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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

"Frodo of the Shire": poem by jan-u-wine, painting by Taerie.

Posted on 2009.07.20 at 07:12

Frodo of the Shire by Taerie (Rita F. Terrell)

~ Detail from Taerie's "Frodo of the Shire".

Jan-u-wine wrote a poem a few months ago that I knew I wanted to present, but it did not go with the screencaps I was then doing. It had to wait, but no more. Jan-u-wine's poem is an ode to this beloved character, an appreciation both perceptive and beautiful. It came to Jan when she was browsing my LJ for Frodo images. She came across a work by taerie, a gifted LotR fan artist I met on the K-D messageboard.

Taerie's Frodo of the Shire is my favourite film-based Frodo illustration. I had seen a snip of it in Taerie's LJ icon at the time. I was so intrigued I asked to see the whole image. She told me it was posted at Elfwood, a sci-fi/fantasy fan art site, and sent me a link. I opened it. I was in love. I gushed over the piece so much, Taerie actually let me have it. It now hangs in an oak frame in my home.

Frodo is still a youth in Taerie's painting; not a little boy in Buckland, but an older lad living with Bilbo. But it is before the Ring, before the Quest, before Mt. Doom. He is seated against a tree amid carefully chosen plants and objects, all as faithfully and lovingly rendered as Frodo himself.

Where it's posted at Elfwood, Taerie noted this about a wild flower in the painting:

The plant behind [Frodo] is Yarrow. This grows wild in the English countryside, and I learned that its Irish Gaelic name is Athair thalun. This is so similar to [Athelas] (also known as Kingsfoil, and the plant Aragorn used to heal Frodo), that I wonder if it is the inspiration for it. On top of that, it has not only been used to treat wounds but also exactly as Aragorn used it, broken in hot water for its aroma.
Now that's attention to detail.

Taerie's Frodo of the Shire (actual size: 11 x 14, opaque watercolour on clayboard):

Frodo of the Shire by Taerie (Rita F. Terrell)

Sitting among these lovely details, Frodo seems to be have been musing, thinking. He's long since closed the book: a frog has come to sit upon it. The apple, one bite missing, appears to be forgotten. But he looks up and meets the eyes of the viewer, his gaze relaxed but penetrating, as if he is looking at someone he knows. Perhaps he is about to ask them to sit, or maybe he will get up, brush off his trousers, and head deeper into the woods.

Each person will imagine her own scenario (or scenarios), and each person will have her own idea as to the identity of the viewer. That is a mark of good art: it leaves room for the beholder's imagination. But when I look at this painting, the viewer is me. It is as if I had walked into the scene myself, crossing worlds, coming to this spot as if I had known it all my life. That's how real Tolkien's world is for me, or can be, when an artist helps me enter it more deeply through her work. And just as Taerie's painting lets me get closer to Frodo and his world through her visual art, jan-u-wine's poem brings me nearer through her literary art. I thank them both for sharing their considerable gifts.

Speaking of thanks, many of you thanked me for the Frodo screencap series. Think of this as a thank you to Frodo, without whom none of it would have come to be.


Larger detail:


Frodo of the Shire

~ jan-u-wine

Frodo of the Shire.


the smallness of those words,
just the four them,

sombre-ink'd and solitary

upon the snow
of the page.

He is within them,
you know.

that he


all that he

all that ever he might be,


And we see him,

within the frame of those

plain words,

the young Master

the round of his face

with naught more than the
rich blush of a harvest Sun,

sweet-toned laughter

to meet a lemon-rind Moon,

word-eager eyes
drinking a scholar's Elvish wine.

We see him,

upon a road
where night

finds no

in pale-rose day,

where the candle-breath
of hope

and is extinguished

by despair's hard hand,

where mere death
should be

a kindness


We see him,

ever, now,

within the mirror
of our dreams,

the simple beauty
catching our hearts

the memory of distanc'd

like the tattered silk of fragile

twining the tapestry of his

to ours.

We have but three words in answer to your four,
Frodo of the Shire:

Lye mela lle*.

We love you.




~ Entries with jan-u-wine's poems.

~ Main table for all entries

~ Mechtild


rakshi at 2009-07-20 12:48 (UTC) (Link)
Oh my!! What an amazing picture! It fits so well with jan-u-wine's exquisite verses. and carries so much of what I believe about Frodo. Such an extraordinary combination of innocence and deep, deep wisdom in that face.

I love this. Thank you!!
mechtild at 2009-07-20 13:18 (UTC) (Link)
Rakshi, I'm so pleased you enjoyed both picture and poem. I posted a couple of entries about this picture back in 2006 when I first saw it, then received it. I was afraid it would be redundant to post it again, but Jan's poem went with it. Besides, it's such a super Frodo painting, how could one see it too often? I see it every day. :)

Yes, "innocence" and "deep, deep wisdom" is conveyed in it. That book understanding of Frodo, fleshed out in film-Frodo's face, it haunts me (in a thoroughly good way!).
shirebound at 2009-07-20 13:10 (UTC) (Link)
A beautiful drawing, and a beautiful poem.

*loves him*
mechtild at 2009-07-20 13:19 (UTC) (Link)
Me, too. :)
not_alone at 2009-07-20 15:40 (UTC) (Link)
This is a stunningly beautiful pic, Mechtild - thank you so much for posting it.

"But when I look at this painting, the viewer is me. It is as if I had walked into the scene myself, crossing worlds, coming to this spot as if I had known it all my life."

That's exactly how I feel when I look at it too. I can almost hear the sounds and smell the scents of the woodland around Frodo! And jan-u-wine's poem fits it to absolute perfection. Every line has such exquisite beauty that I can't even choose one for special mention. So, I will just choose the final line, because it's so true for me:

Lye mela lle*.

We love you


mechtild at 2009-07-20 16:03 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, thank you, Paulie. You are such a Frodo friend and fellow appreciator. I really appreciate your feedback.

I can almost hear the sounds and smell the scents of the woodland around Frodo! And jan-u-wine's poem fits it to absolute perfection.

Yes, yes, yes.
Estelanui - Francesca
estelanui at 2009-07-20 18:10 (UTC) (Link)
I love Taerie's painting! I saw it the first time in one of your posts and I was captivated by the calm energy releasing from the scene. Like the water in a spring that from the ground gushs and flows no stop. Just like Frodo.
Thank you also for posting this lovely Jan-u-wine's poem.
What a great catalyst you are, Mechtild!
mechtild at 2009-07-20 20:40 (UTC) (Link)
I first posted it here in 2006, Estelanui. A few months later I posted bigger images of it because Taerie had given it to me. My husband photographed it from a tripod so that I could get a much bigger copy than the one she had posted, with a lot more detail. Then it turned out she had an even bigger scan of it, which was just as finely detailed and large. That's what the really big face shot comes from. That's actually a lot bigger than Frodo's face in the actual painting (which is 11x14 inches), but it shows her brush work beautifully.

Thanks for stopping by, Estelanui. I love to know our work has given you pleasure.
primula_baggins at 2009-07-20 19:18 (UTC) (Link)
That picture is amazing! Wow, I must save this one. Thanks.
mechtild at 2009-07-20 20:43 (UTC) (Link)
It's a beaut, isn't it? Sorry I couldn't post the full-size file of the complete picture on LJ; it is much too large. That's why I included the facial close-up: it shows Taerie's brush work--and Frodo's face--really well.

Thanks for commenting, Primula. :)
telstar_gold at 2009-07-20 23:50 (UTC) (Link)
That's an exquisite picture, and Jan's poem complements it perfectly, as always.
mechtild at 2009-07-21 01:43 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for stopping by, Telstar. I knew no one could have seen the poem, since it was only just written, but I was hoping not everyone had seen the painting,which I had presented three years ago. They are both beauties, worthy of the one who inspired them.
whiteling at 2009-07-21 08:46 (UTC) (Link)
I've alway loved Taerie's beautiful artwork, but this Frodo of hers holds a special place in my heart. It breathes such a deep love to Tolkien's gentlehobbit and the whole universe that Middle-earth is, every time I look at it I am stunned and touched by it. Her technique reminds me of embroidery and other fine needlework of old times - wonderfully executed and truly a labour of love. Thanks for reposting it along with jan's marvellous words of love, Mechtild!
mechtild at 2009-07-21 13:01 (UTC) (Link)
It *is* a labour of love, yet she gave it away! I still can't get over the fact that she simply let me have it. She said they were moving, she and her husband, and why didn't I have it? I told her she could change her mind at any time, it seemed so rash, but she said that once a picture was done she felt no inclination to keep it. If she wanted to remember it she could look at the scan. I was amazed.

Yes, it *is* a bit like embroidery, Whiteling. I thought it was like a Chinese work from a previous era, the kind done of a gold silk, just a few items in the painting to suggest the full scene: a cat, a branch, a flower, a butterfly, but all of them beautifully rendered. But an embroidery conjures up something similar, for it, also, is done on a fabric background, the silks standing out from it.

Thanks for stopping by, Whiteling. You know, the first time I posted an image of this Frodo painting, I was also posting drawings by you of Frodo, and a couple by Maewyn, to let my f-list know the great Frodo stuff that was out there. I thought your Frodo drawings were superb but, you know, I think your Johnny Depp portraits may be even better. I think his darker, broodier characters bring out something I hadn't yet seen in your Frodo drawings. I just hope Depp looked at the drawing your friend gave him at the Public Enemies opening; I am sure he would be deeply impressed, perhaps moved, if he did.
(Anonymous) at 2009-07-21 22:04 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this is so lovely, Mechtild. Taerie has a unique style ~ I love her Frodo. He appears to be the 'Tweener' none of us ever really knew, from book or film. (Although we caught a glimpse of him at Bilbo's party, with his cheerful exuberance, lively dancing and matchmaking on Sam's behalf.) Taerie's rendition of the character truly is 'Frodo of the Shire,' as he must have been in those happy, carefree days spent with Bilbo in Hobbiton. Isn't he just beguiling?

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the painting, Mechtild, and how it moves you. How lucky you are to have it on display in your house, and what a gracious gesture by Taerie! I guess she knew 'Frodo of the Shire' would have a
good home with you.

Jan's poem ~ beautiful, as ever:

'... the round of his face

with naught more than the
rich blush of a harvest Sun...'

If only that were all his burden ~ but then we wouldn't have known him at all.

~ Blossom.
mechtild at 2009-07-21 23:35 (UTC) (Link)
Ah, Blossom. You chose one of my favourite lines out of the poem: "...burdened with naught more than the rich blush of a harvest Sun". A sad thing, Frodo bearing his burden, but it was the bearing of it that made him the "rareified", "enlarged" person that he was in the end. Far sadder, no longer innocent, but with a fineness of spirit that tribulation had honed. And you're right: had he not been the Ring-bearer, we'd have been reading some other character's story instead. :)
pearlette at 2009-07-22 12:18 (UTC) (Link)
That really is a beautiful piece of art. What's the medium? The expression on his face is remarkable: very subtle.

The whole thing is just beautiful: delicate and tender.

Yes, it's very much an Elijah-y Frodo, but none the poorer for that. :)

I can't believe she gave it away!!!!!!!!! How very generous. :)
mechtild at 2009-07-22 12:39 (UTC) (Link)
You can't believe she gave it away? Me, neither. But just think what *you* gave away in the film-Frodo line. :) It hangs on the wall adjacent to Taerie's painting.

The picture, Taerie said back when she gave it to me (she hasn't been here in years), is opaque watercolour on clayboard. I don't know what that it, but it's a prepared medium that is sold pre-sized. This was done on an 11x14 sheet. But that forms the back ground, which is not painted at all. The colour on these scans is not quite accurate, the clayboard looking more gold than strictly clay-coloured.

Yes, his facial expression is wonderful. I can't stop looking at it. And every time I think I know what his thoughts or mood is as he looks at me the viewer, I change my mind again. It's an arresting look, but a look open to multiple interpretations. As you say better, it's "remarkable" but "subtle".
addie71 at 2009-07-22 19:31 (UTC) (Link)
That is an amazing picture and the poem is very moving.
mechtild at 2009-07-22 21:02 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for stopping to look, read and comment, Addie. It is appreciated. :)
alyrthia at 2009-08-01 23:18 (UTC) (Link)
Beauty that still brings tears to my eyes.
mechtild at 2009-08-02 00:40 (UTC) (Link)
It is a beautiful work, isn't it? Thanks for stopping by, Alyon.
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