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Tolkien wrote many beautiful poems which he incorporated into The Lord of the Rings.  They are varied in tone, mood, and style.  However, they all blend into the story and often provide a glimpse of the mythology and history behind the books.

 

“Sam’s Song”

 

In western lands beneath the Sun

   the flowers may rise in Spring,

the trees may bud, the waters run,

   the merry finches isng.

Or there maybe ‘tis cloudless night

   and swaying beeches bear

the Elven-stars as jewels white

   amid their branching hair.

 

Though here at journey’s end I lie

   in darkness buried deep,

beyond all towers strong and high,

   beyond all mountains steep,

above all darkness rides the Sun

   and Stars forever dwell:

I will not say the Day is done,

   nor bid the Stars farewell.  (RotK 204)

 

This is one of my favorite poems in the book and even of all time.  Perhaps the setting has something to do with it.  Sam sings it in the Tower of Cirith Ungol, when he has given up all hope of finding Frodo,  The last stanza in particular chokes me up every time I read it.

 

“The Fall of Gil-galad”

 

Gil-galad was an Elven-king,

Of him the harpers sadly sing:

the last whose realm was fair and free

between the Mountains and the Sea.

 

His sword was long, his lance was keen,

his shining helm afar was seen;

the countless stars of heaven’s field

were mirrored in his silver shield.

 

But long ago he rode away,

and where he dwelleth none can say;

for into darkness fell his star

in Mordor where the shadows are. (FotR 229)

 

This is my other favorite poem from the book.  It is not as touching in terms of the subject, but the beauty of the poem itself has made it very dear to me.  I love the alliteration “sadly sing” “fair and free” and “silver shield.” 

“Bilbo’s Walking Song”

 

The Road goes every on and on

   Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

   And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

   Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errand meet.

   And whither then?  I cannot say. (FotR 58)

************************************************

Still round the corner there may wait

   A new road or a secret gate;

And though I oft have passed them by,

   A day will come at last when I

Shall take the hidden paths that run

   West of the Moon, East of the Sun. (RotK 344)

 

This is Bilbo’s old walking song which someone is always adding another verse to.  I have included here the first verse that Bilbo says when he is leaving for Rivendell and the verse that Frodo makes up just before he leaves the Shire forever.

 

“The Wandering Elves’ Song”

 

Snow-white!  Snow-white! O Lady clear!

   O Queen beyond the Western Sea!

O Light to us that wander here

   Amid the world of woven trees!

 

Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!

   Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath,

Snow-white!  Snow-white! We sing to thee

   In a far land beyond the Sea.  (FotR108)

 

This is a song to Varda the Lady of the Stars.  The High-elves that the hobbits meet sing it as they travel towards the Grey Havens.

 

“Aragorn’s Riddle”

 

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. (FotR 212)

 

This is a poem made for Aragorn by none other than Bilbo  I like it because of its beautiful imagery and the interesting reversal of an old saying in the first line (“All that glitters is not gold” “All that is gold does not glitter”).  It also fits Aragorn perfectly, especially in his Strider guise.

 

“Song of Gondor”

 

Gondor!  Gondor, between the Mountains and the Sea!

West Wind blew there; the light upon the Silver Tree

Fell like bright rain in gardens of the Kings of old.

O proud walls!  White towers!  O winged crown and throne of gold!

O Gondor, Gondor!  Shall Men behold the Silver Tree,

Or West Wind blow again between the Mountains and the Sea? (TTT 15)

 

This poem seems to sum up Gondor to me, just as the poem about Eorl the Young seems to sum up Rohan.  I love Gondor because I see in it the shadows of a once-great land which has the potential to blossom beyond even what it once was.  The answer tot the question in the last lines is yes, and we see the answer unfold throughout the book.

 

“The Lament of the Rohirrim”

 

Where now the horse and the rider?  Where is the horn

   that was blowing?

Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair

   flowing?

Where is the hand on the harpstring and the red fire

   glowing?

Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn

   growing?

They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind

   in the meadow;

The days have gone down in the West behind the hills

   into shadow.

Who shall gather the smoke of dead wood burning,

Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?  (TTT 118-9)

 

This is such a beautiful poem and, as I said before, it sums up the nature of Rohan for me.  I missed it the first time I read the book, but when I heard it quoted in the movie I fell in love with it and had to go back and look it up.  “Thus spoke a forgotten poet long ago in Rohan, recalling how fair was Eorl the Young, who rode down out of the North, and there were wings upon the feet of his steed, Felaróf, father of horses” (TTT 119).

 

“Gandalf’s Song of Lórien”

 

In Dwimordene, in Lórien

Seldom have walked the feet of Men,

Few mortal eyes have seen the light

That lies there ever, long and bright. 

Galadriel! Galadriel!

Clear is the water of your well;

White is the star in your white hand;

Unmarred, unstained is leaf and land

In Dwimordene, in Lórien

More fair than thoughts of Mortal Men. (TTT 125-6)

 

I love the descriptions of Galadriel.  Gandalf recites this lovely poem and Gimli and Sam both describe her in their own ways.  Sam’s in particular is poetry in prose form.  “Sometimes like a great tree in flower, sometimes like a white daffadowndilly, small and slender like.  Hard as di’monds, soft as moonlight.  Warm as sunlight, cold as frost in the stars. Proud and far-off as a snow-mountain, and as merry as any lass I ever saw with daisies in her hair in springtime” (TTT 324).  Anyone that can evoke such descriptions must be beautiful indeed!  The line “White is the star in your white hand” may refer to her Ring since it was set with a white stone.

 

“Théoden’s Battle-cry”

 

Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!

Fell deeds awake:  fire and slaughter!

spear shall be shaken, shield shall be splintered,

a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!

Ride now, ride now!  Ride to Gondor! (RotK 123)

 

I think I love this poem because of the bravery in it.  Also, it is the last battle-cry that Théoden will ever give; he dies soon afterwards.  I must say that Bernard Hill’s wonderful recitation in the movie helped my appreciation of it increase.

 

This last quote is not in the form of a poem, but I believe that it is a poem in prose form.  It is one of my favorite passages from LotR, or indeed from any book.  Besides all of this, Frodo is one of my favorite characters, and to see him at peace and healed at last means a great deal to me.

 

“Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went aboard; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore was lost.  And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water.  And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey-rain curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.” (RotK 347)

 

Please pardon our dust!