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  • Donald E. Hester

Collecting Quotes: Finding Wisdom in the Words of JRR Tolkien

Posted 26 DEC 2009, updated 25 OCT 2013, last update 15 APR 2014

Do you love collecting quotes from your favorite books, movies, or people? I certainly do! There's something magical about discovering a phrase that resonates with you, that captures a deep truth or feeling, and that you can carry with you as a reminder or inspiration. For me, one of the best sources of quotes is JRR Tolkien's epic tales of Middle-earth, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Whether you're a fan of the books or the movies, you'll find plenty of memorable lines that capture the essence of the stories and the characters.

One of my favorite quotes from JRR Tolkien comes from The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It's spoken by the wise wizard Gandalf to Frodo, the hobbit who is entrusted with the dangerous task of carrying the Ring of Power to Mordor to destroy it. Gandalf says:

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

This quote has always resonated with me because it encapsulates a profound truth about life: we all have a limited amount of time on this earth, and it's up to us to make the most of it. We can't control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we respond to it, what choices we make, and what values we prioritize. The quote also reflects Gandalf's wisdom and compassion as a mentor figure for Frodo, and his belief in the power of free will and agency.

Here are some of my favorites for JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the movies.

From Lord of the Rings

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” Haldir, The Lord of the Ring, The Fellowship of the Ring, book II chapter 6

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” - The Fellowship of the Ring

“All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost.” - The Fellowship of the Ring

“Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.” - The Lord Of the Rings, Book Four, Chapter One

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many - yours not least.” - Gandalf, Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring.

Probably the most famous quote

“One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.” - The Fellowship of the Ring, chapter 2

From the Hobbit

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world,” – Thorin, The Hobbit

These quotes are great, not from the books but from the new movie.

Bilbo Baggins “I never used a sword in my life.”

Gandalf “And I hope you never have to. But if you do remember this: True courage is about not when to take a life…but when to spare one.” The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey

“Saruman believes that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found it is the small things everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.” – Gandalf, The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey

“The king has never let Orc filth roam our lands, yet he would let this Orc pack cross our borders and kill our prisoners.” - Tauriel The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

“It is not our fight.” - Legolas The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

“It is our fight. It will not end here. With every victory, this evil will grow. If your father has his way, we will do nothing. We will hide within our walls, live our lives away from the light, and let the darkness descend. Are we not part of this world? Tell me mellon. When did we let evil become stronger than us?” – Tauriel The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Not sure of the citation for these quotes

“Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.”

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”

“The wise speak only of what they know.”

“You can only come to the morning through the shadows.”

“The quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail. But hope remains, if friends stay true.”

“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back. There are some things that time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep... that have taken hold.” - Frodo

“End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.” – Gandalf

“Your Late.” - Frodo

“A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.” - Gandalf

What is your favorite middle-earth quote?

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