Monday, October 12, 2020

Inklings // October 2020

Annnnnnd.... it's time for our October Inklings! For more see the first post here or the rules below.

Rules:

1. At any time during the month, on your own blog post a scene from a book or film that matches the prompt, including a link back here in your post.

2. Leave a link to your post in the comments section on this post and I'll post all your links with the next prompt. That's it!

September Round-Up:

 

~

And October's prompt is:

A scene that shouts 'autumn' to you in book or film

My contribution is from one of my top heart stories of all time: Song of the Voyageur by Beverly Butler. (Forgive any choppiness; it's longer in full/I had to do highlights from the scene.)

"Whether it was the charm of his smile that influenced her or the crisp rustle of leaves underfoot or the dry, dusty smell of them in the hazy air, she soon found it difficult to do anything but enjoy herself. Nathan was in high good spirits, full of ridiculous comments and nonsensical observations on everything that struck his fancy, so that by the time they reached the summit of the bluff, they were as breathless from laughter as from the sharpness of the ascent. They paused only a moment to rest, though, before he led her on along the leveler ground in the general direction of the lake shore. 

“Here we are,” he announced at last with a flourish as they came out on a sunny, rocky point. “This is what I wanted to show you.” 

She uttered a quick exclamation of pleasure at the scene so suddenly spread before her. At her feet, a cascade of red and gold fell away to the foot of the bluff, while straight ahead and on either side, as far as she could see, stretched the lake, its peaceful waters reflecting the intense but fragile blue of the Indian summer sky. 

“Do you know what's beyond that?” Nathan asked, gesturing eastward toward the misty blending of sky and water. 

She smiled. “Michigan territory?” 

“Then Lake Erie—Pennsylvania—and Philadelphia.” The flippant quality had vanished from his voice. “Only a week more or less and we'll be on a boat in the middle of this lake, on our way back to Mackinac and then to civilization.” 

“We?” She turned a surprised face from the lake to him. 

“Of course, we! You didn't think I'd leave you behind a second time, did you?” ...“I told you I would be back for you within the year,” he said, drawing a step nearer. “Does it make such an important difference that I've come now, instead of waiting for the spring?” 

"She colored faintly and looked away, thrusting from her mind the memory of someone else who had once promised to come back in the spring. “A week is so short! It wouldn't be—it isn’t possible to leave just like that. Don't you see?"

...From a limb above her, a scarlet leaf fluttered free to touch her hair, her cheek, her shoulder, and to flame a second against the deep blue of her skirt before she caught it and said softly, “It wasn't the packing I was thinking of so much as of leaving everyone—AndrĂ©, the boys, Lisabette—” 

...The toe of his polished boot sent a spray of brown and russet tumbling about his ankles. ...“At least I understand this,” he said eagerly, holding his open hand toward her and letting his voice sink into the persuasive cadences that made it most musical. “This country with its bears and blood and doing without is no place for you. Philadelphia was meant for you. After a month or two there as my wife, you'd be the queen of the city, part of the finest society. You couldn't help but be!” 

She was turning the maple leaf over and over in her fingers, as though by the red symmetry of its jagged edges or its waxen smoothness she could read the counsel she needed. “Only a week.” ...She cast a longing glance across the expanse of glistening water before her eyes rested again on the bright leaf and she turned away. “You make it so hard.” 

“It needn't be hard,” he said, stooping even closer in the pretense of trying to glimpse her averted face. “You have but to say yes.” 

Abstractedly, she wove the supple leaf stem in and out of her fingers, her thoughts in confusion. ...She knew well enough what kept her from answering: it was a foolish thing, but possessed of the exaggerated proportions foolish things so often have. Yesterday, and for a while today, too, she had let herself imagine it was Nathan who could dispel the cloud of half-melancholy discontent that had haunted her throughout the summer; but somehow he had failed her. It was as though she had been a little girl, full of shining conjectures about the contents of a promised box, only to discover on opening it that it contained nothing at all. What she had hoped to find, she could not tell, but she knew that it was something wonderful—something she must have had somewhere before, and lost. 

She looked down at the leaf she held, and opening her fingers, let it slip between them and drift to the ground. “I can’t decide now.” 

“Listen to me, Diane!” he cried, stung by her disregard of his wishes. “How long do you think you can play this game of hide-and-seek and still keep me waiting patiently? You must decide now, and neither of us is leaving this place until I have my answer!” 

...His temper was rising... He seized her arm and pulled her closer, as though he meant to carry her off with him by sheer strength, and fear quivered through her again, as it had that day beside the stone chimney. 

“This evening—” she begged.

...He cut her short. “You've put me off too many times before, and I've waited for you longer than I've ever bothered to wait for any other person. My patience is at an end! Answer me now!” 

Angry pride held her rigid in his grasp. Summoning all the dignity at her command, she raised a face to him as outwardly cool and collected as inwardly she was seething. “If I do, the answer will be no!” 

He could not have looked more stunned if she had suddenly lashed a whip across his face. Dropping her arm, he fell back a pace, the anger in his eyes changing to wonder, to belief, to conciliation. “Diane, let me explain! It’s only that—” 

But her ears, more attuned to the woods than his, had caught a sound beyond his voice—and all else was forgotten. “Listen!” 

He stared at her as she stood alert, straining to hear each one of the distant notes, and a black cloud settled over his features as his eyes, almost before his ears, told him the reason for her eager attention. “A trapper’s probably bringing his furs to the post, that's all. That song is as common as Yankee Doodle out here, and any Frenchman can sing it!” 

“Any Frenchman, yes,” she said, “but not like that! There's only one!” She evaded the arm he put out to stop her, and he was not swift enough to bar her path. Like a leaf snatched by an autumn wind, she sped back along the way they had come, toward the river and the post and the singing."

from Song of the Voyageur by Beverly Butler

Who else thinks we should try to find whomever knows anything about this and try to get it back in print? 


Looking forward to seeing what you all come up with! Have fun!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Inklings & LOTR Read-Along


Hey y'all!

I hope you're having a lovely Sunday... This morning was gorgeous (all early light and shadows and dappled sunshine with fresh air). The afternoon's heated up a bit, but all in all I'm enjoying the blue I can still see in the sky after weeks of smoke. 

And... (you can pretty much tell everything from the title, but I figured I'd better put in some pictures and give you at least a couple paragraphs for a proper post ;)), this is just a quick reminder that this month's Inklings link-up is still open through Wednesday.


Also, we'll officially be starting our LOTR read-along HERE tomorrow (very exciting), so make sure to follow over there if you'd like to join us (or even just pop in now and then, which would also be fine and dandy).

That's all, folks. Have a lovely evening!

Friday, September 25, 2020

Beregond // A Character Sketch (+ a short rant)

So! *clearing throat and trying to properly marshal the facts* This will be both short(er), (sweetly) to the point, and also more rambly than my usual sketches. All to say, I make no apologies. 

First for my rant. (And remember, this is all in good fun. Well, mostly. xD) 

I’ve mentioned it a couple times recently, but the plan is (very shortly, like, probably before Christmas) to get together with a couple friends and work our way through the full length, extended version of LOTR (hopefully also while sipping warm and cheering fall drinks and nibbling on pasties and seed cakes), all of which will be utterly splendid and I’m really getting very very excited and champing at the bit. I mean, seriously, this is going to be epic! ;D 

Also, I’ll have you know that, in general, I’ve become much more forgiving and broadminded than I used to be in days gone by of artistic license happening when translating a book to film -- and I’m bracing myself for the changes that I know were made with certain characters (not promising to like or even accept these particular changes, but there’s not much sense in my discussing those till I’ve at least seen it). 

But, there is still one major thing that’s been bugging me exceedingly this week (and nothing to do with Hamlette's utterly and entirely splendiferous Tolkien Party -- my delving into the books preparing posts and getting ready for the read along is just what brought it to mind). 

And note: this is an entirely personal matter and I won’t be critical if you love the movie version. Also I don’t mean to cast any aspersions on the casting or acting (cause again, not qualified to judge on that yet), but I am finally ready to admit publicly that part of the reason I haven’t seen them for so long is the way they chose to portray the men of Gondor -- part and parcel, the whole lot of ‘em. (It’s really rather deeply disturbing to me. ;D) Again, I’m not talking about how well they did or didn’t handle their roles, or the choices of the director and scriptwriters. I’m talking solely about the fact that the warrior men of Gondor are always supposed to be dark-haired and grey-eyed

For many years, I actually always pictured Faramir much like this: 

Now before there's any general outcry, I will say I’ve realized my mental image has shifted slightly. Now it’s something more like… 


…this, I guess? Maybe? 

Anyway. 

I haven't seen all the sources for these so purely going off the visuals (and of course allowing for the fact that all of them wouldn’t be wearing crowns, of course). Also, yes, to prove my argument, some of the pictures should be even darker, but hey. I’m doing my best here with certain limited resources to translate what’s in my (crazy but IMHO also very sensible) brain. 

We’ll start with Boromir -- the first man of Gondor we meet, and I feel like the one who sets our whole level of expectation, in many ways archetypal. From The Fellowship of the Ring: “…seated a little apart was a tall man with a fair and noble face, dark-haired and grey-eyed, proud and stern of glance. 

"He was cloaked and booted as if for a journey on horseback; and indeed though his garments were rich, and his cloak was lined with fur, they were stained with long travel. He had a collar of silver in which a single white stone was set; his locks were shorn about his shoulders. On a baldric he wore a great horn tipped with silver that now was laid upon his knees. He gazed at Frodo and Bilbo with sudden wonder.”

And Denethor. Denethor is not -- very much not -- supposed to look like a Dickens character in a barrister's wig. (Sorry, I know that was strong. Biting even. But I told you, I find this all unsettling. And I will grant that some pictures of Denethor are better than others.) 

“…the old man looked up. Pippin saw his carven face with its proud bones and skin like ivory, and the long curved nose between the dark deep eyes; and he was reminded not so much of Boromir as of Aragorn.” (So that’s interesting.) And later: “Denethor looked indeed much more like a great wizard than Gandalf did, more kingly, beautiful, and powerful; and older.” The Return of the King

The descriptions of Faramir are more scattered and tied in with dialogue, but we know he looked much like Boromir. And there are these two snippets from The Two Towers: “Doubt was in the grey eyes that gazed steadily at Frodo.” And “(Faramir) stood up, very tall and stern, his grey eyes glinting.”

(Annnnd… just flipping through this section I have to hold myself back from lapsing into long rabbit trails, especially The Window on the West chapter <333.) *Ok, sternly collecting myself and saving it all for the read along* 

BUT, I am going to afflict you with the following, just cause I like it so much, and because I can, and as a reward for my not giving any spoilers from TWotW above: “Presently Pippin saw torches, and followed by a press of people two horsemen riding slowly: one was in white but shining no longer, pale in the twilight as if his fire was spent or veiled; the other was dark and his head was bowed. They dismounted, and as grooms took Shadowfax and the other horse, they walked forward to the sentinel at the gate: Gandalf steadily, his grey cloak flung back, and a fire still smouldering in his eyes; the other, clad all in green, slowly, swaying a little as a weary or a wounded man. 

“Pippin pressed forward as they passed under the lamp beneath the gate-arch, and when he saw the pale face of Faramir he caught his breath. It was the face of one who has been assailed by a great fear or anguish, but has mastered it and now is quiet. Proud and grave he stood for a moment as he spoke to the guard, and Pippin gazing at him saw how closely he resembled his brother Boromir—whom Pippin had liked from the first, admiring the great man’s lordly but kindly manner. Yet suddenly for Faramir his heart was strangely moved with a feeling that he had not known before. Here was one with an air of high nobility such as Aragorn at times revealed, less high perhaps, yet also less incalculable and remote: one of the Kings of Men born into a later time, but touched with the wisdom and sadness of the Elder Race. He knew now why Beregond spoke his name with love. He was a captain that men would follow, that he would follow, even under the shadow of the black wings.” The Return of the King 

So now we come to Beregond, who’s one of my favorite minor characters in the entire LOTR. He actually doesn’t occupy a terribly large amount of page space (though a large-ish amount for a minor character), but the role he does have is crucial and the tidbits we learn about him are fascinating. 

He has family roots and heritage running right back to the old glory days of Ithilien. It’s obvious that he’s a good father and he seems to have strong family feeling as he looks out over those leaving the city, lamenting all those being separated, possibly never to be reunited. 

I don’t have any deep symbolism on him for you at the moment and, honestly, I can see film-wise why he was considered extraneous, but it’s still a pity. For me he makes the whole conflict even more relatable. He’s the Everyman (kind of). 


Valiant and courageous, his character shows very clearly the shifting tides that come with war and the dangers of blind devotion to an old order. Honor is always honor, but in times of war things can get very messy. 

For starters, abandoning your post at all, but especially during war, is a huge thing. And his ongoing story is all wrapped up with the dilemma of whether or not you’re responsible if you’re just following orders. At what point do you have to conscientiously refuse? It’s the sticky spot when leaders fail and fall to the Enemy. 

He highlights the whole of the Stewardship-Being-Handed-Over-To-The-Rightful-King business. You have Denethor and Faramir’s polar opposite responses in this regard (more of which at another time) and then there’s the humble guard, Beregond, caught in the middle, showing how the whole problem isn’t black and white. Well, it is, because it’s not really a problem except Denethor made it so. HIS actions force the men under him into horrible decisions -- decisions which, if they are truehearted, means they have to take up sword against their brothers-in-arms and then rightfully deserve the death penalty for their actions. 

Denethor loved his son, too, but gave himself over to despair. In Beregond we have valiant hope -- sanity in the midst of madness. Even when things are darkest, you don’t go round reverting to killing yourself like a heathen king. And even if you don’t understand all the deep complexities of the fight and what’s happening round you, you stand by what you believe in the darkest hour -- or what you say you believe isn’t worth a penny weight. 

I don’t know. There’s just something about the picture of Beregond -- knowing whichever way things went, his own life would (so far as he knew) definitely be forfeit, still going to hold off the servants sternly following Denethor’s commands. It’s akin to the center of Gaskell’s North and South, where a lie is told to protect another, which lie incidentally proves verity of heart, but is nonetheless a sorrow.

So yeah, it’s all definitely an awful situation, not what we want as normal modus operandi. Though again, it comes back to what I was saying about how this all highlights the madness of Denethor and his entire betrayal to every last person (large and small) in forcing them into horrible corners. 

But the upshot is: Faramir is saved.

And Beregond doesn’t rest on his laurels or go into hiding, but into the front ranks facing the enemy outside the gates of Mordor. And of course, in the end Aragorn mercifully pardons him and sends him off as Captain of the White Company, in the guard of Faramir, for whom he risked life and limb. 

All of which, thinking of Beregond and his family, not just looking forward to a future of hope and joy, but actually commissioned to go to their ancestral homeland and take dominion and rebuild the ruins -- also probably visiting with the kingdom of Rohan in the service of Faramir and the White Lady and under the new King -- makes me very happy. <3 

(Ok, now that I’ve gotten a bunch of that stuff out of my system hopefully I can sit and watch the movie soon-ish without being hypercritical of this aspect. Or, well, to be more realistic, hopefully enjoy it without at least making any appalling, distractingly weird faces or comments. Thanks for bearing with me, y’all! ;D)

Oh! And of course I’d love to hear what you think of the post in general. xD If you've seen the movies, did you have any preconceptions that held you back in the beginning? And do you like Beregond too?

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