All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
is repeated twice in The Fellowship of the Ring and refers to
Aragorn, the rightful king of Gondor. While it is fairly certain
that Tolkien didn't intend for the poem to be an allegory for
anything (since he famously hated allegory), it is fun to play
with the poem's applicability as I will do here. I'm certainly
not the first to do this. It is a generous gift from Tolkien that
he rejected allegory in favour of applicability. The latter
invites the reader to use their own head just as much as the
former shackles the reader to the authors intent.
But enough of that. What do I want to do with this poem?
Well, the poem is already meant to allude to the return of
Gondor's king. Why not expand the words to apply to the
many monarchist movements of our world?
All that is gold does not glitter
the idea of monarchy itself. It is
an odd phrase in that it makes
little immediate sense. Gold
glitters. Gold that does not glitter
seems strange. But gold can be
made to lose its glitter. If it is
shrouded in darkness, or covered
in dirt, or alloyed with dull base
In much the same way monarchy (the gold) can be forced to
lose its appeal (glitter). This can be done through ignorance
of a country's history or the monarchy's place within society.
The eyes of the people become clouded and dim, forgetting
the value of their monarchy. Likewise, monarchy can be
marred by malignant attacks by republicans. Lies repeated
ad nauseam can take on the appearance of truth and the
monarchy is slowly buried in the mud (or dirt). These lies told
by republicans take on a special danger when they attempt to
associate monarchy with ideas that have nothing to do with
it. Republicans try to associate monarchy with fascism,
racism, immaturity, and anachronism (base materials)
because by associating monarchy with them they may attack
the base materials in order to hide the gold.
At the same time republicans attempt to 'outshine' monarchy
by holding up republics as an ideal. Even going so far as to
hold republics 'more advanced' than monarchy. This stanza
reminds us that monarchy is golden even when republicans
desperately try to hide it. And gold's glitter can be hidden but
it cannot be eliminated.
Not all those who wander are lost
royal claimants of the world quite
well. While some claimants (the
wanderers) have given up on ever
being sovereign of their countries
again (they have become lost in
the sense of not knowing where
they are supposed to go), other
claimants continue to fight for
their thrones (they are not lost in
the sense of being unrecoverable
even though they no longer
The old that is strong does not wither
specifically, monarchism. While the modern world gnaws at
the traditions of the past there remains those faithful to those
traditions. That monarchism has not died away and, in fact,
grows stronger in some areas must perplex republicans.
Because despite their best efforts...
Deep roots are not reached by the frost
republicans will do what they can to hide monarchy's value
from the people because they cannot destroy that value.
But even if they attack the people's belief in monarchy they
are ultimately doomed to fail. Monarchy is too embedded in
the fabric of human history and culture. Republicans cannot
reach its roots.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken
monarchists. Hopes rekindled from the lifeless ashes of
But it also connects with the first line rather well. Fire dispels
darkness, it burns away detritus, and it purifies metal. So
aside from hope you could view the fire here as representing the fight to restore monarchy.
A light from the shadows shall spring
willing to help their country in whatever way they can. Each
willing to return and help their countries in times of dire
Renewed shall be blade that was broken
country's present reconnecting with its past. A connection
that republics often try to break to secure their rule. This is
important because just as you cannot fight a battle without a
weapon, a country cannot safely enter the future without an
understanding and appreciation of its past. And the best way
for a country to maintain an understanding and appreciation
of the past is to carry it with themselves.
The crownless again shall be king
Tolkien's works lend themselves to
monarchical interpretation partly due to
Tolkien's own monarchism. And this
poem especially stirs something in me.
A Kisaragi Colour