Parent Poems: Jan-u-wine's "A Hobbit's Bedtime Story", with painting by Harlamoff.
~ detail from Harlamoff's "Faraway Thoughts"
Russian painter Alexei Alexeivich Harlamoff (1840-1922 or 1923) studied in Paris under Leon Bonnat, a well-known teacher and portrait painter, learning a lot by copying paintings by masters like Rembrandt. I think that shows in this portrait of a child called "Faraway Thoughts", which has a look, mood and palette that reminds me quite a lot of Rembrandt. I don't know if the subject is supposed to be a boy or a girl, but when I first saw it I thought, "young Frodo, as I live and breathe". (For more about Harlamoff, see this entry at Sphynx Fine Art.)
With child-Frodo in mind, I find Harlamoff's painting very aptly named: "Faraway thoughts". Perhaps he is imagining exciting future adventures? No, he looks too pensive for that. Perhaps he is thinking about the past? That is more like it. In jan-u-wine's "A Hobbit's Bedtime Story", Frodo, still a lad, is remembering bedtimes past, when his mother and father were still alive, presiding over the nightly rituals of getting their beloved boy ready for sleep. It's not a long poem, but very evocative. I feel as though I am there with him, seeing his parents, feeling their touch, hearing their voices. And I love the enigmatic last line. To whom is Frodo speaking? One can only imagine. Applicability is a lovely thing.
Faraway Thoughts by Alexei Alexeivich Harlamoff.
A Hobbit's Bedtime Story
It was not so long ago that I was a lad.
Not so long ago that I should not remember how it was, of an evening.
I never did wish to sleep, you know, though
I liked the mysterious dark wood of my bed,
dark like the very sky itself, and the solitary star
on the board just above my head.
Oftimes, Da would smoke his pipe upon the bench beside the door.
He did not blow smoke-rings like Uncle, nor tell tales of the wide world, like Gandalf.
The day would turn from sleepy-gold to purple-grey
to pocket-black, and we would sit quiet.
When the song-bird that nested in the hedge spoke to the hour's lateness with a solitary
sleep-over-run note, we'd go in, Da's hand warm about mine.
My nightshirt would be by the fire.
If I were too sleepy (and not dirty enough!) for a wash, Mumma's hands would slip it over my head,
the length of it enfolding me just like her arms when she rocked me as a babe.
Then she tucked me up close in my little bed, as close as if she held me to her own heart.
And as my mind stumbled, caught somewhere between golden candle-glow and dreams, flying from Skye to Sea,
her voice, beautiful as any crystal stream,
her voice gave me stories.
And now, I have given one to you.
Good-night, my dear, and good dreams.
Note from jan-u-wine:
.......I hope that all of you that responded to "She" won't find it rude that I thank you en masse. RL has been....overwhelming for a while now (and many of you know how I tend to just run on and on, anyway, so it makes sense to spare you my wanderings).
I haven't written any (significant) LOTR poetry in quite a long while. As Mechtild notes in her intro to "She", RL has taken its toll...the result being (and I love her phrase) "writerly inertia". But your kind and loving response to "She" encourages me. And autumn is here: autumn *calls* me, and especially calls me to write about Frodo. Now there is just the small matter of....time.....
This "thank-you", then, is more than simple appreciation. What should I, could I, call it? A gratitude of the heart? Seems too simple, still, to communicate my intent. But that is all I have to give you, in gratitude, indeed, for your words.
I would also like to thank Mechtild: her love of LOTR continues, her brilliance at choosing apt art for the posts and writing wonderful intros remains not only intact, but grows 'in the telling'. And she's kind and patient with her collaborator, whose word-train oft runs off the rails. It means a lot to be so blessed. She is a jool amongst friends.
Thank you, all, from my heart, thank you! ~jan
Previous Frodo entry:
~ jan-u-wine's "She", plus detail from Gustav Klimt's "Three Ages of Woman", 9-21-10.