The Hart of Darkness

Bombur stood up in his dream.  Through the dim forest he saw a glow.  It was as if a strange doorway opened in the gloom.  There he saw a curious folk.  And their leader sang and everyone sang.


When the dwarves brought forth their musical instruments, Bombur “produced a drum from nowhere” – that was his magic and they all loved him for it.  His brother and his cousin had that magic, too, wielding the power to turn walking-sticks into clarinets.  And so the dwarves sang that night.  They summoned the power to inspire the love of “beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic…”

What should we think of the moments in our lives when our journeys become completely unexpected?  We can never really say for anyone else what their journeys ought to mean.  We stay pretty busy sorting out our own paths, our own unforeseen destinations.

And then one day, wandering in a far forest along a winding path and coming upon swift black water, it is suddenly possible to become entangled by a story in which even a dwarf doesn’t feel like singing.


In the boat Bombur sat alone.  A shadowy hart galloped out of the gloom.  It sprang over the craft.  Midnight hooves flashed.  Enchanted water took Bombur.  In the strange water, his hand closed – it closed by chance upon a rope thrown by his friends.  When they drew him from the dark water, he didn’t move.

I guess his hands and feet felt aimless.  I guess his arms and legs took a weird path in the black water.  They no longer belonged to a dwarf who could summon a magic drum from nowhere.

To everyone else, Bombur had become very heavy, full of an absent darkness.  But Bombur felt oddly hollow to himself.  And so all his limbs fell to the earth under the dark boughs of that forest.  And Bombur knew that his journey had become completely unexpected.

Maybe sometimes we wish to rewrite the past.  Maybe we could spend the rest of our lives telling our tales the way we would prefer they should have happened, the way they should have been.  But a strange thing happened to Bombur as he slept, enchanted – as his friends carried him into the forest, to his unknown future.

His body felt empty to him.  Weightless he seemed as his friends bore him in his empty body into the darkness.  Who would step aside from that task?  Would they love him even to the end of this particular story, the way it was turning out?  Bombur lay helpless in their arms and he dreamed.


He stood up in his dream.  Through the forest he saw light.  As if a doorway opened in the gloom.  He saw mysterious folk there.  Their leader sang.  Everyone sang.  They gathered to sing in the gloomy wood and their eyes filled with the light of their singing.

The enchantment of the scene grew as Bombur floated into the circle of lamps among the singing voices.  At the back of the circle he watched their merriment.  He wanted to sing.  But it didn’t matter whether he sang.  Because the voices filled his eyes with twinkling light.


In that forest Bombur stood.  In this dream his legs felt full of weightless magic.  His arms felt enchanted.  He said, “It looks as if my dreams are coming true.”


Maybe he could summon a drum from nowhere if he wished.  Maybe his kin could take their walking-sticks and turn them into clarinets if they wished.  Maybe when they sang they could summon the power to inspire the love of many things in this world.

Entangled by our stories, isn’t it strange the way our journeys often become completely unexpected?




One thought on “The Hart of Darkness”

  1. I love the dreamlike quality you infuse into the Singalong, and that Bombur could hear us in Mirkwood, in his dreams!

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