The Setting Out from Bag End, with jan-u-wine's "The Young Squire" and art by Kiprensky.
At first we thought we might post another new poem on the Baggins Birthday. Jan wrote it as her birthday mathom for Frodo. But the last section of this poem, "The Young Squire", with its image of the Road waiting for 'the touch of a lad's dream-held feet' made me think of the day after the Birthday, the day when, in S.R. 1418, Frodo's feet would be carried to places he'd never dreamed of, whether geographical places or interior places.
I asked Jan if I was astray, thinking of the poem written from the point of view of young lad-Frodo.
I think that this is actually post-Quest Frodo remembering his young self. All the more-so would he be wistful in remembering that innocence, how he *wanted* to set out upon the road, how he felt its magical call. And all the more so would he know what that setting-out would, in the end, mean to him.
Was it a sad poem, then? No, she said, he would 'grieve not, but find strength (and beauty and many other heart-ish things) in what remains behind' (from Wordsworth's Ode 526, 'Intimations of Immortality'). Neither shall we grieve, but find strength, and beauty, and inspiration, in the life of this unforgettable and beloved character.
Thinking further on that famous line from Wordsworth's Ode, Jan wrote,
You know what else is great? I never noted before, but the name of that piece is *Intimations* of Immortality. Not, simply, "Immortality". No, "intimations"..... something that is alluded to, hinted at (striven for?), something which is hidden behind the parting of a silver curtain, and the onrush of a promised shore. What more perfect verse to use in describing Frodo, whose forever-ness is something that, within ourselves, we are sure of, though it is but hinted at.
Beautifully expressed, Jan. Frodo, "whose forever-ness is something that, within ourselves, we are sure of, though it is but hinted at", hidden. His is a character lit from within, for those with perceiving eyes. Gandalf was the first, but not the only one, to see it.
The Young Squire
I am, yet, a lad.
A lad, dreaming beneath
Autumn's bold Sun,
the cloud-blank, sweated sky
taking my breath,
fields overborne with gold-green crop,
corn tassels rustled and brassed,
laid delicate and lace-pale by compare.
The little streams, even,
mind the changing of the year,
the push of them on their Sea-journey slow'd,
the rush of water upon rock
Fire-smell tints the air, adding its bitters
to the spice of deep-foundered leaves
and grain, gold and
uncovered beneath the Sun.
about the field-endings, their bristle-brown
against dry-cracked earth.
This is all.
And my mind drifts,
like the clouds-which-are-not,
caught to the plain beauty
of this homely place and time,
for those places
and the simple touch
of sweet grasses within my hand,
the kindly expectation
of the bright farthing of the time-Road,
for the touch of a lad's dream-held feet.
About the painter of the illustration, "The Young Gardener", 1817:
A leading Russian portrait painter of the Romantic era, Orest Kiprensky (1782-1836) was born in a village near St. Petersburg, an illegitimate son of a landowner.
Although born a serf, he was later helped by his father to enter the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg when he was only six years old. He graduated from the Academy in 1803 and painted a portrait the following year of his foster father, the serf who raised him, Adam Shvabler.
The portrait of Shvabler greatly impressed his contemporaries. A group of experts from the Naples Academy of Arts believed it to be the work of a great master, a Rubens or a Van Dyck, and Kiprensky was required to produce letters from the St. Petersburg Academy testifying he was the artist.