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.


Desolation of Smaug screencap-REDUCED

The Desolation of Smaug

These pale

these things of little property
and less propriety.....

these boring creatures
of yellow-faced day....

they have a name for me:


Am I thus,
am I.......


Master Burglar?

A lowly shadow,
hidden within

the last hole
he crept through....



is the true
and mean

measure of me?

Master Burglar.

No, Riddler most clever.

More. There is more:

From the North I come,
and even I have forgot

my golden birthing,
the mighty Drake who was my.....

(what IS the Westron word...oh, yes:)

the Vibria who should have been my.....

There is no love,


Our warm embrace

a river-running-red
of sudden death,

a screamed silence
of trailing oblivion.

Many have I sent
on such a journey,

careful of the paring
of body from bauble.

In the end,
only these glimmered

cold as far-off stars
accompany my dremes.

(Such dremes as dragons have:

of days of sun and high-flown cloud,
lakes and towns and

ablaze and writhing,
reduced to simple ash-petals

beneath an uncaring moon).

In the end,
it is

beneath the Lonely Mountain.


And in this desolate state,
in this solitary


I must now sleep.

It is good to sleep.
It is

Master Burglar,
I warn you:

You should

me sleep.


Gold is his eye.

yet threaded,

with dark,

as if the Ages he has

the people
and places

ended by his wrath,
are kept there,

held in a fixed
of horror.

Does he know horror,
I wonder?

Do he know the terror
of the great hearts

that yet cannot
flee or defeat him?

Does he know,
as he rests beneath
his quilt of stolen gold,

does he know
what it means for
lungs to crackle

with fire,
tender tissue
to flame upon bone,

screams to echo
within one's own ears

before a blessed ending?

Surely not.

Surely not,
this Wyrm

of gilt beauty,
this ......

creature of fiery deed
and speech,

stitchery of spell'd evil.

You are

Master Wyrm.

The high crown of your brow

like the gems beneath your belly,
like the ancient fires of your eyes,

opal-lit with remorseless memory.

You are wondrous.

You are beauty-in-death,
close-kept reposed fire,

grand, serpent-eyed trickery.

In this Age,
you are most


O, Smaug.

With my last breath,
I might praise you,


I might.

And with my next-to-last,
reveal the lovely paleness

of a Fire-Drake's
unarmored breast.

It is better than treasure,

Master Smaug.

We shall have it,
the Company

and their


Served up cold
as the dark

behind the stars.

Served up swift
as a night'd arrow.

great Wyrm.

For that is all,

that you are.


Previous entry:
~ "Old Man Willow" by Tolkien, "Suite: Meriadoc" by jan-u-wine.

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

From: [identity profile] shirebound.livejournal.com

Ooooh, those points of view complement each other beautifully.

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

I'm so glad you enjoyed the piece's charms, Shirebound. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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

thank you so much, SB!

I am so far behind on everything, but i think that this is the week i will finally be able to read Rings of Evendim (this from jan, the EVERdim!)

what are u and Shiremom and Pip dog doing today? I read an interesting post re kugel vs stuffing and thought of you. Personally, I would love to have a turkey stuffed with kugel!

From: [identity profile] shirebound.livejournal.com

I plan to start writing chapter 12 (the final chapter) over the next week. It's been a sweet, gentle story to imagine and write. I hope you enjoy it when you're able to give it a read. :)

Shiremom, Pip dog, and I are going to my cousin's house for supper tonight. My cousin and her husband are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary as well, so it'll be especially festive.

Stuffing! Extra stuffing! Turkey must be served with stuffing.

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

no kugel? (is disappointed. loves kugel muchly)

how wonderful, 30th anniversary AND t-day. Muchness of gratitude for that!

enjoy, enjoy....

and i certainly WILL enjoy Evendim.....

there are poems there, i say, poems......

From: [identity profile] ambree40.livejournal.com

A very intriguing poem, Jan. Bilbo sounds quite vengeful. I think it's time for me to re-read The Hobbit.

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

You are right, there is no love for Smaug in evidence. I can't speak for Jan, but, from my own recollections of the story, I think Bilbo's attitude towards Smaug, while respectful of the dragon's deadliness, his power to kill where he wished, is not respectful in other ways or prone to pity.

I'm glad the piece intrigued! :)
Edited Date: 2013-11-29 06:01 am (UTC)

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

lol! No, Ambree, you are quite right. This is surely not the stuff of which canon is made. The idea was, at first, to explore whether these two might have a sort of friendship (more of an understanding of comrades-in-arms, the way you heard tell of soldiers having conversations with 'the enemy')

I started off making Smaug have a really rather (for him) friendly tone to him. It was apparent to me that he had a certain amount of loneliness. In the book, he spoke with Bilbo a great deal longer than was necessary to ascertain his purpose and that the outside world needed a 'visit' from its largest foe. This might have been an appropriate vehicle for a children's book, but it was an appropriate vehicle for me, as well, and i hopped in.

At first, I was determined to make Bilbo just as chatty, for them to, indeed, have a 'friendly enemies' conversation. But then I recalled the steel that Bilbo has hidden beneath his hobbit exterior and his very words in canon: "revenge". Although this didn't feel quite like Bilbo to me, and although if i used it, I must colour all of Bilbo's portion with this is the background, in the end i thought it a nice counterpoint to Smaug, with their normal personalities also having been flipped.

In any case, I do hope you enjoyed, and thank you for stopping in, Ambree!
Edited Date: 2013-11-29 02:28 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] ambree40.livejournal.com

Thank you for this glimpse into the creative process, Jan! I enjoyed the poem a lot, especially what it shows about Bilbo's "steel". He would be loyal to his friends and he would also be deeply disturbed about the "desolation".
My remark about wanting to re-read The Hobbit is literally true. It's been too long. :-)

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

I'm so glad that you enjoyed it, Ambree! It was absolutely a joy to write, even tho i was a bit miffed at Bilbo. I wanted him to be....friends.......

i wanted him to feel badly that such a creature needed to be ....executed.

I understood, too, why he did not.

(I did take your comment about wanting to re-read The Hobbit as a sort of "REALLY? I'm sure this isn't how it was". I think that is MY paranoia about the piece manifesting itself. It has been a long time since I have read the complete book, too, since I only re-read portions of it for this piece, relying heavily on Thains Book as I always do, and Encyclopedia of Arda to a lesser degree. Writing can be a slog, or it can be a joy, and this was certainly the latter! Thank you so much for commenting. You always add to the wonderful conversational 'stew'!

From: [identity profile] aussiepeach.livejournal.com

I liked these very much, especially Smaug's POV. Benedict/Sherlock is such a good choice for his character!

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

Yes, I think Cumberbatch's Sherlock will inform Smaug's quite admirably.

Hi, Peachy! Your baby must be growing by leaps and bounds. I just looked quickly at your post titles and see she's named Aurora. Such a lovely name. Is she a Sleeping Beauty, like Perrault's heroine, or mostly a waking one? ;)

From: [identity profile] aussiepeach.livejournal.com

She's four months old now (cor!) Glad you like the name. :) She can be a sleeping beauty (she was good last night, only two feeds), so hopefully the name inspires her. I am looking forward to a full night's sleep sometime!

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

You'll get to a full night's sleep eventually. Took us an extra long while, but most parents we've known had beauties that were sleeping through much earlier. :)

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

thank you, Aussie! I am glad you enjoyed. And what a lovely name you have chosen for your little one. She is a light to you (in between waking in the night) I have no doubt.

(my first NEVER slept thru the night. By the time I had the second, he still was waking. And that is the way it goes, sigh)

From: [identity profile] mole-caz.livejournal.com

My, what powerful images in this poem; raw and questioning and very honest.

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

Moley! so honored that you dropped by! Hope all is well with you, hubbie and Little Man!

From: [identity profile] mole-caz.livejournal.com

Hubbie's having his treatment this coming week and little one is into everything! I'm fighting an infection so not feeling too good but we battle on....x

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

oh, dear, sorry to hear you are not feeling well. Much love and many good thoughts being sent your way, dear Moley. If only i could make it all come right! XOX!

From: [identity profile] mole-caz.livejournal.com

Don't worry, hopefully I'll soon get sorted or it will sort itself. Just makes things a bit harder when I'm not quite firing on all four cylinders!

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

I couldn't help reading your reply to jan-u-wine, Moley. Battling on, are you? That's British pluck, I'll wager. Seriously, I hope you feel better soon, Moley, and your battling husband, too.

From: [identity profile] mole-caz.livejournal.com

I'm still not right so shall have to go back to the doctor next week if things don't pick up. It's a bit unfortunate that hubbie is in hospital at the moment as I can't just pop down to the clinic and get sorted. But he takes priority and should start picking up a little by Friday which will make him feel that much easier in himself and that's got to be good.

From: [identity profile] lavendertook.livejournal.com

That Bilbo is a scary little guy of quiet wrath.

And Smaug full of self-pity--as all monsters are--as he threatens destruction on others. His loneliness is that of the murderer of his parents who bemoans his orphaned state.

Very chilly poems but right on target.

Phrases that really struck me:

a screamed silence
of trailing oblivion.

careful of the paring
of body from bauble

held in a fixed
of horror.

stitchery of spell'd evil.

opal-lit with remorseless memory.

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

I'm very glad you enjoyed, LT!

Both Smaug and Mr. Baggins surprised me in this piece!

From: [identity profile] lavendertook.livejournal.com

Your Bilbo muse was saying, "Are you kidding? Friends with a dragon? I can't stop pitying all his victims long enough. Your contemporaries might be into the Dexter's and Hannibal Lecter's, but my sympathies are occupied elsewhere."

Your poem still keeps us focused on Bilbo's pity--his thoughts of the victims--rather than vengeance and administering justice as Bilbo's focusing motivation for killing Smaug (which he does as surely as Bard), so it's not out of line with Gandalf's proclamation on the unknowability of justice and caution against thinking one is an instrument thereof. There isn't time to pity Smaug when there are more victims at stake, unlike Gollum, who is not in that league of destructiveness, even when he had the ring.

I hadn't thought about Smaug being lonely as his motivation to banter with Bilbo, but it's a good point. One would get lonely when he's burned everyone there is to talk to.

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

One would get lonely when he's burned everyone there is to talk to.

HA HA HA! Sorry, couldn't help eavesdropping, Lavender.

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

Dear LT.....well, i wrote a very long reply to this and the connection got dropped. I don't have time to write it again!

Suffice to say that your points are excellent!

And.....i have to laugh too, at your: "one would get lonely when he's burned everyone there is to talk to".

Yes. I imagine the only being a dragon might converse with is another dragon. And those seem in short supply.

Well, Smaug is lonely no more, if ever he was.

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

Yes, they are chilly poems, Lavender. Perhaps that's what gave me chills when I read them! :)

From: [identity profile] antane.livejournal.com

Have not seen the movie yet, but I love Smaug 's part here!

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)

From: [identity profile] mechtild.livejournal.com

I haven't seen it yet, either, Antane. I hope to go tomorrow. :)


mechtild: (Default)

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