Mechtild (mechtild) wrote,

Tolkien's Landscapes 6: 'Wood at the World's End'~ picture by Tolkien, poem by jan-u-wine.


Wood at World's End-ICON

Although utterly different in look and feel to the starkly geometric Moonlight on a Wood, Tolkien's The Wood at World's End (1927-28, pencil, black ink, watercolour) is a similarly highly stylized piece. The mountains dip in the center nearly symmetrically to frame the setting sun and the treetops merge to form a rolling green expanse, almost like waves. In the sea of trees the ranks of their boles are like great stalks of seaweed rising from the ocean floor. It isn't realistic, but the forms together create an almost mesmerizing effect.

The painting inspired jan-u-wine to write a wonderful new poem, rich and contemplative. It depicts Sam's thoughts as he sails towards World's End, the Undying Lands.

For those interested, an additional paragraph about the painting is provided at the bottom of the post.


Wood at World's End-RED

Wood at the World's End

Ever shall it be
the Master as

took delight in the Sea.

The vast,
blue hush of her,

the weed'd green
crystal of be-calmed,


the iron-mongery
of her cold
and angry eye.

Ever it was he
who knew her,

in all her weather'd

ever he
who took comfort
in the very thought of her.

What did he see,
my heart wonders,

on that day,
that *last* day,

the white-hulled ship
running out, beyond the harbour,
the small diamonds of stars

shining like new-lit candles,

the path through the waters
stilling and changing......



the seeing
is different
for each who sets foot
upon that road.......

~ * ^ ~ * ^ ~ * ^ ~


my thought has been
for the brown earth,

for those things that spring
from it,

grow upon it,

for that which gathers

the wind
from its haven of sky,

the gold of the sun
from its light-river,

the moon-silver
from its star-swaddled cradle.

What, then,
should I see,

at this,
the World's End,
as the ship

before the wind,

merry and solemn,
all at once.

What, then,
should I see?

Taken perhaps by dreme,


by that which somehow lingers
upon the last bit of shore,

I see a wood.

With my eyes,
I see it.

With my mind,
my heart,

I know it.

My feet walk there,
even as

this ship
pulls beneath me,

proud swan-head
bowing to the sea's lacy

The ancient floor,
dusted with leaves

of red and orange

and brown,

like sweet,
dark tea.

I know the trees

are whispering

to the golden wind,

about me,

about ........

the world,

secrets of the beginning
and the ending,

and all that lies between.

They hold me,
these trees,

as a mother holds a babe.

With root-deep care,
they hold me.

And somehow,
I am comforted by them,

by their knobbled knees
and the great roots

that delve

by the arms that ne'er

to greet whatever may come.

I am held
by their foreverness.

My Master,
he has dremed upon the Sea.

But I,

I shall dreme,
(for but a little while),

upon this wood,

great forest
of a Sea......

the mighty waves of it

upon the sun-bound shore
of an ending


At last,



Hammond and Scull write in J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator (p. 64),

Throughout most of Tolkien's art from the years 1927 and 1928, two pictorial elements predominate. One was mountains, which he drew in abundance in rugged 'Silmarillion' landscapes such as Gondolin. The other was trees, with which he was even more enamoured. (...) Massed together, trees comprise The Wood at the World's End, its title a commingling of two by William Morris (The Wood beyond the World and The Well at the World's End).

The painting may depict sunset in Valinor, the end of the world west of Middle-earth, or it may be unrelated to Tolkien's mythology; but it is an evident precursor of his dust-jacket art for The Hobbit.

Dust-jacket design for The Hobbit, final art, 1937. Pencil, black ink, watercolour, white body colour:

Hobbit Dust-jacket-RED

Previous entry:
Misty Mountains-ICON ~ "The Misty Mountains": picture by Tolkien, poem by jan-u-wine.

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

Tags: art, jan-u-wine, sam, tolkien

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