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NF-Lee's 3/4 Frodo sketch

Frodo's autumns: poems by jan-u-wine with paintings by Millet and Carlsen.

Posted on 2011.10.09 at 09:00
Tags: , , , ,

Autumn is waning here in north-eastern Minnesota. This weekend the leaves are at their peak but they are about to fall. We are having what in the United States is called "Indian Summer", a time deep in the autumn when unseasonably warm weather grants what seems a return of summer. Knowing that it's a reprieve -- fleeting, not here to stay -- makes it all the more precious. Typically we would have had a hard frost by now. All the annuals would be dead, the perennial tops yellowed and wilted over their crowns, the leaves down. We'd be wearing jackets and mittens and caps, not sandals and t-shirts. The soft mildness is sweet, sweeter because one knows it will be gone any minute.

Perhaps something of the intense sweetness of this time, when the growing world is on the cusp between seasonal life and death, is captured in these two beautiful new poems. Frodo revels in the Shire's autumn, actual and remembered, the time when the colour and fragrance of the natural world -- as various and as intense as at summer's height, if the colours and scents are different -- is at its keenest, precisely because it is on the verge of being lost. If it is not to death, it is to something like death, when growth and the promise of life suddenly are no longer accessible to the senses. One must enter winter, head into the time of greyness, of dearth and want, sustained only by hope in what is hidden, but working its revivifying magic under the soil.

But that time is not come, not yet. Not here in Minnesota and not in the Shire of these poems. One more day has come when the natural world glows with topaz and ruby and garnet, living leaf-jewels twinkling in the soft fragrant air. One blast and down the leaves will come, all colour bled from the landscape, scents muted by frost. But not yet, not yet.

The first of today's poems, "Autumn's Tale", is set in the fall of 1421. The second, "Tol Eressëaian Harvest", is set a few years later, across the Sea. These two complete a trio of fall Frodo poems, begun with The Hill of Home, posted last month. "The Hill of Home" is set in the previous year, the autumn of 1420.


Autumn's Tale

the tramp'd miles

of the road this night,

wet earth smell

holding me close,

water’d moon
a rose-milk

cloud swathed sun
to its distant sea cradle.

And still I walk,

in the brake,

muted voices

like the friendly night,
the almost-winter chill

lying in fog dips
upon the way,

cobweb faerie-purses
jewel'd and

shimmering like flet light,

the gold-brass of far-off
harvest fires

smelling like
gathered comfort,

all that is Home.


My hand upon the gate,
the woven pull wet-rough

within my grasp,

the flagstones of the path
uneven and cold beneath

my feet.

The tender nod
of a candle

waits in the front window,

the door wide and summer-deep-green
in its welcome.

When I have washed the tramp-mud
from my feet

(the clarity of the fresh-drawn water
finally ditch brown,

errant drops clinging,


amongst the tangles),

there is tea, and Bilbo's old chair
and the hearth-fire.

It is good to be Home.


Tol Eressëaian Harvest

Crown'd trees fade,

slow and silent,
beneath the opal smudge
of burnt-velvet night;

Earendil's gem'd

marks, apace,
a harvest moon.

Were I Home,
truly, then,
that is what it should be:

moon orange
as bonfire-lit


proud and joy-full

as a just-birth'd lass.

Merry fiddles and
pig-skinned drums,

reels and rounds,

fraganc'd pipe-weed......
bitter golden ale......

Fields still ripe,

even with their beauty shorn
and fallow-gleaming .....

Home is a world (and more)

dark waves running
against an unseen,

unreachable harbour.

Beneath a fragile moon-yolk,

sea pearls and crab-casings
adorn the pale neck
of this sundered shore,

faerie-light stitched like emerald fire
upon the tide's foam'd hem.

It is autumn in the Undying Lands,
and I,

but one of the Harvest
of the Lonely Isle.


"Moonlit Sheepfold" ~ Jean-François Millet (1814-1875)

"Ocean at Sunrise" ~ Soren Emil Carlsen (1853-1932)


Recent Frodo entries:

The Hill of Home, with paintings by Thomas Atkinson Grimshaw and Edwin Henry Landseer.

~ Untitled poem in honour of the Baggins birthdays, September 22, 2011.

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


bagma at 2011-10-09 15:00 (UTC) (Link)
Those poems are achingly beautiful and complement the paintings perfectly. Thank you very much for sharing!
mechtild at 2011-10-09 17:49 (UTC) (Link)
You are so welcome, Bagma. And the icon you chose for your comment is absolutely perfect. It even sparkles! Thanks for stopping in. :)
jan_u_wine at 2011-10-12 01:18 (UTC) (Link)
thank you, Bagma! So glad you enjoyed.
not_alone at 2011-10-09 19:38 (UTC) (Link)
We've had an Indian summer here too Mechtild - albeit a brief one! Today has been quite grey and overcast, though not exactly cold. Time to look out my other autumn-themed icons I think!

Reading Jan's beautiful poems, I had such a longing to pluck Frodo from that distant place and deposit him back home!

Thank you both for another wonderful post:)

mechtild at 2011-10-09 20:48 (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad you could drop by, Paulie. And your icon is another fall beauty (beauties?). Thank you.
jan_u_wine at 2011-10-12 01:20 (UTC) (Link)
so nice to *see* you, Paulie, and I'm glad you enjoyed the post! Mechtild's beautiful intro and her art choices are beyond wonderful.
mariole at 2011-10-09 19:45 (UTC) (Link)
I was born Minnesotan, and remember those Indian Summers well. Thanks for the lovely imagery, and for sharing these lovely poems and images. It's cool here in Colorado; we're probably having our last week of leaves also. The year turns.
mechtild at 2011-10-09 20:53 (UTC) (Link)
Hello, Mariole. Colorado must have some deciduous trees mingled with all the evergreens, yes. You were born in Minnesota? I am a transplant. Where was your home, precisely or generally, depending on what you want to put in an LJ comment?

P.S. Although I have been fall-busy (prepping the garden for winter before I go traveling this month, chores, work, lots of hiking), I did manage to get "The Artist's Way" out of the library and read it. It was very enticing. I felt like running out and doing it but inertia (writerly intertia, not the chore-doing or hiking sort) set in before I got started. But I'm still thinking of trying it. I have lost my mojo, it's sure. Not just in writing, but in all things artistic and plain thinking creatively. Cameron spoke eloquently and persuasively to my situation, as she did to you and so many, judging from her book sales over the years. Thanks so much for telling about the book and program in your LJ earlier.
mariole at 2011-10-10 14:36 (UTC) (Link)
> I have lost my mojo

Yes, that's it, exactly. I used to spring out of bed because I couldn't wait to get started on my latest project. It feels as if my life has shrunk- I don't do that anymore, don't do much anymore except work. Even getting outside is getting less frequent. I love to hike, but the day job crowds it to the weekends, so it has to compete with my other activities plus weather. I really really really really really miss my home gig. An artist like me just doesn't do well trapped in an office with a bunch of boring office people. I just don't care! And so my life is shutting down. It grieves me.

I was born in St. Anthony village on the border of St. Paul and Minneapolis. I lived there 8 years. I have fond memories of Minnesota. My cousins still live there, way out in the countryside, and I visit them now and then. I'll never forget those crisp fall days, or the gentle warmth with which Spring would start its miraculous thaw.
mechtild at 2011-10-10 20:33 (UTC) (Link)
A Cities woman! (Although you weren't a woman then.) I'll be in that neck of the woods on Thursday, driving to the airport. I'll honk the horn in your girlhood's honour.

It feels as if my life has shrunk

Yeah. It's just like you're saying. Except that I only have a part-time job, so I haven't even the explanation of virtually no spare time. I've got spare time, not that I'm still not shirking work that needs to be done around here, but no zeal to put it to creative work that requires, well, zeal. I thought the appeal in Cameron's book was that it challenged readers like me to just do it. Write, make, even without zeal. Do it and the zeal will come ("Make believe you're brave/ and the trick will take you far/ you may be as brave as you make believe you are", as Oscar Hammerstein expressed a similar concept).
mariole at 2011-10-13 04:28 (UTC) (Link)
I didn't really get her asserting that zeal will come. The quote that stood out was, "I'll take care of the quantity, the Muse will take care of the quality." It was more like actually putting the rubber to the road, and not allowing oneself to be paralyzed by potential criticism (self or other) and fear.

But you're certainly correct when she says it can't become discipline-- discipline is short-lived, whereas love is what keeps you going. So I suppose that translates as zeal. :) The real trick is to find what you're zealous about. Have you tried doing the morning pages? It's a great way to clear out the garbage and discover some ideas that appeal to the timid inner artist.
mechtild at 2011-10-13 12:08 (UTC) (Link)
I need to read the section on morning pages again. I really didn't quite understand what they were supposed to be. Just start writing, stream of consciousness, whether it's "my leg itches i'm hungry the cats should be let out must check bulletin board cold will get sweater" or something that requires more thought. And she says don't reread them or keep them in one place, but later asks people to think about trends or themes in their morning pages. But if they haven't reread them or kept them, how can they remember them well enough to know? Or maybe that's one of those mystery aspects one must take on trust: "if you've been spilling your morning mental product every morning for weeks and months, you'll know what your recurring concerns and themes are, believe me, bub."

Zeal. By zeal it was what I had that you were talking about: couldn't wait to jump out of bed to get back to work on my story. Gee, that was great; more zeal than I've ever experienced in my life except religious conversion -- that tied, lol.
jan_u_wine at 2011-10-12 01:38 (UTC) (Link)
dear Mariole, I hope you will forgive me for busting in on your convo here. But I just felt quite sad when I read this. And yet, I know these feelings very well. It's difficult to work at ordinary *stuff*, isn't it, when you've so much inside...Forcing yourself *to* the ordinary just....breaks something within, or puts a wall up between you and the joy that is inherent in creating things of beauty.

The only comfort that I know, at all, is in believing that creative gifts do not vanish...they are not *gone*, only taking a wee respite, and that time and circumstance will bring their return.

On the inside panel of my writing desk is a card that a lady from the Tolkien Society sent me. I look at it when I feel especially mojo-less. It says, "no matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow".

May it be so for you, Mariole. You are a maker and a pursuer of beauty. You have more to say and I have no doubt that you *will* say it.

(btw, my folks come from MN, my father from Dover (near Rochester) and my mom from Osakis. I still have some cousins there, as well. I have loved each and every one of my visits)
mariole at 2011-10-13 04:32 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much for your kind note! I do try to think that I'm just slogging through some kind of fallow time, and that eventually a fertile patch will follow. But it's tough being fallow.

> Forcing yourself *to* the ordinary just....breaks something within

Precisely. It's like I'm internally screaming, "Get me out of here!" each time I enter the building. Fighting that emotion down is deadly to all emotion, at least to me. I can't seem to separate creative me from working me. It's all me, and when I'm unhappy and frustrated, it creeps into my creative life.

I greatly appreciate your wonderful words about me being a creator. I haven't been one for almost a year (time of my last story posting). I sincerely hope I find the thread. I feel as if I'm getting stronger, so there's hope!

> I have loved each and every one of my visits

Me, too. Minnesota still feels like home to me. :)
jan_u_wine at 2011-10-13 14:46 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, it IS tough being fallow....but nature allows the fields to be fallow so that they can regenerate and come back to full and beautiful growth. I think it is so with us....the pot is *simmering*, whether we feel it or not. Every experience, every moment means something, gets thrown into the mix. Eventually, there will be a moment that 'tips' the balance and the flood-gates will open again.

You *are* a creator. Then and now. It's going on, inside you....just dimmed and damped-down by other *stuff*.

I feel for you and *with* you. Writing is not the same for me,either, these days. I had a golden summer and now it is all-but winter. But I think that keeping your hand in, no matter if you have the emotional pay-off or not, is key. You have the skill-set. It is the pleasure you are missing, I think. Like all else in life (where pleasure has dimmed or disappeared), it may reappear. It may not.

In the end, what remains is Gandalf's question to Frodo:

what will you do with the time given you?

Write, because it is the best part of yourself, with the hope that it will become, again, the joy it was in the past? Or not write, and let the fallow field die off entirely?

Write. Write. And when you are done........


shirebound at 2011-10-11 11:33 (UTC) (Link)
cobweb faerie-purses
jewel'd and
shimmering like flet light

What a beautiful blend of 'what was' and 'what is'... followed by a poem of 'what will be'.
mechtild at 2011-10-11 13:05 (UTC) (Link)
Shirebound, I'm glad you got to see the poems. They are a lovely trio (beautiful icon!).
jan_u_wine at 2011-10-12 01:40 (UTC) (Link)
thank you, Shirebound! So glad you enjoyed the post.
antane at 2011-10-11 17:22 (UTC) (Link)
We are having absolutely to die for weather here - glad you are enjoying the same! I love the ending of the first poem - the joy and peace to be home. The longing he has to be home in the second causes an ache. I want to bring him home too! But this will become home, especially after Sam arrives.

Please, both of you, say a prayer for my dad who is in the hospital with multiple blood clots - in both lungs and one in leg. He looks good and sounds good and should be fine, but still pray anyway :) Le hannon! *hugs*

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)
mechtild at 2011-10-11 21:56 (UTC) (Link)
That's worrying about your dad, Antane. Yes, I'll keep him in my mind when I pray. Does he live nearby? If not, I hope the weather has been nice where he is, too, giving a respite. :)

Yes, Frodo needs a home. Sam will certainly bring a powerful sense of home with him. But as the iconic sojourner of the story, Frodo is, I fear, destined not to find home until at last he leaves the Circles of the World.
antane at 2011-10-13 17:43 (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, just sent reply about dad as anonymous so hopefully you will still get it. He does live nearby so that's good. I love and ache at the same time that Frodo would have no home until Heaven but then do any of us do until then? But I love that he would be home there.

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)
jan_u_wine at 2011-10-12 01:42 (UTC) (Link)
Antane, I'm so sorry to hear about your father. Of course, he shall be in my prayers. Will you keep us updated, please? (you have my personal email, if you'd rather drop me a line there)

Glad that you enjoyed the poems!
(Anonymous) at 2011-10-13 17:40 (UTC) (Link)
My dear mechtild and jan-u-wine,

Saw dad last night and will go again tonight. He may get out tomorrow. We shall see. But he's looking good and sounding good. He had some trouble with suddenly high blood pressure the night before last which set his heart racing but they were able to lower the pressure and the rate with medicine which worked so well in fact that the next morning he had been given another medicine to raise his pressure! This is apparently a normal thing that can happen when you have lung clots. It'll take some months for the clots to dissolve completely but they are beginning to all ready and the shortness of breath that he had before when he walked is getting better too. Thanks so much for your prayers!

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)
mechtild at 2011-10-20 03:20 (UTC) (Link)
Ah! I am just now seeing this (I've been out of town). I'm so glad to read this, Antane. :)
antane at 2011-10-18 17:33 (UTC) (Link)
Sorry to be responding so late here. Apparently the response I sent the other day accidentially as anonymous didn't go through. He got out of the hospital on Saturday and is doing better. Thanks again for the prayers! *hugs*

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)
jan_u_wine at 2011-10-19 12:42 (UTC) (Link)
Hi, Antane! I DID get a reply, but it was 'locked' so that i couldn't respond to it. Didn't know what to do about that!

In any case, I am ever so grateful that your father is out of the hospital and better. I know you are breathing easier now, as well. Take care, dear.
(Anonymous) at 2011-11-11 19:06 (UTC) (Link)

Indian summer

"Topaz and ruby and garnet..." those words are as beautiful as the colors they describe!

I miss true seasonal changes. In Florida, we have a sort of cold spell in January/February that is called winter for lack of a better term, but it's not really winter. Nothing dies... and due to that, nothing is ever re-born. The rhythm of the seasons, the miracle of all those dead plants coming back to life... I miss it very much. But it's ok.

The paintings are perfect for the two poems. I loved the distant sea-cradle, and the "gathered comfort of home" in the first poem, and the sundered shore (beautiful) and the line 'Home is a world(and more) away', even though I can't exactly say why I love the latter. It just evokes a lot of feeling in me... anything to do with home, I guess!

Thank you both for a quiet reprieve from the daily grind-madness.
mechtild at 2011-11-11 21:08 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Indian summer

What a lovely comment, Mary. I'll have to give Jan a heads-up so she can come read it. She did beautiful work in these, didn't she? And I'm so pleased the choice of paintings worked for you.

Nothing dies... and due to that, nothing is ever re-born. The rhythm of the seasons, the miracle of all those dead plants coming back to life... I miss it very much.

This would be the only drawback to living in a sub-tropical paradise for me, too. It's not a deal-breaker (Hawaii, here I come!), but it is something embedded in my psyche, the way the seasons manifest the wonder of birth out of death.
jan_u_wine at 2011-11-14 17:44 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Indian summer

Dear Mary.....thank you so much for taking time out of the busy day to come read and comment. It *is* a wonderful reprieve, isn't it, to be able to visit the quiet lanes (and dunes!) that make up Frodo's memories.

Sometimes, when i write (well, ok...often!), I don't know why something is right. Often, it's a matter of emotion...if it *feels* right, then (except for cleaning up the words, if need be), i let it be.

And you know what The Beatles said about *that*. When you have such a perfect character as Tolkien created in Frodo, it's easy to get to the emotions and connect those to some lovely words. It's easy to "let it (him) be". And Mech's brilliant painting choices just polish the poems ever more brightly. (thank *you*, dear Mechtild, ever my partner in LOTR "crime"!)

btw, i saw a trailer Saturday for "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close". Looked good. Tom Hanks = good choice.

thank you again, Mary. My love, always,
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