Good observation, Athrabeth
. I do think that it can be said with a fairly high degree of certainty that at the time that The Lord of the Rings
was written (and even when it was published) the second prophecy was still firmly in place. After all, it was still firmly ensconced at the end of the Quenta Silmarillion
, and at that point no writings existed that would serve to question whether it continued to fully reflect Tolkien's views as "the true story". Certainly to the extent that Christopher Tolkien's goal was to achieve consistency with the already published works in creating the published Silmarillion
there was no reason for him to remove it (although it could also be said that it's absence doesn't itself cause any inconsistency with The Lord of the Rings
But, of course, when we are talking about "the second prophecy" there are a number of different components that we are talking about. This discussion of the second prophecy largely stemmed (at least originally) out our discussion about the "Of Túrin Turumbar" chapter in the Silmarillion
, and the fact that the portion of the second prophecy that relates to Túrin eventually striking down Morgoth provided some resolution to the unrelenting darkness of the story of the children of Húrin. However, I would suggest that that is a relatively minor component of the second prophecy. To me, the really important component of the second prophecy is, in fact, the portion referred to in the passage that Athrabeth
cites, where Tom Bombadil talks about the world being mended.
For me, this idea, which I think can properly be referred to as "Arda Healed" (which I think is more accurate than "Arda Unmarred," which could just as easily relate to the state of Arda before its Marring) is one of the most important concepts in all of Tolkien's work. We have talked a lot about the passage in the commentary to the Athrabeth
, in which Tolkien states not only that the second prophecy is a "Mannish myth," but that the Elves themselves have no myths or legends about the ending of the world. However, in terms of the "truth" of the concept of the world being mended -- of Arda Healed -- I would say that that brief passage should be considered trumped by the report of the long discussion of the Valar, and particularly the words of Manwë himself, in the "Laws and Customs Among the Eldar" (which was written contemporaneously with the Athrabeth
and the commentaries to it):
'For Arda Unmarred hath two aspects or senses. The first is the Unmarred that they discern in the Marred, if their eyes are not dimmed, and yearn for, as we yearn for the will of Eru: this is the ground upon which Hope is built. The second is the Unmarred that shall be: that is, to speak according to Time in which they have their being, the Arda Healed, which shall be greater and more fair than the first, because of the Marring: this is the Hope that sustaineth. It cometh not only from the yearning for the Will of Ilúvatar the Begetter which by itself may lead those within Time to no more than regret), but also from trust in Eru the Lord everlasting, that he is good, and that his works shall all end in good.
It is the lack of any sense of the inevitability of the healing of Arda, of the concept that Eru is good, and that his works shall end in good, that I most miss from the removal of the second prophecy from the published Silmarillion