This phrase is taken from The Fellowship of the Ring, book II, chapter 1 (page 261):

At first the beauty of the melodies and of the interwoven words in elven-tongues, even though he understood them little, held him in a spell, as soon as he began to attend to them. Almost it seemed that the words took shape, and visions of far lands and bright things that he had never yet imagined opened out before him; and the firelit hall became like a golden mist above seas of foam that sighed upon the margins of the world. Then the enchantment became more and more dreamlike, until he felt that an endless river of swelling gold and silver was flowing over him, too multitudinous for its pattern to be comprehended; it became part of the throbbing air about him, and it drenched and drowned him.

What does "the throbbing air about him" mean?

  • How did Frodo feel at that moment?
    – S E
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 18:15

1 Answer 1


When we say that something throbs, we mean that it appears to vibrate, possibly making a steady noise. This can refer to vibrations caused by objects, but also to music. For example:

In the passage from The Fellowship of the Ring, the air is throbbing with the "melodies and of the interwoven words in elven-tongues". The music charms Frodo so much ("the enchantment...") that it begins to feel like something that overwhelms him ("an endless river of swelling gold and silver").

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