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NF-Lee's 3/4 Frodo sketch

Winter Poems: 'A Winter's Day', with paintings by Thaulow and Andersen-Lundby.

Posted on 2011.03.02 at 16:38
Tags: , , ,

While it is still winter, here, anyway (it was -7 F this morning), I thought it would be good to present a couple of jan-u-wine poems set in that season.

The poem below contrasts the warm home of Frodo and his parents with the frigid cold outside. It is full of just the right details to create a wonderful atmosphere. The world of the poem seems as real as the room I'm sitting in, perhaps even more real. I feel I am snuggled inside with Frodo, wrapped in familial love and savouring all the good things. Winter presses against the glass and shoulders the door, but it can't get in.

I chose two paintings to set off the poem. The top one, 'Winter at Simoa River', is by Norwegian painter Frits Thaulow, painted in 1883. Thaulow (1847-1906) studied in Copenhagen, Germany (Karlsruhe) and Paris. He was never a huge success but painted fine winter scenes, including those painted at Simoa, in which he captured the complex reflections in the slow-moving river. In this painting, the Simoa, not quite frozen, looks steaming with cold. But the home on the riverbank manages to look cozy, its chimney-smoke streaming like a banner in the icy air.*
*I photoshopped this painting a little, taking the peaked roof off the house to make it more like a hobbit hole. I hope Thaulow will forgive me.
I chose the river painting at the bottom of the poem, 'A Winter River Landscape', for its beautiful but sombre atmosphere, the colours more autumnal than wintry. Danish painter Anders Andersen-Lundby (1840-1923), like Thaulow, was known for his winter scenes. But his specialty was painting them at sunrise and sunset, as well as in this late afternoon light. Perhaps the golden, autumnal light makes me think of the waning of Frodo's childhood happiness, his life with his parents soon to end.


A Winter's Day

Never is the day

with cold,


Even so,
I remember such days,

raw with searching wind,
blank and silent

the great burden of snow
in steps and mounds

and furrows upon the ground,

the river,
silenced at last,

(though it may have sung,
just a little,

its water-blood still gold-green
beneath a crystalline cloak)
held fast
within the forbidding arms
of dirt-iced banks.

We cared not
for the river, then,

nor the wind's fingers,

tapping upon the window-glass,
creeping and gusting down the long tunnel

of the chimney.

Safe we were,
the bitterness without,

and warm,

Da holding me upon the chair
of his lap,

his voice finding dragons
within the hearth-fire,

a silver farthing
from the narrow
hollow of my ear.

Mumma made chocolate for us,
on those days,

the dark richness of it
a warm fog within the kitchen,

the silver pot stout and small
beside its larger cousin,

a faint cinammon-dusk smell
mingling with the deep-earth scent of the chocolate.

I always thought of Oliphaunts then,
and places far away,

places where there never was snow,

places where the sun shone,
no matter the hour,

places where
dragons were born and spread
wings of horn and gold-bronze

and flew in cloudless skies.

After a very long while,
only the small light of the fire
would be left within the room,

and Mumma would hold me,
my head safe against the warm

white of her neck,
the beating of her heart slow and sure
against my side.

And that was *all*,
her arms holding me,
and Da's voice quiet in an end-of-day

That was my world,


a world
of bitter cold
and ever-so-sweet


Previous Frodo entry:

~ jan-u-wine's "Of Mothers and Memories", plus Mary Cassatt's "Mother and Child", 10-19-10.

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


shirebound at 2011-03-02 23:19 (UTC) (Link)
and Mumma would hold me,
my head safe against the warm
white of her neck,
the beating of her heart slow and sure
against my side.

Oh my, how utterly lovely and loving.
mechtild at 2011-03-03 01:50 (UTC) (Link)
Isn't a lovely piece? I'm so glad it touched you, Shirebound.
(Deleted comment)
mechtild at 2011-03-03 01:53 (UTC) (Link)
Aren't those painters good at depicting aspects of the season? I loved both of them as soon as I saw them (and several more I didn't use), but I loved the way they could be paired with the poem. And you're right, Mews, Frodo's memories, at least as vividly recalled by Jan, do call forth our own. It's one more thing that makes the pieces resonate, and differently, for each reader. :)
primula_baggins at 2011-03-03 00:59 (UTC) (Link)
Sweet yet so sad knowing what lies ahead for little Frodo.

The paintings you chose were perfect as was the poem. Thanks to both of you.

*gives you cup of hot cocoa*

mechtild at 2011-03-03 01:54 (UTC) (Link)
Mmmm. Yes, it makes me want one, too. Hot, steamy and chocolate-fragrant (oh, Jan says it so much better!). :)
frolijah_fan_54 at 2011-03-03 02:46 (UTC) (Link)
I felt as warm reading this as Frodo felt wrapped in his parents' love. I loved how the cold of winter contrasted so sharply with the warmth and love inside. Just beautiful.

And those paintings you chose illustrate it so perfectly!! It really does look like a hobbit hole in the first painting!!

Thanks so much to you both. *hugs*
mechtild at 2011-03-03 02:53 (UTC) (Link)
I loved how the cold of winter contrasted so sharply with the warmth and love inside.

Yes! Me, too. Thanks so much for commenting, Frolijah Fan. You are gracious. *smooch*
antane at 2011-03-04 18:58 (UTC) (Link)
This is so sweet! I love these wee!Frodo poems, especially Da spinning a tale, Frodo's dreams of adventures, Mum's love. Thanks for sharing this!

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)
mechtild at 2011-03-04 19:56 (UTC) (Link)
You are welcome, Antane. I'm so glad you enjoyed this!
(Anonymous) at 2011-03-05 00:55 (UTC) (Link)

Sighing, both for the snow and for the warmth

Sighing for the loveliness of the paintings (the top one really does seem like a hobbit-hole, complete w/smoke from chimney... and I feel sure the painter would forgive, as soon as he was told about JRRT and then allowed to read either The Hobbit and/or LOTR!) That bottom painting makes me want to just jump into the river, I don't care how cold it is (of course I'd care as soon as I hit the water...)
Sighing for the loveliness of the poem about young Frodo, warm inside with his mum and da. Those really were the days, weren't they? Beautiful memories. My snow/youth memories are so old now, they're only snapshots, but they still fill me with so much longing. And so does the poem.

I like the banks of the river being like arms. I love how everything on the inside of the home is *enough*, all one would need.

It makes me think of how cats look when they are muffed up and purring with their eyes closed. Cats KNOW the meaning of happiness. That must be where the lyric came from in the song "Memory"... "If you touch me, you'll understand what happiness is -- "

Love to both!
jan_u_wine at 2011-03-05 03:02 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Sighing, both for the snow and for the warmth

ah, dear Lady M....thank you so much for the lovely comments. How I wish you were where you could actually see and touch the snow you love so much. Some day, my friend, some day. Until then, dream on your memory snap-shots. What better way to walk with those we love, than in those beautiful and yet faded mind-pictures?

with love to you,

not_alone at 2011-03-06 17:59 (UTC) (Link)
"Safe we were,
the bitterness without,

and warm,"

That is the one thing I love about really cold, harsh weather - that feeling of warmth, safety & comfort in your own little nest. Wonderful poem, and I love the pics, especially the second one, there is always something so beautiful about a winter scene bathed in a golden glow from the setting sun:)

mechtild at 2011-03-06 19:09 (UTC) (Link)
Hi, Paulie. I'm so happy you enjoyed the poem and pictures. It's another cold, gloomy day here, snow expected tomorrow. Yes, it's lovely to be indoors, safe and warm, when it's cold outside!
aliensouldream at 2011-03-06 22:02 (UTC) (Link)
There is so little in LOTR that lets us into any clues of how Frodo felt about his parents or his earliest memories. So it's wonderful to have such a glimpse of this special time they shared, and how glowingly it is preserved in his memory, in cherished feelings of warmth and safety.

What flows very true from Jan's beautiful poem is the love his parents showed him, in embraces and in the tales, tricks and treats - small simple pleasures that wove a world of security and unquestioning happiness in his child's heart. I'm glad he knew such a time and was so adored.

Thank you so much for sharing this poem and the lovely evocative paintings with us!
mechtild at 2011-03-06 22:37 (UTC) (Link)
Thany you for for sharing your thoughtful empathey, Aliensouldream. People have imagined very different childhoods for Frodo, some of them very bad indeed. My own thought has been that the person who grew up to be the Ring-bearer of LOTR, who braved and endured so much, so well, had to have had a wholesome, happy childhood. The only sad side of it is that his life with his parents was so short. But perhaps it became a haven to Frodo, the memory of it, in bad times. "A light in dark places", if of a mortal kind. :)
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2011-03-13 14:51 (UTC) (Link)
This is such a lovely poem.

Your choice of illustration is perfect. I especially love the second one... golden.

At this time of year I can live it, waiting for the bus, on my way home from work. The fields, trees and the twilight.

The glow of the poem and the glow of the paintings are wonderful.

Thank you ladies.

mechtild at 2011-03-13 18:41 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Estë, thanks so much. It's a lovely thing, the poem, and the paintings suit it well. Yes, the gold of that bottom one really captures the late northern light.
verangel at 2011-03-25 21:48 (UTC) (Link)
I sent my Anna to Ireland/Scotland with her school choir and am catching up. My days have been hectic.

THIS is so warm...the scents so loving and full. The silence is not silence but the breath of all the love in the room and senses lulled from the scent and taste and feel of warm security and tenderness. He was loved and protected. The future would be so harsh on this sweet soul.
Lovely pictures to accompany these gorgeous words. "Mumma" *sighs* I love this and how she holds her son and he nuzzles into her. The last picture had the warm glows that matched the warm feeling accompanying a frigid cold reality outside.
hugs you and Jan-u-wine close. xooxoxo love v
mechtild at 2011-03-26 00:56 (UTC) (Link)
Your Anna is gone to Ireland and Scotland to sing choral music? What a wonderful opportunity! What grade is she in, if I may ask?

Thanks so much for stopping into Mechtild's, Verangel. There are quite a few jan-u-wine poems being posted here, a treat for me after a long quiet spell. I love the atmosphere and mood of this piece, too. The scents, the touches, the sights, the words spoken, all of it redolent of deep, warm, mutual love.
verangel at 2011-03-26 06:17 (UTC) (Link)
Anna is a Sophomore (10th) in HS. She turned 16 in Jan. xoxoo v
mechtild at 2011-03-26 12:52 (UTC) (Link)
That's a fine age. How excellent to be on such a trip, singing, at fifteen going on sixteen! I love her name, by the way, "Anna".
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