Reader deep thought: Why does Aulë’s penance seem like a by-the-way-you-got-them-in-trouble-too for Ilúvatar’s own children, as he puts it?
“But I will not suffer this: that these should come before the Firstborn of my design, nor that thy impatience should be rewarded. They shall sleep now in the darkness under stone, and shall not come forth until the Firstborn have awakened upon Earth; and until that time thou and they shall wait, though long it seem. But when the time comes I will awaken them, and they shall be to thee as children; and often strife shall arise between thine and mine, the children of my adoption and the children of my choice.”
Aulë, in his impatience in his “desire the coming of the Children” that he may pass on and teach his skills and craft, did an impressionist thing and made Dwarves, sowing the seeds of the ages-long strife between the true Firstborn and his creations, who were born before the Firstborn.
Clearly he understood the implications and the enormity of what he did, because “fearing that the other Valar might blame his work, he wrought in secret: and he made first the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves in a hall under the mountains in Middle-earth.”
Why do it then? This shows it is the norm even among the Valar, who are Ainur, and brethren of Melkor, that indeed virtuous infallibility to temptation is an exception.
Ilúvatar’s omnipresence is the real deal, despite the covet operational nature of Aulë’s plans. But of course. And in remorse, he wanted to destroy his creations.
Then Aulë took up a great hammer to smite the Dwarves; and he wept. But Ilúvatar had compassion upon Aulë and his desire, because of his humility; and the Dwarves shrank from the hammer and were afraid, and they bowed down their heads and begged for mercy. And the voice of Ilúvatar said to Aulë: ‘Thy offer I accepted even as it was made. Dost thou not see that these things have now a life of their own, and speak with their own voices? Else they would not have flinched from thy blow, nor from any command of thy will.’ Then Aulë cast down his hammer and was glad, and he gave thanks to Ilúvatar, saying: ‘May Eru bless my work and amend it!’
But Ilúvatar spoke again and said: ‘Even as I gave being to the thoughts of the Ainur at the beginning of the World, so now I have taken up thy desire and given to it a place therein; but in no other way will I amend thy handiwork, and as thou hast made it, so shall it be….
Ilúvatar stopped him even as he gave true LIFE to the Dwarves, and proclaimed their Doom, to be ever at odds with the Elves. Any upgrades and versionings, to fortify the Dwarves in anticipation of Melkor’s malice, were Aulë’s, since Ilúvatar would not do more than germinate version 0.
But if Ilúvatar was merely zen about it, Yavanna was beyond upset, probably the fact that Aulë was her spouse was part of her agitation.
“…. Yet because thou hiddest this thought from me until its achievement, thy children will have little love for the things of my love. They will love first the things made by their own hands, as doth their father. They will delve in the earth, and the things that grow and live upon the earth they will not heed. Many a tree shall feel the bite of their iron without pity.’
But Aulë answered: ‘That shall also be true of the Children of Ilúvatar; for they will eat and they will build. And though the things of thy realm have worth in themselves, and would have worth if no Children were to come, yet Eru will give them dominion, and they shall use all that they find in Arda: though not, by the purpose of Eru, without respect or without gratitude.’
‘Not unless Melkor darken their hearts,’ said Yavanna….
While upset enough that she went to Manwë to question the absolute dominion of the Children of Ilúvatar over her creations, she did not betray Aulë. It was a stroke of genius for her to think of protectors and defenders for the flora of the world.
‘All have their worth,’ said Yavanna, ‘and each contributes to the worth of the others. But the kelvar can flee or defend themselves, whereas the olvar that grow cannot. And among these I hold trees dear. Long in the growing, swift shall they be in the felling, and unless they pay toll with fruit upon bough little mourned in their passing. So I see in my thought. Would that the trees might speak on behalf of all things that have roots, and punish those that wrong them!’
Manwë, through the guidance of Ilúvatar, discerned details in the Song that he had not seen or paid attention to before (with Ilúvatar seeming to improvise and change up some things at the same time), and saw a solution to Yavanna’s distress.
…‘only the trees of Aulë will be tall enough. In the mountains the Eagles shall house, and hear the voices of those who call upon us. But in the forests shall walk the Shepherds of the Trees.’
It seemed the Shepherds would enter the world at the same time as the “Eagles of the Lords of the West”: “before the Children awake there shall go forth with wings like the wind the Eagles of the Lords of the West”.
Vindicated, Yavanna warned Aulë, who was unimpressed on his creations’ behalf:
‘Eru is bountiful,’ she said. ‘Now let thy children beware! For there shall walk a power in the forests whose wrath they will arouse at their peril.’
‘Nonetheless they will have need of wood,’ said Aulë, and he went on with his smith-work.
How portentous his words.
(Relevance: read-along schedule)