Tyndale and the Lord of the Rings

If you’re wondering what those two have in common, check out this video promoting a new Tyndale oratorio.

It’s the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, after all!

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Lothlorien

It’s autumn, and my favorite season. The falling leaves remind me of Legolas’s words about Lothlorien.

“There are no trees like the trees of that land. For in the autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold. Not till the spring comes and the new green opens do they fall, and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the roof… My heart wood would glad if I were beneath the eaves of that wood, and it were springtime!”

“My heart will be glad, even in the winter,” said Aragorn.

They also remind me of Frodo’s first sight of Cerin Amroth:

Frodo stood awhile still lost in wonder. It seemed to him that he had stepped through a high window that looked on a vanished world. A light was upon it for which his language had no name. All that he saw was shapely, but the shapes seemed at once clear cut, as if they had been first conceived and drawn at the uncovering of his eyes, and ancient as if they had endured for ever.

In winter here no heart could mourn for summer or for spring. No blemish or sickness or deformity could be seen in anything that grew upon the earth. On the land of Lorien there was no stain.

On Lorien there was no stain. That is strange, since we know from the rest of the mythology that Lothlorien is a place of exile. Galadriel dwells in Lothlorien as a penitent who is banished from Elvenhome and forbidden to cross the seas westward to the Blessed Isles again. So Lothlorien is a peculiar mix of timelessness and the longsuffering of penance.

And these are the themes I try to capture in this month’s poem.

*     *     *     *     *

Lothlorien

Run on, swift streams,
Around this circled vale.
Divide me here from then
And there from now.
Go running where the ships are deep enough to sail.

But I will stay. Leaves will not fail,
Nor spring, nor autumn,
Though the silver prow
Press ever onward through the westward sprays.
Heed not my tears.
The greening tree, once sprung,
Has long to live.
Time does not sleep, but strays
And stops to hear the shriving of the years.

Still on the subject of the Hobbit…

Clamavi De Profundis has a recording of “Far Over Misty Mountains Cold.” They sing Howard Shore’s tune to all 20-odd verses of the original poem(s), including a contrasting melody for Durin’s Song.

Personally, I find Shore’s tune less singable than Maury Laws’s from the 1977 animated version, and it’s less intuitive than folk songs are supposed to be. But the Clamavi De Profundis version is very satisfying. Especially, for some reason,

Under the Mountain dark and tall
The King has come unto his hall.
His foe is dead, the Worm of Dread,
And ever so his foes shall fall.

 

Animal, vegetable, mineral…

We’re listening to an audiobook of The Hobbit, so I’m in the mood for riddling.

*     *     *     *     *

I’m not an animal, and yet I eat.
I’m not a plant, and yet I grow.
I leap and dance, but have no feet.
I have a tongue, but not a toe.

I’m not a seed, and yet I sprout.
A sudden wind can raise me high.
A sudden rain can put me out.
I have no life, and yet I die.

I’m not a mineral, and yet I’m struck
From dust and ash. In times of old
Had men not forced me from the rock,
Their hearts would still be dark and cold.

In the House of Tom Bombadil

They all dreamed darkly in the Master’s house.

Pippin dreamed of willows in the breeze,
Of grasping fingers, and the creak and crack
Of rasping laughter; of the horrid squeeze
Of ancient limbs that gaped and seized him back.

And Merry dreamed of pooling water, black,
Spread out around the cottage like a bog,
So deep and shoreless that they should be lost.

Alone of all, Sam slumbered like a log,
While Frodo dreamed of Gandalf’s silver hair
And hoofbeats falling dully on the moss.

Why dream so darkly in the Master’s house?

For Bombadil was host, and nothing ill
Could pass his doorpost or his windowsill:
He was the Master of the nightly air.

And they had eaten well, and at his fire
Had laughed and told their tales. His own desire
Was that they have no fear or further care.

So why dream darkly in the Master’s house?

Yet here we are; and though we’ve eaten well,
Though dangers lie behind or far ahead,
Though earth is green, our lodgings here are fair,
And there is cream and honey for our bread:

We doubt the rising twilight before bed,
And all dream darkly in the Master’s house.

April riddle

Here’s a little light riddle for the week. In medieval Europe, April was the first full month of the New Year, which began on March 25 — the feast of the Annunciation for Western Christians. Tolkien borrowed this date as the day of the Ring’s destruction in Mount Doom, and Aragorn instituted it as the beginning of the Gondorian New Year.  So it seems appropriate to seize the day (well, about a week late) to post a short riddle about time.

The answer will appear in a comment on Friday.

I only appear
Once in a year.
Wherever you seek,
I’m twice in a week.
And I’m sorry to say,
I’m not once in a day.

Evenstar

She waited, as the evening
Waits for silver laughter.
She waited as the winter
Longs for dripping water.
She waited. Others left her,
Went riding far and wandering:
She waited, as a hollow
Fills with quiet haunting.
She spoke no jarring word,
Went warring not, nor ranging.
She wore no feckless sword;
She did no feat of daring.
She waited, for the healing
Of all things comes with waiting.
She waited, as the starlight
Waits for the world’s changing.