(Record-keepers note: I cannot put into words the way I felt when I received news of the passing of Prince Faramir of Ithilian. Husband to Eowyn the White lady of Rohan, and Steward of Gondor. His titles and lineage are long and numerous and many people, including myself, would count him as one of those larger than life heroes of the War of the Ring. The announcement that many of his personal journals and records would be given to the archives in an effort to preserve those times, now long passed, was met by many with excitement but for myself I felt a great deal of fear for I knew that I would be the person would first read those records and assign the various volumes and notes to their proper places and proper custodians.
In performing these acts I get a sense of the man that I sometimes feel gets lost as we spread those words around and about. Only I read the entirety and write my report putting his things in different orders, stacks and piles to be whisked away by enterprising young scholars to be pored over, copied, filed, lost, found and then copied again as Faramir son of Denethor the man slowly disappears and becomes Faramir, the Steward of Gondor who surrendered his office, figure of history (This despite the fact that there is still a house of stewards and... but that is a scholarly debate for another day.).
Therefore it was with some pleasure that I found the following essay on the very top of the pile of leather bound books, badly packages scrolls and bound leaves of paper. It's as though the hand of the man reached out from the place where we all go to in the end and said “Here Record-keeper. I would have you read this first before you decide anything else. Read this and remember it.” And so I have, and so I will. Fittingly it is about another man but I will leave that to whoever reads this after me.)
I've been thinking about my brother a lot recently.
Thinking about him and missing a great deal in fact. I look about at the world that has been created since his death and I wonder what he would make of it all.
Today I am an ageing man. I might not look at it and my beautiful wife chides me when I complain about stiff muscles and sharp pains in joints that have never so much as ached in all the many years that I spent trawling through the woods with sword at my side and quiver of arrows on my back. To quote another scholar, “it would seem that age has finally caught up with me”. Rather than age I think it's more those nights spent sleeping in armour, of not eating properly or drinking from pools of water that were not as clean as they could be.
Today I can still run, shoot and fight as well as any but I feel it more and as I straighten myself and take a long cool drink of water from the water-skin. I stretch and I look at the distant mountains that no longer seem as dark and sinister as they once did and then it seems to me that I can hear my brother's voice, laughing at me. I grin then and laugh with him.
“Getting old little brother?” he says to me and I laugh with him.
“I could still take you brother.” I respond.
He laughs again. If he had still been alive he would have shown me how wrong I was.
Those are the good times when he comes to me.
The bad times are when I wake up in the dead of night. A night that is now blessedly free from fear and I
hear those echoes again.
Those echoes of his horn calling.
I sleep badly nowadays. The long years of exhaustion and campaigning have been paid for physically but at times they return to my dreams. Those dreams where the King does not return and I die in fever and agony, or those dreams where the arrow strikes me just a little bit further to the left where my heart resides.
So many nightmares.
I dream of the flames climbing high to devour my father and think of how close I was to joining him in that flame. I think of the many battles that we fought at that time, the near misses, the sword swings that clanged from my helm or those blows that were turned at the last second by a comrades shield, weapon or at worst their bodies.
I wake and I peel myself from the sheets and stand in the moonlight where the falls can be seen in all of their rainbow splendour. I gaze out across the spray and for a moment there, just a moment I can hear that horn calling from a distance.
A great distance. So very great.
I never sleep again on such nights instead I prowl around the building. I try not to be loud so that I do not wake my wife or our children and I go out into the garden to stand among the stars.
I can still feel the weight of the sword at my side even though it is hung on the wall above my hearth. I can feel its weight as well as the absence of a fighting dagger tucked into my belt in the small of my back. The wind is my companion then as it echoes in my ears and even now I listen for the calls of crows and the barks of Orc.
But instead, as though in the distance. I can my brothers horn calling, still calling crying for aid. Crying for the help that never came.
By now, my Brother's fate is well known to all men, dwarves, elves and halflings of the the world and rightly so but I find that there is something missing in that memory, something that is not quite right in the way that they all talk about him. They talk about him in a way that seems to suggest, a figure, a point in the plot.
An example for others as to the Dark Lord's power.
“See, it was his pride that led to his downfall,” they say and then they nod to each other as though they are wise.
“It is an example of the ring's power that it corrupted such a man so easily,” is another speech that I have heard.
The worst for me is when I hear men using my name as an example.
“His brother, who for my money is the far better man, managed to break free of the Ring's temptation,” was something that I heard once from a man who was holding court to a number of people who should have known better, “so why couldn't he? Boromir the brave, heh, not very brave was he?”
I left that night rather than doing something that I would later regret.
None of these people know the truth of it. The insidiousness of that lie. None of these people can hold themselves up to my brother. None of them are even fit to hold my brother's sword while he readied for combat and it boils my blood that they think they can judge him with distance measured in years and leagues from those events that sit in our memory.
But I don't want you to think that I hold the Ring-bearer as responsible for these people's ignorance. I was flattered enough to receive one of the first copies of the Red Book of Westmarch and I have read it many times. I wept then for my Brother as I read the account of how he tried to take Isildur's Bane from Frodo. I wept in anger and in pain because I tell you here and now that the person who performed those deeds was not my brother.
Frodo knew that and it broke his heart to recount that part of the tale. Frodo once told me that he decided to write that part directly, as close as he could to the actual events. He said this and I said that. I felt this and this is what he looked like.
Later on in that account Frodo described himself as Boromir's friend.
“Yes,” he said, “I was his friend for my part,” This even knowing what had happened between them.
“Then you would grieve to learn that he was dead,” I said.
I remember the moment well. Looking deep into Frodo's brown eyes as the awesome horror of that statement hit him. I was sorry then. I had told him that in an effort to hurt him as my rage was colossal at the world for taking my brother from me. But the horror and the sheer grief that was in his eyes and face then shook me.
They had looked like children to me at first but no child could understand those emotions.
“I would grieve indeed,” he said. “Dead?”
It was only later that the full realisation that his other friends must also be dead struck him and he wept.
Even then Frodo paid my brother a great compliment. He said that if Boromir was dead then surely his other friends must be dead also.
He said that Boromir would have died for his friends, no matter how small.
And he did.
Of the other halflings that travelled with the Ring-bearer I know Peregrin the best even though he would be angry with me for calling him that.
“Pippin,” he would insist. “You sound like my father calling me that,” before stooping for a stone to throw at me or biting into some item of food that was never far from his hand.
The Fellowship stayed in Minas Tirith for some time after The Dark Lord's defeat and I spent some time with Pippin. He was quite hard to pin down as things go and was more interested in eating and drinking everything in sight as well as getting into mischief and arguing with his cousin. I didn't hold it against him because he had been through a lot and I understood that this was his way of coping with everything that had happened.
We sat on one of the verandahs that are littered around the city. I don't remember where but knowing Pippin it was probably in the back of one of the first Taverns that had been reopened. He had eaten his fill (a rare occurrence) and was filling his pipe when I managed to ask about my brothers final moments.
I remember that his eyes unfocused as he sucked on his pipe stem and he reminded me that although he looked as though he was a young man barely away from his mothers apron strings he has actually seen more and done more than many old men.
This conversation happened a long time ago so I hope he doesn't get angry at me for my paraphraising should he ever read this.
“One of the things that you have to remember about the Felloship was that there were divisions in it. People who walked together and talked together at night. Some of it was more obvious, you know, Merry and me, Frodo and Sam, The four hobbits. Gandalf and Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas and so on. But there was another division as well which was those people who were serious and stern against those of us who were...”
“Normal,” I suggested, “Less ethereal.”
“That's close,” he said with a grin. “I'm not the writer that Cousin Frodo is, or the poet that Uncle Bilbo is but... Let me put it like this. Can you imagine Gandalf, Frodo, Aragorn or Legolas spreading their legs and having a good Fart. You know the kind that makes an amazingly loud noise so that everyone has to turn and look but then the smell hits you and you all make amused disgusted sounds?”
I stared at him, aghast at the thought before I realised that my brain was tying itself into knots trying to imagine an elf farting, or Gandalf, or even Aragorn for that matter.
He must have seen my confusion.
“Exactly,” he cried. “Exactly that. I didn't think of your brother as a farter either. We all did our share of camp work even though I noticed that old Gandalf would often sneak off to “consider the route” when it came time to do the dishes but I could never imagine your brother doing that until one day, it was early on so we were still heading south from Rivendell and Strider was helping Sam care for Bill our baggage pony. Bill, having a sense of perfect timing dropped the largest steaming pile of donkey droppings on Strider's feet that I have ever seen.
“Then he farted.
“We all stared in horror at this tableau, we were all horrified as we were still coming together as a group but then the silence was broken.
“It was your brother, tears of laughter rolling down his face. He was erecting a screen to hide us from any prying eyes but he collapsed on his back, helpless with laughter.
Gimli laughed next, followed by Merry and I as Aragorn stood there just staring at this offending pile of muck. We all knew about his birthright of course and it was all just so funny that even Frodo managed a wry smile.
“Aragorn looked up as the noise started to die down and looked Boromir in the eye. Your brother was trying not to laugh, you could kind of tell, but Aragorn fixed him with his “King” look.
“I'll never forget this,
“He glared at your brother and then relaxed before saying. “It's actually quite warm,””
Pippin laughed at the memory before becoming a bit melancholy.
“I lost my fear of Boromir that day. I think it was the first time that the Fellowship started to come together as a group, or band of friends.
“He was the one that started to teach us hobbits how to fight. We didn't make any noble deeds or kill many Orcs but the fact that we knew enough to survive in those battles that we were in? Your brother did that.
It was Boromir who took care of Merry and me on Caradhras. Everyone always looked after Frodo for obvious reasons and because Sam was never far away, that always seemed to include Sam. But it was Boromir who took care of us. It was your Brother who pointed out that we were freezing to death.”
Pippin sighed and signalled for the serving woman to bring more ale.
“I'd known Gandalf of course since I was little. Strider for a while and he saw us through some rough times but he always seemed so remote. Your brother?”
Pippin tapped his pipe empty against the wall.
“Your brother was the first man I properly knew. I remember thinking that if this is what men folk are like then they might not be all bad. He had this thing where, when Gandalf or Aragorn was telling us all something dark or portentous, Boromir would be standing, just inside our eyeline listening carefully. But then, when the speech was done he would pull a face at me to make me laugh. He would do that every time we were getting frightened or scared. Or when it was all getting a bit much for us all to cope with.
Neither Gandalf or Aragorn ever seemed to do that. They led and Legolas scouted and advised. Gimli was always a rock that we could lean on but your brother?
“I think that your brother was the glue that held us all together. I don't think it's coincidence that it was after his death that we split to the corners of the earth.”
I remember that we sat in silence for a while after that.
“People say that he died protecting you,” I said after a while.
“Did he?” Pippin asked. “I've wondered about that a couple of times. Your father came close to hating me because that's what he thought. That he thought that Boromir's life was more important than mine. I can't blame your father for that. I don't have a son and your father seemed to love you both....fiercely.”
A shadow crossed his cheerful face.
“Cousin Frodo tells me that he's not going to write about your Brother's death because there's too much ambig...ambii...amb....confusion as to what happened there.
“We had seen Frodo and he was running. Running hard, running for his life and there were so many Orcs. Merry was with me and to call us both terrified would be to say that steel is cold. But we were there, two hobbits. We had been looking for him and we both knew that he was important. Much more important than either of us. I can't speak for Merry but I for one had felt like a piece of baggage on our journey so far. Having to be carried, shielded or literally thrown from danger but suddenly it made sense that we were there.
“It was Merry who acted on that feeling first though.
“He leapt to his feet and started shouting and waving and I saw what he was doing. I jumped up and started doing the same.
“It worked too and those Orcs followed us. It was awful but we ran, hollering and screaming all the time.
“We didn't get far of course. No matter how good we both were at running through woods, eventually long
legs count for something.”
“We were caught. But then.... oh light of the sun your Brother was there. He leapt into the middle of the Orcs and they fell around him. He fought with no care for his own safety and the Orcs just fell like wheat before an expert farmer with a scythe. He had trained me to use a sword, I had seen him practice with Aragorn but it had never even occurred to me just how good your brother was. Even without his customary shield he fought with a frenzy that was awe-inspiring. It took me a few moments before I realised that I could be helping him.”
Pippin smiled at his own stupidity. I could imagine the scene as my Brother could be fierce when he wanted to be.
“Suddenly there were no more Orcs. Boromir started to shepherd us away. We were babbling and I for one was light-headed and close to vomiting but we managed to get out that we were helping Frodo get away. Your brother frowned a moment and then he nodded. He ushered us away a little but then he called at a nearby Orc and killed him. Then at a pair who came over the hill before killing them too. Then he tore the horn from his belt and let out a great blast. His grin was savage. More Orcs came and they too fell. Merry and I were fighting with him then. We didn't kill many but they did lose their footing as we threw rocks at their heads and finished those that were injured rather than killed by your brothers sword. In every break from the fight we would move further and further away while all the while Boromir would blow his horn.”
“Was he calling for help?” I asked
“Yes he was. But was he also drawing more Orcs to himself so that Frodo could get away?”
The little hobbit's brown eyes blazed and I was reminded that this little hobbit had killed a stone troll at the gates of Mordor.
“It did that as well. There were always more Orcs and we fought and nothing could touch us. Two halflings and a man before the tide. Still he blew that horn and we edged backwards, running from defensive point to defensive point, horns blowing and a stream of dead Orcs spread out behind us.
“And still the horn blew.”
Pippin had tears in his eyes then.
“Then the Orcs remembered that they carried bows.”
I wiped my own eyes then.
“But still he kept killing and still that horn kept blowing.”
Pippin bowed his head for a long while.
“I didn't see him die. I was taken and as I was taken your brother was still shouting to run, still killing Orcs and still blowing that horn.
“Did he die for me?
“Maybe but I prefer to think that he died with me, to help my and my cousin save Frodo, so that Frodo could get away.
“I think that he blew that horn for help.
“But I also think that it wasn't as simple as that. He blew that horn to help Frodo get away but there is a third thing.
“Knowing what I do now about how tempted your brother was, by how close he was to being defeated by that evil, I think that that horn call was a last shout of defiance. I think that he was telling the Dark Lord, “See me Sauron. Here I stand, Boromir son of Denethor. You have thrown your worst at me and I have prevailed. I am not your servant and I stand here on the field of battle, my friends by my side and my enemies beneath my feet so that your final ending may be accomplished. See me Sauron and fear those that will come after me.”
“I think he was hurling that into the face of darkness and that was what those last horn-calls were about. When no help was coming and the issue of Frodo's escape was long since decided.
“I miss your brother Faramir. I would have like to talk more with him.”
I don't know when Pippin left that day but I remember those words. “See me Sauron. Here I stand.”
Later when I was seeing to my Brother's affairs, long after the King had been crowned, I had a tomb made. It was just a small one as I don't believe he would want a large one. He so believed in the restoration of Minas Tirith and Gondor that I think that he would prefer that as his memorial but I wanted a place where I, and those who will come after me, can lay offerings.
It is a small stone with a horn carved into it and I had Pippin's words carved beneath that horn. “See me Sauron. Here I stand.”
I took King Elessar there once, along with King Eomer and Prince Imrahil. The four of us stood there and looked at it as Aragorn wept at the sight. “Very fitting,” he said before walking off to be alone with his thoughts.
I miss my brother. I miss him dearly.
I miss his humour and his laughter and I find that I imagine him now in places and at times that he never was.
I am lucky to be married to a beautiful, strong and intelligent woman. Although Queen Arwen is considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world I would argue that my Eowyn's fierceness makes her greater. I occasionally like to tease her in an effort to make her angry but she's always cleverer than I am and never falls for it, laughing before the argument starts. The problem is that she never believes me that I find her at her most attractive when she is in her arming jacket, helm on her head and sword in her hand. She only uses her skills to keep healthy now but for me, her husband, she doesn't do it often enough.
I wish she could have met Boromir. I can well imagine him riding up to our more private cabin in the hills where we retreat to when affairs of state become too overwhelming and we feel the need to breathe some free air. I can imagine our children running down to meet him squealing with delight at the presents that he's brought them from the markets. I laugh as he moans about the fact that I like to live halfway up a mountain and that his old bones can't cope with it.
I can imagine the entire visit with little effort now so detailed are my dreams.
He would complain about the politics, bring us up to date on the ways of the world. He would tease Eowyn and he would be able to make her angry before he would lose his control and start laughing. He would tell her that she should run away with him and laugh at my face. We would sit in the evening, sharing the shire's best tobacco that Pippin insists on sending me over the summer and he would tell me how lucky I am.
I imagine his wedding to one of the many beautiful women that throng our courts now trying to catch some nobleman's eyes. Now that Sauron is dead we get people from all over the world. Since the Dark Lords destruction the Easterlings, the Haradrim, the Umbarians and even more come to Minas Tirith to negotiate. At present they ask for aid against the bandits still further east, who do not believe in the destruction of the darkness, and for trade. They bring food and culture and all kinds of wonders to the West that we could not conceive of before their arrival. The Haradrim especially have an ultra formal culture that takes some getting used to as they refuse to enter a city as it closes them off from the world. They like to meet and formalise things in the great outdoors beneath the sun, wind and sky so that everything that is done between men, and women, can be seen and heard.
I look at them and their women and already weddings of state are being organised between our peoples. I watch them parade before us and I imagine conversations between Boromir and I. No not that one, nor that one either she's too tall. That one's too small.
“Just pick one,” I would say.
“But they're all so...different.”
“That's the point brother dear.” I would say laughing at his dismay. “These people have been our enemies for so long. Living in darkness and under the thumb of Sauron's tyranny for centuries. For literally thousands of years. Now they see us. Do you honestly think that they're any the less terrified of you than you are of them? You're Boromir the Brave, shining hero of the west.”
“I am aren't I,” He would grin, knowing that I was playing on his vanity. “Boromir the Brave.”
I can imagine him now, producing a flask of dwarven moonshine that he stole from Gimli, Lord of the glittering caves at the earlier feast and marching purposefully up towards one of the groups of honour guard.
I do wonder what he would think of this modern world that he helped make.
I wonder if he would have been happy here.
I know so many veterans of the Wars that even now, sometimes struggle to...re-adjust to peacetime. Men and women who struggle not to go and give a well deserved pounding to those men and boys who, with loud voices, declare that they wish that they could have fought in the War of the Ring. That they would have shown Sauron a thing or two.
There are so many of them now. Arm-chair soldiers and generals, Kings and Marshals who would have done things so much better than those of us who were there. You can go into any inn or tavern and hear them if you listen hard enough. They are the people that look at our new friends who come to us from the east with their strange foods, odd manners and different customs and say things like “They should go back to where they came from” and “We don't need them round here,”
Like all people who actually saw those things, we who have looked at the body of a man who we have killed with our own skills and our own weapons and wondered. Where did you come from? Where were you this
morning? What were your hopes? Your dreams?
These attitudes make us so angry
We go to those people who come here with trade and the out reached hand of friendship and say. Here we are. Here is my hand. Let us help each other.
I like to think that Boromir would have been one of those people.
There was never a fighting man like Boromir. He had an instinct for it. He would say things like “There is a rhythm to a fight.” and “The trick is to know when to counter-charge.” But could he be a man of peace?
I like to think so.
I imagine myself standing amongst the crowd at Elessar's coronation and watching as Boromir made the declaration that “Here is the King of Gondor,” I wish it had been that way round. I can see it, if I close my eyes I can hear the roar of the crowds as Boromir gives up the charge of the Stewards.
I miss him so much.
I still talk to him though.
When I can hear that horn echoing off the mountains and among the trees of this Middle-earth that he loved so much and I rise from my sweat soaked sheets to roam through the empty hallways I talk to him about many things. Sometimes I ask him about the business of the day. Sometimes I ask him about any advice he might have about the governing of what I still hesitate to call 'my' land. Mostly I tell him that I miss him and that I love him.
I wonder about how the world might have been different if he had lived. If I had gone on that quest instead of him as had first been intended before our Father decided to meddle. I wonder how I would have stood up to that same temptation should our roles have been reversed or what, indeed, Boromir might have done if he had found Frodo in the wilderness.
Unanswerable questions of course.
But I would not have my brother remembered as a weak man. I would not have him remembered as a villain or a traitor to Frodo.
I spoke to Mithrandir about it some time later.
He told me that even he was tempted by the ring. That “least of rings” that Sauron Fancies and that it was through the same feeling that Boromir was tempted and so nearly fell.
It was through love that my brother was tempted.
My Brother loved his country but could no longer turn his eyes from those faults that were so obviously there. Our Father was falling to despair and apathy, our cities were no longer fortresses and were woefully undermanned by proper soldiers. Our people were no longer living, instead they were preparing for death. He saw that our people were looking to him for help, were pinning all their hopes on him. I wasn't in the picture as our Father had poisoned many against me and so I wasn't taken seriously except in certain circles.
Besides, Boromir was the shining one. The laughing warrior who stood indomitable against the storm. The kind of man that men could put their faith in to weather all things.
In the ring Boromir saw a weapon that would allow him to do all of those things, all the things that they, that we wanted him to do and there it was. In the hands of a halfling.
Oh how I weep for Boromir.
The true evil here is that the Dark Lord fashioned a weapon out of my Brothers love for his people. THAT is the evil here and....if Peregrin the halfling is correct... Boromir was not the least of people who helped us destroy that darkness, that all-consuming hatred that fuelled the evil of Mordor.
My Brother has become a symbol now. As part of the fellowship his statue is carved into marble. Their paintings adorn many walls and the story of their deeds, Boromir's too, are sung in every corner of the west and...so I'm told by my good and dear friend Radmehr Malaati, beyond.
To me though, he was my brother. He brought the darkness to him and he fought. Blowing his horn until the
So with that I will say this for my brother Boromir.
Here I am Sauron. Here I am Hate and Darkness and all the evil in the world
Here I stand.
I have my friends beside me and behind me and we will not falter.
Instead we will scream our love for each other back at you.
We will continue to fight for a better world that does not contain you or anyone who may harbour you in their hearts.
We are stronger together than you are.
Despite our differences we have more in common than we do not and we shall fight you.
So once again.
In the name of my brother Boromir. For all those who lost someone and for those who have fallen.
Here we are.
Here we stand.
Come at us.