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The Suppressed Poetry of Bilbo Baggins

Tags: poem,  funny,  ent,  hornbeam

Short Summary: Among the many histories that intertwine at the end of the Third Age of Middle-Earth, that of Bilbo Baggins seems on its face to be the least problematic or interesting. According to both The Red Book of Westmarch and its modern translation The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo remained quietly sequestered in Rivendell as the mighty events of the War of the Ring swirled around him.
Date (real-life): 2003-03-19
Scene Location: Rivendale
From "The Suppressed Poetry of Bilbo Baggins"

by Stephen W. Potts, Ph.D.

Copyright © 2003-2006 by Stephen W. Potts. No duplication or resale without permission.


Among the many histories that intertwine at the end of the Third Age of Middle-Earth, that of Bilbo Baggins seems on its face to be the least problematic or interesting. According to both The Red Book of Westmarch and its modern translation The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo remained quietly sequestered in Rivendell as the mighty events of the War of the Ring swirled around him. Historically his obscurity has been ascribed to his great age, the effects of which came upon him with relative suddenness after the One Ring had passed from him. In addition, the "thinness" about which he complained to Gandalf, a direct effect of the Ring's prolongation of his life, undoubtedly had a role in his mental and physical impairments.

What his caretakers, Elrond and the other Elves of Imladris, did not pass down to the record, however, was mention of Bilbo's moral impairment. Evidence has emerged in our own time that the Ring of Sauron had worked not inconsiderable evil on Bilbo's sense of propriety and decency. While as a hobbit he was not subject to the greater sins of power and pride (Gandalf's motive, after all, for entrusting the Ring to the Baggins clan), we now know that the Halfling author did yield to some unseemly impulses during his long retirement in Rivendell, resulting in a number of unfortunate writings that can be explained only by the latent influence of the Ring. To protect Bilbo's reputation, Elrond and his fellow Elves quite rightly suppressed such work as the following, reproduced here without prejudice to the memory of the elder Baggins, solely for the interest of the serious scholar of Middle-Earth lore.

The Lay of Elbethril and Hornbeam

In Middle-Earth, in years of yore
When in the West shone Valinor,
Before the Necromancer rose
As other tales have told in prose;
When every race and living thing
Enjoyed the summer after spring,
When forests wild and woodlands deep
Clothed fertile vale and mountain steep;
When niphredil and elanor
Thick carpeted the forest floor,
And Elvish folk trod every path
From Erebor to Doriath.
(Ah, give me such a happy home
Where Elf and mortal fearless roam,
Where seldom is there ever heard
A word of woe from beast or bird,
Where deer and boar and bear can play
Neath skies that cloudless stay all day.)
But back to when the land was green:
In such a world sang Thingol's queen,
And having mentioned Melian,
It must be said that not since then
Has any wight in ancient wood
Seen any beauty half so good,
Except perhaps for Luthien,
Who married Beren, chief of men,
A man none other could surpass
To satisfy an Elvish lass
(Although One-Handed he remained,
I've never heard that she complained).
If Thingol's queen and Thingol's maid
No more were seen in wooded glade,
Another beauty roamed the land,
A Green Elf from Ossiriand:
A lissom maid named Elbethril
With looks so fair, if looks could kill,
None would escape with living breath,
Though that would be a lovely death.
Now Elbethril loved running water,
For she was Mehtamucil's daughter,
And every pool would make her crave
To gyre and gambol in the wave.
She never shunned a chance to swim,
Which kept her long and lithe of limb.
One bright spring day did Elbethril
Discover one well-hidden rill,
Where off her gauzy gown she stripped
And in the lapping water dipped.
Soon moisture gleamed on Elvish lips,
On ripened breasts and curving hips.
And droplets glistened in her hair,
No gems in Middle-Earth so fair
(Except--you say--the Silmarilli,
But they were gone by then, you silly.).
The rest of her clothed but in mist,
Bejeweled by dew like amethyst
Or diamant of Nauglamir.
Like Arkenstone or palantir
So clear and bright the light it brings;
Like all three of the Elvish rings:
Like shirts of mithril, crowns of gold
In dwarvish horde like those of old.
But you don't want to hear all this;
Let's get back to the naked miss.
So as the waters poured afresh
Along that lissom female flesh,
She saw not as she bathed her thighs
That she was watched by roving eyes.
At last, it seemed, she had her fill
Of splashing in the running rill.
She climbed up on the bank to lie
Where moss and sun would get her dry,
Her raiment crumpled by her side
To slip on when her skin had dried.
Long Elbethril lay dozing there,
Clothed but in dew and raven hair.
When suddenly a rustling sound
Made her sit up and look around.
"Who's there?" she cried, her garment pressed
Against her stunning Elvish chest.
Her Elvish eyes were grey and keen,
And darted as she scanned the scene.
But nothing round her could she see
Save blooming bush and leafy tree.
Then from nearby there came a creak;
A croaking voice began to speak:
"I beg your pardon, maiden Elf;
Allow me to present myself."
Elbethril sought the voice's source,
Still staring at the trees, of course,
Until to her renewed surprise
She caught a pair of amber eyes,
Though not of Elf or mannish gent
Or evil orc--but tree-like Ent.
"Don't flee!" he barked, as to her feet
She jumped and turned with movements fleet.
"It must have been an age or two
Since I've seen one as fair as you.
I offer you my welcome, maid.
Please stay here in my forest glade."
"Are you not of the Onodrim?"
She asked, and ventured close to him.
"An ancient herdsman of the trees?"
"That's me," the Ent said, "if you please.
And though it's hasty for my kind,
I'd like your name, if you don't mind."
"I'm Elbethril," the maiden said,
"But you may call me 'Beth' instead."
"Beth!" snapped the treeherd with a snort.
"No one should have a name so short.
My full name is too long to say
But starts, 'Tararu-bumtië
Though you may call me 'Hornbeam' too."
That being done, she sat and they
Conversed throughout the warm midday.
They'd time to talk of many things:
Of ships and ravages and kings,
Until at last in tones bereft
He told her how the Entwives left,
How half an age each mannish Ent
Had done without--a sore lament.
"It's hard to live out such long lives,"
He said, "with none to love as wives.
So hard, indeed, that you can see
I'm hardening into a tree.
Is that the fate to which I'm born?
To start as Ent and end as Huorn?
I'm growing Huornier by the year
And Huorny while you're standing here.
I need a Wife to work this off;
There's nought cures hardening like a boff,
And after all the years I've missed
I know why Huorns are always pissed."
"You think you've problems," said the Elf.
"I've never done it once myself.
Two thousand years I've had to wait
To find myself a proper mate.
For Elves must choose a mate for life,
When they take Elvish man or wife;
And you don't want to rush into it
When you have eons left to rue it.
Two thousand years to stay a maid!
I'd say it's time that I got laid!"
"Your lament deeply touches me,"
Said Hornbeam then. "In fact, you see
You've touched me to the very root.
Perhaps the two of us should moot."
Replied Elbethril, "Tell me more.
I've never heard this 'moot' before."
"Telling's not so good as showing,"
Said he. "See this shoot here growing?"
"Do I!" said she. "How it's grown!
What a big new shoot you own!"
"All the better, miss, to know you;
Clamber up and I will show you."
Elbethril climbed up on him
And sat astride his limber limb.
As she began to writhe and wiggle,
He shook in every leaf, by Niggle.
"So are we mooting yet?" she asked.
"Almost," said he, though somewhat tasked
To speak at all. But then he's wood.
Observed the Elf, "Hey, this feels good!
I think that I could moot for hours."
Said he, "That is within my powers."
For Ents do nothing very fast
Which means a moot like this could last
For days and days, and now you know
Why Entwives would much rather hoe.
("Oh not again! I beg your pardon,
I have to go and mulch the garden."
"You want to do more mooting now?
I'm sorry, but I have to plow.")
And lest this lay become too long,
I'm going to try to end this song.
The sun had fallen neath the hill
Fore Hornbeam and fair Elbethril
Had had enough, and down she slid
With chafèd thigh and heavy lid.
"I felt the earth move," Hornbeam said,
And Elbethril, "I just feel dead.
No, I'm immortal--can't be death.
I guess that I'm just out of breath."
"As long as you are quite all right,"
Said he, "that bough can really bite."
"Your bite!" said she. "Your bark was worse.
I wish you could have sanded first.
My thighs are raw; I'm oozing sap,
And I have splinters in my lap.
But it was really worth the climb."
Said he, "Let's moot again some time,"
With a stiff bough. But if they did
I do not know; the answer's hid.
For Elves don't write about such stuff,
And anyway you've heard enough.
What can we learn from this long lay?
There's only one thing I can say:
Though poems are made by fools like me,
Only an Elf can make a tree.

Date added: 2014-03-19 17:11:45    Hits: 75
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