1928 Tumble [Timber] Hill-TEASER.jpg

Happy Birthday, Frodo and Bilbo!

Greetings! Forgive my lack of presence, the combined result of responsibilities to others and creeping decreptitude. :) I am inspired to post, however, because jan-u-wine has written a beautiful new poem in honor of the day, Nothing Is There Better.
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’The Road, Taken’ cover-TEASER

Congratulations, Jan and John!

Glory and trumpets! The Road, Taken, the book of poetry and illustrations that jan-u-wine and John Cockshaw have been working on for over a year, at last may be ordered.

Go to Oloris Publication’s presale page HERE.
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The End of All Things: Rescue by Gandalf and the Eagles by John Cockshaw, penultimate version-TEASER

~ Detail from The End of All Things: Rescue by Gandalf and the Eagles, by John Cockshaw.

This March 25 we present something old, something new. Below the image of Frodo standing at the Cracks of Doom is something old: a poem jan-u-wine wrote years ago, but which I had never read. The Turning of the Road: The Sammath Naur distills events from that last day, letting us see into the heart of Frodo's experience as he is overpowered and nearly destroyed by Sauron, his life, sanity and the fate of Middle-earth preserved only by the madness of Gollum and the love of Samwise.

Below the first poem and an excerpt from Return of the King, is an illustration by John Cockshaw showing the coming of Gandalf and the Eagles, chosen to complement the "something new": jan-u-wine's Cast Up, which follows. The new poem lifts up and makes explicit the hope that is only hinted at in the darker Turning, bearing Frodo, Sam and us readers out of downfall and despair.

Happy Anniversary!
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Bilbo at open door-TEASER

Happy Late Birthday, Bilbo and Frodo....

I have said this is a new poem, but technically it is not. Jan-u-wine wrote "Birthday" late last fall, too late to post in the 2013 Baggins Birthday entry. I considered posting it during the intervening months, but the poem really is best suited to the day after September 22.

"Birthday" is about Bilbo, but it is just as much about Frodo, from whose point of view it is written. From that vantage point, we can enter into Frodo's thoughts and feelings, marveling as much at the beauty of his soul as that of the beloved hobbit he both mourns and celebrates.

A blessed birthday to you, Bilbo and Frodo, and may we meet beyond the Circles of the World.

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Bilbo in kitchen-TEASER

Happy Birthday, Bagginses!

I didn't want to miss offering my favourite hobbits salutations on September 22, but the real birthday post will appear tomorrow. This is because jan-u-ine's poem, "Birthday", is set the day after the birthday has passed. Frodo, for the first time, has forgotten Bilbo's birthday. Join us tomorrow to read this beautiful piece.

* Detail from an illustration by Alan Lee appearing in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, 1997.

Barad-dûr and Mt. Doom, variation 2, by John Cockshaw-TEASER crop

~ Detail from The Stronghold of Barad-dûr and The Fires of Mount Doom, Variation 2, by John Cockshaw.

I can never let the anniversary of the fall of the Dark Lord go by without commemorating it. This year jan-u-wine has risen to the occasion, going deep inside Frodo's consciousness for telling glimpses of his experiences during that day. Below I have copied out what is, for me, the most compelling description of the place where Frodo must contend, within and without, with the Eye. It's not from Return of the King, though, but from the end of Fellowship of the Ring. Frodo, in grief and fear, has put on the Ring to escape Boromir and ascended Amon Hen. Looking out from the Seat of Seeing, recovering himself, he finds his sense of perspective restored -- that is, until he finds his gaze drawn and held by the Dark Lands and its Lord.

This passage meant all the more to me after reading Jan's poem, where a similar thing happens, or so it seems to me, in reverse. In 'Hope', Frodo emerges from a state of thrall, his perspective narrowed to a point, to find his perspective restored after the Ring is destroyed and the Tower fallen. Not only perspective, but hope.

A brief discussion of the illustrations featured in this post, and their creator, John Cockshaw, follows the poem.

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Happy Birthday, Professor Tolkien!

Tolkien seated in front of a tree bole, colour

Jan-u-wine has delivered yet again, writing a beautiful personal reminiscence of the Professor in narrative verse. But before the poem, a few photographs....

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Desolation of Smaug screencap-TEASER

Jan-u-wine's latest Tolkien-based poem was not written for a particular painting or image, but from an inspirational mix. Talking with friends about the work of Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Hobbit and Sherlock, jan-u-wine began to wonder more deeply about the nature of Smaug's existence in the Lonely Mountain, and the relationship, however brief, between Smaug and his diminutive conversation partner (possibly his only conversation partner in centuries). Did the great Smaug live under the mountain in splendid isolation or simply in isolation? Tolkien named the peak that became Smaug's lair "The Lonely Mountain", no doubt because it stood alone, cut off from the nearby mountain chains. But for jan-u-wine, the "lonely" in the name evokes more than geographical isolation. "The Desolation of Smaug" no doubt refers to the ashy wasteland Smaug's attacks wrought, but perhaps "desolation" hints at another sort of desolation, an inner state produced by a solitary existence.

The poem has two parts, the first from Smaug's point of view, the second from that of Bilbo Baggins. Together they make a brilliant piece, evocative and perceptive.

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Pierre Vinet Bilbo and Frodo-TEASER

Heavens! I almost missed the Baggins Birthday! I am out of town on a family visit and forgot all about it. Happily, jan-u-wine reminded me in time. This is only a re-post, but raise your glasses with me.

I am sure you all know the images from which the manip is made. Pierre Vinet's FOTR publicity stills are as well-known as they are beautiful.

Happy Birthday Bilbo and Frodo!

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Old Man Willow TEASER2

Old Man Willow (pencil, coloured pencil), like most of the pictures done to illustrate The Lord of the Rings, was made while Tolkien was working on the novel. These pictures, unlike those done for The Hobbit were not done to be published, but "for his own pleasure as well as for reference, as he had done earlier for 'The Silmarillion'. Old Man Willow is a fine example." (Hammond and Scull, p. 156)

"Suite: Meriadoc" is a fine example, too, but of what Tolkien's illustrations can inspire jan-u-wine to create. This piece, written from Meriadoc's point of view, is set in the Fourth Age, Meriadoc remembering a dark time as he watches his small son settle into sleep.

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Wood at World's End-ICON

Although utterly different in look and feel to the starkly geometric Moonlight on a Wood, Tolkien's The Wood at World's End (1927-28, pencil, black ink, watercolour) is a similarly highly stylized piece. The mountains dip in the center nearly symmetrically to frame the setting sun and the treetops merge to form a rolling green expanse, almost like waves. In the sea of trees the ranks of their boles are like great stalks of seaweed rising from the ocean floor. It isn't realistic, but the forms together create an almost mesmerizing effect.

The painting inspired jan-u-wine to write a wonderful new poem, rich and contemplative. It depicts Sam's thoughts as he sails towards World's End, the Undying Lands.
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Misty Mountains-ICON

I was not able to find much background information about this watercolour, not even a date, but suffice it to say I like it very much, although more as a rendering of a beautiful natural setting than as a depiction of the Misty Mountains, built by Melkor, delved by dwarves and peopled by orcs and "darker, fouler" things. Its tone is soft, its warm colours glow, the composition with its pleasant road winding leisurely over the river towards the foot hills invites the viewer to approach. Thus, as lovely as the painting is, it doesn't conjure for me a sense of the book's Misty Mountains.

But if the watercolour fails to convey the grandeur, mystery and menace of the Misty Mountains, the poem it inspired does. Bilbo experienced much in the Misty Mountains -- beauty, wonder, enchantment, but also terror and darkness. Jan-u-wine's poem, reminiscing through Bilbo's eyes, savours of all these things. Read more... )


The illustrations that inspired jan-u-wine's poem for this entry have interesting histories. Read more... )

Moonlight on a Wood-ICON

Tolkien created 'Moonlight on a Wood' in a spurt of artistic and literary creativity that burst forth in the late 1920's. As was seen in the previous post, Tolkien long had been drawing from life. He also had been making imaginative, non-realistic pictures, particularly in 1913-15, which illustrated his expanding secondary world. But he made few pictures in the years that followed, and, after 1922, none at all.

In 1927-28, however, his imagination exploded. Read more... )

Foxglove Year-ICON

'Foxglove Year', was painted in the summer of 1913, apparently notable for foxgloves and worth recording in watercolour. Tolkien had been doing paintings and drawings from life since boyhood. 1913 was also the year Tolkien became engaged to Edith Bratt. Fr. Francis Morgan, Tolkien's guardian, had forbidden him to see Edith until he'd come of age, and, on Tolkien's twenty-first birthday, 3 January 1913, he dashed off a proposal.

That summer, Edith was staying in Warwick with her cousin, Jennie Grove. Her relations, opposed to her conversion to Catholicism (she agreed to convert before marrying Tolkien, a devout Catholic), had turned her out. While Edith was in Warwick, Tolkien traveled into Worchestershire, staying for a while with his maternal cousins, the Incledons. They had a cottage in Barnt Green Tolkien loved to visit, both for the company of his cousins and its idyllic setting. At the bottom of this post I've included another watercolour Tolkien painted while staying there, a view of the Incledon's garden filled with flowers. In just one week it will have been one hundred years since Tolkien painted the foxgloves of Barnt Green. So much time has gone by, but Tolkien's watercolours are still vibrant and fresh.

Tolkien must have been feeling very content and high-hearted during his stay in Worchestershire, both because of the high summer beauty all around him and because he was engaged to Edith at last. Jan-u-wine's poem well conveys the mood, both of the watercolour and its painter.
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Tree of Amalion-ICON

~ Detail from 'The Tree of Amalion', August 1928, by J. R. R. Tolkien

A year and a half ago I conceived of doing a series of postings of paintings and drawings, mostly from J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator (Hammond and Scull), concentrating on his love of trees, hoping that jan-u-wine might write pieces prompted by them. Happily, she wrote several, but I never got around to writing the posts to present them.

Originally the series was to be called "Tolkien's Trees", but, in the meantime, the Tolkien Society designated its theme for this year's Reading Day as "Tolkien's Landscapes". That's better still, since the paintings chosen depict more than trees. But to start, we shall look at the Tree of trees.
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1915 Shores of Faerie-TEASER

The fall of Sauron is always worth celebrating. Fans around the world are reading Tolkien's works aloud, toasting Frodo and Samwise and the victorious army of the West, posting entries, browsing the pertinent chapters or re-watching ROTK.

Jan-u-wine wrote a beautiful new poem in which Frodo contemplates his life from the vantage of Tol Eressëa. He hasn't been there long, still trying to take it all in. It's early days. Bilbo is alive and well, watching, hoping, eager for signs that Frodo has begun to heal. This poem offers those signs. Jan-u-wine's writing allows readers to enter Frodo's inner experience at a pivotal time, the time when healing at last begins.

After reading it I asked immediately, 'could we post this for March 25?' What better way to celebrate the victory of the Free Peoples over the Dark Tower than with a poem in which Frodo finally is able to begin to appreciate the part he played in it.

Read more... )
Just an apologetic note to unregistered readers of this journal, not that you will be able to say anything back as soon as I post.

Because of the tons of repellent spam my journal was getting, several months ago I sighed and set my journal to "registered users only" in an effort to cut down on the glut. It worked to a degree, but I was still getting lots of spam comments from registered users advertising their wares through LJ. So, with an even deeper sigh, because I have always intended this LJ to be completely public, I set it to "friends only". That did the trick.

Because I wanted everyone in the world to see these new poems of jan-u-wine's I just posted, I took off the restrictions yesterday morning. No spam! Woo hoo! Maybe they took my journal off their lists?

I spoke too soon. Just now I received what I am sure is the first of a tidal wave of trash, an anonymous comment advertising porn its site. I deeply regret having to do it, but I am putting Mechtild back to "registered users only". When the trash comments start showing up from unethical registered users, I will put it back to "friends only".



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