The Riddle of Strider
The poem is first given in the letter left for Frodo by Gandalf in Bree. In that letter, it appears as part of a postscript reminding Frodo to make sure that the "Strider" he meets is "the real Strider". The poem thus appears in that context as a means of identifying Aragorn. Aragorn indeed later quotes the first two lines, not knowing the poem is in the letter, and this does help to confirm his identity. Bilbo himself recites the poem at the Council of Elrond when Boromir expresses doubts about Aragorn's claim to be the Heir of Isildur.
- 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.
The first line is clearly a re-working of the traditional proverb "All that glitters is not gold", shifting its meaning. The second line, perhaps one of the lines from Tolkien's work most often quoted out of context, refers to Aragorn's travels. The third and fourth lines concern Aragorn's heritage, while the remaining lines describe his destiny. The "blade that was broken" refers to the Shards of Narsil, which is indeed remade for Aragorn.
Portrayal in adaptations
- Gandalf reads out the Riddle when Frodo reads the letter in Bree.
- Although the letter is read aloud, the Riddle is absent. Strider simply tells his name after Frodo reads the words "His name is Aragorn". Later, in Rivendell, Frodo uses the line "the old that is strong does not wither" to refer to Bilbo, and Arwen says "From the ashes a fire shall be woken" when she gives Aragorn Andúril.
- The last four lines are recited by Arwen upon her return to Rivendell as she stands before the Shards of Narsil. She later encourages Elrond to re-forge the sword, and presumably to deliver it to Aragorn.