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.


"The Misty Mountains", watercolour and pencil, undated:


The Misty Mountains

It is said that

them to being,

these now-silent

wreathed grey-white
with cloud,

feet astride
the road's ribboned miles.

Evil birthed them,
ages passing

in the dwelling of it.

But light there was, too,

traveler's tales,
and small laughter,


upon the upward and downward
paths they have known.

My feet walked there,

the fine,
of the Road,

bruised themselves
upon the unyielding stone
that stays within.

Blacker than any night,
that ....


by a dark

that is more
than an absence of Sun.

the smell of them....

these creatures of mountains
(for such they are....

they are)...

the earth-tang of vast caverns
and rock-bone aeries

that live beneath the
mountains water'd cloak,

or the close chambers
whose scent whispers
of age-beyond-age.

Ah, the smell of them:

the under-earth scent of soft, wet rock,
of plants large with

green-glow'd in this

encompassed night.

In that compacted,

there is memory,

Fine-drawn pictures
of the day

prisoning walls:

of far-off,
lemony Sun,

of the risen moon's
brass-burnished light.....

the small diamond pen-strokes
of attendant stars.

Of pine's comforting spice,
the recollection

limned in fire,
the memory

into pinioned night
upon strong, dark

I think on these things,

an Age

a World away.

I think on them,

the Sun laying a fire-path
upon the blue-green of the Sea,

the bright scent of Oiolairë
drifting like smoke

within the high vault of the sky.

An eagle flies there,
sailing upon the breast of the clear wind
like a barque upon the Straight Road.

I smile.

Perhaps, again,
he may come to bear me away.


The Towers of Mist.

So they were,
so they are.


Previous entry:

Mirkwood-ICONTaur-na-Fuin-ICON ~ "Mirkwood": pictures by Tolkien, poem by jan-u-wine.

Other Links:
Nan's Reunion-ICON ~ All entries featuring jan-u-wine's poems.

From: [identity profile] shirebound.livejournal.com

The two of you continue to delight me, and fill my senses with new images.

wreathed grey-white
with cloud,
feet astride
the road's ribboned miles.


From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

I'm so pleased you enjoyed the post, Shirebound. Isn't it a fine piece? I love the way jan-u-wine weaves her word-magic.

From: [identity profile] jan-u-wine.livejournal.com

thank you so much. (I'm embarrassed to even reply to you, almost, since i still have not read your latest chapter(s). I have a sort of excuse, but still......)

I am so glad you are enjoying!

From: [identity profile] primula-baggins.livejournal.com

I can't help but think the Misty Mountains painting was inspired by the European Alps. They have that same spikiness to them.

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

I'm sure you are right, Primula. In the book I've been working from, although it doesn't say Tolkien painted these mountains from life (as he did in many cases when the setting was local and English), the authors note that as a young man visiting the Alps Tolkien was deeply impressed by them and based his depiction of the snow-capped mountains of Middle-earth on them, including the Misty Mountains. Perhaps he worked from memory, or maybe he used a photograph, but he was surely thinking of the Alps.

From: [identity profile] primula-baggins.livejournal.com

Interesting what you wrote about the author's note.

I doubt there are that many spiky mountains lined up that way in the Alps, but was assuming it was more impressionistic than anything. :)

I just love water color paintings.

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

I just love water color paintings.

Me, too, though this one, however lovely, does not evoke the book's mountains to me. It's not because of the unrealistic line of spikes (instead of the peaks being piled up and clustered together) but because of the lack of the sense of brooding/looming/foreboding, which I associate with the tales of the Misty Mountains.

Maybe I will find that section about Tolkien's visit to the Alps to include in the next post, which also has mountains, though very stylized, in its far ground.
Edited Date: 2013-07-20 05:55 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] bellewood.livejournal.com

Blacker than any night,
that ....
by a dark
that is more
than an absence of Sun.


The mountains in the gorgeous paining may not have the menace of the Misty Mountains, but if you look closely i'm sure that you can see images of dwarves..

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

Oh, Belle, I'm so glad the post pleased you!

if you look closely i'm sure that you can see images of dwarves..

Really? You're pulling my leg, right? :)

From: [identity profile] jan-u-wine.livejournal.com

thank you, Belle....I'm happy you like the post and I am sure that (if nothing else) the dwarves are raising dwarf-dust upon the winding road that lives always within our hearts....

From: [identity profile] antane.livejournal.com

Another masterpiece' my dear jan! You are too good to us. I didn't even miss Frodo this time because dear Bilbo was there. Le hannon!

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

Jan-u-wine captures Bilbo's perspective well, I agree. :) Thanks for stopping by, Antane!
Edited Date: 2013-07-21 03:36 am (UTC)

From: [identity profile] jan-u-wine.livejournal.com

thank you, dear Met! and thank you, always, for our partnership!

From: [identity profile] jan-u-wine.livejournal.com

Dear Antane.....that is high praise indeed, if Bilbo ably stood in for Frodo! (but then again, they ARE related. I was remarking to Mechtild this morning that, when people are related, and have a certain sameness, they do, of course, have massive differences. But they are often more *dear* for the differences. THis surely is one of those cases). So glad you enjoyed! Mechtild is wonderful at these posts!

From: [identity profile] ambree40.livejournal.com

“it doesn't conjure for me a sense of the book's Misty Mountains”.

Agreed! Another Tolkien painting of the Misty Mountains: “Bilbo Woke Up with the Early Sun in His Eyes” also lacks that sense of malice from the book. Behind the Eagle are the same steep snow-clad peaks as in the painting you posted. There are yellow streaks of sunlight in the painting that make the landscape quite cheerful.

For me, the sense of menace from the books is best shown in Tolkien’s black and white drawing ‘The Mountain-path’.

What I love about Jan-u-wine’s poem is that it captures all these different feelings Bilbo has. I even recognize what he could smell in the mountain caves.

Once again, thank you both for a lovely post.

From: [identity profile] jan-u-wine.livejournal.com

Dear Ambree.....I'm so glad that you are enjoying this series. In doing research for this piece, I read the Thain's Book entry on the Misty Mountains. Created by Morgoth. What a patent and what a parent! What might be worse than having Sauron's boss as your creator? And yet......there are few things in any world that are utterly evil, for they are acted upon, and flavored by, in every moment, other things.

(and such acting (may) laughs in the face of the arrogant evil of a Morgoth or a Sauron)

I think on the nature of Bilbo at that moment in time. Although the dwarves were certainly upon the Road with a rather grim and determined mission, Bilbo (at least at first) was a Squire On An Adventure. How much of his simple hobbit nature, his solid and decent (Martin Freeman's word, in describing Bilbo)self, did he bring?

When I look at this picture, that is what i see: a land capable of innocence, a land capable of being adventured upon. But, like any place, there is that we bring with us and that which others have brought. We are not alone within the places of the world. Nor was Bilbo.

You know, i think i have been nattering along like this to explain to myself why i wrote the poem as i did (as well as why Tolkien's pics of MM might not have been so dark). I can't help but think that Bilbo brought his careful, yet sunny hobbit disposition to his small quest.....only to find that dark waits behind the sun as well as behind the grand curtains that mark out the beginnings of Adventure.

thank you again, Ambree!
Edited Date: 2013-07-21 05:06 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] ambree40.livejournal.com

How interesting to see you explain why you wrote the poem as you did.

An essentially innocent hobbit in a land capable of innocence, in spite of what others brought to it. That made me think of what Elrond said at the Council: “For nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Sauron was not so".

From: [identity profile] jan-u-wine.livejournal.com

(*lol, i explained it as much to myself as to you. Sometimes it takes the words of others to make me think why/how i wrote as i did. I only know, when i am writing, what feels right and what doesn't. I don't usually know why*)

It's a humbling and saddening thought: "nothing is evil in the beginning"

You automatically think: "well,, DUH, of course not". And yet, we are so used to the presence of evil that the fact of innocence must be presented to us as if we were kindergärtners.

I had a relative who mistreated me from the time i was a small girl until i was in my mid-teens. A most natural way to feel is to hate that person. But in hatred, we deny many things. We deny that there ever could be a relationship, a good and loving one that would benefit both parties. We deny that the other person could ever change. We lock ourselves with them inside the prison of hate.

If nothing was ever evil to begin with, then we must allow that even evil might return to good. Small chance if you are a Morgoth or a Sauron(for it seems to me that the measure of their evil is akin to how good they were in the beginning: they were certainly LARGE creatures of good, of light, of beauty. And they became just as large in their evil). It seemed, almost, that Gollum might throw off his shackles. Perhaps, for moments, he did. And I imagine that he died being as close to redemption as ever he was able to come, after having possessed (and been possessed) for 500 years.

it continues to resonate with me, this very simple (and yet hideously difficult) idea that we are the captains of our own good, our own evil. At any moment, we can coherrently choose to be one or the other. It is never too late to be good. It is never too late to let the wonderful truth that there was no evil in the beginning take hold of the 'reins' of our life.

nattering again. sorry.

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

Gosh, jan-u-wine, I just love what you wrote about looking at the painting from Bilbo's point of view, approaching the mountains with his heart raised, expectant, sniffing Adventure (but not terror, horror, or deepest dread). Really, that was an imaginative, insightful comment that contributes a lot towards pondering and understanding the picture, the characters, the story and themes. I am so happy Ambree's comment spurred your reply. You always say you can't write non-verse but I say, "HA!" :)

From: [identity profile] jan-u-wine.livejournal.com

Ha ha indeed, eh? I suppose what i should say, if i think about it, is that prose is not as pleasing as poetry. I have a strange relationship with words. They are.....well...all that there are of them are *there*, in front of us. They don't change, don't get older or younger, wiser or more foolish. How they *are* then, it is all up to us. And, somehow, if I use them in prose, I haven't used them as I might. It's like having the pearl of great price, deserving of the finest setting one might ever imagine, and just slapping it into prongs of tin.

words are so similar to music. They have such great power and beauty and it seems a mighty shame to me to use them idly or without*setting* them as ably and lovingly and beautifully as I can.

I don't mind writing in prose and, since my poems mostly don't rhyme, I suppose they are a sort of prose. And yet.....they are not prose, not any more than a house cat is a lion.

anyway....lol......it really is great, i think, when comments beget other comments. That is why we are here, isn't it, to have these lovely conversations, to give and receive these unique blessings....

i'm just really a numpty. A Samwise sort of a numpty, blessed with a fingers that speak before the head rightly understands. I think it's a good place to be.

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

Ambree, I meant to say I completely agreed with you about "The Mountain Path". It would do well as an illustration for LOTR when they attempt the pass. The lightning adds a lot, decidedly, very dramatic.

From: [identity profile] diem-kieu94.livejournal.com

Far Over The Misty Mountains Cold....

...to dungeons deep, and caverns old.
We must away, ere break of day,
To find our long forgotten gold.

The pines were roaring on the height;
The wind was moaning in the night;
The fire was red, its flaming spread,
The trees like torches blazed with light.

Doesn't this entry about the Misty Mountains make you think about that Dwarven song from the Hobbit? (Although I do agree with metchild about the painting's mood). It certainly does for me!

From: [identity profile] lavendertook.livejournal.com

Aww, Bilbo--dreaming of traveling on, even in Tol Eressea, and it doesn't have to mean he's discontent with where he is anymore than mistiness denotes lurking menace alone, for mist becomes the morning dew under a warming sun. Bilbo, of course, knows this. If you can see the Misty Mountains from Rivendell and Loth Lorien alike, those mountains can also see these places of light--they inform each other. The eagles live in their heights and the hobbits may have originally come down from their foothills. And Bilbo yearned to live out his days under them.

It's very hobbity that Bilbo's love and defense of the mountains' beauty rests in the sense of smell and feel--the earthiness that Jan has caught here, more than in the sight the painting appeals to. And the yellowness dotted with green of the painting is the favorite colors of hobbits. Maybe the gold of the ring is in it, too. Bilbo can't forget the good the ring brought him in helping him accomplish his quest and giving him long life, even though how it affected Frodo grieves him. These are his Misty Mountains, not Frodo's. But maybe they have become Elanor's Misty Mountains as well.

I've never seen the painting before, so thank you once again.

From: [identity profile] jan-u-wine.livejournal.com

wow. LT, what an absolutely beautiful response. I'm blown away. I feel as if you have entered a dream-state here, but were able to speak to us in the mi(d)st of it, conveying lovely pictures of your own.

yes, I think you have hit it: these are *Bilbo's* mountains (and perhaps Ellie's) but not Frodo's. But.....perhaps, in time, they might be so.

what a lot you've given me to think on. Thank you.

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

If you can see the Misty Mountains from Rivendell and Loth Lorien alike, those mountains can also see these places of light--they inform each other. The eagles live in their heights and the hobbits may have originally come down from their foothills. And Bilbo yearned to live out his days under them.

Well said, well said. Just because the mountains are the site of menacing events it doesn't therefore follow they cannot be appreciated, even loved, once those events have passed. Yes, Bilbo obviously loved living in Rivendell, nestled right under their knees.

I love your note about the green and yellow in the painting, too, the colours in which hobbits take such delight. All in all, your comment is chock full of interesting stuff, Lavender!

From: [identity profile] diem-kieu94.livejournal.com

Concerning the Mountains...

If Bilbo could find beauty in the Misty Mountains, then can you imagine how he'd react to the Undying Lands?!

My goodness...! *Sigh*... I've just gone under one of my Frodo dream spells again!

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

Re: Concerning the Mountains...

Diem Kieu, thank you for stopping and commenting. Forgive me for not answering sooner but about two weeks ago I stopped getting emailed notices from LJ when anyone comments. I decided to check my "inbox", on a whim, to see if comments showed up there. That's when I saw this.

From: [identity profile] diem-kieu94.livejournal.com

Re: Concerning the Mountains...

Not a problem at all, Metchild! I always love it when I can talk with my fellow Frodo-philes & Tolkien lovers! :)

Oh... Btw... Love that pic of Frodo you're using!
Edited Date: 2013-08-03 04:39 am (UTC)

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

Re: Concerning the Mountains...

I love that picture, too. Pierre Vinet did such beautiful publicity stills for the trilogy. *sigh*

From: [identity profile] diem-kieu94.livejournal.com

Re: Concerning the Mountains...

I know! Who else but Film-Frodo could be so gorgeous...?
(Gah! He's beautiful even when he cries or when he's battered and covered in grime! My goodness! Nobody else could pull that off and look THAT good...!)
Edited Date: 2013-08-05 01:46 am (UTC)


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