The Lord of the Rings

J. R. R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring

"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.

"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

"Why was I chosen?"

"Such questions cannot be answered," said Gandalf. "You may be sure that it was not for merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have."

The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.

Advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.

All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be the blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.

If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be.

He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.

It is perilous to study too deeply the arts of the Enemy, for good or for ill.

Nothing is evil in the beginning.

It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear.

Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.

In nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.

It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish.

Do not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of things that once were needful for the wise to know.

Time does not tarry ever, but change and growth is not in all things and places alike.

The Two Towers

Gimli ground his teeth. "This is a better end to our hope and to all our toil!" he said.

"To hope, maybe, but not to toil," said Aragorn. "We shall not turn back here."

"Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?"

"A man may do both," said Aragorn. "For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time."

When the great fall, the less must lead.

"How shall a man judge what to do in such times?"

"As he ever has judged," said Aragorn. "Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them."

The counsel of Gandalf was not founded on foreknowledge of safety, for himself or for others. There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark.

Men have made [fables] as true knowledge fades.

Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language... It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.

Sheep get like shepherd, and shepherds like sheep; but slowly, and neither have long in the world.

I do not understand all that goes on myself, so I cannot explain it to you.

But I spoke hastily. We must not be hasty. I have become too hot. I must cool myself and think; for it is easier to shout stop! than to do it.

Songs like trees bear fruit only in their own time and their own way: and sometimes they are withered untimely.

I have forgotten much that I thought I knew, and learned again much that I had forgotten. I can see many things far off, but many things that are close at hand I cannot see.

A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to; the long explanations needed by the young are wearying.

He that strikes the first blow, if he strikes it hard enough, may need to strike no more.

I have spoken words of hope. But only of hope. Hope is not victory.

Seldom does thief ride home to the stable.

A king will have his way in his own hall, be it folly or wisdom.

In two ways may a man come with evil tidings. He may be a worker of evil; or he may be such as leaves well alone, and comes only to bring aid in time of need.

The wise speak only of what they know.

Oft the unbidden guest proves the best company.

One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters.

The treacherous are ever distrustful.

Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves.

I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.

The praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards.

It seems less evil to counsel another man to break troth than to do so oneself, especially if one sees a friend bound unwitting to his own harm.

We shouldn't be here at all, if we'd known more about it when we started. But I suppose it's often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually—their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on—and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end.

"Don't the great tales never end?"

"No, they never end as tales," said Frodo. "But the people in them come, and go when their part's ended. Our part will end later—or sooner."

The Return of the King

Pride would be folly that disdained help and counsel at need.

Do not spoil wonder with haste!

The hasty stroke goes oft astray.

"I can ride and wield bade, and I do not fear either pain or death."

"What do you fear, lady?" he asked.

"A cage," she said. "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire."

Much must be risked in war.

A traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.

It is ever so with the things that Men begin: there is a frost in Spring, or a blight in Summer, and they fail of their promise.

Oft hope is born, when all is forlorn.

We come now to the very brink, where hope and despair are akin. To waver is to fall.

Even if Barad-dûr be thrown down, we shall not live to see a new age. But this, I deem, is our duty. And better so to perish nonetheless—as we surely shall, if we sit here—and know as we die that no new age shall be.

Men are better than gates, and no gate will endure against our Enemy if men desert it.

To his surprise he felt tired but lighter, and his head seemed clear again. No more debates disturbed his mind. He knew all the arguments of despair and would not listen to them. His will was set, and only death would break it. He felt no longer either desire or need of sleep, but rather of watchfulness. He knew that all the hazards and perils were now drawing together to a point: the next day would be a day of doom, the day of final effort or disaster, the last gasp.

Those who have not swords can still die upon them.

I love you, if only because of the pains you have cost me, which I shall never forget.

The world is full enough of hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them.

Many folk like to know beforehand what is to be set on the table; but those who have laboured to prepare the feast like to keep their secret; for wonder makes the words of praise louder.

Everything except the Rules got shorter and shorter, unless one could hide a bit of one's own when the ruffians went round gathering stuff up "for fair distribution": which meant they got it and we didn't, except for the leavings.

I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.

I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.