Mechtild (mechtild) wrote,

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



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.
Tags: carlsen, grimshaw, jan-u-wine, tolkien

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