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Birthday Bagginses

Happy Birthday Bagginses 2016, with jan-u-wine’s ‘Nothing Is There Better’, art by J. R. R. Tolkien

Posted on 2016.09.22 at 04:35
Tags: , , , ,

1928 Tumble [Timber] Hill-TEASER.jpg

Happy Birthday, Frodo and Bilbo!

Greetings! Forgive my lack of presence, the combined result of responsibilities to others and creeping decreptitude. :) I am inspired to post, however, because jan-u-wine has written a beautiful new poem in honor of the day, Nothing Is There Better.

"Beautiful" is almost a limp descriptive of Nothing Is There Better, it is such a lovely piece. When I read it I seem to feel it, literally; I experience it through my senses, making the emotional impact the more powerful. The way Jan sets up her spare but perfect word-pictures does this, the clarity of observation, through Frodo's eyes, expressing the subtle depth of his new-yet-becoming-familar life on Tol Eressëa across the Sea. I think his healing, if obliquely stated, is greatly in evidence, as if there is a profound quiet inside Frodo, a contemplative quiet that seems only occasionally disturbed by the static of past pain and suffering. And Bilbo is still there, a heart of joy, if a very old and very frail one. I love this new poem with all my Tolkien-enraptured soul.

The illustration is a picture Tolkien made while on holiday with his young family at Lyme Regis. They were there in 1927 and 1928. Tolkien did a lot of drawing and painting on these visits, much of it eventually informing future illustrations for his imaginative work. His study of trees along a path approaching a view of the sea, "Tumble Hill" (locally called "Timber Hill"), is a picture that contributed to illustrations of wooded scenes to come, the forest of Taur-na-fuin and the Vale of Sirion in Silmarillion, and Mirkwood and the Elven Kind's gate in The Hobbit. It seems like spring in "Tumble Hill", the leaves, high up, not fully out, the air clear and fresh, the shape and texture of the tree boles predominant. It was this picture that inspired Jan's poem.


Below: ‘Timber Hil’ by J. R. R. Tolkien, 1927-28:

1928 Tumble [Timber] Hill-RED.jpg

Nothing Is There Better

Nothing is there better,
my lad,

than the quiet
of the Road.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Those words.

In dawn’s pearl light
they wake me,

the small scent of rain

drops diademing

tender grasses,
tree roots

twine’d by silver
faerie purses.

As if it were the ending and the beginning
of every Road,

this common track calls me,
limned ribbon rising to
tree-crowned hill.

In a moment, my feet find
the coarse-paper’d dust
of the upward path,

my thoughts woven about
the fragile voicings
of brake-starlings

and the mithril paths of slow-wandered

Sharp as just-birthed rock,
the morning air,

sharp and crushed-mint fine,
moth-wing wind dancing

among the grasses of the ditch.
~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~ . ~

It is not new to me,
this Hill,

moss-barked trees
leaf-ringed and silent
in the soft bronze of

It is not new to me,
the leagues-distant

the smalt-deep of it
glowing like the very jewel

It is all
that is new:

the untouchable beauty
of lace waves,

the bold-raced prow
of the Sun,

the grey of twilight
and the sound of water

singing amongst
the river-rocks.

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

The Sun is sullen in Her mid-day tramp
when I return, still more than half a-dreme.

Uncle is all but-yet-abed, tea and seed-cake
scattered about the board,

his face alight, as always,
with the wanting of Adventures.

And I tell him my simple tale,
the Adventure small,
by compare
(as always mine have been).

Small as the stars, and just as distanced
by velvet wonder.

Later, we smoke a pipe in the garden,
the roses waxy beneath a risen Moon.

It is better than
dancing and cake

and dragon fire-works,

It is better than the company of the Road.

It is our birth-day, kind and quiet and good.


Nan's Reunion-ICON ~ All Mechtild LJ entries featuring jan-u-wine's poems.


diem_kieu94 at 2016-09-22 13:59 (UTC) (Link)

Welcome back, Mechtild!

Lovely post as usual! This one may be one of Jan-u-wine's best poems yet!! :D The imagery is so vivid here - and the perspective of both Frodo and Bilbo! AH! Love it! It captures them so well!

I've missed you! Much has transpired since your last post. I'm currently in league with a new Frodo lover who's even newer and younger than ME! Man, I thought I was the pup around here! XD It's great to know that the love of Frodo's being passed on at least to some degree. I also graduated college this past May. YAY!

Happy Birthday to my favorite hobbits BY FAR! I'm celebrating with a Hobbit/LOTR marathon and new updates to my fanfictions! :D And of course... A raised glass to to you, Jan, and the whole Frodo and Bilbo loving community!! Hope to see you again here at the next Gondorian New Year! Until then... Take care and go there and back again for us! :)
mechtild at 2016-09-22 14:14 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Welcome back, Mechtild!

Greetings, Diem Kieu! Thank you for stopping in. I agree, this is one of Jan's very best.

I will have to read your comment more fully later. I am at the moment at an airport trying to get home (since yesterday). Am I tired!

(No, I didn't write this post at the airport! I worked on it with Jan before I left for my mother's, the week before last. :) )

Edited at 2016-09-22 02:17 pm (UTC)
jan_u_wine at 2016-09-22 16:35 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Welcome back, Mechtild!

hello, DK94! Yes, it has been a goodly long while and I'm happy to hear that you are more a Tolkien fan than ever.

So glad that you've enjoyed this tribute to the wonderful Baggins Boyz!

*here's hoping that we will be here with bells on for the New Year!*

thank you again!
shirebound at 2016-09-22 15:04 (UTC) (Link)
Ohhhhh, this leaves me speechless with gratitude and love. The two of you are a joining that brings so much imagery and vision and inspiration to me.
mechtild at 2016-09-22 15:13 (UTC) (Link)
Isn't it especially wonderful, Shirebound? I love it inexpressibly. :) Thanks for stopping in.

I can't believe it's been a year since my last post! Such has been my Real Life. Sigh.
jan_u_wine at 2016-09-22 16:36 (UTC) (Link)
thank you so much, Shirebound! I'm so grateful that Mechtild and I found each other. It's an honor to collaborate with her.

And an honor to write a tribute to the lovely Baggins boyz!
ink_gypsy at 2016-09-22 16:40 (UTC) (Link)
Hear, hear! And welcome back!
jan_u_wine at 2016-09-22 22:38 (UTC) (Link)
glad to *see* you, Ink Gypsy!
mechtild at 2016-09-23 02:07 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Ink Gypsy! You are gracious. :)
ambree40 at 2016-09-22 19:37 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you both for a lovely post and a very moving poem.

As Mechtild says in her introduction "I think his healing, if obliquely stated, is greatly in evidence"

Yes, the poem shows us a Frodo who has healed enough to see the beauty of nature all around him with clear eyes and a tranquil heart.

It warms the heart of this reader, far away across the Sundering Sea.

jan_u_wine at 2016-09-22 22:39 (UTC) (Link)
thank you, Ambree!

So far across those Seas we are.....and yet our hearts may e'er be close......
mechtild at 2016-09-23 02:08 (UTC) (Link)
"A tranquil heart". Yes. And it's such a precious thing. :)
Lavender Took
lavendertook at 2016-09-23 00:45 (UTC) (Link)
It's so good to see you both together again. Oh, I raise a glass in decrepit solidarity with you, Ms. Metchild. it's beautiful pic and fits well with is't sea eye beyond the trees.

So good to see Frodo content at home with Bilbo, Jan--all the simple and grand treasures of nature everywhere by his doorstep being enough for Frodo, and a dream of a little more being right for Bilbo--both forms of happiness together. Perfect to see them this way on their birthday.

mechtild at 2016-09-23 02:10 (UTC) (Link)
Hi, Lavender! Yes, we can be sisters in decripitude, though I didn't think you were quite there yet. :)

Isn't this a beautiful piece? I see you "get it".
jan_u_wine at 2016-09-23 04:44 (UTC) (Link)
thank you, LT.....Mechtild and I had been planning a post *to* this vista for a long time. When she brought it up as a possibility for the birthday post, I looked at it again (having already written a good many tree posts but not having been inspired, somehow, by this picture) and that great feeling of quiet descended. As if there were just everything encapsulated in that peaceful silence. And so there was. All of that, sloshing about in a brain, waiting for enough life to happen so it might attach itself to words. It's an amazing thing, really. And a wonderful thing to collaborate with Mechtild again. Every image and word clear and pure and true as crystal. I only wish we were elves, that we might go on forever......
maewyn_2 at 2016-09-23 02:06 (UTC) (Link)

It's great to see you!

Oh, this is lovely! Jan-u-wine paints a beautiful word picture that enables you to see the scenes very clearly in your mind's eye. It exudes a very gentle and restful presence.

How are you? Long time no "see"! I hope your mother is doing well - she must be in her 90's now?

Time just moves so fast. I'm a grandmother now, twice over. :) A 3-year-old boy and a 13-month old girl. It's wonderful!
mechtild at 2016-09-23 02:16 (UTC) (Link)

Re: It's great to see you!

Isn't it a fine piece? Yes, when you read it you experience it.

Twice a gran! You must have your hands full, your heart full, your time full. :)

My mom is very frail and mostly unhappy, but happy when I come. She would love me to leave my home and family to come and live there and take care of her till she dies, but I just can't, or won't. I am so sorry for her, and love her, but I want and need my own life, home and family. It doesn't stop me being anxious over her all the time, though. Thank goodness our daughter is happy and well. I don't think I could survive worrying about her, too. We also watch over my husband's mother who will be 90 in November. But she is a much more cooperative person than my mom, much more extroverted and enjoys what she can of her life, in spite of the diminishments of old age, especially short term memory loss. Oh-my mother is 93.

Nice to see you, Maewyn, virtually speaking!
jan_u_wine at 2016-09-23 04:46 (UTC) (Link)

Re: It's great to see you!

thank you, Maewyn.....so very glad that you enjoyed the post so much (and congratulations on being a grand-mum. Yikes, those ages will keep you young and hobbit-hopping!)
julchen11 at 2016-09-23 10:46 (UTC) (Link)
What a lovely and lovingly post, my dear.
And Jan's poem... so very touching... mindblowing...

Welcome back, Mechtild!
And thank you both for this great tribute.

I'm more than grateful being part of this loving family!
Here's to the Shire family! and to all Bagginses lovers!
*hugs you both*
jan_u_wine at 2016-09-23 12:07 (UTC) (Link)
thank you, dear Julchen. So happy that you enjoyed! It is really, really nice to be *together* with a jewel amongst collaborators, Mz. Mechtild.

No matter what time or distance lies between us all, our hobbity hearts are not sundered.....

here is to the Baggins lads and, more especially, the love they have engendered.
mechtild at 2016-09-23 12:07 (UTC) (Link)
Greetings, Julchen, hugging you back. It's lovely to see you, virtually speaking. It's a love-crafted, love-worthy piece, isn't it? :)
Mary Keesling at 2016-09-23 11:21 (UTC) (Link)

Oh how lovely!!!

A perfect match on their birth-day -- JRRT's Art, Jan's poem, and Mechtild's commentary, all fresh & sweet.

I agree with M, the words of the poem put you instantly on that road (and later, in that kitchen nook), with Frodo & Bilbo.
There is a line about the air being as sharp as the newborn rocks, and I know what that means... And oh how I miss that air, which happens here where I love perhaps 2 days out of 365 (in Alaska, it's daily, making one feel alive).
But I digress !
I can see the diademing caused by the dew, I can see the untouchable lacy waves, and I understand this:

"... and just as distanced
by velvet wonder"

As my own childhood memories fade, alarmingly. But this is life. And it's good.

It's especially beautiful when enhanced by such lovely art & poetry.

Bless you two. I know that JRRT would be thrilled at the care and love shown his work. Mary K
mechtild at 2016-09-23 12:09 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oh how lovely!!!

Mary, what a gorgeous comment. You have the eye, oh, yes, and the words.

"As my own childhood memories fade, alarmingly. But this is life. And it's good. (...) It's especially beautiful when enhanced by such lovely art & poetry."

How this resonates with me, Mary.

Thanks so much for stopping in. It's a beautiful, knowing, loving piece and I'm glad you saw it.

Edited at 2016-09-23 12:10 pm (UTC)
jan_u_wine at 2016-09-23 12:18 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oh how lovely!!!

Oh, Mary, it means the world that you have read and commented (and enjoyed!). Thank you.

I think of you so often, and that promise made so long ago that we should meet on a wintry day in CR, talk long into the night, be food-ish (and maybe foolish, since I believe I might be a Took underneath my Sweedishness!)

I'm so sorry that your memories of childhood are fading. Lately, I've begun to think that (unlike the Elves), the sadnesses we endure as mortal people cause our memories to fade out of a sense of survival.

And yet, I remember a lady at my mother's assisted living home who, lost in some world, had a single word, repeated over and over: "momma. momma. momma.'

all of those things we loved/have loved/*will love*. Locked tight in our minds. The love, along with the loss. The *knowing*, the certainty.....

the view of that Road, with the Sea, a glimmering promise of the future, in the far-off. And *that* velvet night, the one with heaven's own stars, the promise of an eternity amongst all that we love.....

CR! that is the 'top' of our hill....the little kitchen nook of this decade. We should make a date!

I love that you love this, dear Mary. And I love you, too!
mechtild at 2016-09-23 23:38 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oh how lovely!!!

Oh, Jan, your reply to dear Mary has made me weep.
jan_u_wine at 2016-09-24 00:49 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oh how lovely!!!


.......and such tears are the very wine of blessedness.......

they are pendants of longing.....they are part of that mirror into which we have only glimpsed (darkly). but that shall, with our own Sea-change, be burnished with eternity.......

many hugs and thoughts, dear friend (and an invitation to share that evening of remembrance in CR, for I am sure that Mary would love for you to be there)
mechtild at 2016-09-24 01:59 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oh how lovely!!!

Yes, the wine of blessedness. :)
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