In the LOTR chapter "Many Partings" Celeborn says to Aragorn "May your doom be other than mine, and your treasure remain with you to the end".

Given the context this seems to be talking about Aragorn's marriage to Arwen - but in that case "may your doom be other than mine" would suggest that Celeborn expects to be permanently parted from Galadriel, wouldn't it?

But this would seem very odd. I don't know of any suggestion that Celeborn was forbidden from going West - and the LOTR Prologue even suggests that he eventually does leave, the last of the Elves to remember the Elder Days.

Certainly there would be a period of separation before then, maybe a very long one by our terms -- but "to the end" implies that Celeborn is talking about something permanent.

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    It might just be the elegiac language of Toilkien. Celeborn presumably knows Galadriel is returning to Valinor and not staying with him. He doesn't know how long he himself intends on staying in Middle Earth into the Fourth Age, but he's staying, and she's not, so technically she's not staying with him until the end. It sounds like he's just saying "I hope Arwen lives as long as you do or about the same amount of time", just in a more elegant and gloomy way. Probably upset that his wife of x thousand years can't wait anymore to go on vacation, even without him.
    – Phyneas
    Jul 28, 2021 at 4:38
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    I guess it has to be that, the statement just "feels" more final than that (especially for someone like Celeborn who I would expect to have a more 'patient' view of a temporary parting, given how Tolkien's Elves generally view time, and Celeborn is incredibly ancient). But yeah maybe the critical phrase is "remain with you" not "to the end", ie he just means that Galadriel is choosing to leave him. Jul 28, 2021 at 6:28
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    FWIW, in Tolkien's original draft Celeborn says "Kinsman, farewell, but your doom is like to mine; for our treasure shall outlast us both".
    – ibid
    Jul 28, 2021 at 10:41
  • @ibid Huh! Interesting. (I wonder what that means exactly. Arwen does outlive Aragorn - briefly - but shouldn't both Celeborn and Galadriel live until the end of Arda? Maybe that's why it was changed... but still, I wonder what Tolkien meant at the time of writing that.) Jul 29, 2021 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


Celeborn did eventually sail west, but it was some time before he did so

Tolkien wrote two drafts of an epilogue that he originally intended to place at the end of The Lord of the Rings, to resolve some of the loose ends. The epilogue is set seventeen years after the end of the book and uses the framing device of Sam talking to his children. Both versions have been published in Sauron Defeated.

Sam reveals that seventeen years after Galadriel left, Celeborn is still hanging around in Lórien, but that he is able to leave and will whenever his time to do so comes.

'Still I think it was very sad when Master Elrond left Rivendell and the Lady left Lórien,' said Elanor. 'What happened to Celeborn? Is he very sad?'
'I expect so, dear. Elves are sad; and that's what makes them so beautiful, and why we can't see much of them. He lives in his own land as he always has done,' said Sam. 'Lórien is his land, and he loves trees.'
'No one else in the world hasn't got a Mallorn like we have, have they?' said Merry. 'Only us and Lord Celeborn.'
'So I believe,' said Sam. Secretly it was one of the greatest prides of his life. 'Well, Celeborn lives among the Trees, and he is happy in his Elvish way, I don't doubt. They can afford to wait, Elves can. His time is not come yet. The Lady came to his land and now she is gone; and he has the land still. When he tires of it he can leave it.
The History of Middle-earth volume IX - Sauron Defeated - "The Epilogue" - first version

'Tell me,' she said, as they sat close together with the soft golden light on their faces, 'tell me about Lórien. Does my flower grow there still, Sam-dad?'
'Well dear, Celeborn still lives there among his trees and his Elves, and there I don't doubt your flower grows still. Though now I have got you to look at, I don't hanker after it so much.' ...

Elanor was silent for some time before she spoke again. I did not understand at first what Celeborn meant when he said goodbye to the King,' she said. 'But I think I do now. He knew that Lady Arwen would stay, but that Galadriel would leave him. ...

They [elves] are not so troubled about time. And so I think Celeborn is still happy among his trees, in an Elvish way. His time hasn't come, and he isn't tired of his land yet. When he is tired he can go.' The History of Middle-earth volume IX - Sauron Defeated - "The Epilogue" - second version

It should be noted though that this version of events is not fully compatible with the final version of the book. In the second edition of The Lord of the Rings Tolkien added two statements that say that after Galadriel left Celeborn moved to Rivendell, and then eventually that he departed Middle-earth sometime afterwards.

In the North also there had been war and evil. The realm of Thranduil was invaded,... but in the end Thranduil had the victory. And on the day of the New Year of the Elves, Celeborn and Thranduil met in the midst of the forest; and they renamed Mirkwood Eryn Lasgalen, The Wood of Greenleaves. Thranduil took all the northern region as far as the mountains that rise in the forest for his realm; and Celeborn took all the southern wood below the Narrows, and named it East Lórien; all the wide forest between was given to the Beornings and the Woodmen. But after the passing of Galadriel in a few years Celeborn grew weary of his realm and went to Imladris to dwell with the sons of Elrond. In the Greenwood the Silvan Elves remained untroubled, but in Lórien there lingered sadly only a few of its former people, and there was no longer light or song in Caras Galadhon.
The Lord of the Rings - Appendix B

It is probable that Meriadoc obtained assistance and information from Rivendell, which he visited more than once. There, though Elrond had departed, his sons long remained, together with some of the High-elven folk. It is said that Celeborn went to dwell there after the departure of Galadriel; but there is no record of the day when at last he sought the Grey Havens, and with him went the last living memory of the Elder Days in Middle-earth.
The Lord of the Rings - Prologue - "Note on Shire Records"

Hammond and Scull refer to an unpublished letter of Tolkien's where he also confirms that this parting was only temporary.

These comments imply that Celeborn could have left Middle-earth with Galadriel if he had wished, and Tolkien’s replies to queries from readers seem to confirm this. In his unpublished letter to Eileen Elgar, begun 22 September 1963, he comments that Celeborn and Galadriel were of different kin: Celeborn was of that branch of the Elves that, in the First Age, was so in love with Middle-earth that they had refused the call of the Valar to go to Valinor; he had never seen the Blessed Realm. Now he remained until he had seen the coming of the Dominion of Men. But to an immortal Elf, for whom time was not as it is to mortals, the period in which he was parted from Galadriel would seem brief.
The Lord of the Rings A Readers Companion - Book VI Chapter 6 - "Many Partings"

  • There's nothing here about Celeborn pulling up stakes and founding East Lórien in southern Mirkwood.
    – Spencer
    Jul 28, 2021 at 23:14
  • @Spencer - It's from the same Appendix B quote, just right before the part I used. "Thranduil took all the northern region as far as the mountains that rise in the forest for his realm; and Celeborn took all the southern wood below the Narrows, and named it East Lórien; all the wide forest between was given to the Beornings and the Woodmen. But after..." I interpreted that as just it was added onto his kingdom, not that he actually moved there. Maybe I'll add the full quote to the answer though.
    – ibid
    Jul 28, 2021 at 23:47
  • Also at the end of the story of Aragorn and Arwen, the impression one gets when Arwen arrives to Lórien is that it's abandoned. Which suggests that Celeborn and those who lived there had left.
    – Amarth
    Jul 29, 2021 at 14:19

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