Here is a little taste of his excellent essay “On Fairy-Stories”, a rebuttal to the following statement: “[Fairy-story-making] is breathing a lie through silver.”
“Dear Sir,” I said – Although now long estranged,
Man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Disgraced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
And keeps the rags of lordship once he owned:
Man, Sub-creator, the refracted Light
Through whom is splintered from a single White
To many hues, and endlessly combined
In living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
With Elves and Goblins, though we dared to build
Gods and their houses out of dark and light,
And sowed the seed of dragons – ’twas our right
(Used or misused). That right has not decayed:
We make still by the law in which we’re made.”
Here is an interesting article on how Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were influenced by G.K. Chesterton: Chesterton, Tolkien and Lewis in Elfland by Joseph Pearce
“If there’s any magic about, it’s right down deep, where I can’t lay my hands on it, in a manner of speaking.” “You can see and feel it everywhere,” said Frodo. “Well,” said Sam, “you can’t see nobody working it.”
“In winter here no heart could mourn for summer or for spring. No blemish or sickness or deformity could be seen in anything that grew upon the earth. On the land of Lórien, there was no stain.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Lord of the Rings”
“Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Lord of the Rings”
“The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-stories”
Tinuviel by J.R.R. Tolkien
The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinuviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering.
There Beren came from mountains cold,
And lost he wandered under leaves,
And where the Elven-river rolled
He walked alone and sorrowing.
He peered between the hemlock-leaves
And saw in wonder flowers of gold
Upon her mantle and her sleeves,
And her hair like shadow following.
Enchantment healed his weary feet
That over hills were doomed to roam;
And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,
And grasped at moonbeams glistening.
Addison’s Walk, Magdelen College, Oxford
“I will not walk with your progressive apes, / erect and sapient. Before them gapes / the dark abyss to which their progress tends / if by God’s mercy progress ever ends, / and does not ceaselessly revolve the same / unfruitful course with changing of a name.” – by J.R.R. Tolkien from the poem “Mythopoeia”, written in response to that night on Addison’s Walk where he challenged C.S. Lewis.
One of my favorite spots in Oxford was Addison’s Walk. It was a welcome escape from the chaotic streets of Oxford. I love people, but I need my breaks from them, too. I found the grounds to be just wild enough to make me feel miles away from city, yet they were comfortable, welcoming, and filled with a benign beauty that soothed. Did I mention the trees? Truth be told, I preferred the simple beauty of the trees to the intricately adorned architecture of the city. We actually got lost on the walk and I am not entirely sure that I would have been disappointed if we remained lost.