Episode 14: I Feel like Spring After Winter
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Pull up a cozy chair and join us as we chat about the works and Catholic faith of J.R.R. Tolkien! I hope this podcast encourages you to carry a little piece of Middle-Earth into your own life as we grow together in hobbitness and holiness. Thanks so much for listening!
‘How do I feel?’ he cried. ‘Well, I don’t know how to say it. I feel, I feel’ — he waved his arms in the air — ‘I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard!’
If you listened to our Tolkien Reading Day episode yesterday, this is one of my favorite Tolkien quotes that I had mentioned. And today I wanted to talk a bit more about it and Spring in general, particularly because last week marked the beginning of Spring for us and because March 25th is of course the day on which the Ring was destroyed as well as the Feast of the Annunciation.
Spring represents or calls to mind images of hope, new life, a fresh start, the light after dark, warmth after the cold, cleansing rains, a gentleness after the harshness of winter. It is soft, and joyful, a season to be celebrated. Tolkien was a lover of myth and symbol and the natural rhythms of the seasons, and the way The Lord of the Rings flows is a testament to that.
Tolkien writes in Letter 210, “Seasons are carefully regarded… They are pictoral, and should be, and easily could be, made the main means by which the artists indicate time-passage. The main action begins in autumn and passes through winter to a brilliant spring: this is basic to the purport and tone of the tale.”
Tolkien, being a devoted Catholic, lived in line with the Church’s liturgical calendar. To Catholics, Spring is closely associated with Easter: the Resurrection, which Tolkien called the Greatest Eucatastrophe.
In Letter 89 he wrote, “The Resurrection was the greatest ‘eucatastrophe’ possible in the greatest Fairy Story — and produces that essential emotion: Christian joy which produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love. Of course I do not mean that the Gospels tell what is only a fairy-story; but I do mean very strongly that they do tell a fairy-story: the greatest. Man the storyteller would have to be redeemed in a manner consonant with his nature: by a moving story. But since the author of it is the supreme Artist and the Author of Reality, this one was also made to Be, to be true on the Primary Plane….”
After death, comes life; after winter, comes spring. And we see this all over the place in his writings as they are so rooted in both physical actual time, as he had mentioned before, and in the symbolism of the seasons. Both Bilbo and Frodo leave Bag end right at the beginning of Autumn, and the Ring is destroyed right at the beginning of Spring.