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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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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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.

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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... )


It was back in the fall that jan-u-wine sent me 'The Master Observed'. I loved it at once and began to plan a post, choosing a painting, but no post was ever produced. As might be guessed from my long absence from LJ, I've been having the devil of a time getting up the zeal to write. Anything. Here it is more than six months later, and finally I am posting it.

The impetus to post was a poem Jan wrote just over a week ago, on the Fourth of July, 'Frodo's Lamp'. Read more... )

Happy 120th Birthday!

I am so grateful this man lived and created such wonders for so many to enjoy and cherish. And I love the photo below. It's from the cover of Tom Shippey's fine Author of the Century. The mood, the look of the sea, the time of day -- this is very much the way I picture the end of "The Grey Havens", Sam standing on the shore, looking long at the grey shifting sea over which Frodo has gone.

What Tolkien wrote, even if categorized 'Fantasy', always had the ring of 'been there, done that', from the external settings to the deepest experiences of the characters. He'd stood by the sea, he'd known irreparable loss. And turned it into unforgettable art.

Jan-u-wine, inspired by the photograph below, has written a beautiful tribute to the Professor for his birthday. It is posted below the image.

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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... )


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... )
mechtild: (Christmas)
( Dec. 25th, 2010 08:46 am)

Christmas cards arrived in my mail slot from [livejournal.com profile] frolijah_fan_54, [livejournal.com profile] julchen11, [livejournal.com profile] verangel and [livejournal.com profile] jan_u_wine. Thank you so much!

Also, [livejournal.com profile] jan_u_wine surprised me by sending a stunning copy of the 1979 edition of Pictures by J. R. R. Tolkien. I mulled over buying one of these books all this year. It's a beautiful volume, with excellent plates, and comes in a handsome protective slip case. For those interested, here are photos of one here.

Again, to you all a very Merry Christmas!


~ Mechtild


Merry Christmas!

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


mechtild: (Default)


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