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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Parent Poems: Jan-u-wine's "A Hobbit's Bedtime Story", with painting by Harlamoff.

Posted on 2010.10.03 at 08:52
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~ 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,

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.

Other Links:

~ All entries featuring jan-u-wine's poems.


shirebound at 2010-10-03 14:17 (UTC) (Link)
I continue to love the collaboration of painting and poems. They are both always beautiful and perfectly complementary.
mechtild at 2010-10-04 00:23 (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad the combinations speak to you, Shirebound. Thanks for commenting. :)
(Deleted comment)
mechtild at 2010-10-04 00:25 (UTC) (Link)
Mews, I am so pleased the painting worked with the poem. It really is a tender, lovely portrait, as is the poem, as you say.
belleferret at 2010-10-03 16:23 (UTC) (Link)
What a beautifully described moment as day gives way to quiet night, and the snug comforts of bed in a well-beloved smial.
mechtild at 2010-10-04 00:26 (UTC) (Link)
And what a beautifully expressed comment, Belleferret. It is incredibly atmospheric, yes, emotionally, visually -- well, involving all the senses.
belleferret at 2010-10-04 11:58 (UTC) (Link)
*blushes* Thank you. Sometimes I read/see something that is so moving that it inspires me to reply in kind as best I can.

Jan's poem is so peaceful, so ordinary, and yet so extraordinary.
mechtild at 2010-10-04 14:57 (UTC) (Link)
"so ordinary, and yet so extraordinary. "

I think this is often Jan's genius, or part of it. She is able to reveal the infinite in the finite. She shows us the transcendent through the ordinary. I love religious art of the Renaissance and the Baroque. But the most moving "madonna and child" paintings, for instance, show not a regal woman swathed in royal clothes, the royal Offspring on her lap, his hand raised in benediction like a prince of this world, but a reflective village girl feeding a smiling child on her lap from a wooden bowl. The first sort of painting can be very beautiful and awe-inspiring -- I've got a copy of a Titian on my living room wall that is this sort of piece, and I love it. But the second sort of painting (mine's by Gerard David) is on the wall near my computer, where I read and write and snack and think and dream. It's almost symbollic of which vision of the Mother and Child means more to me. I think Jan's pieces are like my Gerard painting: they show what is deeply good, true and beautiful about their subject -- both the bitter and the sweet -- through that which is everyday and familiar. It's a gift. A gift of artistry, but also of perception. (I think.) :)
antane at 2010-10-03 22:15 (UTC) (Link)
Well, what can I say but another great poem and love the art also. And if this collaboration brings more and new masterpieces, than yahoo! :) What strongly struck me is the single star on the headbeard - I thought immediately of the lonely star in the marvelous song at the end of the BBC Radio adaptation and a foreshadowing, though no one knows that at the time, of Frodo's home to come. Love also the love in here between parents and child. Thank you!

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)
mechtild at 2010-10-04 00:29 (UTC) (Link)
I loved that star on the headboard, too, Antane. As does jan-u-wine. :) Which song at the end of the BBC radio adaption of LOTR are you talking about? Oh, I know, the setting of "Bilbo's Song" - yes, that really is wonderful! Gives me chills. I love the idea of the star motif figuring in Frodo's life from childhood to his journey out of Middle-earth, perhaps even his journey out of mortal life (surely there were stars to be seen in Tol Eressea). Thanks for your comment!
not_alone at 2010-10-04 19:39 (UTC) (Link)
What a lovely pic Mechtild - whether male or female it definitely brings young Frodo to mind!

And of course, Jan's words are as beautiful, moving and thought-provoking as ever. Many thanks both:)
mechtild at 2010-10-04 22:24 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Paulie. I'm so glad you enjoyed the poem and painting. I am loving this little series of "parent poems".
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2010-10-16 13:52 (UTC) (Link)
…her voice, beautiful as any crystal stream,

her voice
gave me stories.

And now, I have given one to you.

Your combined voices give us stories too.

Thank you both so much.

mechtild at 2010-10-16 14:54 (UTC) (Link)
Awwwww, Estë. :) I hope we have a few more posts up our sleeves. Thanks for stopping, reading, and commenting so appreciatively.
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