Bilbo’s Song

The post I just re-blogged from Pat Cegan, ‘Day’s End‘, keeps reminding me of the beautiful sweet song Bilbo improvises for himself in Rivendell after giving to Frodo, the new Ring-bearer, what he himself had received during his own Adventure sixty years before, which had been so helpful to keep him alive and relatively safe: his little sword, which he had named ‘Sting’, and the mithril extra-light mail-shirt that Thorin Oakenshield gifted him before dying. Now that old Bilbo has done all he could to protect his beloved Frodo soon to depart with the rest of the Company for their potentially deadly Quest of Mount Doom, which he had to admit he could not join this time:

‘He broke off and turned to the window again, singing softly.

I sit beside the fire and think

of all that I have seen,

of meadow-flowers and butterflies

in summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer

in autumns that there were,

with morning mist and silver sun

and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think

of how the world will be

when winter comes without a spring

that I shall ever see.

For still there are so many things

that I have never seen:

in every wood and every spring

there is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think

of people long ago,

and people who will see a world

that I shall never know.

But all the while I sit and think

of times there were before,

I listen for returning feet

and voices at the door.”

And later that winter night, outside, after Elrond has given his own  Elvish blessing to the whole departing Fellowship, it is Bilbo who speaks the last, thus:

‘Good… good luck!’ cried Bilbo, stuttering with the cold. ‘I don’t suppose you will be able to keep a diary, Frodo my lad, but I shall expect a full account when you get back. And don’t be too long! Farewell!’

It is Tolkien himself who named that little piece ‘Bilbo’s Song’, I was surprised one day to discover while looking at all the poems and songs listed out through their first line in the Index he included at the end of  ‘The Lord of the Rings’. That was a useful memory to remember when I tried to locate this song again inside the massive one volume book I have of the original, English text. I looked it up in the Index, and, lo and behold, there it was indeed, with the precise reference making it easy to find. Noticing how I lingered upon it once again after reading it one more time, I decided there and then to honor it properly with a post of its own on my blog, echoing the kind of melancholic feeling an elderly person may have as exemplified in ‘Day’s End’, but with a special charm, an intimate sweetness in its very poignancy, that for me is characteristic of Tolkien himself and his inner attitude towards Life, the inner certitude he had of the wonderful future that is awaiting the Earth and our souls embodied again on it.

Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's T...

Ian Holm as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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