Adventures of Tom Bombadil
“Nos. 1 (Adventures of Bombadil) and 2 (Bombadil Goes Boating) evidently come from the Buckland. They show more knowledge of that country, and of the Dingle, the wooded valley of the Withywindle, than any Hobbits west of the Marish were likely to possess. They also show that the Bucklanders knew Bombadil though, no doubt they had as little understanding of his powers as the Shirefolk had of Gandalf's: both were regarded as benevolent persons, mysterious maybe and unpredictable but nonetheless comic.” CULTURAL; SHIRE; EASTFARTHING; BUCKLAND; HOBBITS; 3A
“The influence of the events at the end of the Third Age, and the widening of the horizons of the Shire by contact with Rivendell and Gondor, is to be seen in other pieces.”
“The thought of the Sea was ever-present in the background of hobbit imagination; but fear of it and distrust of all Elvish lore, was the prevailing mood in the Shire at the end of the Third Age, and that mood was certainly not entirely dispelled by the events and changes with which that Age ended.”
“ Grindwall was a small hythe on the north bank of the Withywindle; it was outside the Hay, and was so well watched and protected by a grind or fence extended into the water. Breredon (Briar Hill) was a little village on rising ground behind the hythe, in the narrow tongue between the end of the High Hay and the Brandywine.** At the Mithe, the outflow of the Shirebourn, was a landing-stage, from which a lane ran to Deephallow and so on to the Causeway road that went through Rushey and Stock. PHYSICAL; ECON; SHIRE; BUCKLAND; HOBBITS; 3A **I believe this is a long-overlooked typo, and should be read Withywindle?
1. Adventures of Tom Bombadil: “Old Tom Bombadil was a merry fellow;/bright blue his jacket was and his boots were yellow,/ green were his girdle and his breeches all of leather; he wore in his tall hat a swan-wing feather.” GARMENTS; MATERIALS; FAUNA; BOMBADIL; 3A
“Old Tom in summertime walked about the meadows/gathering the buttercups, running after shadows,/tickling the bumblebees that buzzed among the flowers…” FLORA; FAUNA; ERIADOR; SHIRE; 3A
“…said fair Goldberry. 'Bubbles you are blowing,/frightening the finny fish and the brown water-rat,/startling the dabchicks, and drowning your feather-hat!'” FAUNA; ERIADOR; SHIRE; 3A A dabchick is a name for a little grebe, a small European diving bird.
“Butterflies about his head went quivering and winking,/until grey clouds came up, as the sun was sinking.” FAUNA; ERIADOR; SHIRE; 3A
“Out came Badger-brock with his snowy forehead/and his dark blinking eyes. In the hill he quarried…” FAUNA; ERIADOR; SHIRE; 3A
“Show me to your backdoor under briar-roses;/then clean grimy paws, wipe your earthy noses!/Go back to sleep again on your straw pillow…” FLORA; ECON; MATERIALS; ERIADOR; SHIRE; 3A
“Old Tom Bombadil lay upon his pillow…slept like a humming-top, snored like a bellows.” TOYS; ECON; SHIRE; 3A
“[Tom] caught [Goldberry], held her fast! Water-rats went scuttering/reeds hissed, herons cried, and her heart was fluttering.” FAUNA; FLORA; ERIADOR; SHIRE; 3A
“his bride with forgetmenots and flag-lilies for garland/was robed all in silver-green. He sang like a starling,/hummed like a honey-bee, lilted to the fiddle…” FLORA; FAUNA; CULTURAL (MUSIC); ERIADOR; SHIRE; 3A
2: Bombadil Goes Boating: “The old year was turning brown; the West Wind was calling;/Tom caught a beechen leaf in the [Old] Forest falling.” TREES; ERIADOR; SHIRE; OLD FOREST; 3A
“He shaved oars, patched his boat; from hidden creek he hauled her/through reed and sallow-brake, under leaning alder,” TRANSPORT; FLORA; TREES; ERIADOR; SHIRE; 3A
“The King's fisher shut his beak, winked his eye, as singing/Tom passed under bough. Flash! then he went winging;/dropped down jewel-blue a feather, and Tom caught it” FAUNA; ERIADOR; SHIRE; 3A
“'Whoosh! said otter-lad, river-water spraying/over Tom's hat and all; set the boat a-swaying” FAUNA; ERIADORE; SHIRE; 3A
“Hoy! Here's Woodman Tom with his billy-beard on!'/laughed all the little folk of Hays-end and Breredon./'Ware, Tom' We'll shoot you dead with our bows and arrows'/We don't let Forest-folk nor bogies from the Barrows/cross over Brandywine by cockle-boat nor ferry'.” FAUNA; WEAPONS; TRAVEL; CULTURAL; SHIRE; HOBBITS; 3A ‘Billy-beard’ (as in billygoat) is further evidence of hobbits’ familiarity with goats
“'Away over Brandywine by Shirebourn I'd be going,/but too swift for cockle-boat, the river now is flowing./I'd bless little folk that took me in their wherry…” TRAVEL; SHIRE; HOBBITS; 3A A wherry is a light English skiff, such as seen here
“Laughing they drove away, in Rushey never halting,/though the inn open stood and they could smell the malting.” ECON; SHIRE; HOBBITS; 3A
“When others went to bed in hay, fern, or feather,/close in the inglenook they laid their heads together,/old Tom and Muddy-feet, swapping all the tidings/from Barrow-downs to Tower Hills: of walkings and of ridings;/of wheat-ear and barley-corn, of sowing and of reaping;/queer tales from Bree, and talk at smithy, mill, and cheaping;/rumours in whispering trees, south-wind in the larches…” ARCHITECTURE; MATERIALS; FOOD; TREES; SHIRE; HOBBITS; 3A ‘Cheaping’ is an archaic term for a market.
6. The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon: Tolkien states that this poem “must be derived ultimately from Gondor” and “evidently based on the traditions of Men, living in shore-lands.”
“A star in flight, ere Yule one night/flickering down he fell/From his laddery path to a foaming bath/in the windy Bay of Bel… When a fisherman's boat found him far afloat/to the amazement of the crew… Against his wish with the morning fish/they packed him back to land:/'You had best get a bed in an inn', they said;/'the town is near at hand'./Only the knell of one slow bell/high in the Seaward Tower/Announced the news of his moonsick cruise.” ECON; TRAVEL; GONDOR; MEN; 3A The Seaward Tower, Tirith Aear, was in or near Dol Amroth.
“He knocked as he passed on doors locked fast,/and called and cried in vain,/Till he came to an inn that had light within,/and tapped at a window-pane./A drowsy cook gave a surly look,/and 'What do you want?' said he./'I want fire and gold and songs of old/and red wine flowing free!' ECON; ARCHITECTURE; GONDOR; 3A
'You won't get them here', said the cook with a leer,/'but you may come inside./Silver I lack and silk to my back—/maybe I'll let you bide'./A silver gift the latch to lift,/a pearl to pass the door;/For a seat by the cook in the ingle-nook/it cost him twenty more. MATERIALS; ARCHITECTURE; GONDOR; MEN; 3A This Gondorian cook knows of silk, but has no silk garments?
For hunger or drouth naught passed his mouth/till he gave both crown and cloak;/And all that he got, in an earthen pot/broken and black with smoke,/Was porridge cold and two days old/to eat with a wooden spoon./For puddings of Yule with plums, poor fool,/he arrived so much too soon…” ARTIFACTS; MATERIALS; FOOD; CULTURAL; GONDOR; MEN; 3A Although we may imagine Gondor to be fairly advanced, this passage helps us imagine how common folk eat. Plums are only ever mentioned in the Shire; I wonder where these plums^ would be expected to come from?
8. Perry-the-Winkle: The reference to the 'Lockholes gate' in the poem's seventh stanza suggests that it dates to the early Fourth Age, following the Shire's occupation by Sharkey's ruffians.
“Down he went, and he walked all night/with his feet in boots of fur;/to Delving he came in the morning light,/when folk were just astir.” GARMENTS; TROLLS; 4A
“The Troll went on to the market-place/and peeped above the stalls;/the sheep went wild when they saw his face,/and the geese flew over the walls./Old Farmer Hogg he spilled his ale,/Bill Butcher threw a knife,/and Grip his dog, he turned his tail/and ran to save his life.” ECON; LIVESTOCK; FAUNA; SHIRE; HOBBITS; 4A Michel Delving is the site of a market; the use of ‘Butcher’ as a last name is suggestive of a division of labor?
“There were pikelets, there was buttered toast,/and jam, and cream, and cake,/and the Winkle strove to eat the most,/though his buttons all should break./The kettle sang, the fire was hot,/the pot was large and brown,/and the Winkle tried to drink the lot,/in tea though he should drown.” FOOD; ARTIFACTS; ERIADOR; HOBBITS; 4A A pikelet is a sort of thin crumpet. It might be assumed that the ‘large, brown pot’ was of the Troll’s own manufacture.
“…the old Troll said: 'I'll now begin/the baker's art to teach,/the making of beautiful cramsome bread,/of bannocks light and brown;/and then you can sleep on a heather-bed/with pillows of owlets' down'.” FOOD; FLORA; FAUNA; ERIADOR; 4A It is unclear what cramsome bread is—though it is unlikely that it is related to the cram made by the Men of Dale.
“Then all the People went with a will,/by pony, cart, or moke,/until they came to a house in a hill/and saw a chimney smoke.” LIVESTOCK; TRAVEL; SHIRE; HOBBITS; 4A ‘Moke’ is an archaic term for a donkey!
“Now Perry-the-Winkle grew so fat/through eating of cramsome bread,/his weskit bust, and never a hat/would sit upon his head…” GARMENTS; SHIRE; HOBBITS; 4A
12. The Cat: “The fat cat on the mat/may seem to dream/of nice mice that suffice…” FAUNA; SHIRE; HOBBITS; 3A; 4A
“…his kin, lean and slim, or deep in den in the East feasted on beasts and tender men. The giant lion with iron claw in paw, and huge ruthless tooth in gory jaw; the ‘pard dark-starred, fleet upon feet, that oft soft from aloft leaps on his meat…” FAUNA; RHUN; HARAD; 3A; 4A This passage—like the Book III reference to “apes in the dark forests of the South”—suggests that hobbits are at least vaguely aware of the wildlife of the further reaches of Middle-earth.
16. The Last Ship: Like poem number 6 above, this poem was also comes by way of Gondor, likely as a result of contact with the Southern Kingdom at the end of the Third Age or early in the Fourth—witness that the main character, Firiel shares her name with “a daughter of Elanor, daughter of Sam, but her name, if connected with the rhyme, must be derived from it; it could not have arisen in Westmarch.”
“[Firiel] watched the gleam at window grow, till the long light was shimmering… “Over the floor her white feet crept, down the stair they twinkled…” ARCHITECTURE; GONDOR; MEN; 3A
“Her gown had jewels upon its hem, as she ran down to the river, and leaned upon a willow-stem, and watched the water quiver. A kingfisher plunged down like a stone in a blue flash falling, bending reeds were softly blown, lily-leaves were sprawling.” TREES; FAUNA; FLORA; GONDOR; 3A
“A sudden music to her came, as she stood there gleaming with free hair in the morning's flame on her shoulders streaming. Flutes there were, and harps were wrung, and there was sound of singing, like wind-voices keen and young and far bells ringing. A ship with golden beak and oar and timbers white came gliding; swans went sailing on before, her tall prow guiding. Fair folk out of Elvenland in silver-grey were rowing, and three with crowns she saw there stand with bright hair flowing. With harp in hand they sang their song to the slow oars swinging…” CULTURAL (MUSIC); TRAVEL; FAUNA; GONDOR; ELVES; 3A The ‘golden beak’ is reminiscent of Lothlorien’s swan-boat; the ship is also clearly propelled by oars and not any ‘magical’ means.
“No jewels bright her gown bore, as she walked back from the meadow under roof and dark door, under the house-shadow. She donned her smock of russet brown, her long hair braided, and to her work came stepping down…” GARMENTS; PHYSICAL; GONDOR; WO(MEN); 3A This may be the only description of a common woman in all of Middle-earth! The use of ‘russet’ to describe Firiel’s garment serves a dual purpose—not only is it a reddish-brown hue, but it also denotes a coarse, homespun fabric.