Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Passing of the Entwives

In Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy, one of the prevailing themes is the beauty and sacredness of trees and growing things. We see this in Tom Bombadil, in the Ents (and Entwives) and in the Scouring of the Shire. Tolkien heartily disliked industrialization.

This came to my mind today, because of a similar sentiment in my heart. I was driving into town to pick up a younger sibling, and found myself passing a familiar stretch of country that seemed to be missing something. What was it? It felt too open...too bare...

With a shock I realized that they had cut down many of the tall old trees that lined the road. Stumps and logs lay across the tall swamp grass like so many corpses. Trucks were around, clearly readying the land for a new construction project (of which there have been many in the last few years).

I was hit by a wave of sorrow. It seemed so tragic, so callous that a tree, which took fifty, a hundred, or a hundred and fifty years to grow, weathering storms and drought and ice, could be so quickly disposed of.

A tree seems to me a precious thing. And this was not because I sat and thought of all the reasons why it was horrible that the trees were cut down. It was a natural response and horror on my part. These were not just any trees. These were beautiful, tall, majestic towers. Their life spans should be respected. There are many things we can build, but we could never create these beautiful giants. Even if we planted a seed for every tree we cut down, we would never live long enough to see them reach the glory of their grandfathers.

I'm not saying that we should never cut down trees. But I am saying that we should consider carefully why we do so. Cutting them down for new supermarkets or another housing development seems less than rational to me.


Andy Hauge said...

A good bit of thinking, yes. I always find it funny, though, the elves of Lorien, who have the most respect for the trees, use wood in many different ways.

Tolkien had a letter on this, how the Enemy worked against nature, whilst the Elves worked in harmony with it.

Elenatintil said...

That's very interesting, Carpe! I'd like to find that letter sometime.

The harmony part is an important observation. The trees (or remains, I should say) that I saw the other day distressed me because their removal seemed so unharmonious. While I realize that there is a good reason that those particular trees were being cut down, that does not make the sight any less tragic.