3. The Tolling Bell
Arwen for Aragorn, at the hour of his death
The tolling bell
Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried
Ground swell, a time
Older than the time of chronometers
- "The Dry Salvages"
The bells have the voices of the sea, even and calm. They ring out the deep, unmarked intervals that rive each moment from the last, and fork the future, and set our doom. Tonight the fresh air comes not to the citadel. The stars are over-bright with grief, and the wind scatters on my ears the mathematical tolling of the bell. I cannot find in me the will of movement. Let the pale, unstrung measures of time wash against me, let them come, stroke against stroke, fading among the walls.
This is the hour. The hour between the Moon and the Sun: timeless and moveless. The future is neither before nor behind me, perching on the unthinkable threshold.
In the wide meadows of Imladris I remember first meeting you: the light stole upon your face, and you were flushed and amazed. In the land that was Lórien, our memories walk unsundered still. What sweetness did mark the spaces and the hours, these short years when you and I stood still, beside each other? Lo! We have gathered and spent.
Remembering my many debates with my father I am reminded of Finrod and the mortal woman Andreth, and their conversations. I long thought on it, the gift that is the fëa of men-- that lives not long in its hröa, yet will endure beyond the reaches of the world. Gift, and doom. In my bitterest thoughts I thought it a cureless eternity, flying from grief to unknown grief.
But may it not be so! Estel was your name, and estel in me is unchanged. Ere all my hours are spent it will not change still. My soul is bound to yours. You have pulled me from my fate, across a Sea, athwart the graces of time.
The bell still rings. Each toll like a steady and deep longing.
The sea's edges mark upon the shoals, and the soil and the water dissolve; so do the bodies of all lovers, all fathers, all children, dissolve in the same way in the soils and the waters of the world. And their bodies have no boundaries. And their souls are dissolved in each other.