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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.

Read more... )
~*~

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.

Read more... )
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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.
Read more... )
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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... )
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Mirkwood-ICON~Taur-na-Fuin-ICON



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

Patterns (untitled)-700



In a little over a day, countless fans will be lining up at theatres across the United States to see the premiere midnight showings of The Hobbit. I hope it's huge. But before the celebrating begins, let's pause to savour the beauties of two particular hobbits, Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

Theirs is a beauty of spirit and intellect and imagination, of heart, and, for those who recognize such realities, of soul. To my mind, no one better lifts up these qualities than jan-u-wine. I am pleased to the marrow that she has written two new pieces from the points of view of these characters. Read more... )
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Autumn is waning here in north-eastern Minnesota. This weekend the leaves are at their peak but they are about to fall. We are having what in the United States is called "Indian Summer", a time deep in the autumn when unseasonably warm weather grants what seems a return of summer. Knowing that it's a reprieve -- fleeting, not here to stay -- makes it all the more precious. Typically we would have had a hard frost by now. All the annuals would be dead, the perennial tops yellowed and wilted over their crowns, the leaves down. We'd be wearing jackets and mittens and caps, not sandals and t-shirts. The soft mildness is sweet, sweeter because one knows it will be gone any minute.

Perhaps something of the intense sweetness of this time, when the growing world is on the cusp between seasonal life and death, is captured in these two beautiful new poems. Frodo revels in the Shire's autumn, actual and remembered, the time when the colour and fragrance of the natural world -- as various and as intense as at summer's height, if the colours and scents are different -- is at its keenest, precisely because it is on the verge of being lost. If it is not to death, it is to something like death, when growth and the promise of life suddenly are no longer accessible to the senses. One must enter winter, head into the time of greyness, of dearth and want, sustained only by hope in what is hidden, but working its revivifying magic under the soil.

But that time is not come, not yet. Not here in Minnesota and not in the Shire of these poems. One more day has come when the natural world glows with topaz and ruby and garnet, living leaf-jewels twinkling in the soft fragrant air. One blast and down the leaves will come, all colour bled from the landscape, scents muted by frost. But not yet, not yet.
Read more... )
~*~



Jan-u-wine has written a new poem, "The Hill of Home", imagined from Frodo's point of view. Here it is, along with two paintings to set it off.

Read more... )
~*~





March 23: Frodo and Sam in the wastes of Gorgoroth.


The poem:

Written from Sam's point of view, jan-u-wine's 'Report From the Road' takes readers to Sam in near-despair. On March 14, Sam rescues Frodo from the tower-dungeon of Cirith Ungol. Clothing themselves in the armour of dead Orcs, they escape, only to be over-taken on the road and forced to march north, away from their goal, with a group of soldiers headed for Udûn, and its fortress, Durthang. In the tangle which follows the simultaneous arrival of several companies of Orcs at a cross-road, Frodo and Sam manage to escape, leaving the road and turning east once more to face the smoking wastes of Gorgoroth. Frodo, his burden heavier with each step he takes toward the Mountain, grows weaker and slower every day. On March 23, he is unable to carry extra weight any further and casts the hated Orc gear away. Sam throws away his beloved pots and pans. Lightened, Frodo recovers some strength, but by the end of the day he is worse than ever. It is at this halt, Frodo collapsed and Sam falling into dark thoughts, that Jan's poem takes place.*

Read more... )
~*~


The second of jan-u-wine's winter poems is newly written, inspired by the painting below. This time, we look through the eyes of an older Frodo, a Frodo who has been through much, yet still is trying to take in his parents' deaths.

Again jan-u-wine does her magic, choosing just this and that word, this and that remembered image, to make a poem that takes us inside Frodo's lingering mix of thoughts and feelings. Its pace is like the winter river's, pensive, grave, stilling here and there while memories glance up from its ice-mirrored depths. But the rhythm keeps pulsing along, quiet and deep, like the water in the winter river.

Read more... )
~*~


While it is still winter, here, anyway (it was -7 F this morning), I thought it would be good to present a couple of jan-u-wine poems set in that season.

The poem below contrasts the warm home of Frodo and his parents with the frigid cold outside. It is full of just the right details to create a wonderful atmosphere. The world of the poem seems as real as the room I'm sitting in, perhaps even more real. I feel I am snuggled inside with Frodo, wrapped in familial love and savouring all the good things. Winter presses against the glass and shoulders the door, but it can't get in.

I chose two paintings to set off the poem. Read more... )
~*~

Photobucket


John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

January 3, 1892 ~ September 2, 1973


To honour Tolkien’s birthday this year I decided to offer up a few excerpts from the very fine volume, J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, edited by Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond. Read more... )
~*~

Merry Christmas!


Here are some images from Tolkien's Father Christmas Letters, not the same as I posted last year. Read more... )
~*~



~ detail from Monet's "The Pond at Montgeron"


Here we have another splendid "parent poem" by jan-u-wine, its sombre beauty flowing down the page like the river it describes, its joys and sorrows flowing through the consciousness of the boy who lived by it, both its bright surface and unplumbed depths. To accompany the poem, I chose a painting by Oscar Claude Monet (1840-1926).

Read more... )
~*~




~ detail from Harlamoff's "Faraway Thoughts"


Read more... )
In jan-u-wine's "A Hobbit's Bedtime Story", Frodo, still a lad, is remembering bedtimes past, when his mother and father were still alive, presiding over the nightly rituals of getting their beloved boy ready for sleep. Read more... )
~*~




~ from Gustav Klimt's "The Three Ages of Woman", 1905.

It's been a while, hasn't it? Real life has taken its toll, not to mention writerly inertia. But how could we not celebrate the Bagginses' birthday? I know it's not till tomorrow, but it's already the 22nd in England, so why not? I am afraid Bilbo will get left out this time, since the poem I'm posting has to do with Frodo and his mother, not Frodo and Bilbo, but I think he will forgive me.

Read more... )
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