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.

Inventive Literature

A new literary community is on the web! The Academy of Inventive Literature is taking shape over here. Their first journal issue takes off in late September. They’re looking for “musicality,” “pattern,” and “poetic diction” (as stated on an interesting discussion of formal poetry here).

Submission info is here. Their judging criteria are worth a read as well.

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.

The Wise Men

Step softly, under snow or rain,
To find the place where men can pray;
The way is all so very plain
That we may lose the way.

Oh, we have learnt to peer and pore
On tortured puzzles from our youth,
We know all labyrinthine lore,
We are the three wise men of yore,
And we know all things but the truth.

We have gone round and round the hill
And lost the wood among the trees,
And learnt long names for every ill,
And served the mad gods, naming still
The furies the Eumenides.

The gods of violence took the veil
Of vision and philosophy,
The Serpent that brought all men bale,
He bites his own accursed tail,
And calls himself Eternity.

Go humbly . . . it has hailed and snowed . . .
With voices low and lanterns lit;
So very simple is the road,
That we may stray from it.

The world grows terrible and white,
And blinding white the breaking day;
We walk bewildered in the light,
For something is too large for sight,
And something much too plain to say.

The Child that was ere worlds begun
(. . . We need but walk a little way,
We need but see a latch undone . . .)
The Child that played with moon and sun
Is playing with a little hay.

The house from which the heavens are fed,
The old strange house that is our own,
Where trick of words are never said,
And Mercy is as plain as bread,
And Honour is as hard as stone.

Go humbly, humble are the skies,
And low and large and fierce the Star;
So very near the Manger lies
That we may travel far.

Hark! Laughter like a lion wakes
To roar to the resounding plain.
And the whole heaven shouts and shakes,
For God Himself is born again,
And we are little children walking
Through the snow and rain.

~ G. K. Chesterton, 1874-1936