Tolkien on ‘shards of the true light’

Creativity is son-light, filtered

SunlightCreativity is son-light, filtered. Some delicious verse from J R R Tolkein on how our ‘creativity’ is really a derivative of the divine creativity:

Man, Sub-creator, the refracted Light

through whom is splintered from a single White

to many hues, and endlessly combined

in living shapes that move from mind to mind.1


For Tolkein, myth was a fragment of a truth, and a pointer to God.  (The quote also shows him to be no fan of modern technology.)

We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming ‘sub-creator’ and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic ‘progress’ leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.” 2

  1. J R R Tolkien, Tree and Leaf: On Fairy Stories, in The Tolkien Reader (Ballantine Books 1966), p 54. I’m grateful for this reference to Dr David Bradstreet and Steve Rabey: Star Struck, Zondervan 2016, p285.
  2. Humphrey Carpenter, JRR Tolkien: A Biography, p. 151.

One thought on “Tolkien on ‘shards of the true light’”

  1. Thanks for this Glenn. These are deep thoughts and for those of us who ply a creative trade maybe not always uppermost in our minds. It’s good to take a moment and step back to consider such things.

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