Log in

No account? Create an account
August 2017   01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Tolkien's Landscapes 4: 'Mirkwood' ~ pictures by Tolkien, poem by jan-u-wine.

Posted on 2013.07.12 at 16:11
Tags: , ,


The illustrations that inspired jan-u-wine's poem for this entry have interesting histories.

The first picture, a black and white drawing, was made specifically by Tolkien to illustrate The Hobbit, published in 1936. It is clearly titled "Mirkwood" on the bottom border and there is a large black spider. Tolkien wanted the drawing to appear as the book's front endpaper, but the publishers placed it in chapter 8, "Flies and Spiders", the one that takes place in Mirkwood. The forest, once Greenwood the Great, is shown as ranks and ranks of trees, both thick and slender, with extensive surface roots, the trees so high no leafy branches are visible. A jet black distance visible through the boles suggests either gloom or deep night. The style, clean, decorative and elegant, gives the impression of an eerie, silent, enchanted forest. It is not quite the brooding, dense, stifling Mirkwood of the book, but perhaps an aura of dark enchanted silence mattered more to Tolkien than one of a forest bearing down travelers, hemming them in, close and suffocating.

There was an earlier picture, though, clearly the model for the black and white made for The Hobbit. In 1928, Tolkien painted a watercolour depicting the Taur-na-Fúin, the dark, evilly enchanted forest that sank beneath the waves at the end of the First Age. This picture was made to illustrate the Silmarillion tale of Túrin Turambar when the elf Beleg finds another elf, Flinding (later called Gwindor), recently escaped from Morgoth's fortress-dungeon Thangorodrim. If you look closely at the left foreground you will see a small figure with long black hair, red pointed shoes and a sword hanging at his waist climbing over a sprawling tree root. That's Beleg. To the right at the base of the largest tree is the prostrate body of another elf, Flinding, his red cap and lantern beside him on the ground. It is a scene set in the Taur-na-fúin, yet the name at the bottom of the picture is "Fangorn Forest". How is that?

As it turns out, the title was put there by Tolkien for inclusion in the The J. R. R. Tolkien Calendar 1974. Tolkien obviously loved this picture, working from it to make his illustration of Mirkwood for The Hobbit, later letting it stand in for Fangorn Forest for the calendar. (Perhaps Tolkien didn't think people would notice the two figures with their shoes, long hair, lantern and sword, who could not be Merry and Pippin.)

In any event, both "Mirkwood" and "Taur-na-Fúin" aka "Fangorn Forest" are fine works, drawing in viewers and kindling imaginations just as good illustrations ought.


"Mirkwood" from the first edition of The Hobbit, 1936:



Great and unbowed, the trees which dwell here:

slender-pale beech,
spread-finger'd oak,

dark-crown'd fir.

Black as midnight's pocket,
the beasts:

wary and

ebony-webb'd spiders....

sable clad

A waiting chill lives,

beneath the sombre

leaf-cloak denying the Sun
her merry passage,

staying, with twined limbs,
even the gentle

from a night'd floor.

Greenwood the Great
it was called once,

this darkened forest,

with the happy burden
of a warm Sun,

glades washed with

and the warm scent
of life.

Beneath these trees,
within this place,

dark or light,
good or


the Elves dwell,
listening, ever,

to the song-speech
of their wards,


for the turning of this Age.

The leaves drift slow
in the ending.....

Once again,
soft light blesses them

upon their final journey.

The River Running
murmurs to itself,

threading its way
among grey stones,

green with new grasses.

A curious wind

like a blooded hunter,
running upon the ground,

twisting in tangled branches,
unveiling the moonlight

after the Sun has journeyed

urging the Enchanted Stream
along its laughing way to

the Sea.

The Sea:

that it is where the Elves have gone,
their long day in the Greenwood

at last done,

the songs of the forest

at the last,

by those of a shore

And the trees

and wait,

their songs

to sunlight
or moonlight,

the music of them
borne upon the back

of the wind.

Until World's end,
they endure.

Until World's end,
their Song rises.



~ "Beleg Finds Flinding in Taur-na-fúin", 1928, later titled "Fangorn Forest" by Tolkien for the 1974 Tolkien Calendar.

Previous entry:

Moonlight on a Wood-ICON ~ "Moonlight on a Wood": picture by Tolkien, poem by jan-u-wine.

Other Links:
Nan's Reunion-ICON ~ All entries featuring jan-u-wine's poems.


shirebound at 2013-07-13 00:56 (UTC) (Link)
Oh my, "Black as midnight's pocket" is a wonderful description.

Until World's end,
they endure.
Until World's end,
their Song rises.

Oooooh. That gives me (good) chills. You both let me think about our beloved Middle-earth in new ways.
mechtild at 2013-07-13 02:27 (UTC) (Link)
I am so glad you enjoyed this post, Shirebound. Jan did a wonderful job with this subject, I agree.
jan_u_wine at 2013-07-13 15:11 (UTC) (Link)
thank you, SB! Don't you love these images? (I'm working on a poem for Taur-na-fúin, but i have not been able to get very far. Apparently, I cannot write except in the Third Age, lol!

Linda does such beautiful work with these posts. Knocks me out, every time!
diem_kieu94 at 2013-07-13 05:45 (UTC) (Link)


That last verse also gave me the chills! It reminds me of that scene in FOTR when Frodo and Sam spot the Wood Elves traveling to the Undying Lands! Such a beautiful song... Very fitting for Frodo's fair ears!
mechtild at 2013-07-13 12:52 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Brrr...!

The poem really captures the atmosphere, I agree.
jan_u_wine at 2013-07-13 15:12 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Brrr...!

I'm glad you enjoyed the post, Diem!
lindahoyland at 2013-07-13 07:06 (UTC) (Link)
I loved seeing and reading these.
mechtild at 2013-07-13 12:52 (UTC) (Link)
I'm pleased, Linda!
jan_u_wine at 2013-07-13 15:13 (UTC) (Link)
thank you, Linda!
ambree40 at 2013-07-13 16:09 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for another beautiful and interesting post.

Tolkien’s drawings give you the impression of being in vast, limitless forests. And Jan’s poem evokes the image of a forest that will persist for all eternity. That makes you feel quite small, like Beleg.

(I still have the 1974 calendar).
jan_u_wine at 2013-07-13 20:43 (UTC) (Link)
it really DOES put your tiny self into perspective, doesn't it?

(I think i have that calendar somewhere, too. I kept all my calendars, intending to do a collage sort of thing....never got 'round to it.....ah, well....)

so glad you enjoyed the post. How are you doing? All healed from the accident?
ambree40 at 2013-07-13 21:06 (UTC) (Link)
"All healed from the accident?"
Thanks for asking, Jan. The bone hadn't yet healed after 4 weeks so they gave me a new cast. I'm trying to be patient but it's not easy.
jan_u_wine at 2013-07-13 21:12 (UTC) (Link)
oh, my goodness. I am so sorry. You are such a vital and active person that i can't imagine it is easy to be side-lined like that. I hope you'll keep us all in the loop. Wish i lived next door so i could visit you......
mechtild at 2013-07-14 20:10 (UTC) (Link)
I'm extremely pleased you stopped by, Ambree, and that the post appealed to you.

I confess I read your exchange with jan-u-wine above and I cannot refrain from asking: what did you break? I'm so sorry!

Edited at 2013-07-14 08:10 pm (UTC)
ambree40 at 2013-07-14 20:48 (UTC) (Link)
I broke a bone in my foot. Slipped on the stairs, foot flipped over, heard a crack, x-rays, fracture confirmed, cast for 4 weeks, bone not fully healed, another cast and now I finally feel that it's getting better. Next check on Friday. I'm keeping my fingers crossed because I'm sick and tired of this forced inactivity.

I simply love your idea of combining Tolkien's paintings with jan-u-wine's poems. Must confess I'm looking forward to the Old Man Willow ;-)
mechtild at 2013-07-14 21:31 (UTC) (Link)
Your poor footie! Feet are lovely to have functioning. I hope yours is restored to full service soon.

I simply love your idea of combining Tolkien's paintings with jan-u-wine's poems. Must confess I'm looking forward to the Old Man Willow ;-)

It was one of those joint inspirations. I'd sent jan-u-wine files of a bunch of the landscape scans I'd made from my book, simply excited to share with her what a wide range Tolkien had as an artist. I was thinking of presenting his pictures featuring trees, just so there'd be a central theme for posting a series. Jan said she'd like to try writing to some of the pictures.

So far jan-u-wine has not written a poem for 'Old Man Willow'. Perhaps a nudge from you....? :)
mechtild at 2013-07-14 23:57 (UTC) (Link)
P.S. I see Diem Kieu left you a get well message, Ambree, but it was appended to the main post. Since you will not get a notice of reply, I'll just let you know she left a message for you in this post. :)
not_alone at 2013-07-14 20:41 (UTC) (Link)
>>drawing in viewers and kindling imaginations just as good illustrations ought.<<

How true. These definitely drew me in - so many little details to discover.

Jan's descriptions of Mirkwood in her beautiful poem are, quite simply, perfection.

Many thanks both for another wonderful post:)
mechtild at 2013-07-14 21:33 (UTC) (Link)
Jan's descriptions of Mirkwood in her beautiful poem are, quite simply, perfection.

Oh, la la, Paulie! Your praise is praise indeed. :)
jan_u_wine at 2013-07-21 20:53 (UTC) (Link)
Paulie, I did not see this until jjust now. I'm so glad you enjoyed. It is an honour to be given the gift of your praise!
diem_kieu94 at 2013-07-14 22:04 (UTC) (Link)

Get well soon, Ambree!

Poor thing! I know how it feels to have an injured foot!! I wish you the swiftest of healing!

Diem Kieu
ambree40 at 2013-07-15 06:50 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Get well soon, Ambree!

Thanky you for your kind wishes, Diem Kieu.
antane at 2013-07-17 03:05 (UTC) (Link)
A great poem even if no Frodo around. :) or should that be :( - in any case, well done, my dear jan!

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)
mechtild at 2013-07-17 03:44 (UTC) (Link)
So glad you enjoyed it, Antane. :)
jan_u_wine at 2013-07-21 21:08 (UTC) (Link)
ha ha~ Antane! But.....you know, even if the poem isn't demonstrably by (or about) Frodo....he IS always around. He has always existed and always shall. For he really is Love (besides being *a* love).

I admit to being quite Frodo-centric, though, and it is difficult for me, indeed, to even begin the task of writing with a voice that isn't his. And yet. Frodo did not accomplish anything (the Quest or anything else) without the aid of others. So it wouldn't be right, in speaking of his world, to only look at it through his eyes, with his voice. All of those other eyes, those other voices, they have so much to say.

Someday I hope you'll have time to visit my spot on the Scrapbook. There are many Frodo poems there that I think you'll enjoy. Even though Mecthild has combined many into her posts (and some poems written for her post exclusively), there are still many that have not been posted here. Like a parent, I am fond of them all and note their good points, and rub my thumb fondly, in an erasing motion, across their faults......

In any case....i doubt that Frodo and I shall ever cease conversing. So i believe that, with patience, you will certainly see more of him.
antane at 2013-07-21 23:28 (UTC) (Link)
Yea! I have been to Scrapbook - I discovered it years ago, even before Mechtild's - but I have not read all your masterpieces there. One day! I think you did great here with Bilbo's voice. :)

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)
jan_u_wine at 2013-07-22 00:47 (UTC) (Link)
thank you, Antane! I really do love writing in this universe......
Lavender Took
lavendertook at 2013-07-26 02:08 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I love that low running wind ruffling the floor of the forest! Lovely images throughout of the forests' changes in fortune.

I favor the painting over the print and the love he lavishes on the bark variations. Those are a very tiny Beleg and Gwindor, or those are gigantic mushrooms that to look upon would kill a hobbit with instant, overwhelming, culinary joy. :-P

I see Charles and Elsa icons! (-: Saki says hello!
jan_u_wine at 2013-07-27 17:29 (UTC) (Link)
these really are very beautiful pictures. What a wonder of a man he was!

I want to write a separate piece for Beleg and Gwindor, just have had no time....yet!

It is a damn good thing that the Ring was not a mushroom. THe claiming might have occurred a great deal sooner. And it should have been the Saute Pan of Doom!
mechtild at 2013-07-27 20:35 (UTC) (Link)
Elsa and Charles send Saki greetings!

You know, those really are tremendous mushrooms. I thought the elf characters looked awfully small, looking at the picture, but I ascribed it to the great size of the tree roots. But your comment prompts me to think it's the mushrooms that make the elves look so tiny, now that my attention is drawn to them. They're whoppers! I wonder if in 1927-28, the year when the picture was made, Tolkien still thought of the elves were as diminutive? His very early pieces depicted elves as small, as was then the traditional portrayal. But, no, of course not. Even the earliest versions of the Silmarillion stories were peopled by elves and humans that shared the same [basic] stature.

I guess they're just giant mushrooms! :)

Edited at 2013-07-27 08:36 pm (UTC)
Previous Entry  Next Entry