1. Sing All Ye People!
I could scarcely believe the surge of sunlit warmth and hope that sprang up suddenly in the wake of the Shadow's departure. Then a great golden Eagle flew out of time-lost legends and circled the City walls. And it sang!
A voice like unto that of Men issued from the Eagle's beak, the words ringing like bells in my heart. As I listened, I thought I heard my father's voice in that first verse.
Sing now, ye people of the Tower of Anor,
For the Realm of Sauron is ended for ever,
and the Dark Tower is thrown down.
Éowyn, pressed closely against me, lifted her head to hear the tidings pealing out in the warming air. I caught my breath as the Eagle sang the second verse; for I discerned Boromir's beloved voice raised within it.
Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of Guard,
for your watch hath not been in vain,
and the Black Gate is broken,
and your King hath passed through,
and he is victorious.
I could do naught but listen in wonder. The third verse was sung by a voice as newly mirthful as a wind of spring blowing through trees. It sounded like Mithrandir, who had fallen but then returned from death to help us.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.
The eagle descended and hovered just above us. The last time a flying creature of such unnatural size had hunted me, it had brought terror that had nearly stopped my heart. But this majestic beast looked down at me; I saw its eyes, full of wisdom and truth and a shining hope. The Eagle circled us once, the unveiled Sun gilding its mighty wings. Then it sang out its final verse in a voice I had never heard before and can never forget:
And the Tree that was withered shall be renewed,
and he shall plant it in the high places,
and the City shall be blessed.
Sing all ye people!
Since childhood I have been schooled to set an example of strength and constancy as a Lord of Gondor. But now my joy rose within in me like a fountain and flowed forth in tears, mingled with Éowyn's own, as we stood with arms and hands entwined. As the Eagle soared high and away, I sang his song to all who could hear my lesser voice. The people of the White City spilled out of doors, threw wide their windows, and answered in kind. The song rang from the Citadel in ever-widening circles down to the Gates and out, it seemed, to the very edge of the Anduin. And in those splendid moments, my happiness for the Shadow's end was equaled by the certain knowledge that I could win Éowyn's heart in this new and changed world.
The old tales tell us that the great Eagles were the messengers of the Valar, the Lords of the West. Surely the golden harbinger who sang us news of victory belonged to that legendary race, perhaps Thorondor or one of his sons. I wondered though, at the last voice that had sang from the Eagle's beak: a voice as kind as a brother's, yet stronger than mountains, gentle as a rippling brook yet powerful as the winter wind.
We will never know whether it was the voice of Manwë, Lord of the Air and highest among the Valar, that came from the Eagle's throat. But we will never forget the song.
Author's Note: All italicized verses are quoted directly from The Steward and the King, The Return of the King.
According to The Silmarillion, the giant, intelligent Eagles were messengers of Manwë. Thorondor, who helped save Maedhros and Fingon, and fought in the War of Wrath (and performed several other great deeds in First Age Middle-earth), was the greatest of these Eagles in size and rank; and LOTR characters Gwaihir and Landroval were descended from him.