Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

This quote has become such a pop-culture cliché that I almost didn’t use it. But then I thought how snobby of me to discontinue a good saying only because it had gotten so popular that it had gone out of style in my books. I was doing the equivalent of “That saying is such a sell out.” Hello? Sayings don’t sell out. They become stronger and take on new meaning and ideas through repetition, and isn’t that the idea with all good things, eventual success? I know that’s how I feel about musicians and artists, so I thought I also needed to give literature and quotes a break too.

This indie-folk-wanderlusty-pacific-scene-renaissance of ‘Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost’ / ‘All Who Wander Are Not Lost’ / however-you-phrase it,  seen so often on Tumblr, Instagram, Etsy, Chapters, etc. does take the phrase slightly out of context.  Most people who see it think ‘lost’ as in ‘lost in the woods’ or ‘hey, where am I?’, or ‘I have no idea where I’m going,’ whereas lost in the original version has more of a connotation of ‘forsaken’.  I guess a modern traveller could use it in this way too, depending on how dramatic they envision their reason for travel.

Here’s the full poem, from Lord of the Rings:

“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.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, 1954

In the books it’s used as poetic foreshadowing, first occurring in Gandalf’s letter to Frodo in Bree, alluding to Aragorn and the integral role he will come to play in the battle for Middle Earth.  In the movie the first four lines are left out, and only the last four lines are spoken by Arwen when her father is reforging Narsil for Aragorn.

With J.R.R.’s fervour for epic quests, I’m sure he’d take it’s new pop-culture use by romantic travellers to heart with good will and the spirit of adventure.

Speaking of, this photo is of my first night ever in Tokyo Japan. I had just come from the airport after somehow negotiating the directions with my taxi driver in (Japanese? Not sure, it’s all a blur). I was so, so, so happy, despite being jet lagged after 20+ hours of travel. My first real long-haul flight. Getting to Japan had been the dream of kid Mel since forever, so I thought I had to celebrate with some form of selfie. This is taken looking out from my hostel bunk on the 20-something floor over Tokyo at night.

Also, during this past vacation I started a pet project to go back and improve all the posts I made in the early days of my blog while I was in Japan.  At the time, I was too busy running around doing things to flesh out the posts more like they properly deserved. Also, when I switched fmor Tumblr to Squarespace and imported my content, a lot of the formatting and images were lost along the way. If you’re interested, I would recommend these posts:

I plan to keep updating all my old posts until all the lost images and stories are restored and remastered. ;- )

As usual, click on the photo above to download the full-res wallpaper.

Author: Mel Hattie

Hi, I’m Mel, blogger and tea sommelier at Mel Had Tea. I love to explore, learn, and meet new people. Nothing inspires me more than reading, traveling the world, talking to strangers, and drinking tea.

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