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Archive for the ‘7 – In the House of Tom Bombadil’ Category

It’s a short little bit today, so we’ll blow through this and end Chapter 7!

What happens? Tom tells the hobbits to pass by any Barrows, if they come across them, on the west side. Then he teaches them a song to sing should they find themselves in trouble. Then they go to bed. That’s it. When it’s the end of a chapter, the page usually isn’t very long.

Unlike Longcat.

Why does Tom teach the hobbits this song? It doesn’t seem to have a point now, but I know that it becomes relevant later. However, you can’t debate that there’s a song on this page, and that means…

Tolkien Songs In Real Life:

This is what Tom teaches:

“Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo!

By water, wood and hill, by the reed and willow,

By fire, sun and moon, harken now and hear us!

Come, Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!”

It’s shaken like a Polaroid picture, and I present:

Hey Tom

(Hey Ya – Obadiah Parker)

Why base this song off the indie cover of a hip-hop hit? Tom is somewhat of a rapper, as I’ve put forth, and oddly different from every other character in Middle-earth. In my interpretation here, Tom raps because he’s the only character that is able to. The hobbits can’t. So, Tom takes his typical form of music and adapts it to be sung by the hobbits’ voices.

Too crazy of an interpretation? I don’t know. This whole project is just for fun. The songs? Extra fun. And I’ll tell you, this one was probably the most fun to do so far!

NOTE: No Polaroid pictures were shaken in the making of this blog.

End of Chapter 7! Can you believe we’re that far?

“When they had sung this altogether after him, he clapped them each on the shoulder with a laugh, and taking candles led them back to their bedroom.”

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Mysteries abound! Come on in, let’s talk about Tom Bombadil.

While examining the ring, Tom puts it on his finger. Does he disappear? NO. Then, he makes the ring itself disappear instead.

Yeah, everyone knows hobbits dig magic. Stay awesome.

Frodo is a little taken aback, and makes sure that the ring is indeed his when Tom hands it back. When Tom’s story drifts off again, Frodo puts the ring on and starts to sneak away. Merry notices his sudden disappearance, though Tom calls to Frodo as he’s nearing the door. He tells Frodo to sit back down! Then, as if nothing happened, Frodo takes off the ring, reappears, and sits down to hear Tom tell the four that the weather should be nice tomorrow, though he can never tell for sure. If they go due north, they should hit the East Road in a day, as long as they stay away from the Barrows and the Barrow-wights.

So, weird things Tom does:

1) DOESN’T disappear when wearing the ring.

2) Can see Frodo while he’s invisble.

That’s strange, right? Mortals are said to disappear when wearing a Ring of Power, as Gandalf said long ago. So, maybe Tom is immortal, which would make sense considering his hinted-at lifetime. This would be proof of that. However, then the question of what he is remains. He isn’t an elf. We know that. The Maiar and Valar are generally accounted for. If we bring up that he can see an invisible Frodo, that ability is only ever ascribed to Sauron, but that makes sense easily in that Sauron would be able to see the one being wielding his power, even while invisible. Sauron is a Maia, so is Tom then too? Or he’s Ilúvatar, which just continually makes more sense than any other argument.

Tom is still really odd, though. He tells “an absurd story about badgers and their queer ways.”

Is Tom Bombadil a famous YouTube narrator?

Seriously though, Tom goes from inspecting the single most evil ring in the world to yammering on about how weird and interesting badgers are. That’s the kind of conversation flow you might expect from a casual Wisconsin sports fan.

Anyway, the hobbits look set to leave Tom’s house tomorrow morning, and they’ll hopefully be well on their way skirting the Barrow-downs. Will it be that easy? No. It never is.

“‘Don’t you go a-meddling with old stone or cold Wights or prying in their houses, unless you be strong folk…'”

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I’m still reeling a bit from the complications of yesterday. I’m not sure if what I said could be made sense of by the average person. I do try to keep this open and available to all, regardless of anyone’s familiarity with Tolkien’s works. If nothing else, I need to give a shout-out to the Tolkien-universe wiki at lotr.wikia.com. If there’s ever anything that isn’t making sense, go there. It has that wonderful feature of every wiki ever where if you don’t understand something, just click on it.

But actually.

After Tom and Goldberry finish getting dinner ready, they and the hobbits sit down to eat. The meal is even more delicious than the previous night, probably because the hobbits have missed meals while listening to Tom’s stories. Afterwards, Goldberry sings them some songs and bids them good night, leaving the hobbits with the eager-to-question Tom. He knows much about the world and its history, and it appears that most of his knowledge of recent events has come from Farmer Maggot. In addition, he’s heard of the four hobbits and their flight from the Shire, probably as news from Gildor. As Frodo tells Tom about their journey so far, he asks to see the ring. Without hesitation, Frodo hands it to him, and Tom inspects it closely.

Hold the phone, it’s that easy? This is another mystery about Tom Bombadil. You may recall earlier that Gandalf told Frodo that it was likely that Bilbo passing the ring to him was the first time in the ring’s history that it was given more or less willingly from one owner to another. Frodo has held the ring for 17 years, and we’re to assume that he hands it over to Tom without any second thoughts? It’s another way that Tom defies the natural rules of Middle-earth, seemingly existing above and around them.

Or Frodo's just that clueless.

Along with that, how exactly does Tom know Farmer Maggot? It appears that the two have talked rather extensively, at least from Tom’s respect for the farmer. How did these two even meet? I wouldn’t expect Maggot to go wandering into the Old Forest, especially this deep into it. Making matters more interesting, Maggot doesn’t even live in Buckland, so what business would he have had entering the forest? Whatever the reason, it does seem that Tom and Maggot at least share news between them, and I find it odd that Maggot wouldn’t have suggested that the hobbits head in Tom’s direction in the first place. If you had a friend possibly older than any other thing in your immediate vicinity who was wise and had a safe home, wouldn’t you send your troubled friends there? Maybe Maggot doesn’t fully understand the history of Tom Bombadil. I could see him as a hobbit who wouldn’t care too much to ask many questions.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-caperings

Apparently “capering” would have been totally fine, but not once I made it plural. Sure, whatever.

I’m going to keep this short today. No need to go into that detail from yesterday again quite yet.

“Then suddenly he put it to his eye and laughed. For…”

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This is going to be a bit of a history lesson. Say what?

"Today...we're gonna talk about...Nikola Tesla."

Let us begin. I’m gonna explain all this in a second.

Tom goes on telling stories of the world before it was made round and Valinor was lifted from Arda. The hobbits, having returned to his tales from their fears of the Barrow-downs, are enchanted. The rain outside has stopped, and the sun has gone down. They know not how long they have been listening to him talk. Once again, Frodo asks Tom just exactly who he is. Tom answers cryptically. He is old, very old. Older than rivers and trees. He saw men come, and hobbits too. He lived here before the events on the Barrow-downs as he described them. He lived before the world was made round. Before evil.

Goldberry comes in, announcing the end of the rain, and that supper should be had. Tom springs up to get things ready.

Tom Bombadil. Older than evil.

First Mentions:

-the western Shore: Undoubtedly Aman, the undying lands, and location of Valinor. A sort of heaven, once a land west from Middle-earth, but since lifted from Arda, the world. Now it exists on a separate plane that only the elves know how to reach.

-the Elf-sires: I can’t tell for certain, but these seem to be ancient elves. Likely the forefathers of present-day elves.

-Outside: The Void. A separate space, or dimension, or something. Think, like, the train station where Harry meets Dumbledore in Deathly Hallows. Or the similar train station in Matrix Revolutions, not that you want to think about it.

Also, Tom refers to a “Dark Lord”. This is not Sauron, which is part of the reason why I didn’t want to officially give him a first mention until his name directly came up. Who is it? We’ll get to that here in due time.

Nope.

Let’s talk geography. On Arda (again, the world itself) there are a handful of continents. The three most important (two of which no longer exist on the earth as we know it) are Middle-earth, with which we are familiar, Númenor, a land of men, which was sunk all Atlantis-style, and Aman, home of the god-like Valar and final destination of the elves. Middle-earth and Aman were close to equal size, and Númenor was a smaller one in the middle. In fact, map!

Makes this book seem pretty small in scale, doesn't it? (Click to magnify!)

One of the Valar was Melkor, sometimes referred to as Morgoth, who turned to evil long ago. He and his lieutenant, a guy named Sauron you might have heard of, corrupted the men of Númenor, causing them to travel to Aman, where they were forbidden. As punishment, Eru Ilúvatar (the creator we discussed earlier as possibly being Tom Bombadil) sunk Númenor into the sea and lifted Aman off the plane of Arda. The remaining world was made round, with Aman existing on a separate plane that can only be reached by sailing along a path that goes straight on a tangent away from the world’s curvature.

Confused? It's like traveling off of Arda (if Circle A were a sphere) along a path on the line through Point B.

So, Melkor is this other Dark Lord. He was the Dark Lord before Sauron was, and he caused a whole bunch of trouble for the Valar.

As a (hopefully) quick reference, here’s a way to separate all the different beings, powers, races, and what-have-you in your mind:

Eru Ilúvatar created pretty much everything. The first beings he created were the Ainur, the most powerful of which are the Valar, and the lesser the Maiar. The Maiar are people we know like Sauron and Gandalf, along with every other wizard as well as the balrogs. Ilúvatar also created elves, then men. One of the Valar, Aulë, created dwarves, and though the origin of hobbits is a bit of a mystery, they are assuredly related to men. That pretty much covers everyone, right? Oh, orcs were elves corrupted by Melkor. Boom.

As you can see, this is all very complicated, and if you got all that, I applaud you. However, the point of this is that Tom Bombadil is saying that he was alive before and during all of this. That’s OLD. More fodder for those who argue that Tom is Eru Ilúvatar? Certainly. The oldest point he mentions, as cryptic as it is, is “before the Dark Lord came from Outside.” If he’s referring to Melkor coming to Arda from the Void, that would mean in the time shortly after Arda was created, when Melkor left the Void and built a fortress in the darkest corner of Middle-earth. That’s literally tens of thousands of years ago, approximately.

Tom, you old.

I’m going to leave it there. This has been my most complicated post to write. Do you see why Tom Bombadil is such a mystery? I find the mythology of Tolkien’s world fascinating, and I’m still only beginning to understand it, bit by bit.

“Then Tom and Goldberry set the table; and the hobbits sat half in wonder and half in laughter: so fair was the grace of Goldberry and so merry and…”

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Before we get started here today, I should apologize if this post may be a little unfocused. Return of the King is on TV right now. It would be heresy if I didn’t watch it, right?

The odd thing is, TNT played the three Matrix movies earlier today. When I got home a short bit ago and turned on the TV, Return of the King was on. But wait a second, I was watching The Matrix at around 1pm, and it was to be followed by Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions. (Unfortunately…) How did we get to Return of the King? Well, it turns out that apparently TNT doesn’t care about your sanity, because instead of letting The Matrix stand alone as a movie, (which it does quite well) they decided to let Return of the King stand alone. This broadcast wasn’t preceded by Fellowship OR Two Towers. So, if you didn’t already know what was going on in the series, there’s no point for you to watch this. Smart marketing that is right there…

In other news, SO MUCH HUGO WEAVING.

“The way is shut. It was made by those who are dead, and the dead keep it.” Just happened.

Anyway, today in the BOOK, Tom Bombadil is telling stories. He tells of Old Man Willow, and how he and all trees hate things that chop, bite, break, cut, or otherwise harm them. Which is, you know, a lot. The great old willow is very old, and his influence has extended over many trees in the Old Forest. Tom then shifts his focus up to the Barrow-downs. He tells their history, going from peaceful green hills to the battleground between small war-torn kingdoms. When these kings died, they were buried in mounds in the Downs. Evil powers awoke their bones, and they now haunt the hills. This is a typical ghost story in hobbit-lore, and our hobbits lose focus as they remember that the Downs are clearly their next destination.

First Mentions:

-the Great Barrows: In the Barrow-downs, these are the highest of the scores of hills. Undoubtedly, they once were the sites of the fortresses built on the Downs, and now serve as the burial sites of the ancient kings.

-the Barrow-wights: Evil spirits inhabiting the bodies of the dead kings of the Downs. Classic boogeyman stories for hobbits.

Seriously though, the siege of Minas Tirith is under way. “Aim for the trolls! Kill the trolls!” You tell them, Gandalf. HERE COMES GROND!

The history of the Barrow-downs is interesting, showing you the greed and warmongering of men in a small-scale way. There are a few references made to the treasures that are hidden in the hollows of the hills, haunted though they are. It’s no secret in Lord of the Rings that the race of men have to show their mettle as a purer culture than they once were. Their history is wrought with greed, leading to war and tragedy. One need look no further than Isildur’s failure to destroy the ring.

"Cast it into the fire! Destroy it! ISILDUUUURRR!!"

It really is a shame I didn’t think of this whole Hugo Weaving-themed day a few days ago, on the 5th of November.

You see though, these kinds of pages, though literally nothing is happening to our heroes, are very interesting to me. We get a history: one that hints at one of the more important themes of the entire book very subtly. This is the kind of stuff that the book really kicks into when the hobbits lose some of the innocence that they feel so protected in.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-ageing

Because the extra “e” is for “English”!

Night has fallen, Grond is pounding into Minas Tirith’s main gate, and Denethor’s gonna go burn himself now. Happy Hugo Weaving Day.

“Bring wood and oil.” Er… I mean:

“They lost the thread of his tale and shifted uneasily, looking aside at one another.”

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It’s officially rainy-day-land in Middle-earth. Does that mean I’m going to take a rain-check today?

Did T. Rex ever take a break from being AWESOME?

The four hobbits eat breakfast alone, with Tom busy about the house and Goldberry singing a floor above them. The rain is coming down heavily outside, and Frodo is adjusting his plan since it doesn’t look like they’ll be able to leave today. Tom comes in, announcing this very certainty, and suggesting that today be set aside for storytelling. He volunteers to go first, and gathers the hobbits, telling them stories of the Old Forest. His telling is strange, with him sometimes talking to himself, and other times singing and dancing.

So according to the weather, we’re not going anywhere today. I mean, “today” might just be as long as this page or the next, or maybe we’ll be sitting in the Bombadil house listening to stories for twenty pages, you never know.

We can really dig into the oddities of Tom Bombadil on this page. First of all, Frodo watches him walking around outside in the rain, and notices him waving his arms around, as if he was trying to keep the rain off him. Strangely enough, when Tom enters the room, he’s mostly dry. Is it magic?

Really, it's a moisture-wicking shirt. Hobbits don't understand that technology yet.

In other news, Tom has the strangest method of telling stories. Sometimes he’s off somewhere else, as if he’s talking to himself. Sometimes he’s staring directly at the hobbits. Sometimes he’s singing and dancing! Truly, this dude is crazy. I’m not here to judge one’s storytelling ability. I have too many friends who are well-versed in that sort of thing. However, I find it hard to argue with the fact that Tom Bombadil has quite the unique touch to his oratory skills.

Lost among the craziness that is Tom Bombadil is this statement: “It’s a good day for long tales, for questions and for answers.” Does Tom intend to answer any questions about himself? This seems to be the case. We’ll sure see if the hobbits can get some more information about the most interesting man in Middle-earth as we move forward.

“As they listened, they began to understand the lives of the Forest, apart from themselves, indeed to feel themselves as the strangers…”

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Well, now we know who the least imaginative of the four hobbits is.

Was it ever any question?

Merry has a similar end to his dream as Frodo and Pippin did, realizing that there is nothing to be afraid of. Sam has no dream. He slept soundly throughout the night. BORING.

All four hobbits wake up at the same time in the morning, with Tom Bombadil buzzing about the room. Frodo springs up to look out of the eastern window in the room, and can see hilltops against the sunrise. Pippin looks out the west-facing window into the mist rising from the Old Forest. Neither sees anything that they were afraid of from their dreams. Tom remarks that it looks like rain today, and announces that breakfast will be served soon, if the hobbits come eat it.

Why doesn’t Sam have a dream? I don’t know, maybe it’s a good thing. I mean, the three other hobbits have dreams that end in them waking up out of fear of something. Sam doesn’t have to deal with that, which is good, I guess. It’s still boring, though.

Not to mention, this page is kind of boring, actually. Let’s look out windows!

There's just so much excitement going on here.

It is important to note that both Tom and Goldberry warned earlier about noises during the night, and Tom reiterates it here again. How accustomed to hearing noises in the middle of the night are these two? Or are they the ones making the noises, just to mess with people? Jerks.

It’s breakfast time! Oh, boy!

“Needless to say – not that Tom’s threat sounded very serious -…”

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