'The Hill of Home' by jan-u-wine, plus paintings by Grimshaw and Landseer.
Jan-u-wine has written a new poem, "The Hill of Home", imagined from Frodo's point of view. Here it is, along with two paintings to set it off.
The poem takes place during harvest, 1420, a very good year. Here he is, having woken before the dawn, and staying up long enough to drink in the beauty of night's end before going back to bed. When he was younger he might have pulled on his clothes and gone for a walk, starting the day. But after the Quest, perhaps Frodo has got in the habit of staying up into the night to write, to face demons -- or both, sleeping during the morning when the deepest dark has passed.
What I love about this piece is the way it shows a moment of respite for Frodo, a moment of peace in spite of his post-Quest malaise. Perhaps it is a foretaste of a peace that will be his in the Undying Lands. Frodo must have had "good spells" after he came back. He couldn't have been continually listless, or suffering the torment of Ring-lust, after he returned. Catching Frodo in the midst of quiet appreciation of being home, in just such a moment as the one evoked in this poem, might have been how it was that Sam could imagine his beloved friend and master would finally recover and stay. There is joy in this poem, which Sam must have delighted to see, but also melancholy, which Sam could not, or would not see.
The Hill of Home
Fog-smudged, the Hill lies, lights glimmer'd,
beneath a grey cloaking of soft-fallen rain.
In the small hour before true-dawn,
I woke, the slender-fading moon hanging his sickle
upon the sleeping Hill,
a solitary bird singing,
sleep-hesitant, in the brake.
The rounded door is open behind me, brass'd knob
gleaming in half-light,
harvest-dawn chill twining about
my heart beating
soft as the fragile rain,
its little drops adorning field-trees,
jewelling the small grasses,
running tender rain-rivers
in darkened garden-beds.
Soon (though day be risen), I will seek my own bed,
the covers warm, my sleep
as deep as autumn,
my dremes nothing more
(or less) than that of rain
and yellow moon and
fog-fingers upon the rich-earthed Hill
in all this wide and
bright world, should I ever want for?
The paintings above were chosen especially to go with this poem. They aren't illustrations, of course, painted many years before Frodo was imagined by Tolkien, but we thought they suggested the mood and look of the poem's scene, moonlit dark before dawn during harvest.
Jan-u-wine found the top painting, 'Under the Harvest Moon' (1872). It was painted by John Atkinson Grimshaw. (1836-1893). Grimshaw was not a Pre-Raphaelite, but he was influenced by them, drawn to rich colours, striking lighting effects and attention to detail. Although primarily a painter of landscapes and townscapes, a look at one of his fairy-like figures (of which he did nearly identical versions placed in different settings) shows the influence of Pre-Raphaelite figure painters like Byrne-Jones. Here's an example, his 1886 Iris. Whether his painting featured one of his fairies, a factory by the Thames or Hampstead Heath, his pictures were marked by their strong evocation of atmosphere.
The painting below the poem is Landseer's 'A Moonlit Landscape', painted in 1827, when he was only twenty-five. Edwin Henry Landseer (1802-1873) was an extremely successful artist from early in his life, best known today for his paintings of animals. He was a respected member of the Royal Academy, was elected its president in 1866 (but declined due to ill health), was knighted, and had lucrative, even royal commissions. His personal life was less fortunate. In 1840, still in his thirties, he had a serious nervous breakdown, from which he never fully recovered, suffering ever after from fits of depression, hypochondria and melancholy, aggravated by substance abuse. He became more difficult in his last years and in 1872 his family had him declared legally insane. He died the next year, but he was not forgotten. Shops and houses lowered their blinds, flags flew at half-staff, the bronze lions he had designed at the base of Nelson's column were hung with wreaths, and large crowds watched his funeral cortege pass. His ashes were interred in St. Paul's Cathedral, in the crypt's "Painter's Corner", where the remains of other artists of renown were buried.