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Tolkien Notes 8

June 16, 2013

A New Tolkien Poem

In Tolkien Notes 6 we remarked that the earlier version of Tolkien’s poem Shadow-Bride had been tentatively found, from a reference in The Tablet, in the 1936 Annual of Our Lady’s School, Abingdon (near Oxford). Following this discovery, we asked the school, which is still thriving, if they had a copy of the Annual in their archive. They did not, but through their kind efforts we were put in touch with the Sisters of Mercy at Bermondsey, who do have the issue for 1936, and in that way we learned still more about that publication.

An earlier version of Shadow-Bride, entitled The Shadow Man, is indeed in the 1936 Annual, on p. 9. Although the thrust of the poem remained the same, Tolkien made numerous alterations in its revision for the 1962 Adventures of Tom Bombadil collection. For example, the first four lines of The Shadow Man read:

There was a man who dwelt alone
beneath the moon in shadow,
He sat as long as lasting stone,
and yet he had no shadow.

For Shadow-Bride these were amended to:

There was a man who dwelt alone,
as day and night went past
he sat as still as carven stone,
and yet no shadow cast.

Most importantly, the change of title shifted the focus of the poem from the ‘man who dwelt alone’ to the ‘lady clad in grey’.

But The Tablet for 15 February 1936 had referred to ‘a poem or two’ in the 1936 Annual. We asked the sisters for a copy of its table of contents, and indeed, another poem by Tolkien was listed: Noel. This proved to be an unrecorded work by Tolkien, though its first lines seemed familiar:

Grim was the world and grey last night:
The moon and stars were fled,
The hall was dark without song or light,
The fires were fallen dead.

Of course, the abab rhyme scheme, and the imagery of dark and light, moon and stars, can be found elsewhere in Tolkien’s verse. Noel is unusual, however, in that it is a directly Christian poem, celebrating the birth of Christ, which brought light and joy to dispel the darkness of the world.


Addenda and Corrigenda

We have posted to our website new addenda and corrigenda for The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, both the Chronology and Reader’s Guide volumes, and for The Lord of the Rings.

Following on our comments in Tolkien Notes 2 about our findings in the Tolkien papers at Marquette University last autumn, we have now received permission from Christopher Tolkien to make these further comments, as well as his agreement with our several points.

In August of 2011, Erik Mueller-Harder asked about an exceedingly small point on p. 317 of the fiftieth anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings: whether the exclamation mark should be italicized after ‘Khazad-dûm’ in the passage: ‘“I like that!” said Sam. “I should like to learn it. In Moria, in Khazad-dûm!”’ Sam is quoting from Gimli’s song which has just ended, indicated by the relevant words being set in italics. But there was no exclamation mark in Gimli’s rendition: in Sam’s dialogue, the mark conveys his enthusiasm.

Our immediate response to Erik was that one could make a valid argument that the exclamation mark should be in roman, but since this particular mark has been italicized since the first edition, it could have been done as a matter of house style by Allen & Unwin or their printer, and indeed one could argue that the mark should be italicized on aesthetic grounds when it follows italic words. A similar question occurs in regard to Gandalf’s exclamation ‘Mithril!’ on the same page: the word Mithril is italicized twice in the same paragraph (out of three uses; it is in roman in ‘mithril-rings’) and three times (out of three uses) in the preceding paragraph, where the word is introduced – the italics presumably because an unusual (Sindarin) word is being spoken, or for the sake of emphasis.

In this case, the Marquette Tolkien papers are of no help. Sam’s dialogue in manuscript has the exclamation mark placed outside of the underlined phrase In Moria, in Khazad-dûm, hence it would not be italicized. But in a following typescript, made on Tolkien’s special Hammond typewriter with changeable fonts, the phrase with the exclamation mark is typed entirely in italics. But then, in the typescript that went to the printer, made on a normal typewriter, the exclamation mark again is separated from the phrase, and the latter is once more underlined to indicate setting in italics. As for Gandalf’s ‘Mithril!’: in manuscript the exclamation mark is separate from the underlined word, in the Hammond typescript it is italicized along with the word, and in the printer’s typescript it is again separated.

All of this suggests that Tolkien was either of two minds about italicizing punctuation, or else did not pay much attention to it, and that the final text as published was influenced by publisher’s or printer’s house style. In any event, there is no problem of comprehension.

Erik also called our attention to a curious point on p. 756. There the sentence ‘“I am,” said Pippin’ appears as a separate paragraph, whereas in the Ballantine and Houghton Mifflin editions of the 1960s that Erik consulted it is run on with the previous paragraph (in which Gandalf asks Pippin if he is resolved to pledge his service to Denethor). On checking our own collection, we found that Pippin’s sentence ran on in the first edition and for many years thereafter, until it was separated in the 1994 HarperCollins resetting. The separate paragraph persisted into the 2002 HarperCollins edition given us as our copy-text for 2004, and as this was not a point previously noticed, and there was no issue of comprehension whether the sentence was run on or not – indeed, normal English practice would have it separated – we gave it no thought when producing the anniversary edition.

In his manuscripts and typescripts, however, Tolkien consistently has Pippin’s dialogue run on, perhaps to show a quick (nervous?) response to Gandalf’s question, and this would suggest that the sentence should be returned to its former position, ‘standard practice’ notwithstanding. (Tolkien uses a similar, though not identical, device in Book I, Chapter 1, during the ‘long-expected party’, where Bilbo’s comments to the gathering are set in italics, followed by comments from the crowd run on.)

In The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, p. 718, we document our 2005 alteration of the date of the ‘Mirror of Galadriel’ episode in The Tale of Years (Lord of the Rings Appendix B) from February 14 to February 15. Simply put, it is clear that the Company leaves Lothlórien on the day immediately after Frodo and Sam look into the Mirror, and there is no evidence of an extra day intervening; and since all subsequent dating depends upon a departure on February 16, that date had to stand in The Tale of Years and the date of the Mirror episode emended to February 15. Stefan Ekman takes issue with this in his essay ‘Echoes of Pearl in Arda’s Landscape’ in Tolkien Studies 6 (2009), and again in his 2013 book Here Be Dragons: Exploring Fantasy Maps and Settings. He notes that on their final day in the golden wood, the Company ‘rise and walk with Haldir to the boats. . . . When “noon [is] at hand,” they reach the tongue of land where the Silverlode passes into Anduin. They pack the boats and go for a test-drive up the Silverlode, where they run into the Lord and Lady of the Land’ and have a parting feast. ‘Then the Company leaves, as a “yellow noon [lies] on the green land”’ (Tolkien Studies 6, p. 67). Ekman argues that these two ‘noons’ indicate that two days have passed, February 15 and 16 as given in the Tale of Years before our emendation, and therefore that our alteration of February 14 to February 15 in the Tale of Years was incorrect. ‘The two noons’, Ekman writes, ‘thus imply both a moment stretched into hours, and hours folded into a brief moment, ultimately suggesting that time in Lothlórien is not simply faster or slower than in the mortal world but following completely different rules’ (p. 68).

But this conclusion supposes that noon has the same meaning in both contexts. In the first instance (‘noon was at hand when they came on a high green wall’, p. 371 of the fiftieth anniversary edition), noon means ‘midday’, in the sense of clock time which Mr Ekman is applying exclusively. In the second instance, however (‘A yellow noon lay on the green land of the Tongue, and the water glittered with silver’, p. 377), noon means ‘as if it were noon’, and refers to the sun. Yellow noon is a poetic way of saying ‘golden sunshine’, in contrast to the silver of the water. In the earliest manuscript of this part of The Lord of the Rings (at Marquette University), Tolkien first began the sentence in question ‘The Sun lay golden’, but struck this through in favour of ‘A yellow noon’, and continued: ‘on the green land of Tongue [sic, no “the”], and silver was the stream’.

  1. Colin Harper permalink
    June 17, 2013 5:49 pm

    Terrific work on the Abingdon matter, Wayne & Christina. One hopes that a (lovingly annotated) volume of Tolkien’s various uncollected poems may be allowed to appear at some point – or perhaps an enhanced version of ‘The Adventures Of Tom Bombadil’? I imagine the only reason it hasn’t been expanded thus far is publishing legalities around maintaining the content of the volume as it stands. Certainly, it seems like ‘Once Upon A Time’, at the very least, belongs with it – like a ‘non album B side’ appended to the CD remaster of an album.

    And very interesting discussion on the placing of exclamation marks, too. The integrity of the Professor’s text could be in no better hands!

  2. David Doerr permalink
    June 20, 2013 3:56 pm

    While browsing with your interesting “Reader’s Guide”, I noticed that the Professor had a rather strong interest in Mesopotamian history. And, he studied the Classics; thus I think that Jim Allan missed the mark with his criticism of my research that links J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium with the ancient history and lore.

    However that might be, I have a very small correction that I thought that you might want to review in your post regarding “The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide”, (Addenda and Corrigenda), II – “Reader’s Guide”, at pp. 472-3, where you refer to a “substantial library of brooks on Welsh language and literature . . . ”

    Thank you for your fine research.

  3. July 28, 2013 12:21 pm

    Does anyone know the value of what I posted here:

    My uncle was a teacher and had a deep love of The Lord of the Rings and brought that to his classroom through these teaching materials.

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