This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things! (Silmarillion Slow Cooker, p45)

Just as everyone seems to know the origin of the Dwarves, most understandably link it with the origin of the Ents. That is really all this chapter deals with – all four pages of it. Aulë created the Dwarves, and Yavanna, his spouse, wasn’t even a little thrilled about it, and so made the Ents. But there’s more going on than supernatural ping-pong. We bring in Manwë, the Music, and even the Eagles for this very Entish back half of Chapter 2.

The Reveal
There are some things you just can’t tell anyone. And then there are some things you can only tell your spouse. If, for example, you create an entire race of living creatures and are chastised by your deity for so doing, you might not want to mention it to your pals at the pub. This is, however, the perfect thing to tell your betrothed.

That is, unless you created Dwarves and your mate is Yavanna. In that case, you should totally keep it to yourself. Aulë didn’t just create the Dwarves and get caught. What he created was, in many ways, in his own likeness. Knowing Aulë as she did, Yavanna was certain that this meant that they’d dig up the earth and destroy the growing things that were her own responsibility: “Many a tree shall feel the bite of their iron without pity.”

Rather than owning up to this, Aulë countered with a weak-ass argument, saying that Men and Elves were going to do that anyway, so it was totally okay if the Dwarves added to the coming destruction. However here, Aulë was being a bit dishonest, but then so was Yavanna. She claimed that they would only behave like that if corrupted by Melkor.

Just as Aulë understood that the Children of Ilúvatar, the Men and Elves, would not do such things unless corrupted by Melkor, Yavanna understood that it was inevitable that Melkor would corrupt the Children. Both were arguing from untenable positions. And while both were right, both were also wrong.

But that wasn’t even the point! Yavanna had a legitimate grievance, and Aulë did his best to distract her with this Men and Elves thing. Not wanting to deal with Aulë’s shit even a little, she went to Manwë.

I’m Sort of Telling Dad!
Aulë’s bullshit argument must have given Yavanna an idea. At this point, nobody but Ilúvatar, Aulë and Yavanna knew about the Dwarves. How could she go to Manwë with this issue without betraying the secret? Simple – she played off of Aulë’s bullshit to her own advantage (and to the advantage of the trees).

She had a problem with the whole Children having dominion over Middle-earth thing anyway. “Is it not enough that Melkor should have marred so many? Shall nothing that I have devised be free the dominion of others?”

This is a very fine question. When dealing with freewill, few things will remain tidy. Manwë essentially told her to pick one thing to preserve. This is sort of a pointless cop out, but also necessary for the story. Why couldn’t everything be preserved, Manwë? Why not most things or even some things? Why just one thing?

Yavanna had devised the kelvar, or “animals, all living things that move” and the olvar, the plants (War of the Jewels, p340-341). She reasoned that the kelvar, the animals, could run away, while the plants had no such luck.

Greatest of all the plants were the trees, and it was them that she wished to save.

‘Yet It Was In The Song’
One of my favorite lines from all of Tolkien is Yavanna’s response to Manwë’s shock at her suggestion of saving the trees. This is such a powerful statement, but she doesn’t seem to be referencing the Music. The Song in question was sung by the Trees themselves.

When Manwë and Ulmo made the clouds and rain, Yavanna lifted the branches of the trees to receive the water, “and some sang to Ilúvatar amid the wind and the rain.”

This was clearly Music, though not exactly The Music. Yavanna seemed to expect Manwë to know what she was talking about, so maybe he had heard the song of the Trees, tapped his ethereal foot, but didn’t really listen to the words. He’d have to heard it again.

We’ll get to that in the next post, no worries. But still, take note that the Ents have not yet made their appearance.

Camera: Agfa Clipper Film: Kodak Vericolor III (x-6/98)

Camera: Agfa Clipper
Film: Kodak Vericolor III (x-6/98)

A Few Changes Here and There
I mentioned in the two posts about Aulë and the Dwarves that Tolkien never wrote the Silmarillion chapter as we know it today. The stuff about the Dwarves was penned in 1958, mostly as part of the current Quenta’s Chapter 13: “Of Dwarves and Men” (later changed simply to “Of Men”). In that draft, Yavanna wasn’t mentioned at all, and neither were her concerns. The chapter wandered its way to Men and left it at that.

However, a year or so later, Tolkien returned to the origin of the Dwarves, playing off of it when he wrote a short piece entitled “Anaxartamel” also known at “Of the Ents and the Eagles.” This wasn’t meant to be included in the Quenta or any other larger writings, but served mostly as notes.

In compiling the Silmarillion for publication, Christopher Tolkien plucked the bit about the Dwarves from Chapter 13 of the 1958 Quenta and this bit of his father’s notes, combining them into “Chapter Two: Of Aulë and Yavanna” – an idea that his father never had, never suggested, and never wanted. Though, I will admit that it was pretty well a stroke of genius (or at least luck).

Very little in this section had to be altered. Small things like swapping out the word “bewray” for the more common “betray” was done, but for the most part, it was a copy/paste job.

There was, however, one curious omission. In the part about the song of the Trees, the original draft claims that they “sang to Eru amid the wind and the rain and the glitter of the Sun.” In the published version, the reference to the Sun was nixed. There was, as yet, no Sun in this Creation.

Tolkien had toyed with the idea of tossing out the whole flat world idea and going with something more true to factual science. In 1948, he had composed a round world Ainulindalë, but dropped it pretty quickly. Was he again considering this in 1958? Did he actually intend for the creation of the Ents to happen after the creation of the Sun? Or was it simply a slip up on his part?

I’ll delve more into these questions in the next post, but the answer really isn’t clear, so feel free to guess all you like.


Some Notes:

  • One more post for this chapter, and it’s on to the next. Short chapters are quite a bit of fun!
  • Am I off on the Song of the Trees vs. The Music thing? They’re totally not the same, right?

Pages & Text

  • Page 45 (and a sliver of 44 and 46)
  • Chapter: Of Aulë and Yavanna, Paragraphs 8-16
  • Starting with:
    “Now when Aulë laboured in the making of the Dwarves…”
  • Ending with:
    “…some sang to Ilúvatar amid the wind and the rain.”

2 thoughts on “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things! (Silmarillion Slow Cooker, p45)

  1. Throughout this book, as well as through the other famous titles , might be found places when professor Tolkien (and his son?) seem to be strongly arguing with the God of the Bible. Aule’s hammer isn’t totally a unique concept. There are some resemblances to Abraham and Isaac in Genesis chap. 22, as I see.

    “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.” (verse 6 and on)

    Really nice picture.

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