Wise, Fearless, and Fair
Shall I draw back, coward, from my vision, now that after so many seasons of idle speculation, dream shall now stand forth in truth, have I but courage equal to my long desire? For I might reign as one mightier than my teacher -- but rather than wall out the world I should extend my dominion over all the earth, and draw all the Peoples into one way of peace and beauty, so that no wrong, no evil, no act or undoing should mar it, mar them, but all should know the joy that once I knew, the timeless Time that I, and but few now living, yet recall.
Shall not the world be set aright, and light more glorious than the snows of Mount Oiolossë; shall I give forth from my hand to all, so that all the Children of the One, young and old, they of the Stars and of the Stones and of the Sun, shall dwell together without fear or division, and each shall learn from the other, and take joy in the work of another's hands. --And we will heal the harm that has been done, and make the torn land whole, and the burnt land sweet, and every growing thing that lives shall flourish and blow and blossom beneath the unstained sky. And cities shall we build, more fair than towered Tirion, and filled with sweeter music than the ringing streets of Valmar, and all the arts shall be practiced there, every craft and skill, and new ones undevised nor dreamt, all -- saving the arts of war. For those I shall know alone, and none else shall need them ever, when I have set the world to rights.
...And when one arises -- as one surely shall -- to stand and cast back my gifts to me, and mock me for my deeds and call me liar, and hypocrite, and tyrant -- what then? Shall I slay, chisel off this ungrateful obdurate prominence -- for casting under stone shall never silence such a one -- or shall I bend, rather than prune, as one would bend an ill-growing shoot ere it grows too stiff, weaving it back amid its fellows so that it shall not shape awry, a branch that will break under its own weight, killing the tree from which it springs?
Shall I start the tale anew, run back the thread to the beginning, begin the dreadful game again, doing great good and worse ill, in the name of better? Shall I work wrongs, claiming right of service, when in truth I shall serve but mine own will?
Shall I throw it all away in the seizing, shall I stand madder than Fëanor and lead all the world into a darker night than ever the Sunless times ere the rising of the Moon? Shall I name myself Power, and make myself slave, until at end I sit in solitary dread, fearing all because all fear me, waiting for some rival to strike or steal, surrounding myself with lamps lest shadows hide my Doom?
For such indeed would it come to -- I see it plain, see myself plain, my own reflection in the silent Mirror, as though the water were a pool of shed tears, instead of the shadow of the Dreamer's lake, silver-poured, holding the traces of the Silver Tree's power fallen like dew from the distant stars.
What shall I do, with those who refuse my command, either to defy or to withhold, preferring their own will, when it is not mine? Whether the swift blast of judgment, or the subtle theft of wit with gentle force: either shall be cruelty, whether I joy in it or weep, either shall be ruthless wrong of those who oppose me -- even when it is wrong they do, no less ... even when I do it for their own bettering. --Even so did he argue at the first, that blind Eye that sees only its own reckoning, even so did he lead our vanity and self-will to slavery, when I had not power to resist him -- to master my fellow Elves against their will?
I will not deceive myself -- it would be gladness to my soul to avenge myself upon him, and through him upon his Master that is far beyond my reach, take vengeance daily for grandsire, brothers, cousins, uncles, niece -- daughter -- for all who have slaved beneath the lash or fallen in blood, in fire, their names forgotten in these mortal days--
It is the old lie, is it not, that one nearly the oldest, the whisper that these lands are ours, forever, as though we made them, ere the Stars arose, as though all should be changeless, as though what has passed may be undone, and made as naught; and we that have been robbed of our birthright, cheated so that a milder folk and a simpler, the more simply to be led -- so spoke one that had never yet met mortal! -- might be put in our places, should reclaim, reconquer, displace our Followers before their birth. And so believing did my Kin follow false promise to death, and slavery, and sorrow, and so was the lie made half-truth, that the broken lands be left to those who came after, and the dominion pass from such poor remnants of the Firstborn that remain.
--And I might change all this, if I but accept this gift...
Shall I exchange myself for my self's desire, and let all that I am, and have ever been, fade like dew in fire? Shall I forget everything that I have taught, that I alone remember? Shall I, who have seen folly and named it, no less than evil, unfearing, fear to be forgotten, as though the deed should have no worth, the saving hand no strength, unless the doer be remembered, the doing hailed, the rescued one give gratitude in voice, and not in gift of living?
Shall I cling in this place, far from the land where I was born, holding to power, to things of this earth, treasures of the past, yielding nothing, refusing to give way...even to my offspring -- our children, unborn, that may yet be? Shall I forget love, refuse to heed the message of hope that comes from across the Sea, across the days?
Shall I allow no other Song to be sung, save my own, seeking to silence all other harmonies, ascribing to myself sole sovereignty of this land?
What other crown need I, save my own?
--Or shall I then cease to be -- Galadriel?