The Annotated LotR - The Old Forest

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The Annotated LotR - The Old Forest

Postby MithLuin » Thu Sep 02, 2004 8:27 pm

This is the latest chapter in the Annotated LotR project. See -Romestamo-'s sticky index for other threads. The goal of this project is to provide annotations for passages in Tolkien's LotR. This thread is devoted to the chapter "The Old Forest" in Fellowship of the Ring. Contributions from everyone are welcome.

Note from the Editor: I must apologize, but I will be unable to edit this for awhile. Please, continue to contribute, and I will add annotation in when I return. I do not want anyone to feel that their contributions are being ignored.

Frodo woke suddenly.

The date is September 26, 3018 TA.

Merry went in front leading a laden pony, and took his way through a spinney behind the house

A "spinney" is a small grove or copse of trees, from a French word meaning "a thorny place."

http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/s/s0643000.html

Tell Gandalf to hurry along the East Road: we shall soon be back on it and going as fast as we can

The East Road was built by the Numenoreans (Dunedain) between Rivendell and the Grey Havens during the Second Age (see "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields" in Unfinished Tales). After the kingdom of Arnor was divided, the East Road formed the boundary between Cardolan and Rhudaur.
This road is also referred to as the East-West Road by Gandalf in "Shadows of the Past," and is labeled in this way on the larger map.
It passes through the Shire, and is labeled the East Road on the Map of the Shire. It was the road that Merry and Fatty used to take the cart to Buckland; it was not the road that Frodo, Sam and Pippin had to leave to escape Black Riders.
Frodo expects to return to the East Road well before reaching the town of Bree; he is entering the Old Forest only as a diversion, and a slight short cut.

For more information about Bree, see 'At the Sign of the Prancing Pony'
For more information about Cardolan and Rhudaur, see 'Fog on the Barrow Downs' (?) and Appendix A.

Extreme editorial revision - comments, please.

But the hobbits came, and cut down hundreds of trees, and made a great bonfire in the Forest

The etymology of the word "bonfire:"
References do not agree whether this word is sourced to "bon fire" (i.e., "good" fire) or "bane fire" (i.e., fire to remove evil) or "bone fire" (i.e., burning animal bones).
The OED, however, favors the "bone fire" etymology, and lists a citation from 1493 associating a "bone fire" with Saint John. Traditionally, this would be Saint John's Eve, or June 23rd. This is consistent with earlier references to a Celtic midsummer festival where animal bones were burnt to ward off evil spirits. Scotland and Ireland have similar traditions.
In modern English, "bonfire" means any large, but controlled, open-air fire.


source: http://www.alt-usage-english.org/ucle/ucle15.html

The bonfire built by the hobbits was, of course, a modern 'bonfire', not an ancient 'bone-fire'. There is no indication that the bonfire was related to any festival, but rather, was meant as a retaliation against the forest.

No tree grew there, only rough grass and many tall plants: stalky and faded hemlocks

This is presumably a reference to the Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum, famous for its role in the execution of Socrates.

http://montana.plant-life.org/species/conium_mac.htm

and wood-parsley

"Wood-parsley" is apparently not a name in common use; an Internet search turns up mostly quotations of this passage. One site identifies the name with Anthiscus sylvestris, the usual English name of which is "Cow Parsley":

http://www.fishing-in-wales.com/wildlif ... wparsl.htm

Cow Parsley, however, is a spring bloomer, and it seems unlikely that even faded blooms would be present in September (unlike Poison Hemlock, which blooms in late summer).

So this identification is at best tentative?

fire-weed seeding into fluffy ashes

A number of different plants are called "fireweed," but the most likely candidate is Epilobium angustifolium:

http://www.wiseacre-gardens.com/plants/ ... eweed.html

The common name refers to the plant's habit of rapidly colonizing burned areas such as the Bonfire Glade. It was one of the first plants to return to the areas devastated by the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens in the U.S. state of Washington (it is native to northern areas of both hemispheres). Its blooming season is given as July through August or September, which fits the description of it as "seeding."

and rampant nettles

The common nettle of England is the Stinging Nettle, Urtica dioica, though the Small Nettle, Urtica urens, is also found.

http://earthnotes.tripod.com/nettle.htm

and thistles.

The name "thistle" is applied to a wide variety of spiny plants belonging to a number of different genera. The "classic" thistle is the Scotch Thistle, Onopordon acanthium:

http://www.electricscotland.com/gardening/thistle.htm

He lifted his heavy eyes and saw leaning over him a huge willow-tree, old and hoary.

Tolkien left behind a drawing of Old Man Willow, labeled as such. It is published in the collection J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull.

http://www.diar.ru/tolkien/pictures/pbjrrt/willowm.jpg

According to correspondence between the late Fr. John Tolkien and the editors of Artist and Illustrator, John Tolkien thought that his father's drawing was inspired by a particular fully grown willow on the banks of the Cherwell near Oxford, distinct from others because it was not pollarded [cultivated by having its top branches cut back to the trunk to encourage a dense growth of new withies].

Many species of willow (genus Salix) are found in England, but only a few grow into large trees. The two most likely to have served as Tolkien's model are the White Willow, Salix alba, and the Crack Willow, Salix fragilis. The two are closely related, and are known to hybridize with one another, so a conclusive identification seems unattainable. Here is a picture of a suitably villainous-looking Crack Willow:

http://www.bioimages.org.uk/HTML/P3/P34035.HTM

(The name "Crack Willow" does not refer to the cracks in the tree, but to the fact that its twigs break off with a crack, unlike other species that have tough and flexible twigs, once used as cords to tie objects together.)

Light goes the weather-wind and the feathered starling.

The Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) is apparently well-thought of in Britain, where it is native. This is mystifying to bird lovers in North America, who regard this introduced species as ugly, noisy, harmful to native birds, and generally Orclike.

http://www.tiscali.co.uk/reference/ency ... rling.html

Goldberry, Goldberry, merry yellow berry-o!

A very tenuous source for the name 'Goldberry' is Princess Goldborough in the semi-legendary tale of Havelock the Dane.

there appeared above the reeds an old battered hat with a tall crown and a long blue feather stuck in the band.

The feather once belonged to a Common or European Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis); in the poem "Bombadil goes Boating," written after the publication of LotR for inclusion in the collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Tolkien gave an account of how the bird gave Tom the feather. In the first Bombadil poem, as it appeared in 1934, Tom wore a peacock feather in his hat; Tolkien changed this to a "swan-wing feather" for the book. The explanation is found in Letter 240, written to Pauline Baynes, the illustrator:
The peacock feather belongs to an old draft. Being unsuitable to the L. R. this becomes in the L.R. (I p. 130) "a long blue feather." In the poem as now to be published Tom appears (in line 4 of the first poem) with a "swan-wing feather": to increase the riverishness, and to allow for the incident in the second poem, the gift of a blue feather by the king's fisher. That incident also explains the blue feather of the L. R. Poem one is evidently, as said in the introduction, a hobbit-version of things long before the days of the L. R. But the second poem refers to the days of growing shadow, before Frodo set out (as the consultation with Maggot shows: cf. L. R. I p. 143). When therefore Tom appears in the L. R. he is wearing a blue feather.

Letters at pp. 318-19. The peacock is "unsuitable" because it is native to Asia. The "long blue feather" cannot have been terribly long, as Alcedo atthis averages only 13 cm overall. (Letter 240 suggests that Tolkien believed that more than one species of kingfisher occurred in England, but if so, he was mistaken.)

http://www.birdguides.com/html/vidlib/s ... atthis.htm

In an early version, when Tolkien was writing the sequel to The Hobbit, the hobbits were only to hear Tom Bombadil’s song during the willow-adventure.
Odo and Bingo cannot go on without a rest. they sit down with their backs to a great willow, while Frodo and Marmaduke attend to the ponies. Willowman traps Bingo and Odo. Suddenly, a singing is heard in the distance. (Tom Bombadil not named.) The Willow relaxes its hold.
HoME 6, "The Old Forest and the Withywindle"


At any rate he was too large and heavy for a hobbit, if not quite tall enough for one of the Big People, though he made noise enough for one, stumping along with great yellow boots on his thick legs, and charging through grass and rushes like a cow going down to drink.

An echo of Chapter 1 of The Hobbit:
I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. . . . There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off.


In his hands he carried on a large leaf as on a tray a small pile of white water-lilies.

The White Water-lily is Nymphaea alba:

http://www.floracyberia.net/spermatophy ... _alba.html

"Whoa! Whoa! steady there!" cried the old man, holding up one hand, and they stopped short, as if they had been struck stiff. "Now, my little fellows, where be you a-going to, puffing like a bellows?"

Tom's words have the power to freeze the hobbits. As seen later, the trees and wights also obey his simple commands, and in 'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil' he also has "the power of command" over the badger and the River-daughter.

Though these utterances of Bombadil's are printed as prose, note that he is still speaking verse (and indeed this is a rhyming couplet). All his speeches are in the same characteristic meter - the basic pattern is that each line is divided into two parts. The first part consists of two feet of three syllables with the accent on the first (dactyls), while the second has three two-syllable feet, again with the accent on the first (trochees). (Here is an introduction to metrical terminology for those who may not be familiar with it:

http://www.fact-index.com/m/me/meter__poetry_.html

This basic pattern is subject to a good deal of variation, as illustrated by these two lines. In the first, one of the dactyls is replaced by a "spondee," a foot with two equally stressed syllables, while in the second, one of the dactyls contains an extra unstressed syllable.

WHOA! WHOA!/STEADy there!||NOW, my/LITtle/FELlows
WHERE be you a/-GOing to,||PUFfing/LIKE a/BELlows?

Both these variants are fairly common.

"Don't you know who I am? I'm Tom Bombadil."

Tom Bombadil pre-existed the writing of LotR, having first appeared publicly in a poem called "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil," published in 1934 in The Oxford Magazine. See HoME v. VI, "The Return of the Shadow," at p. 115. After the publication of LotR, Tolkien made this the title-piece in a collection of his poems, which appeared in 1962. For this volume, he also wrote a new piece called "Bombadil Goes Boating." For the compilation process, see among others Letters 231, 233-35, 237, and 240.

The story-external identity of Tom Bombadil is well known:
Tom Bombadil was a well-known figure in the Tolkien family, for the character was based on a Dutch doll that belonged to Michael. The doll looked very splendid with the feather in its hat, but John did not like it and one day stuffed it down the lavatory. Tom was rescued, and survived to become the hero of a poem by the children's father, 'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil', which was published in the Oxford Magazine in 1934.

'The Storyteller,' J. R. R. Tolkien: a biography.

Tom featured in some of the unrecorded stories told by Tolkien to his children and was to have been the hero of an unfinished tale set in 'the days of King Bonhedig'.

While Tom Bombadil has many names (see 'The Council of Elrond'), the name by which he introduces himself to the hobbits is Bucklandish in form and said by Tolkien (in the notes to The Adventures of Tom Bombadil) to have probably been given to him by the Bucklanders.

For a discussion of who (or what) Tom Bombadil is within the context of Lord of the Rings, please see the annotations on p. 122, 129 of 'In the House of Tom Bombadil'

"What!" shouted Tom Bombadil, leaping up in the air. "Old Man Willow? Naught worse than that, eh? That can soon be mended."

Old Man Willow, like Tom himself, had already appeared in the poem "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil":

Up woke Willow-man, began upon his singing,
sang Tom fast asleep under branches swinging;
in a crack caught him tight: snick! it closed together
trapped Tom Bombadil, coat and hat and feather.

'Ha, Tom Bombadil! What be you a-thinking,
peeping inside my tree, watching me a drinking
deep in my wooden house, tickling me with feather,
dripping wet down my face like a rainy weather?'

'You let me out again, Old Man Willow! I am stiff lying here; they're no sort of pillow,
your hard crooked roots. Drink your river-water!
go back to sleep again like the River-daughter!'

Willow-man let him loose when he heard him speaking;
locked fast his wooden house, muttering and creaking,
whispering inside the tree...


Tom Bombadil knows how to free the Hobbits from Old Man Willow, but never attempts a more permanent solution. As J.R.R. Tolkien noted in Letters
He hardly even judges, and as far as can be seen makes no effort to reform or remove even the Willow. Letter 153


There was Tom Bombadil's house before them

Here is an illustration of Tom Bombadil's house by Alan Lee:
http://img-fan.theonering.net/rolozo/im ... /lee05.jpg

Wind on the open hill, bells on the heather

"Bells on the heather" is a reference to the shape of the heather flower:
http://www.bioimages.org.uk/HTML/P2/P20411.HTM
Last edited by MithLuin on Fri Nov 12, 2004 6:46 pm, edited 18 times in total.
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Postby MithLuin » Thu Sep 02, 2004 8:28 pm

It's mine.
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Postby MithLuin » Thu Sep 02, 2004 8:29 pm

Reserved for future use.
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Postby Mahima » Thu Sep 02, 2004 10:57 pm

Thanks for starting a new chapter Mithluin. :)
And Roac's ready contributions!!!

My two cents:

Tell Gandalf to hurry along the East Road: we shall soon be back on it and going as fast as we can

East Road: The Great East Road was created by the Dwarves somewhere in the First Age, and ran from the Ered Luin to the High Pass, where it continued as the Men-i-Naugrim or "Old Dwarf Road" through Mirkwood, ultimately ending in the Iron Hills of northern Rhovanion.
When the Númenórean realm in exile Arnor was founded, they took over the road, and built several fortresses on or near it (Weathertop), and expanded or created bridges over the rivers Baranduin and Mitheithel. After Arnor was divided, the Great East Road formed the boundary between Cardolan and Rhudaur.
Where the Great East Road meets the Greenway, the village of Bree was founded. Further west the Hobbits colonized the Shire, and their most important towns lie on it (Hobbiton and Michel Delving to name two).

Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Road
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Postby -Rómestámo- » Fri Sep 03, 2004 7:26 pm

"Don't you know who I am? I'm Tom Bombadil."

The story-external identity of Tom Bombadil is well known:
[...] Tom Bombadil was a well-known figure in the Tolkien family, for the character was based on a Dutch doll that belonged to Michael. The doll looked very splendid with the feather in its hat, but John did not like it and one day stuffed it down the lavatory. Tom was rescued, and survived to become the hero of a poem by the children's father, 'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil', which was published in the Oxford Magazine in 1934.

'The Storyteller,' J. R. R. Tolkien: a biography.

Tom featured in some of the unrecorded stories told by Tolkien to his children and was to have been the hero of an unfinished tale set in 'the days of King Bonhedig'.

Within Middle-earth, few subjects attract as much speculation as does the question of 'What is Tom Bombadil?' [This discuss might best be placed in the following chapter?]

Although Tom is purposefully "an enigma" (And even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are. Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally). Letter 144, (1954)), it is possible to exclude categories of being that Tom is not.

He is not Ilúvatar, (Eru, the One):
There is no 'embodiment' of the Creator anywhere in this story or mythology.

Letter 181, (1956).

He is not one of the Valar - the Council of Elrond (q.v.) makes it clear that Tom is less powerful than Sauron, and Tom's comments tell us that he predates even Morgoth entering into Arda (see below).
`But in any case,' said Glorfindel, `to send the Ring to him [Bombadil] would only postpone the day of evil. He is far away. We could not now take it back to him, unguessed, unmarked by any spy. And even if we could, soon or late the Lord of the Rings would learn of its hiding place and would bend all his power towards it. Could that power be defied by Bombadil alone? I think not. I think that in the end, if all else is conquered, Bombadil will fall, Last as he was First; and then Night will come.'

`I know little of Iarwain save the name,' said Galdor; `but Glorfindel, I think, is right. Power to defy our Enemy is not in him, unless such power is in the earth itself. And yet we see that Sauron can torture and destroy the very hills. [...]'

'The Council of Elrond', The Fellowship of the Rings.

As an aside, Goldberry is NOT Yavanna - indeed JRRT tells us what she is: some form of Nature-spirit:
We are not in 'fairy-land', but in real river-lands in autumn. Goldberry represents the actual seasonal changes in such lands.

Letter 210, (1958).

Tom predates the Elves and clearly regards himself as apart from them (and also apart from Men (the 'Big People' ) and hobbits (the 'little People' ):
‘Who are you, Master?’ he asked.

‘Eh, what?’ said Tom sitting up, and his eyes glinting in the gloom. ‘Don’t you know my name yet? That’s the only answer. Tell me, who are you, alone, yourself and nameless? But you are young and I am old. Eldest, that’s what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless - before the Dark Lord came from Outside.’

'In the House of Tom Bombadil', ibid.

This final sentence suggests that Tom was in Arda before the Ainur entered into it at the beginning of Time.
Then there was unrest among the Ainur; but Ilúvatar called to them, and said: 'I know the desire of your minds that what ye have seen should verily be, not only in your thought, but even as ye yourselves are, and yet other. Therefore I say: ! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be; and those of you that will may go down into it. And suddenly the Ainur saw afar off a light, as it were a cloud with a living heart of flame; and they knew that this was no vision only, but that Ilúvatar had made a new thing: Eä, the World that Is.

Thus it came to pass that of the Ainur some abode still with Ilúvatar beyond the confines of the World; but others, and among them many of the greatest and most fair, took the leave of Ilúvatar and descended into it. But this condition Ilúvatar made, or it is the necessity of their love, that their power should thenceforward be contained and bounded in the World, to be within it for ever, until it is complete, so that they are its life and it is theirs.

'Ainulindalë', The Silmarillion,

suggesting also that he is not a Maia. Certainly he is too longaeval to be a Man, Dwarf or Hobbit. He is clearly not an Ent, Troll or Orc.

Given JRRT's own comment (Do you think Tom Bombadil, the spirit of the (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside, could be made into the hero of a story?: Letter 19, (1937)), and his identification of Goldberry as a being of similar sort, the smart money is on Tom Bombadil being a spirit of Nature - although JRRT never explicitly spells this out in The Lord of the Rings in order to preserve the 'enigma'.
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Postby roaccarcsson » Fri Sep 03, 2004 8:33 pm

Frodo woke suddenly.

The date is September 26, 3018.

Wind on the open hill, bells on the heather

"Bells on the heather" is a reference to the shape of the heather flower:

http://www.bioimages.org.uk/HTML/P2/P20411.HTM
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Postby MithLuin » Fri Sep 03, 2004 8:57 pm

Romestamo, I think the discussion of the doll and the other poems belong here, because of Tom's, "Don't you know who I am?"

But I think we can save the discussion of what he is for the next chapter, to go with Frodo's two questions.

I can certainly include a reference to future annotations here, but I will wait until we start the next chapter.
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Sun Sep 05, 2004 3:09 pm

"But the hobbits came, and cut down hundreds of trees, and made a great bonfire in the Forest...."

The word "bonfire" is believed to be a corruption of "bone fire" deriving from a Celtic midsummer festival where animal bones were burnt to ward off evil spirits.


(We could do with more information on this point, is anyone has access to a good encyclopedia)
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Postby roaccarcsson » Mon Sep 06, 2004 12:53 pm

At any rate he was too large and heavy for a hobbit, if not quite tall enough for one of the Big People, though he made noise enough for one, stumping along with great yellow boots on his thick legs, and charging through grass and rushes like a cow going down to drink.

An echo of Chapter 1 of The Hobbit:

I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. . . . There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off.
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Postby Mahima » Tue Sep 07, 2004 3:07 am

Old Man Willow? Naught worse than that - eh? That can soon be mended. I know the tune for him.

Tom Bombadil knows how to free the Hobbits from Old Man Willow, but never attempts a more permanent solution. As J.R.R. Tolkien noted in Letters
He hardly even judges, and as far as can be seen makes no effort to reform or remove even the Willow.

Letter 153
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Postby Mahima » Tue Sep 07, 2004 3:11 am

There was Tom Bombadil's house before them

Here is an illustration of Tom Bombadil's house by Alan Lee:

http://img-fan.theonering.net/rolozo/images/lee/lee05.jpg
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Postby MithLuin » Tue Sep 07, 2004 5:49 pm

Does non-Tolkien artwork (ie, work by another artist) have a place in the annotaion project? I am not opposed to it, merely asking for other opinions before I add it.

But the hobbits came, and cut down hundreds of trees, and made a great bonfire in the Forest

From what I have been able to find, the Celtic festival in question is Samhainn, so the bonfires (or bone-fires) would have been held on Oct. 31st, not in midsummer.

Samhainn begins at dusk on October 31, the eve of the new Celtic year. Oidhche Shamhna ("oi-kha haw-na"), the Eve of Samhainn, was the most important part of Samhainn. Villagers gathered the best of the autumn harvest and slaughtered cattle for the feast. The focus of each village's festivities was a great bonfire. Villagers cast the bones of the slaughtered cattle upon the flames. (The English word "bonfire" comes from these "bone fires.") With the bonfire roaring, the villagers extinguished all other fires. Each family then solemnly lit their hearth from the one great common flame, bonding all families of the village together.


source: http://home.comcast.net/~buaidh/Samhainn.html

Oops, that was premature. There were four fire festivals throughout the Celtic year. Imbolc is in early February, Beltaine (May Day), Lughnasa (Aug. 1), and Samhein marks the end of the year. I still think that Samhainn is the source of the "bone-fire", since that is the only one that seems to be associated with sacrificing cattle and burning them. Beltaine also involves cattle and bonfires, but there, the (live) cattle are driven between bonfires. Anyone who has an OED can check this out.

Seems that I am wrong, and wikipedia is right ;)
References do not agree whether this word is sourced to "bon fire" (i.e., "good" fire) or "bane fire" (i.e., fire to remove evil) or "bone fire" (i.e., burning animal bones).
The OED, however, favors the "bone fire" etymology, and lists a citation from 1493 associating a "bone fire" with Saint John. Traditionally, this would be Saint John's Eve, or June 23rd. This is consistent with earlier references to a Celtic midsummer festival where animal bones were burnt to ward off evil spirits. Scotland and Ireland have similar traditions.
In modern English, "bonfire" means any large, but controlled, open-air fire. Many American universities have a "bonfire" as part of their "homecoming" tradition.

source: http://www.alt-usage-english.org/ucle/ucle15.html

The only problem remains - which festival is this? It corresponds to the summer solstice, but not to the Irish holidays. Oh well, who knows what the folk were up to, but I'm sure the OED got it right (as far as the language goes).
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Postby Mahima » Wed Sep 08, 2004 5:17 am

Regarding the non-Tolkien images, we should not put in just any illustration, but maybe illustrations by Artists Tolkien generally "approved" of may be fine: Iowe, Lee, Baynes. Provided, of course, that he did approve of them? Am not sure about that part.

MithLuin, I'm confused about the reference to the festival for the Bonfire incident. My understanding is that the Hobbits simply retaliated to the Forest's attempt to invade their territory.
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Postby MithLuin » Wed Sep 08, 2004 6:12 am

Oh, of course, the hobbits were just retaliating. If you look at Queen B's contribution, though, she was demonstrating the source of the word "bonfire", which is appropriate for annotations. I would like to just refer to the OED, but that would involve having a copy...

Yes, I agree that artwork from 'approved' artists can be included, along with Tolkien's statement approving them. I have heard he had high praises for Baynes, for example. I personally love the picture you have linked, and used it for a background for awhile. AFAIK, this is the first non-Tolkien artwork to be posted, though, so I thought I would raise the issue (in general) for comment.
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Postby Almatolmen » Wed Sep 08, 2004 9:26 am

NOUN: A large fire built outdoors, as for signaling or in celebration of an event.
ETYMOLOGY: Middle English bonnefire : bon, bone; see bone + fir, fire; see fire.


From the American Heritage Dictionary.

The true conversion for the dates the Hobbits spent with TB is 26 and 27 Halimath = Gregorian 18 and 19 September.
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Postby Almatolmen » Wed Sep 08, 2004 9:31 am

While bonfires may be associated with any number of Celtic and non-Celtic feasts and festivals, my recollection is that this bonfire was not set as part of a holiday celebration but as defense against the Forest invading the Shire. They set bonfires to halt an attack.
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Postby MithLuin » Thu Sep 09, 2004 10:34 pm

How is this?

But the hobbits came, and cut down hundreds of trees, and made a great bonfire in the Forest

The etymology of the word "bonfire:"
References do not agree whether this word is sourced to "bon fire" (i.e., "good" fire) or "bane fire" (i.e., fire to remove evil) or "bone fire" (i.e., burning animal bones).
The OED, however, favors the "bone fire" etymology, and lists a citation from 1493 associating a "bone fire" with Saint John. Traditionally, this would be Saint John's Eve, or June 23rd. This is consistent with earlier references to a Celtic midsummer festival where animal bones were burnt to ward off evil spirits. Scotland and Ireland have similar traditions.
In modern English, "bonfire" means any large, but controlled, open-air fire.

source: http://www.alt-usage-english.org/ucle/ucle15.html

The bonfire built by the hobbits was, of course, a modern 'bonfire', not an ancient 'bone-fire'. There is no indication that the bonfire was related to any festival, but rather, was meant as a retaliation against the forest.
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Postby Mahima » Fri Sep 10, 2004 1:22 am

I think this is good. :)
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Postby LadyAshley » Mon Sep 13, 2004 7:49 pm

I agree with Mahima: "I think this is good." Y'all are doing a great job with the Annotated LOTR. I would say that I'm amazed at what I sort of inspired, but starting something is too big a claim for any, and only a small part is played in great deeds by heros, as a certain wise Wizard said. ;)

But seriously, I thoroughly enjoy reading everyone's entries and BRAVO! to everyone contributing to this project. *hugs to everyone*
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Postby -Rómestámo- » Tue Sep 14, 2004 12:15 pm

"Don't you know who I am? I'm Tom Bombadil."

While Tom Bombadil has many names (see *The Annotated LOTR - The Council of Elrond*), the name by which he introduces himself to the hobbits is Bucklandish in form and said by Tolkien (in the notes to The Adventures of Tom Bombadil) to have probably been given to him by the Bucklanders.
    ----------
East Road: The Great East Road was created by the Dwarves somewhere in the First Age, and ran from the Ered Luin to the High Pass, where it continued as the Men-i-Naugrim or "Old Dwarf Road" through Mirkwood, ultimately ending in the Iron Hills of northern Rhovanion. [...]

While utilising other online resources can be useful, it is worth noting that very few are worth quoting directly, without emendation or correction. Unfortunately this Wikipedia entry contains much to quibble over.

Apart from the absurdity corrected by MithLuin in editing this entry (<The Great East Road was created by the Dwarves somewhere in the First Age> - they obviously moved it to its present position in the subsequent ages :roll: ), Men-i-Naugrim translates as 'Way of the Dwarves' and is used by Tolkien in Unfinished Tales only to refer to the road east of the Misty Mountains. It appears from the essay 'Of Dwarves and Men' in HOME XII that this Dwarf-road unified the First and Second Age realm of the Longbeards (Durin's Folk) which did not extend to the west side of Hithaeglir.
[...] The Númenóreans had not yet appeared on the shores of Middle-earth, and the foundations of the Barad-dûr had not yet been built. It was a brief period in the dark annals of the Second Age, yet for many lives of Men the Longbeards controlled the Ered Mithrin, Erebor, and the Iron Hills, and all the east side of the Misty Mountains as far as the confines of Lórien; while the Men of the North dwelt in all the adjacent lands as far south as the Great Dwarf Road that cut through the Forest (the Old Forest Road was its ruinous remains in the Third Age) and then went North-east to the Iron Hills. [As with so much else in this account, the origin of the Old Forest Road in 'the Great Dwarf Road', which after traversing Greenwood the Great led to the Iron Hills, has never been met before.]

Note 30 to 'Dwarves and Men', The Peoples of Middle-earth.
So the Men-i-Naugrim ran from (perhaps) the High Pass to the Iron Hills.

The claim that the Great East Road (which refers only to the road west of the Misty Mountains between Mithlond and Imladris) was originally built by the dwarves is contradicted by Unfinished Tales ([...] in those days the only Númenórean roads were the great road linking Gondor and Arnor, [...] and the East-West Road from the Grey Havens to Imladris. Note 6 to 'The Disaster of the Gladden Fields'). Thus the Great East Road runs from the Grey Havens to Rivendell and was built by the Númenóreans. A Dwarf-road would run from Nogrod or Belegost (or remnant outposts thereof). This is supported by The Fellowship of the Ring (in 'The Shadow of the Past', [...] The ancient East-West Road ran through the Shire to its end at the Grey Havens, and dwarves had always used it on their way to their mines in the Blue Mountains.). Most of these dwarves were probably coming from Khazad-dûm (and Dunland after the fall of Moria); in the Third Age it was only after the fall of Smaug that traffic or much commerce resumed crossing the High Pass.

While the Great East Road may have followed an older dwarf-road for part of its course, there appears to be no documentary evidence for this view. Tolkien in 'The Quest of Erebor' calls it the Dwarves' ancestral road to the Mountains, but this is in reference to Thorin and his Halls in the South of the Ered Luin (built in Third Age 2802, long after the construction of the East-West Road). The older dwarf-mines to the north of the Little Lune do not appear to belong to Durin's Folk and there is no indication that any constructed roads (as opposed to paths or trails) led to or from these workings. It may be surmised that the great Dwarven cities of Nogrod and Belegost of the First Age built roads east of the Ered Luin (they certainly built some west of the mountains) but this is purely conjectural. As these putative roads would have been built before the cataclysms at the end of the First Age, it is unlikely that the Great East Road followed exactly the same route as its destination was not founded until midway through the Second Age, well after the geography had changed, and its origin was on the new coastline.
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Postby roaccarcsson » Wed Sep 15, 2004 7:52 pm

there appeared above the reeds an old battered hat with a tall crown and a long blue feather stuck in the band.

The feather once belonged to a Common or European Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis); in the poem "Bombadil goes Boating," written after the publication of LotR for inclusion in the collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Tolkien gave an account of how the bird gave Tom the feather. In the first Bombadil poem, as it appeared in 1934, Tom wore a peacock feather in his hat; Tolkien changed this to a "swan-wing feather" for the book. The explanation is found in Letter 240, written to Pauline Baynes, the illustrator:
The peacock feather belongs to an old draft. Being unsuitable to the L. R. this becomes in the L.R. (I p. 130) "a long blue feather." In the poem as now to be published Tom appears (in line 4 of the first poem) with a "swan-wing feather": to increase the riverishness, and to allow for the incident in the second poem, the gift of a blue feather by the king's fisher. That incident also explains the blue feather of the L. R. Poem one is evidently, as said in the introduction, a hobbit-version of things long before the days of the L. R. But the second poem refers to the days of growing shadow, before Frodo set out (as the consultation with Maggot shows: cf. L. R. I p. 143). When therefore Tom appears in the L. R. he is wearing a blue feather.


Letters at pp. 318-19. The peacock is "unsuitable" because native to Asia. The "long blue feather" cannot have been terribly long, as Alcedo atthis averages only 13 cm overall. (Letter 240 suggests that Tolkien believed that more than one species of kingfisher occurred in England, but if so, he was mistaken.)

http://www.birdguides.com/html/vidlib/species/Alcedo_atthis.htm
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Tue Sep 28, 2004 4:12 pm

Jeez, I wish I'd never started that "bonfire" note. ;)

Now this could go in many chapters, but I'll put it here (if others think this is the appropriate place). Dante's metaphor of our journey of life as wandering in a pathless wood is echoed by Tolkien over and over again. These are the opening lines of the Inferno:

In the middle of our life's way
I found myself in a wood so dark
That I couldn't tell where the straight path lay.


[/i]
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Postby wilko185 » Wed Sep 29, 2004 7:46 am

"That," said Merry, pointing with his hand, "that is the line of the Withywindle." [The Withywindle has already been mentioned in Chapter 5, but I'll give this here.]
Withywindle. River-name in the Old Forest, intended to be in the language of the Shire. It was a winding river bordered by willows (withies). Withy- is not uncommon in English place-names, but -windle does not actually occur (Withywindle was modelled on withywind, a name of the convolvulus or bindweed).

- Tolkien's Guide to Names in LOTR


They shut their eyes, and then it seemed that they could almost hear words, cool words, saying something about water and sleep. They gave themselves up to the spell and fell fast asleep at the foot of the great grey willow.

It may be worth looking into the folklore of willows here, eg the (obvious) association with water, or from http://www.controverscial.com/Willow.htm
The Willow has always been known as a tree of dreaming, inspiration and enchantment. It was associated in Celtic legend with poets and spells of fascination and binding.


Sam gripped him by the jacket, and dragged him from under the root; and then with difficulty hauled him on to the bank. Almost at once he woke, and coughed and spluttered.
(This is the kind of observation that strikes me after hanging around in Movies .. ;)). The roles here are reversed at the end of FOTR, when it is Frodo who pulls Sam out of the water (Frodo was just in time to grasp Sam by the hair as he came up, bubbling and struggling).


They went round to the other side of the tree, and then Sam understood the click that he had heard. Pippin had vanished. The crack by which he had laid himself had closed together, so that not a chink could be seen. Merry was trapped: another crack had closed about his waist; his legs lay outside, but the rest of him was inside a dark opening, the edges of which gripped like a pair of pincers.
'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil' [...] tells of Tom's encounters with 'Goldberry, the River-woman's daughter', with the 'Old Man Willow' which shuts him up in a crack of its bole (an idea, Tolkien once said, that probably came in part from Arthur Rackham's tree-drawings)

- J. R. R. Tolkien, A biography, Humphrey Carpenter
Rackham was a 19th-century illustrator, who's work included some for 'Wind in the Willows'. A few of his many tree pictures:
http://www.mushroomthejournal.com/besto ... khamFP.jpg
http://www.chrisis.org/lace_character/c ... ackham.jpg
http://home.enter.vg/arildhaugesruner/a ... m-loke.jpg
http://www.thepixiepit.co.uk/fairyart/t ... airies.jpg
http://www.thepixiepit.co.uk/fairyart/littlepeople.jpg


Goldberry

I can't find it now, but I once posted a very tenuous source for this name, as it's a woman's name in an old piece of verse ... I'll try to dig it up.


"Help!" cried Frodo and Sam running towards him with their hands stretched out.
"Whoa! Whoa! steady there!" cried the old man, holding up one hand, and they stopped short, as if they had been struck stiff.


Tom's words have the power to freeze the hobbits. As seen later, the trees and wights also obey his simple commands, and in TAOTB he also has "the power of command" over the badger and the River-daughter. [Further comment needed here - eg Tom Shippey makes some link from this power to the primeval "true language" that Tom apparently has access to]


"The table is all laden with yellow cream, honeycomb, and white bread and butter."

Butter and cream indicate that Tom has either sheep, cows or goats (as does the short grass outside his house).
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Postby Mahima » Tue Oct 26, 2004 3:26 am

There was another burst of song, and then suddenly, hopping and dancing along the path, there appeared above the reeds an old battered hat with a tall crown and a long blue feather stuck in the band.

In the First phase, when Tolkien was writing the sequel to The Hobbit , the hobbits were only to hear Tom Bombadil’s song during the willow-adventure.

Odo and Bingo cannot go on without a rest. they sit down with their backs to a great willow, while Frodo and Marmaduke attend to the ponies. Willowman traps Bingo and Odo. Suddenly, a singing is heard in the distance. (Tom Bombadil not named.) The Willow relaxes its hold.
HoME 6, The Old Forest and the Withywindle
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Postby wilko185 » Wed Nov 10, 2004 8:42 pm

wilko185 wrote:Goldberry

I can't find it now, but I once posted a very tenuous source for this name, as it's a woman's name in an old piece of verse ... I'll try to dig it up.

This is what I was thinking of:

A very tenuous source for the name 'Goldberry' is Princess Goldborough in the semi-legendary tale of Havelock the Dane.
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Postby MithLuin » Fri Nov 12, 2004 6:32 pm

*I'm an idiot*
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Fri Nov 12, 2004 7:40 pm

Well you're "back". :)
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Postby Parkingtigers » Tue Feb 08, 2005 5:14 pm

Queen B,

Is it worth mentioning that quote you recently reminded me of from UT, the one about the Black Riders making a camp near the downs and the Witch King stirring up the Barrow-wights? It mentions the Old Forest as well, the implication being that the events in the OF (trees changing path to force the Hobbits towards OMW) may have been due to the influence of the Witch King rather than natural malevolence.

I'd have a crack at it myself, but you would do a much better job of it than I.
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Wed Feb 09, 2005 3:51 pm

OK. I'll also see if there is anything else to throw any light on the Willow's malice.
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Postby Queen_Beruthiel » Wed Feb 16, 2005 2:14 pm

Yup,

IJRRT envisaged an adventure for the hobbits with “Willowman” in the very early stages of his writing. He mentions this in a brief “scheme” on which he wrote: Genesis of Lord of the Rings.

(HOME: VI)

This consists of a few sentences sketching out what is effectively a sequel to The Hobbit. Willowman, of course, already existed, as did Tom, and “stuff” about them had been published in [iThe Oxford Magazine[/i] in 1934.

This is before JRRT decided to introduce the Black Riders, and later still he decided that the BR were the Nazgul, the nine servants of the Lord of the Rings, and that their captain was the Witch-king of Angmar, with an ancient link to that part of M-E:

[The Wiki] had known something of the country long ago, in his wars with the Dúnedain, and especially of the Tyrn Gorthad of Cardolan, now the Barrow-downs, whose evil wights had been sent there by himself


So the Willow was always intended to be malevolent and to attack the hobbits, although more detail was added later, when JRRT decided that the WiKi should have a stronger link with these early threats to the hobbits:

But the Black Captain established a camp at Andrath, where the Greenway passed in a defile between the Barrow-downs and the South Downs; and from there some others were sent to watch and patrol the eastern borders, while he himself visited the Barrow-downs. In notes on the movements of the Black Riders at that time it is said that the Black Captain stayed there for some days, and the Barrow-wights were roused, and all things of evil spirit, hostile to Elves and Men, were on the watch with malice in the Old Forest and the Barrow-downs.


UT: The Hunt for the Ring (both quotes)

(my embolding)
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