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Jan. 3, 2014 ~ Happy 122nd Birthday, Professor, with poem by jan-u-wine.

Posted on 2014.01.03 at 07:54
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Happy Birthday, Professor Tolkien!

Tolkien seated in front of a tree bole, colour

Jan-u-wine has delivered yet again, writing a beautiful personal reminiscence of the Professor in narrative verse. But before the poem, a few photographs....

I posted this photograph last year, but it's one of my favourites. He's standing in front of his favourite tree in the Oxford Botanical Garden. It was taken Aug. 9, 1973, a month before he died.

Tolkien and favourite tree, 1973-08-09

There are quite a few photos of Tolkien smoking a pipe, no longer an approved pastime (however cherished by hobbits, wizards and academics of previous eras). Two of my favourites follow. I regret I do not know who photoshopped the first of the two. Note how examples of Tolkien's writing and drawing are deftly included along two of the borders.

Tolkien seated smoking, photoshopped with handwriting surround

This, perhaps, is my favourite Tolkien portrait.

Tolkien portrait, very well-known, sepia tint

The following photo shows Tolkien and his son Christopher napping together in the garden behind their Oxford house. I have always loved it as a candid snapshot offering a glimpse of Tolkien as an ordinary person, not just a Great Writer. After reading jan-u-wine's piece I found the photo more broadly applicable. Looking again, thinking of the poem, I couldn't help seeing Jan, and all us fans, as the small sleeper, experiencing through art a sense of closeness to the man who created the books and secondary world we love, as though we could share his dreams.

Tolkien and Christopher napping in back garden

Mea Cuppa

Might I borrow a cupful of hours,
a tablespoon of minutes

a teaspoon of second-hand

I promise I shall not return them.

From the hours shall be forged memories,
whip-stitched 'round the small commas of minutes,

at the last,
by the small 'period' of a second.

Might I borrow these things?

Might I have just a bit more
of that which you have already
so kindly given?

~ . * ~ . * ~ . * ~ .* ~ . * ~ . * ~ . * ~ . * ~ . * ~ . * ~ . * ~ . * ~ . * ~ . * ~ . * ~ . * ~ . * ~

And so, we walk among the trees,
green and swaying in the wide winds of the world,

knees knobbled by unknown Ages,
roots buried in leaves-of-Autumn-past.

And so,
we walk upon the shore,
star-grist adamant between our toes,

a long-silent leaden dog rover-ing
amongst the sea-wrack.

And so...... we talk of smials
and stars,

of curly heads
and ageless wisdom,

of malice honed sharp
as any sword

of deeds of evil

by the bright armour
of love.

within the sweet-fogg'd lands
of your home,

is the smithy of such dear


the kindly word-smith,
forging forever

of nighted curlicues
upon a pale field.


Just a moment
in the great river of moments,

just a rounded half-note in
the grand music
of All.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And time runs out,
like the tide upon our life-shore,

and I lie here,
dreaming and alone,

tear-thankful that there have been
such people,

such places,


And wishing that I might have just a



Tolkien's favourite tree today (pinus nigra in the Oxford Botanic Garden):

 Tolkien's favourite tree, the pinus nigra in the Oxford Botanic Garden, March 2009

This more distant shot shows its great height and vast canopy. The wall behind is extremely high, much taller than any person. It makes me think of the tree Niggle spent his life painting, the one he could never finish it. Or, of course, the Tree of Tales.

Tolkien's favourite tree, the pinus nigra in the Oxford Botanic Garden, recent photo

Previous entry:
Desolation of Smaug-ICON ~ 'The Desolation of Smaug' by jan-u-wine, with screencap from film.

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


mariole at 2014-01-03 15:33 (UTC) (Link)
Now, here is a man who definitely changed the world for the better. Kudos to you, Professor Tolkien!

Lovely pics, poem, and tree. I'm smiling.
mechtild at 2014-01-03 15:44 (UTC) (Link)
Cheers, Mariole! Let's drink to the great man!

I haven't kept up with LJ this last year, with so much going on in real life compounded by difficulties with LJ, but I did see references to you continuing to write with enthusiasm and be published. Huzzah! I hope this is still true. :)

Have a great, highly creative 2014, Mariole!
jan_u_wine at 2014-01-04 02:43 (UTC) (Link)
Mariole! how nice to *see* you! Glad you enjoyed the post.

Cheers to my favorite teacher. My only regret: he is not here to enjoy our love.
shirebound at 2014-01-03 16:37 (UTC) (Link)
Ohhhh. That poem has me in tears. Such perfection.

Thank you (both) for these pictures, these memories, and these exquisite words.
mechtild at 2014-01-03 17:10 (UTC) (Link)
Hats off, and hearts lifted up, to the Professor! I loved it, too, Shirebound. I'll be over to toast in your LJ shortly. Got company coming (it seems as though entertaining has been non-stop this holiday season!) so I'll just pop in.
Lavender Took
lavendertook at 2014-01-04 01:19 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that is a gorgeous poem, to go with that gorgeous black pine.

of smials
and stars,

Now there's a title for a volume of hobbit poetry if ever there was one. (-:

To the Professor! *clinks glass with you both*
jan_u_wine at 2014-01-04 02:46 (UTC) (Link)
*clinks back* So glad you enjoyed. Until we raise a pint for realizes.....take care, my friend!
ambree40 at 2014-01-04 22:28 (UTC) (Link)
A great tribute to a special man. And yet, he was such an ordinary man, with his family, his friends, and his job. And his perpetual lack of time is so recognizable in the poem.
That last tree is spectacular. Of course Niggle couldn’t complete it. But the “Leaf” was enough.
jan_u_wine at 2014-01-05 01:20 (UTC) (Link)
thank you, Ambree! You know, I think that it is the ordinary things of life, the small and simple things, that actually give rise to greatness. They come from such non-pretentious sources, those small things. And yet they are the *details* in the great painting, the "rest" (as in a musical rest) that makes perfection by an elegant silence....

Simplicity, I think, when paired with an intelligence as sharp as Tolkien's, must needs produce something of wonder. We were so very fortunate to have such a wonderful man and (secondarily) writer share our world-space!
Mary Keesling at 2014-01-06 13:58 (UTC) (Link)

Learning new things and lovely poetry -- a blessed mix

Thank you so much for posting these photos of Professor Tolkien, and for the accompanying illuminating captions; they are wonderful. I love the one where he and his son are asleep... I'd never seen it. Yes, he is very human there, as we are, and more approachable... not as much The Great Writer. And while his writing towers (pun unintended) amongst that of our other greatest writers, for me his greatness -- what would make me cower if I were ever able to meet him (which I believe someday shall happen on another plane, but let's get on with this wretched run-on sentence)
-- would be not so much his great writing, but his enormous knowledge of English and his facility with so many languages, including those he created. What a mind!!!!!

The poem is a jewel of concise word-smithing (speaking of word-smiths), a perfect expression of gratitude for the dear man. I know Tolkien can see and hear us where he is now, enjoying himself mightily, and perhaps even making up more tales of wonder so that some day we might be able to sit round him like children and listen eagerly. (Think Bilbo telling the little hobbits about the trolls turning to stone in the sunlight.) God gave him such an immense talent.

The poem was filled with loveliness... sand made of star-grist adamant...

"...the wide winds of the world,

knees knobbled by unknown Ages,
roots buried in leaves-of-Autumn-past."

Sigh!! It really does make me sigh! The only thing that will make me happier right now is if this post really posts... I've not had good luck with Livejournal in the past, but I know it's operator error. Thank you, "Met" and Jan-u-wine.

Mary K.
Mary Keesling at 2014-01-06 13:59 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Learning new things and lovely poetry -- a blessed mix

wow, it worked!!! :)
pearlette at 2014-01-07 10:39 (UTC) (Link)
Happy 2014, Mechtild!

Jan's poem is lovely and speaks for us all who adore Tolkien's beautiful mythos, I think.

Love the photos of the Tolkien family.

I rarely come to LJ now, but I had to say hello. :)

I met up last week in London with Lily, who used to post in the Harem. Her first visit to London. We had a wonderful time. We got to see David Tennant as Richard II - a superb production, one of the best Shakespeares I've ever seen, and I'm not just saying that because I fangirl Tennant, this was astounding theatre - and squee'd together over the new Sherlock series. (As much as I love Martin Freeman's Bilbo, I think I love his John Watson even more!)

It's been nearly two years since my housemate died. Time goes by so fast.

Oh, and I got to see Mariole again last June! :) And Maeglian and Meryl Marie, they were visiting Elenya. :)

mechtild at 2014-01-07 21:02 (UTC) (Link)
I'm very, very happy you enjoyed the poem and photos, Pearl, and I'm so pleased you got to meet up with fan friends from the Golden Days! Who is Lily, though? Her name at the Harem wasn't Lily, was it? If so, she must already have left by the time I started posting there.

I'll bet Tennant was great in the role, he's such a good actor, but that the production itself was so good, that most makes me wish I'd seen it. Ian McKellen made quite the impression in that role decades ago, but I can't remember what theatre-goers thought of the production as such.

Thanks for stopping, Pearl! I think of you often, in fact every time I look at the signed Alan Lee drawing of Frodo Baggins you sent me. It is on my wall. :)
antane at 2014-01-28 19:01 (UTC) (Link)
Greetings, sorry I missed this! I didn't get the email notification I usually do when new things are posted. Love this tribute, my dears, especially the second stanza of the poem and those photos. I hadn't seen that one of Christopher and the Professor - no wonder he has been such a wonderful fan of the stories and also such a marvelous literary executor - love the closeness of the two.

Namarie, God bless, Antane :)
mechtild at 2014-01-29 03:25 (UTC) (Link)
Greetings to you, too, Antane! I'm glad you got to read the post. I thought Jan's poem was perfect.

I hadn't seen that one of Christopher and the Professor - no wonder he has been such a wonderful fan of the stories and also such a marvelous literary executor (...) .

I am sure you are right. :)
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