From book 1, Chapter 6, of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien:

Then another clear voice, as young and as ancient as Spring, like the song of glad water flowing down into the night from a bright morning in the hills, came falling like silver to meet them:

  • Is there any reason to assume it doesn't refer othe time of the year between winter and summer? Maybe it's referred to again in the adjoining paragraphs? Feb 26, 2020 at 15:39
  • It's a proper name in my book ,it has been written with a capital letter. I have no idea whether it reffers to a season or not.-@Gallifreyan
    – S E
    Feb 26, 2020 at 15:46

1 Answer 1


The capital letter indicates that ‘Spring’ is being used in the sense “the season between winter and summer”.

How can something be both “as young as Spring” and “as ancient as Spring”? This is a paradox, and to resolve it we have to think of Spring in two different ways. Spring is “young” because it is the first season of the calendar year, and because it the season when many animals have their young. (This is an example of metonymy.) But Spring is also “ancient” because Spring has been a season of the year as long as the Earth and Sun have existed, which in the mythology of Middle-earth is about seven thousand years.

If the voice is both young and ancient, then perhaps (by metonymy) so is the speaker: these similes are giving us a hint about the nature of Goldberry.

The word ‘spring’ has another meaning, “a flow of water emerging naturally out of the ground”. This is so close in meaning to the following phrase, “glad water flowing down … from … the hills” that it cannot be a coincidence, and seems to be a clue that Goldberry is (or resembles) a naiad, “a nymph of fresh water, thought to inhabit a river, spring, etc., as its tutelary spirit” (OED). Other clues to this are Tom’s description of her as “River-woman’s daughter” and her own description of herself as “River-daughter”.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.