Thursday, October 27, 2005


One thing that really bugs me in fiction is killing off scores of people and expecting the audience not to particularly care. As long as the good guy triumphs, everything's all right. But every person has value. Furthermore, for every loudly lauded, conquering hero, there are plenty of folks behind the scenes who never get any attention but are vital in helping the goal to be achieved. I like to look for underdogs, for people in fiction and real life who are not given the appreciation they deserve.

Fatty Bolger strikes me as this sort of person. We don't know much about him, but we do know that he is a faithful friend of the four hobbits who set out from the Shire and that he has an important and frightening task of his own to perform. This is not the reckoning of his adventure, so we don't get to hear much about what he went through, and it seems his contributions would probably have been unnoticed by everyone within the world of the story, hopefully with the exception of his four furry-footed friends. Everybody always forgets poor Fatty. This is my attempt to lift him from obscurity. Every life counts, even in fiction.


It seems the Shire is duller now.
The greens are turning gray.
A shiver and a furrowed brow
Give Fatty’s fear away.

The faithful fellow Fredegar,
Abandoned by the pack,
Wonders if they have traveled far
And when they’re coming back.

He is not bitter. No, indeed,
He offered to remain,
Fulfilling quite a vital need.
But still, he is in pain.

What if his comrades have been caught
In peril grave and grim,
And what if – horrifying thought! –
They have forgotten him?

Do they remember their old chum,
A gentle soul and kind
Who’s seen so many troubles come
Since he was left behind?

No longer does his nickname fit.
His worry’s worn him thin.
But he won’t make a break for it
And let the darkness in.

He will get none of the glory,
The honor and the fame.
When they tell the epic story,
Few will recall his name.

Most folks will never know the role
The brave young Bolger played,
But pride and peace will fill his soul,
For he’s the one who stayed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Child of the Kindly West

I've been writing a lot of Tolkien-inspired poetry lately, but most of it has stemmed from Lord of the Rings. I fell in love with The Hobbit first, so it seems as though I should give Bilbo at least as much attention as Sam. So here's a poem rooted entirely in The Hobbit, revolving around the epithet so poetically applied to Baggins the burglar. Such was Tolkien's facility with language that the simple stringing together of five words has the power to make me misty-eyed. To one who deserves the description, from one who endeavors to earn it.

Child of the Kindly West

“Child of the kindly West.”
That’s what Thorin called him
Before he faded to his rest.
The tragedy appalled him.

They finally saw eye to eye;
They finally were friends.
How could he be allowed to die?
It was too soon an end.

The Dwarven lord had hated him
Through most of their long trip.
He’d constantly berated him
And made his spirits dip.

But Bilbo had intrinsic worth,
Which Thorin realized
Before his soul departed Earth.
Perhaps he was surprised.

Perhaps he harbored some remorse
Because glory and gold
Had set his life’s opulent course,
Obscuring joys untold.

Perhaps in hours before his death,
He dreamed of innocence,
Of fresh air gulped in giant breaths,
Of green lands with no fence.

Perhaps he dreamed of songs to sing
And picnics in the sun,
Of savoring the simple things
Before his life was done.

Reflecting thus, Bilbo could see
How his life had been blessed
And that he must forever be
“Child of the kindly West.”

Friday, October 14, 2005


Today, when I set out to write another poem, I said to myself, "I shall now write a poem that has nothing to do with Samwise Gamgee." So of course the first word of said poem turned out to be "Sam." I'm so good at following my own instructions. I actually have three entirely non-Sam-related Tolkien poems that I have yet to post, but those that feature him seem to possess a certain spark the others lack. The magic of Sam. Oh, well. Sam takes over again. Worse things have happened.

Warning: This poem may or may not have been unduly influenced by an Exceptionally Irritating video that can be found here: .


Sam is in the habit
Of cooking his dinner.
Forced to eat raw rabbit,
He would get much thinner.

Smeagol hasn’t tasted
Cooked food in so long,
He feels his meal’s wasted.
Sam’s doing it all wrong.

“Some taters would be nice,”
Sam mutters thoughtfully.
A splash of old Shire spice
Would help tremendously.

Gangly and unkempt,
Smeagol the Sam-hater
Hisses with contempt,
“Eh? What’s that? What’s taters?”

“Potatoes. Boil ‘em, mash
‘Em, stick ‘em in a stew,”
Sam says. “No one could pass
That up, not even you.”

“Oh, yes we could!” spits Smeagol,
Determined to be rude.
Let’s strangle him like Deagol.
Let’s break him like his food.

Sam can’t hear Smeagol’s threats,
But he senses them still.
If Frodo would just let
Him move in for the kill...

The fierceness of his blow
Would strike the Stinker down.
The Slinker, too, would go.
Sam eyes him with a frown.

Poor Frodo wearily
Is haunted by the hunch
That in the future, he
Should be in charge of lunch.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Her Sam

I have so many reviews to write and so little time in which to write them. Hopefully I'll have a couple more soon, but till then, I'll tide you over with another Tolkien poem. That's practically all I've been writing lately. The floodgates have opened! I adore Sam Gamgee. Generally not so crazy about Rosie, only because I'm jealous. Or because their relationship seemed far less developed than Sam and Frodo's.

But in reality, it wasn't. Set aside the movie version, in which Rosie's a barmaid who Sam has a crush on and can't get up the nerve to ask out until after he's returned from his quest. Please. Okay, there's some element of sweetness to that, but it goes back to everything that was wrong about Sam in the movie. He was not a wimp by any means, and he certainly would not have been afraid of Rosie. The way I read it, though she's mentioned very little, Rosie was his best friend. Their being together was as simple and beautiful and natural as everything about Sam, and Tolkien himself had the following to say:

"I think the simple 'rustic' love of Sam and his Rosie (nowhere elaborated) is absolutely essential to the study of his (the chief hero's) character, and to the theme of the relation of ordinary life (breathing, eating, working, begetting) and quests, sacrifice, causes, and the 'longing for Elves', and sheer beauty."

I am also drawn to this passage by L. M. Montgomery, describing a critical revelatory moment in one of my favorite fictional romances:

"Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one's life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; Perhaps it crept to one's side like an old friend through quiet ways; Perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music; unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath."

There's nothing really to back up the idea, presented in my poem, of Rosie having multiple suitors. I imagine her actually as quite a homely lass. But I like the idea of her turning down the brightest and best in the land for her closest comrade, a simple, chubby, unremarkable gardener. Even if nobody else ever did express an interest in her, I am convinced that if they did, she would not have given them a second thought. Here's to true love in your own backyard.

Her Sam

Lovely Rosie, sweet as posies,
Cheerful, always charming.
Some hobbits might find just the sight
Of this lass disarming.

Fetching water, Tolman’s daughter
Also fetches gazes
From the fellows. Mild and mellow,
Rosie’s poise amazes.

Some are handsome. Some would ransom
Riches just for her hand.
Some are quite strong or strut along
As if they owned the land.

Some are clever. Rosie never
Treats them impolitely,
And yet their schemes touch not the dreams
She lingers over nightly.

She is bereft. Why her Sam left
She may not ever learn,
But still she copes with prayers and hopes
That he will soon return.

His pudgy frame will be the same,
His gentleness unchanged.
Perhaps he’ll bring a wedding ring
From someplace far and strange.

They’ll take a bow and seal their vow
Tenderly, with a kiss.
With joyful hearts, the two will start
A life of wedded bliss.

The games they played in golden glade
When they were very young
Will live again, and in the den
Splendid songs will be sung.

And in due time, the tots will climb
On Dad’s lap for a story,
And he will tell his tale so well,
Its sadness and its glory.

She’ll take her seat next to the feet
Of him whom she adores.
Her eyes ashine, she’ll think, “He’s mine,
And I loved him before.”

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fool of a Took

Sam is my favorite of the quartet of hobbits in Lord of the Rings, but Pippin is a fairly close second. In the films, I was surprised to find that the scamp managed to supersede Sam for first place in my heart. Sam will always be number one, but in the Tolkien According to Jackson, I'm afraid Pippin wins out most of the time. So I had to write about him sometime. Actually, I found a poem I wrote about him my freshman year in high school, for a project, but from my vantage point now it seems most unsatisfactory. This one is only a few days old and hopefully better - and the first of several. In it, Gandalf, at some point after his and Pippin's arrival in Gondor, ruminates about his foolish young companion. Enjoy!

Fool of a Took

I don’t know what to do with him, this nuisance of a halfling
Who’s proven to be nothing but a pest
Throughout our short acquaintance. Looking back, I find it baffling
I concurred to include him on this quest.

Could it be my wits were addled by too much time with Old Toby?
Can a little leaf confound a wizard’s mind?
Did my love of hobbits strip me of my logic long ago?
See the way affection leaves an old man blind!

First that mischief at the Pony – yes, I heard all about that,
When he glibly blurted out poor Frodo’s name.
And that pebble in Moria; why, I could have knocked him flat!
When the orcs arrived, I fear he was to blame.

Now he’s mingled with a malice that he cannot comprehend,
And I’m certain the encounter left him scarred.
More than ever, I endeavor to protect him till the end.
I shall try – but goodness gracious, it is hard!

He lacks Bilbo’s intuition, but he also lacks his pride;
He is humble, and he knows that he’s a fool.
And I’m told he wept for hours when he thought that I had died.
He is tender in a world that’s often cruel.

Did he know what he was getting into? Never! Not a chance!
He was reckless; there are those who’d call it brave.
He relinquished leisurely life, full of food and drink and dance,
For a friend he would do anything to save.

When I see him, I recall the gentle goodness of the Shire
And that if we failed, how great would be the cost.
Though I would not soon admit it, he has virtues I admire,
And without that foolish Took, I would be lost.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

A Gardener's Temptation

Yes, I'm writing about Sam again. I can't help it. This poem followed naturally from the poem I wrote about Bill the Pony, since I had Mr. Gamgee on the brain. This is another pivotal scene from the book that did not make it into the movie, which is a shame, though there's a nice rendition of it in the Rankin and Bass version. Hooray for Sam's sense!

A Gardener’s Temptation

He beholds the golden garden
Of his imagination,
And his gentle features harden
With grim determination.

Sam is coldly bold, declaring,
“I could make Middle-earth thrive,”
For the moment little caring
Whether Frodo’s still alive.

With his sword so brightly blazing
It would blind the enemy,
He would lead with skill amazing
Fearsome troops to victory.

He’d spread greenery and flowers
With a flicker of his hand,
And his orders would send showers
That could quench a thirsty land.

Though the hobbit can intuit
Cruel temptation’s sneaky sting,
He thinks, “I know I could do it
If I only kept the Ring.”

Samwise clutches the Ring, sneering
In a voice unknown and stark,
And is startled, fully fearing
This descent into the dark.

All at once, the shadow passes.
His plain hobbit sense has won.
He’ll command neither the masses
Nor the flora, clouds and sun.

He recalls his sacred duty
And, with not a word or sound
But a thought for truth and beauty,
Drops the Ring and turns around.

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Equine Loyalty

I had a nice IM conversation with my uncle Dave yesterday, so when I went to work I had Tolkien on the brain, as much of our discussion involved him. Aside from one guy who bought 11 calendars (!) it was typically slow, so I found myself composing this poem in my head, writing it down whenever I finished a stanza. I was highly amused because just as I finished writing the fourth stanza, the song Wedding Bell Blues (which I always think of as Bill) came on the mall radio. I took it as a good sign. Anyway, I always thought Bill was a pretty great pony, even though my brother assigned that moniker to a little plastic donkey I had and took to attacking me with it whenever he entered my room. Grrrr. Sideshow WETA put out a sculpture of Bill and Sam, which I found a bit ironic since their relationship was so undeveloped in the movie; I don't think they even said Bill's name. But I really wanted that sculpture. Alas, it sold out, and now I shall never get one. Sniff. Anyway, here is the poem.

Equine Loyalty

Down through valleys, over hills,
Hardy, never tiring,
Plods the patient pony Bill,
Solid and inspiring.

Nurtured by the steady Sam,
Gentlest of masters,
Bill braces and thinks, “I am
Able to go faster.”

Grateful to find freedom from
That loutish brute in Bree,
He will take whatever comes
To him gracefully.

Larger, stronger horses might
Bolt, braying “Why bother?”
Bill will not succumb to fright.
He thinks, “I’ll go farther.”

One day Sam will let him go –
“For your own good,” he’ll say.
Bill, with footsteps sad and slow,
Will faithfully obey.

Wandering with careful gait
Paths pristine and weathered,
He’ll come home at last and wait
Till Sam, having fulfilled his fate,
And he can be together.