Seek for the Sword that was Broken

It’s historyfest at the Council of Elrond! After its namesake went on about Gondor in the Third Age, Boromir picked it up and gave us a bit more. Now he believes it to be incredibly important that we all know how he got to Rivendell. He’ll also probably tell us why. Let’s find out.

Turns out Boromir had been on the road for 110 days. According to the Tale of Years, the battle of Osgiliath (which I talked about here), happened on June 20th. A couple of weeks later, on July 4th, Boromir set off from Minas Tirith (it’s October 25th now). Having basically lost the battle, it might be easy to think that he came to Rivendell to procure allies. But no. Boromir had a dream and he really needed to talk to Elrond about it.

Of course, this was no ordinary dream. The day before the battle (so, on June 19th), Boromir’s brother, Faramir, dreamed that “the eastern sky drew dark and there was a growing thunder, but in the West a pale light lingered, and out of it I heard a voice, remote but clear, crying:

Seek for the Sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur’s Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand.

This dream came to Faramir a few times, and once to Boromir. At this point in the story, we don’t know anything at all about Faramir. But after we learn more about it – that he was Gandalf’s student and into the mystical side of things much more than Boromir – it just makes sense.

It probably should have been Faramir and not Boromir who made the journey to Rivendell, and for a time, it seemed that Faramir would actually do it. But, as we’ll see, it was fairly dangerous, and Boromir was better suited. Anyway, it all worked out as it was supposed to be.

Taking the poem bit by bit, we can see that the Valar (I assume) are calling upon the dreamers to find Elindil’s broken sword, which was in Rivendell (Imladris). There, they would have a council, and be shown the Ring, which was now awoken and being carried by a hobbit.

Boromir admits that neither he nor Faramir had much of an idea what any of this meant. They apparently didn’t even know about Rivendell or Elrond, as their father, Denethor, had to tell them “that Imladris was of old the name among the Elves of a far northern dale, where Elrond the Halfelven dwelt, greatest of lore-masters.” It’s also explained why it took Boromir so long to get to Rivendell – he couldn’t find the place.

Denethor really didn’t want his favorite son, Boromir, leaving Minas Tirith. This makes sense since they were pretty damn close to being besieged by Orcs, Easterlings, and the Haradrim. Still, it had to be done. Their faith in the sword of Elendil, which had stopped Sauron before, was too strong to ignore.

And here’s where Aragorn finally speaks up. “Here is the Sword that was Broken!” Aragorn, as Strider, had been carrying the sword the whole time, as we saw during the attack of the Nazgul on Weathertop.

The thing about Gondoreans is that apparently they think that Gondor (and sometimes Rohan) is the only place that really exists. When Boromir saw the sword, he immediately assumed that Aragorn had something to do with Minas Tirith.

Elrond fills Boromir in on just who this Aragorn fellow actually is. He’s descended from Isildur and is “the Chief of the Dunedain in the North,” so really the sword belongs to him.

Quickly, Frodo realized that if the sword belonged to Aragorn because Aragorn was Isildur’s heir, then, logically, the Ring also belonged to Aragorn since it had been Isildur’s. Aragorn countered, saying that it didn’t really belong to either of them, and that “it has been ordained that you should hold it for a while.”

Clearly, Aragorn, Elrond and even Gandalf were taking Boromir’s dream about the Halfling thing pretty seriously. Some higher power had given this message to Boromir, who was now giving it to everyone else. Frodo (or at least some hobbit) was to stand forth, presumably with the Ring.

And so that’s what he did, as Gandalf’s request. Though some shame, loathing and reluctance, he showed the Council the Ring.

Boromir once more proved his self-centeredness. When he saw that it’s a halfling that is holding it, he assumed that the line: “The shall be shown a token that Doom is near at hand,” meant that Doom was near at hand for Minas Tirith. But that’s not what the poem said at all, and Aragorn calls him on it.

It wasn’t just a Doom (meaning a reckoning) that was upon Minas Tirith, but for all of Middle-earth. And then Aragorn asks Boromir a pretty loaded question, maybe over-playing his hand.

“Do you wish for the House of Elendil to return to the Land of Gondor?”

But Boromir wasn’t sent to ask any favors, only to seek council about the meaning of the dream. His answer to Aragorn’s question actually side-stepped the intent: “Yet we are hard pressed, and the Sword of Elendil would be a help beyond our hope – if such a thing could indeed return out of the shadows of the past.”

Aragorn and Boromir were talking about two totally different things. Boromir came to Rivendell to get the Sword of Elendil. Aragorn made it clear that he came with the Sword and would return as King of Gondor. Boromir probably figured that’s what he meant and pretty well ignored it. When he looked at Aragorn “doubt was in his eyes.”

One thing we’ll see about Boromir is that he’s not incredibly trusting. In some cases, I’m going to argue that he’s right. But in this case, he’s of course wrong. It makes sense that he would be a bit on the fence here though. He just met Aragorn.

Besides, the dream-poem didn’t mention anything at all about the family of Elendil – only the Sword. If they were going to take the halfling part seriously, then why not take that part seriously as well?

A Few Notes
Not to spoil anything, but I think Boromir was pretty on the money when it came to Galadriel. But that’s a story for another time.

I was thinking about dipping into whatever earlier drafts I could find about this segment, but I’m going to save that for another time as well.

Camera: Mamiya C3 (1962ish) Film: FujiChrome Provia 400D (expired 10/94 -- xpro as C-41)

Camera: Mamiya C3 (1962ish)
Film: FujiChrome Provia 400D (expired 10/94 — xpro as C-41)

About the Photo
Well, this is really the first time that we’re exposed to the nature of Men in the Third Age of Middle-earth. It can be a bit much sometimes, and they should probably get their own room.

  • Day 135
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 666 (212 from Rivendell)
  • 128 miles to the Doors of Moria
  • 255 miles to Lothlórien
  • 1,113 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place in the narrative: Book II, Chapter 3. Marching south along the western foothills of the Misty Mountains. 13th night out from Rivendell. January 6-7, 3019 TA. (map)


2 thoughts on “Seek for the Sword that was Broken

  1. Faramir wouldn’t have tried to take the Ring, and Boromir would’ve done a better job fighting the orcs. He shouldn’t have gone to Rivendell.

    • All true, but Boromir was given the dream after Faramir had already had it a few times. The Valar (it seems) understood that Faramir wasn’t going to make the trip to Rivendell, and that Boromir would have to do.

      Yeah, he did try to take the Ring, but it was that attempt that forced Frodo to split from the Fellowship to fulfill his destiny.

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