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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Jan-u-wine's 'The Master Observed' and 'Frodo's Lamp', with paintings by Grimshaw and Carlsen.

Posted on 2012.07.14 at 17:39
Tags: , , ,


It was back in the fall that jan-u-wine sent me 'The Master Observed'. I loved it at once and began to plan a post, choosing a painting, but no post was ever produced. As might be guessed from my long absence from LJ, I've been having the devil of a time getting up the zeal to write. Anything. Here it is more than six months later, and finally I am posting it.

The impetus to post was a poem Jan wrote just over a week ago, on the Fourth of July, 'Frodo's Lamp'. I had written to Jan that afternoon, confessing I felt like an old fuddy-duddy, not wanting to bother going to the annual fireworks display. (Since childhood I've loved the splendour and glory of big fireworks displays.) "I am old, Gandalf, I am old," I lamented, half-laughing. Jan wrote back understandingly,

"I am with you. I would rather be quiet here at home, than anything else. It's ok to be who you are and that is who we are now. If someone took me to the fireworks, i would enjoy them, but it is nicer, really, to sit on the balcony and look at the moon. Frodo's lamp, I should call it. I feel close to him when i see the moon and stars. And that, for me, is a happy thing."

Frodo's lamp. I loved that. 'Frodo's lamp' brought to mind so many things, I told her, paintings and poems and scenes connected with the Ring-bearer.

The next morning there was a new poem in my mail box, 'Frodo's Lamp'. I loved the poem even better than its name, I wrote, and wanted to post it. Why not post the two poems together, suggested Jan. Both imagine Frodo across the Sea, living on Tol Eressëa. They imagine Frodo at different places in his post-Middle-earth life, true. 'The Master Observed' depicts a Frodo still clearly missing the Shire, 'Frodo's Lamp' a Frodo who has become more settled, no longer an alien in his new, if temporary, land. But both are permeated with the feeling of night-enchantment, of standing under star and moon and the deep, dark sky.

The paintings and their artists are identified below the poems.


The Master, Observed: Frodo's Fairy Tale

{never before has he felt so completely like (and unlike) him-self, all at once}

Evr'y once-upon-a-time,
misted and burnished
with untouchable dreme,

it unfolds before him.

Like a secret hidden beyond the furthest star,
the early-darkened world grows chill.

harvest has been brought in.

Eärendil sails
a different sky.

In the narrow barque of his bed
he dremes upon Middle Earth,

heart flying where feet

the whole of him

spooling out,
like water,

like the ever-widening rings
of the summer'd Brandywine,

like breaths never drawn,
the imagined air sweet,
welcome fire,

like wine and Spring
and harvest fields
in sun-risen fog,

the rushing sound of it
like golden strings
fretted by unseen

like bird's call,
like little rivers

and large Seas,
hushing and roaring

falling to gentl'd

And his life unravels,

and slow,

in his dreme,
the threads of it
twining to those others,

to those times

and places,
and people

until they are that strange

called 'heart',

they are

the place
he should ever

call Home.


Frodo's Lamp

It is his lamp, now,

his lamp,
in this far-off place
he might not

call home.

He does not,
can not

read by it.

At least…..

not books,

or crabbed Uncle-ish,


Other things,

other things
he reads:

the advancement
of dark-headed

upon the shore,

lace frothing

as hoop’d embroidery
beneath the lemon light…..


dreaming in forests of

silver’d dusk,

foxes of russet

and knowing feet



in sleep-leavened,
feathery tones….

Ah, the Lonely Isle,
and the Lamp thereof.

Ah, the stars,

soft and everlasting
upon this
small being,

this sundered son.

He will find his home,

He will find

beside the moon

the stars.

They have their places,
in silenc'd night,

and sounded

They have
a place,

in the restful

of the world,

in the rest-less
cry of it,

the music that swells
into the skys

of the for evers.

Even as he.

as he.

Blessed lamp.

Light of small

ancient beauty.

In all my hours,

you shine.



~ Full Moon Behind Cirrus Clouds from Roundhay Park Castle Battlements by John Atkinson Grimshaw

~Moonlit Seascape by Soren Emil Carlsen

About the Artists:
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.

See Wikipedia here for more on Grimshaw.

Soren Emil Carlsen (1853-1932):

Carlsen was a Danish-born American painter, sometimes called the "American Chardin" (an 18th century painter whose still lifes he studied), whose work was characterized by excellent technique and a quiet grace. Like the still life painter, he thought simple objects, and the natural world around him (his land and seascapes are still much admired) were subjects worthy of a painter's reverent attention.

For more on Carlsen, see Wikipedia here, or Jeffrey Morseburg here.


Previous Frodo entry:

~ "The Plea of the Evenstar", with manip by Bandwench and art by Alan Lee, for the anniversary of March 25, 2012.

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


shirebound at 2012-07-14 23:26 (UTC) (Link)
I've missed you! I hope things are going well.

Blessed lamp.
Light of small
ancient beauty.
In all my hours,
you shine.

Ohhhhh. Exquisite. My heart expands with joy.

Edited at 2012-07-14 11:27 pm (UTC)
mechtild at 2012-07-15 12:45 (UTC) (Link)
Good morning, Shirebound. I was out last night, right after I posted, me and my spouse taking my parents-and-law to a concert of big band (excellent!) with dancing and a dance competition. That's an example of the happier things I've been doing. I've also been getting a lot more outdoor exercise -- years of pouring over a keyboard (as a fan, not in my job) have taken their toll. Not just gardening, but hiking and biking, now that the warm weather has come. The less enjoyable things that have been claiming my attention are things like floods, repairs, health issues, elder care and worrying about elder care. I think you are probably aware of all those sorts of things from personal experience, ha ha.

I'm so pleased you enjoyed the post. The poems are beauties, aren't they? Jan has definitely not lost her touch.
jan_u_wine at 2012-07-15 19:57 (UTC) (Link)
dear Shirebound, so very happy that you enjoyed......

and it HAS been a long while since Mechtild has been about.....i so hope that we'll both have more time and *wanting* to do more posts....

thank you again!
Lavender Took
lavendertook at 2012-07-15 02:33 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I'm happy to see this post.

I understand about getting up the energy. It's been some of that for me, and also job hunting guilt--feeling I should be filling out an application instead of posting. So many pictures I wnat ot post and things to report.

the summer'd Brandywine,

I love your word form transformations, Jan.

like breaths never drawn

So sad. Poor Frodo homesick for the life in the Shire he was denied.

Mechtild, I didn't care for the Grimshaw until I scrolled so that the moon was covered and I could focus on the subtle landscape in the middle I was missing between the bright moonlight and the dark ruins--lovely.

Frodo's Lamp is a lovely term for the moon, Jan. I love the peace he finds in knowing the moon he sees shines upon the Shire and is with him still.

Light of small

ancient beauty.

In all my hours,

you shine.


And a pretty silvered painting like the light shining fromt he ringbearer.

mechtild at 2012-07-15 12:49 (UTC) (Link)
You're job hunting again>? Yikes. I should get my fingers and eyes busy and check out your LJ to see what's been happening with you.

These were beautiful poems, no> And I'm glad you found things to like in Grimshaw's moonlit river scene. I posted a slightly bigger version of it, because of your comment, so that the details could better be seen. I think it's a beautiful piece. I'd love to see the original. And I'd absolutely posititutely love to see work by Carlsen in person. I've only just begun to view and marvel over his beautiful still lifes. I've only looked for his landscapes and seascapes while searching for poem illustrations.
jan_u_wine at 2012-07-15 20:01 (UTC) (Link)
LT! I'm very happy that you enjoyed these.....

Mechtild is such a wonder at picking wonderful images to go with the words. There are *no* adequate words to thank her with. It's just......just a thing of wonder and beauty to me.

LT....i hope your own words (and images) will be flowing again soon. It's very stressful to be without work. You are in my thoughts, always.
bagma at 2012-07-15 05:51 (UTC) (Link)
What beautiful poems! After reading them I don't think I'll be able to look at the moon without thinking of Frodo.

I didn't know Carlsen's work, but the few paintings I've seen in the Wikipedia article are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing the poems and the paintings with us!:)
mechtild at 2012-07-15 12:52 (UTC) (Link)
Carlsen is wonderful. He's not showy, very modest, but every canvas is full of revelations. I've come to love his work, not having known him until I began looking for poem illustrations a couple of years ago.

These were beautiful poems, weren't they? Thanks for stopping in, Bagma, and I hope you are well. :)
jan_u_wine at 2012-07-15 20:05 (UTC) (Link)
Dear Bagma......thank you so much! I can't help but think that Frodo would enjoy being remembered based on the gentle memory-nudge of the moon....

Mechtild chose such lovely companions for these poems......the almost brooding yet quiet feel of the first....and then the second, equally (or perhaps even more quiet) and yet somehow i get the feeling of peaceful victory, redemption. And that is certainly what the poem portrays.

thank you again, Bagma. And thank you, Mechtild, for pairing these so lovingly!
ambree40 at 2012-07-15 20:31 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you both for another wonderful post. The paintings and the poems work so well, together.

The moon in the Grimshaw painting is, somehow, ominous. And the landscape has a Victorian flavor, with the ivy on the ruined battlement. It’s clear that Frodo is a stranger there, still yearning for the sweet Shire.

“In the narrow barque of his bed
he dremes upon Middle Earth,

heart flying where feet

The Carlsen painting is, somehow, much lighter. And so is the poem. You feel there is hope:

“He will find his home,

He will find
himself …”

And I hope you two will find the energy and the inspiration to produce posts like this one again.
mechtild at 2012-07-16 02:19 (UTC) (Link)
What an insightful interpretation of the Grimshaw painting, Ambree, in light of the poem it was chosen to illustrate. "It's clear that Frodo is a stranger there, still yearing for the sweet Shire." Yes, there is something strange or forbidding about it. I love it, for its enchanted quality, apart from the technical expertise, but the dark foreground (battlements, ivy) and high, eye-like moon add a sense of danger or menace to the painting -- "somehow ominous", as you say -- when Frodo's state is kept in mind.

Thanks so much for stopping in and for commenting. You have a keen eye.
jan_u_wine at 2012-07-16 23:51 (UTC) (Link)
dear ambree....i am so pleased that you enjoyed the post. Mechtild very much has a talent for finding paintings that don't simply *match* the poem....they expand the poem, make it larger and more beautiful.

and that is what she has done here.

I also hope that there will be time, energy, inspiration for more posts. thank you again!
antane at 2012-07-16 17:56 (UTC) (Link)
You're back! Both of you! How splendid. I love the second poem the most as he is beginning to adjust and find a place for himself in the West and the first there is a ache that he is still adrift and exiled and wanting to be back home. That's interesting about associating Frodo with the moon for I have done that too and was surprised (and pleased) that someone else does too. I look up at it and know that he did too - in all that has changed in the long, long years since he did so, that has not and indeed it does create a closeness to him.

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)

P.S. There will be no MEFA's this year or perhaps ever, at least not in the format as it has been. From what I understand someone was upset that their pornography was going to be rated more severely or something, but I could be wrong since I didn't follow that and all the ensuing madness. Didn't want you to think I hadn't nominated any more of your masterpieces, dear jan-u-wine.
jan_u_wine at 2012-07-17 00:07 (UTC) (Link)
dear Antane......it's a nice feeling to be back. There are always things to say.....it's just that we don't always have the time and/or the emotional impetus to do them. I'm sure that i speak for Mechtild when I say that nothing would please me more to post every day. But....it sadly isn't possible. Too many other calls on time, too many RL *things* which leach energy and passion from you. But I am equally sure that we'll not ever close the conversation ........

I'm very glad that you enjoyed the poems, dear.

Please don't worry about the MEFA's, at least not on my account. Some while ago, I came across a posting on MEN, wherein Marta was calling for volunteers. The awards are so wonderfully staffed, that it simply has to be a huge, huge task, and it sounds as if perhaps not enough people could commit to it. When I saw the post, I figured that there wouldn't be a MEFA this year (and, as you say, perhaps not ever again). Marta has done a lovely, lovely job in a very difficult field. I do hope that someone's nose did not get out of joint over a rating, and i should think that Marta is strong enough not to let that defeat her. But perhaps she's just had enough of *all* of it. It certainly is a Frodo-esque task, where one slogs through the mire and heat and dust for little or no thanks.

For myself, although it is surely nice to be acknowledged by the MEFA's and other fan awards, I find, most often that my true pleasure and reward is the writing of the piece itself. It's a wonderful thing to be blessed to write within this universe. Sharing with other fans is the icing on the cake.

(and thank you very much for calling these "masterpieces". Hats shall be worn a size larger in my smial this year.....)

mechtild at 2012-07-17 01:41 (UTC) (Link)
Antane, you shower us with riches! Or you shower me. Jan's work is golden, so if you shower riches on her pieces, it only makes what is already rich richer. :) They are wonderful pieces, I agree.

I hadn't thought of Frodo in connection with the moon, either, or not particularly. I think I thought of him in connection with the stars, especially as the hobbit Eardendil. But, having said that, I believe I was thinking of Earendil the character, from the First Age, not the star. :)

Not to worry about the MEFA's. I am sorry they are not going forward if it is only due to one fan's gripe. But it may be that there just aren't enough hands on deck to pull it off again this year. It takes a lot of time merely to read and review pieces. I can't imagine how much volunteer time it takes to put the whole thing together, monitoring it, and answering all the questions, complaints and general feedback.

You've been very good, nominating so much of Jan's work, but it won't harm the quality or quantity of her writing if her achievements are not acknowledged in a public way. She'll just keep writing, just as she has done before the MEFA's were even known about.

Edited at 2012-07-17 01:42 am (UTC)
not_alone at 2012-07-19 20:16 (UTC) (Link)
How lovely to see you both here again!! And neither of you has lost that magical touch, thank goodness! I love the pics, especially the first one - there's something quite compelling about it. And of course Jan's words move me as they have always done. "In the narrow barque of his bed
he dremes upon Middle Earth, heart flying where feet
cannot" ... That really brought a lump to my throat.

jan_u_wine at 2012-07-19 23:48 (UTC) (Link)
Hello!!!! Very nice to see you, as well, and so happy that you like the post. It really is such a pleasure and joy to write these, but it is a joy that is added to immeasurably when other folks love them as we do. Thank you so much!
mechtild at 2012-07-20 01:12 (UTC) (Link)
Paulie, how lovely of you to drop in. These are such fine pieces, and the pictures so evocative, I'm glad you got to see/read them. :)
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