That Which We Are
By Berzerker_prime

Summary: Written for the Henneth Annún Your Favorite Poem! Challenge.  After his dream about the fall of Númenor, Faramir finds solace in the words of one who saw it for himself.  Based on a passage from Alfred Lord Tennysonís Ulysses.

     The archives of Minas Tirith were Faramirís haven.  No one ever bothered him there, unless it was in regards to his duties as a soldier of Gondor.  But these days his time in Minas Tirith was his leave and he had little to do but rest.  These were the times when he went to the archives.  He went not because he wanted to hide, but because he could.
     And this time, early in the morning, he sorely needed this solace.  He had dreamed terrible dreams again and somehow he could not help but believe it a portent of the future.  He had dreamed of a land falling under waves.  Darkness had gripped its very heart and yet it looked still to the light.
     In his heart, Faramir knew that he had dreamed of Númenor.
     At first, Faramir had sought comfort in the early morning air outside the Citadel  But rather than the light of the dawn in the east that he had hoped for, he saw only the growing darkness of Mordor.  It reached out toward him, threatening to swallow the White City whole in its shadow and Faramirís heart left him.
 Minas Tirith, he knew, was the last great bastion of the Númenorean people, the last piece of a splendid kingdom that had long ago faded.  Great deeds were still done and the men of Gondor were still longer lived than most men of Middle-earth.  But that was changing; with each generation that passed, some said, the lives of the young did not seem equal to the lives of the old.
     And what others said did hold a ring of truth.  Once, Minas Tirith had been the center of a great empire that spanned the entire southern part of Middle-earth and that conquered the seas.  They had built great monuments and had labored long to keep the darkness at bay.  Yet now, they were diminished, only barely holding back the dark onslaught which came at them from over the Anduín.  Half of the once-great city of Osgiliath was even now in the hands of the Orkish races, her great bridge laying in splinters at the bottom of the river.
     No, Faramir had found no solace in these sights and so he had retreated to the archives, hoping to find some shred of evidence that spoke of Gondorís greatness, one more time.  And yet, still, he could find no comfort in the tales of old, the ones he had read over and over since his childhood.  He took no consolation in the story of Isildurís desperate duel with the Enemy.  He found no ease in the tale of Míriel who at the last had been faithful to the Valar.  Not even in the story of his own ancestor, Mardil the Faithful, could succor him in his dark mood.  All these only made him recall the very sadness he was trying to escape; that the men of this day were not the equal of the men of the past.
     His heart simply breaking all the more, Faramir was considering abandoning his attempt to find comfort in history.  But his eyes set themselves upon a book that he had never noticed before.  It was bound in green, though its edges has been roughened with time.  Upon its cover was gilt in silver seven stars laid out as the Sickle of the Valar in the heavens.  Curiously, Faramir opened it to the first page.  He found there faded Tengwar letters in the noble tongue, written in two different hands.  The first, flowing and graceful, proclaimed the book to be no less than that of Elendil the Tall, Lord of Andúnië.  The second, more angular hand announced that the book had passed to Isildur, Lord of Minas Ithil.
     Faramir paged through the book with caution, careful not to damage the delicate leaves.  In the words of Elendil he discovered that the book had come from that great island kingdom that now lay beneath the waves.  In the great kingís own words was detailed all the proclamations of Ar-Pharazôn the Golden which sundered Númenor from the Elves and the Valar.  Included, also, were various musings on the state of the kingdom and the state of Middle-earth; poems and songs that had never been heard by others.  Finally, at the last, Elendil told of the Ar-Pharazônís plan to assail Valinor itself.
     And that was where the book had changed hands for it was then Isildurís writing that continued.  The first entry was by far the longest and it made Faramirís heart ache to read it.  In the words of Isildur, who had with his brother founded the great lands that Faramir now fought so to protect, was told of the sight of the sinking Númenor.  To Isildur, it had not been some distant and fading heritage; it had been his home.  Though his new home beckoned to him, he lamented the loss of so great a land.  For her, he had risked all and yet he had failed to save her.  All that was left of her, all he had been able to save from the crashing waves, was a handful of her people and one small, white sapling.
     Somehow, though the words were sad, though Faramir mourned right beside Isildur in reading them, he felt revived.  Here were the words of a great man who had founded a nation, but had only done so because he had so utterly failed at other tasks.  Though the words were dark, Faramir found in them light.
     And then, the next thing written in Isildurís hand was a very short piece of poetry.  It was heartfelt and spoke to the very fears that had led Faramir to the archives this day.

          Though we are not now
          That strength which in old days
          Moved Earth and Heaven
          That which we are
          We are.

          One equal temper of heroic hearts
          Made weak by time and fate
          But strong in will.

          To strive,
          To seek,
          To find,
          And not to yield.

     Slowly, Faramir closed the book.  He pondered the words long, staring at the flame of the lamp that lit his small desk.
     This was what the men of Gondor were.  Just as the Elendili had been in the last days of Númenor, Faramir was standing on the brink of utter ruin.  But just as the Elendili, just as Isildur, he would not give in.  There were things to strive for, things to find that would only be found by seeking them.  And in them, there was bound every reason never to yield.
     And then, just then and there, Faramir swore one thing to himself, in silence; that should the white tree flower again, he would be there to see it.


*Poem originally from ďUlyssesĒ by Alfred Lord Tennyson.