logic in this feat?”
I try to cheat myself –to no avail.
Reason my rule, but feeling my mistake
Though right or wrong, ‘tis well! I will partake.

He sat, motionless, for a few seconds, the quill still pressed against the paper until a big blot of black ink had made a little pool, erasing the latest phrase or two. His eyes were wide, his jaw set, and his breathing shallow. Just then, he heard the horn blowing loud and clear and knew it was time to leave. Stuffing the papers inside a drawer, he quickly cleared his desk of every other object but the dark leather box and the ink bottle. He strode to the middle of the room, took the saddlebag and made for the door, then stopped with his hand on the knob, walked back and wet the quill in ink again. The leather box gave him some trouble and he fumbled with the lock until he finally got it open, then drew a sheet of paper and wrote what must have been the most hasty, brief, devoid of any planning, heartfelt letter he had ever written:

29 Hísimë 2975,

Dear Lady, I shall be on errand at Belfalas within the month. Pressing business must be discussed. Prince Adrahil may be able to inform you of the meetings and scheduled visits both him and the Steward have arranged for me: supervision of battlement posts and troop training, overseeing company supplies, assessment of the state of the fleets- ordinary inspections, of course, but hard work nonetheless as I am sure you know by having seen your father go through it for so many years. It would be most kind of you, and much according to my own wishes, if we could arrange for-

I would like to see you again. As before. Denethor

For a moment he hesitated, his eyes focused on the last words of his letter. Then, suddenly he folded the parchment, put it in an envelope addressed to Finduilas of Dol Amroth, Esq. Belfalas and was about to seal it with the brown wax, when he took it out and added below his signature:

The western wind makes billows in calm sea
Who shall victorious be? Soon we shall see.

Without pausing for a second reading, he sealed the letter, thrust it under his belt, and left.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.


In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Starlight

Status: Beta

Completion: Complete

Rating: General

Last Updated: 07/25/03

Original Post: 07/03/03

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