The Two Trees
Th west door of Moria
A beautiful drawing by a little anonyme girl, Gandalf the White.
A letter from Tolkien to his Children
“Misty Mountains Cold” from the trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
As sung by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and the Dwarves
“Far over the Misty Mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
The pines were roaring on the heights
The winds were moaning in the night
The fire was red, it flaming spread
The trees like torches blazed with light”
IT’S. FRICKIN’ BEAUTIFUL.
The ‘immortals’ who were permitted to leave Middle-earth and seek Aman – the undying lands of Valinor and Eressëa, an island assigned to the Eldar – set sail in ships specially made and hallowed for this voyage, and steered due West towards the ancient site of these lands. They only set out after sundown; but if any keen-eyed observer from that shore had watched one of these ships he might have seen that it never became hull-down but dwindled only by distance until it vanished in the twilight: it followed the straight road to the true West and not the bent road of the earth’s surface. As it vanished it left the physical world. There was no return. The Elves who took this road and those few ‘mortals’ who by special grace went with them, had abandoned the ‘History of the world’ and could play no further part in it.
The angelic immortals (incarnate only at their own will), the Valar or regents under God, and others of the same order but less power and majesty (such as Olórin = Gandalf) needed no transport, unless they for a time remained incarnate, and they could, if allowed or commanded, return.
As for Frodo or other mortals, they could only dwell in Aman for a limited time – whether brief or long. The Valar had neither the power nor the right to confer ‘immortality’ upon them. Their sojourn was a ‘purgatory’, but one of peace and healing and they would eventually pass away (die at their own desire and of free will) to destinations of which the Elves knew nothing.
J.R.R. Tolkien on a letter to Roger Lancelyn Green (17 July 1971 - #325)