Since this project takes the Silmarillion one page at a time, there are some cases when the passage to be read will cover two nearly unrelated topics – finishing the first, while introducing the second. Today is such a case. We’ll first conclude the brief run-through of the Valar with Yavanna and Oromë, and then we’ll check back in with Ilúvatar.
Yavanna – The Cure For What Ails Ya
After being told that the Valar mostly stuck to Valinor after the outening of the lamps, we’re given two instances where that’s not true. Both Yavanna and Oromë visited Middle-earth for two very different reasons.
Yavanna is the Vala responsible for plant life, and missed seeing her work that was present before Melkor’s destruction. Her “mosses and grasses and great ferns,” her “trees whose tops were crowned with cloud as they were living mountains” had been obliterated when Melkor took out the lamps.
In Valinor, she had begun again, but there was something about her work in Middle-earth that drew her back to heal the wounds inflicted by Melkor. And though she was certainly up to the task, she wasn’t satisfied with simply planting a few trees. She wanted Melkor to be stopped.
When she would return from Middle-earth, she’d try to convince the other Valar to go on the offensive against Melkor before the Children, the Elves and Men, were awakened.
Gods and Monsters (But Not Orcs Just Yet)
We’re not told whether the other Valar fully objected to such an offensive, but if Yavanna had someone on her side, it might have been Oromë. While most of the Valar stayed behind the mountains of Aman, Oromë waged his own small war against Melkor’s servants – “the monsters and fell creatures of the kingdom of Melkor.”
This passage is all sorts of curious. The last time we dealt with Melkor’s followers, they were spies, “secret friends” hidden within the numbers of the Maiar living with the Valar. They were, by necessity, indistinguishable from the good guys.
But as Melkor was building his strength to attack the lamps, “beasts became monsters of horn and ivory and dyed the earth with blood.” That passage (on page 36) described the effect Melkor’s proximity had upon the normal animals. Whether the “monsters and fell creatures” were these altered beasts or some sort of new thing isn’t said, but they were numerous.
When Oromë would ride through, killing them and blowing his horn, Melkor “quailed” in Utumno, his underground fortress, imagining the “wrath to come.” But as soon as Oromë left, the monsters would come out of hiding, infesting the land.
Mother and Child Disunion
When Tolkien first penned the idea for this passage, Yavanna was Oromë’s mother. In the 1919 version of “The Chaining of Melko,” Palúrien Yavanna went into Melko’s desolation, sang, and things began to grow. But at first, she could only bring about fungus and moss. There was also mould, which killed anything more plant-like. She was sad, and Oromë arrived to cheer her up and fix things. It was through Oromë’s horn and Yavanna’s might that great forests were grown. (BoLT 1, p98-99)
Tolkien returned to this in 1930, in his first Quenta. This time, he focused mostly upon Oromë, no longer Yavanna’s son. Here we’re also told more about these monsters, and of how “Morgoth gathered his demon broods about him.” They were “Balrogs with whips of flame” and “hordes of Orcs he made of stone,” who some called “Goblins.” (Shaping of Middle-earth, p82)
Then, in 1937, after writing The Hobbit, but before starting Lord of the Rings, Tolkien rewrote the Quenta. Specifically, while the Balrogs remained in this passage, the Orcs were merely noted: “yet the Orcs were not made until he [Melkor] had looked upon the Elves, and he made them in mockery of the Children of Ilúvatar.” (Lost Road, p212)
I’m the Wind – Nobody Gets Me!
Speaking of the Children, let’s move on to the next couple of paragraphs. Here we learn a tiny bit about the relationship between the Valar and the Elves and Men. The Valar saw themselves as masters of the world. They each had their own role – Yavanna had plants and animals, Ulmo had the water, Aulë had the land. But none would claim such mastery over the Children as they didn’t fully understand “that theme by which the Children entered into the Music.”
The Children entered into the Third Theme, which was handled (exclusively?) by Ilúvatar himself. Because of that, the Valar didn’t want to touch it. Since both the Valar and the Children were directly created by Ilúvatar, we’re told that they saw themselves as “kindreds” rather than “their masters.”
Beyond that, the Ainur (Valar and Maiar) dealt with the Elves more than men. This was because Ilúvatar made the Elves more like the Ainur. The Valar simply didn’t get Men, who had been given “strange gifts” by Ilúvatar.” What this means, we’ll learn soon enough.
The crux of this paragraph also dates back to 1919’s “Music of the Ainur,” and appeared time and again in the various Ainulindalës, all the way until 1951’s version, which was used in the published Silmarillion. There was very little change across the decades. (BoLT 1, p57)
Men Are Blind, and Their Joy Is Small
The last paragraph in today’s reading was actually two paragraphs in the source material (1951’s Ainulindalë). Christopher Tolkien combined them and changed basically nothing. This paragraph is almost a preamble for the following two, and thus didn’t really show up until the final version of the Ainulindale draft.
That said, there were rumblings of it in the first Ainulindalë from the mid-1930s. Ilúvatar sat in silence and then talked about how the Elves would “conceive more beauty than all my children” and about giving Men a “new gift.” The published version names Men “the Atani,” but says basically the same thing. (Lost Road, p163)
Here is where we first learn about the freewill of Men. While the Music of the Ainur is “as fate to all things,” the Men were exempt. Ilúvatar had willed that Men’s hearts “should seek beyond the world and should find no rest therein.”
From the second draft of the 1919 “Music of the Ainur” until 1951’s “Ainulindalë,” this was the story. But in a rough draft of the 1919 version, Tolkien entertained a much larger role for Men. Along with freewill, Ilúvatar gave Men “the power of fashioning and designing beyond the original music of the Ainu, that by reason of their operations all things shall in shape and deed be fulfilled, and the world that comes of the music of the Ainu be completed until the last and smallest.” (BoLT 1, p61)
Now here is a fun idea! It seems like the fulfillment of the original conception would not be complete until Men completed it of their own will. There was, then, no longing for a place outside of the World. This was clearly the original idea for the Second Music, when, as it’s described in the published Silmarillion, “the themes of Ilúvatar shall be played aright….”
But lastly, in a sentence that was struck out by Tolkien in the final 1951 version of this passage, there’s a fascinating bit about freewill, Men and Elves:
“Lo! even we of the Eldalië have found to our sorrow the Men have a strange power for good or for ill, and for turning things aside from the purpose of Valar or of Elves; so that it is said among us that Fate is not the master of the children of Men; yet they are blind, and their joy is small, which should be great.” (Morgoth’s Ring, p36)
This passage had been part of the text since the Ainulindalë from the mid-1930s. I’d be interested in understanding why it was cut so late in the game.
That’s a whole lot to chew on for today. Tune in Thursday when we close out Chapter One!
- You’ll remember that I speculated that Nienna might have had some part in the Third Theme, since it was one of sorrow. I talked about that here.
Pages & Text
- Page 41 (starting on a bit of 40 and even going to 42)
- Chapter: Of the Beginning of Days, Paragraphs 20-22
- Starting with:
“And in that time of dark Yavanna also was…”
- Ending with:
“…the world fulfilled unto the last and smallest.”