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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Frodo Art Travesty: Another Bronzino portrait, plus jan-u-wine's 'Aiya Eärendil'....

Posted on 2006.05.15 at 02:01
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~ Detail of Frodo in Bronzino’s portrait of Ugolino Martelli.

I couldn't resist. I had to do one more Art Travesty based on a painting by Bronzino, his portrait of Ugolino Martelli....

This portrait was painted in 1535. To see the original Bronzino, click here.

The Bronzino portrait, as usual, is beautifully rendered, composed and reflective. (However, film-Frodo’s face greatly improves the painting.) The screencap used for the face is from the Bree sequence, just as Frodo is hearing the clear calling of the Ring.

What does Frodo hear in this portrait?

This manip evoked for me a very contemplative, introspective Frodo. The setting and the books at first reminded me of Bag End: Frodo Baggins, scholar. But I was "previewing" this manip to fellow Tolkien fan and poet, jan-u-wine, and she noted the considerable size of the interior or exterior (is the subject in a courtyard?): formal, airy, and stately. Perhaps, Frodo in Rivendell...?

I was hoping it would inspire her to write another poem and it did.

Frodo in the library of Rivendell, as painted by Agnolo Bronzino:

Aiya Eärendil

~ by jan-u-wine

The Road is not long between the City of the White Tree
and the close-held autumn of Rivendell.

Not long,

save to those of weary heart.

I am one such,

in heart

(and mind),
saddened, more,
by the small figure
who does not rise to my greeting,
but stays

close and quiet and parchment-skinned fragile
before the orange-red grate.

He sleeps and wakes and sleeps again
and oft-times knows me not,

though just as oft-times asks after that
which I bore.

It grieves me
to see him thus.

To know I have made him thus.

I, who only loved him,

who only

them all.


A messenger has brought
words of courtesy from my Lord Elrond:

as if I were a Prince of his own blood,
he begs me attend upon him this day.

And so I do, my steps falling small and half-soundless
in the vast halls.

Almost the beginning of the World he has seen,
my Lord Elrond

his eyes hold still to Spring as he takes my hand,
greets me in the tongue of the Fair Folk.

Somewhat of what he says, I understand.

I do not,

I lose myself in the music of it,

the unknown words like the voices of wind and stars,
sighing like the Sea in the First Morning.

He is smiling at me.

Blood brightens my cheeks:
his speech had ceased some little while ago
while I dreamt on,

the words finding shape and meaning within my heart.

In the common tongue,

he recalls to me the tale of Eärendil,
(whose Light I also bore).

whose name means "Lover of the Sea",
the mortal Mariner,

Eärendil, my Lord Elrond's father.

There is a book within my Lord's hand,
and robes of sombre hue upon his arm.

The robes he draws close about me.

*Scholar's robes*
he notes,

*scholar's robes for he who need learn no more...
for he who

learn every thing*.

The book he gifts me with, as well,
soft-flowing mithril

forming with grace'd runes the Sea-star name of his father.

It strikes me,
of a sudden,

that we are both orphans,

of a sort,

sundered, both, by rivers of water and sky.

With humble'd thanks, I leave him



estrangedly alone.

Within a quieten'd autumn courtyard,
I find a cloth-draped bench,

open the book beneath the spill of amber sun.

As if it were my own heart beating with my own blood,
the words flow within me:

now slow and soft
like meadows of spring under a new sun,

now swift and unconquerable,
like the crash of angry waves upon a resistant shore.

And I read the words, more with fingers that *feel* the sense of them
than with eyes that cannot......

I read until it becomes dark
and even the perfection of night in the Last Homely House dims with chill.

Light, soft like a candle lit in a far-away window, steals across the page.

It is *he*.

He whose tale I read,

who sails forever upon the Sea of the sky,
the glowing timbers of his benighted barque the very stars....

He is calling me,

Elven words and Sea-songs playing through me like aged wine,
dappling like the gilt-green of sun upon the hidden pools of the Brandywine.

I have no words like these,

my own light,

such as it is,

yet joyous,

to answer him with.

And I still myself,

and think of him,
sailing til the ages end upon the face of the night,

bound forever to see the great wheel
of life turn the world from joy to grief

and back again.

I look down upon my hands,

beyond the sombre drape of the robe,
to where they hold the book open as if
the night itself might partake of the story.

My hands are adrift with Light.

And I know.

With joy,
with sorrow,

I know:

His road

be mine.

~ To browse jan-u-wine's Lord of the Rings-based poetry, click HERE.

* * *

Edited to add.... a "Thank You" from jan-u-wine:
I'm much better at writing poetry than prose, better still at voicing thoughts that are not strictly my own, but I did want to thank all of you for your very kind and thoughtful remarks in regards to Aiya Eärendil. If you should visit the Scrapbook where my poetry is archived, I hope that you will take the opportunity to browse a bit (for there IS always room for a little more!) and sample the many fine writers whose work 'lives' on that site. Thank you again for all your lovely comments! ~jan~

* * *

I love what jan-u-wine wrote, picking up so many threads of what Frodo might have been thinking in Rivendell. But what she did working with the figure of Eärendil enchanted me (the character I discussed last time as a “type” of Frodo in Tolkien’s thought world), especially the end.

After I read her poem, I looked back to the actual text. What an evocative chapter it is.

Here is an excerpt:

After the celebration of Bilbo’s birthday the four hobbits stayed in Rivendell for some days, and they sat much with their old friend, who spent most of this time now in his room, except at meals. For these was still very punctual as a rule, and he seldom failed to wake up in time for them. Sitting round the fire they told him in turn of all that they could remember of their journeys and adventures. At first he pretended to take some notes; but he often fell asleep; and when he woke he would say: “How splendid! How wonderful! But where were we?’ Then they went on with the story from the point where he had begun to nod.


When nearly a fortnight had passed Frodo looked out of his window and saw that there had been a frost in the night, and the cobwebs were like white nets. Then suddenly he knew that he must go, and say good-bye to Bilbo.

Bilbo’s gift-giving follows. The mithril coat and Sting (forgetting he already had given them) and all his notes go to Frodo; a bag of Smaug gold goes to Sam (should he be getting married); two beautiful Elvish pipes for Merry and Pippin. Then Bilbo asks after the Ring (with the lines moved to the wagon scene in the film).

He dithers some more, sings an old hobbit's version of the Road song, then,

...[A]s Bilbo murmured the last words his head dropped on his chest and he slept soundly.

The evening deepened in the room, and the firelight burned brighter; and they looked at Bilbo as he slep and saw that his face was smiling. For some time they say in silence; and then Sam looking round at the room and shadows flickering on the walls, said softly:

‘I don’t think, Mr. Frodo, that he’s done much writing while we’ve been away….’

Bilbo opens his eyes at this, confessing to chronic sleepiness, also confessing that he desires only to write poetry anymore. Bilbo asks Frodo if he might “tidy up” his book.

“Collect all my notes and papers, and my diary too, and take them with you, if you will. …and when you’ve knocked things in shape, come back, and I’ll run over it. I won’t be too critical.

The very next day, the hobbits leave with Gandalf.

This part of the story is so sad-sweet, so autumnal, I love it while it pains me to read it. I picture Frodo arriving in Rivendell relieved to be away from Mordor, and happy to be heading home, susceptible again to the intense but soft beauty of the place. Yet I imagine him being deeply affected by how he finds Bilbo.

In The Stairs of Cirith Ungol, Frodo had been in despair, anguished for Faramir and his men as he watched the hosts ride out from Minas Morgul.

He thought,

I am too late. All is lost. I tarried on the way. All is lost. Even if my errand is performed, no one will ever know. There will be no one I can tell. It will be in vain.’ Overcome by weakness he wept. And still the host of Morgul crossed the bridge.

There would be no one he could tell because everyone he might tell would be dead. He already believed his cousins and the rest of the Fellowship were dead. If evil overwhelmed the West, even Rivendell would fall. Bilbo, then, would be dead, too.

How thrilled Frodo must have been, how keen must have been his anticipation to be reunited with Bilbo in Rivendell. Bilbo would be waiting on pins and needles to hear Frodo’s account. But Bilbo had become too feeble, too old. His mind drifted, and he had gone beyond interest in the world’s stories -- the stories of Sam and the cousins, even of his beloved Frodo.

Reading this section, I imagined a decided change in Frodo’s attitude, precipitated by that difficult, sad realization -- as if it were then that he first seriously entertained the idea of quitting forever the life he knew. Frodo had fit into his old world; his story had been a part of its story. But now his story had diverged and no longer fit with that of his world's.

Into what larger story did his own now fit? Did it fit into any story? Without a greater context in which to see his story: his life -- without that special hearer (Bilbo, who had followed both Frodo's personal story and the larger story of events outside the Shire) -- Frodo must have felt very adrift. How difficult it would have been to sense what he had been through as meaningful.

I think writing the Red Book, although he only began it as a commission for Bilbo, helped him begin to see the part that he had played. In Aman, I have believed, he would come to see it better still.

Above Minas Morgul, in anguish and despair, Frodo had mourned, "Even if my errand is performed, no one will ever know. There will be no one I can tell. It will be in vain." In the end, there was someone to tell, and people did come to know. I am one of them.

It was not in vain.

~ Mechtild

Find other Frodo Art Travesties LJ entries HERE.

View Frodo Art Travesties album of images HERE.


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Stefano `Steve` Ferrari
jojofc at 2006-05-15 08:37 (UTC) (Link)
I have seen yoour Photo Album while browsing random blogs on livejournal ancd I hope you don't mind if I created this entry on my LJ :)
I'm really a poor photo-editor, but you really rock... and you also made my day :D
mechtild at 2006-05-15 15:37 (UTC) (Link)
Heavens, no! Do post it! All the world should see how Michelangelo had been envisioning Frodo all the while he was fashioning the David, another small hero sent up against an overwhelming adversary. *grin*

You are very kind, Jojofe.
shirebound at 2006-05-15 12:05 (UTC) (Link)
Oh my, that poem is exquisite! And another beautiful piece of FroArt, Mechtild.

Above Minas Morgul, in anguish and despair, Frodo had mourned, "Even if my errand is performed, no one will ever know. There will be no one I can tell. It will be in vain." In the end, there was someone to tell, and people did come to know. I am one of them.

It was not in vain.

Oh my. *takes your hand*
mechtild at 2006-05-15 15:38 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Shirebound. *smooch*
illyria_novia at 2006-05-15 12:30 (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful, beautiful art travesty, Mechtild, that thoughtful, inward looking face fits so well somehow with the surrounding. And a beautiful poem too. But what nailed the impression most was your last line. It was not in vain indeed. Thank you for this post.
mechtild at 2006-05-15 15:41 (UTC) (Link)
You are welcome, Illyria. It is a beautiful poem. But I ask you to give it another read, at least the beginning. Inadvertently, I had omitted to copy and paste the very first two lines ("The Road is not long between the City of the White Tree..."). Opening lines are so important, setting the scene, so to speak.

taerie at 2006-05-15 12:40 (UTC) (Link)
Damn! You are getting REALLY good at that. Matching skin tones and lighting ain't easy but this is done superbly.
I think you may be the best at this new art form that I know.

Lovely poem too.. I really loved it

of a sort,

sundered, both, by rivers of water and sky."

As much as I think about Frodo..I had never made this connection myself.. but of course, Frodo would.
mechtild at 2006-05-15 15:43 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Taerie. You make me very happy, saying that.

Wasn't that a great image, the one likeness between Elrond and Frodo; one the physical heir of the Light-bearer, the other his spiritual heir, or heir in destiny.
aussiepeach at 2006-05-15 13:08 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, perfect choice Mechtild! And I loved jan-u-wine's poems. For a moment I thought the first was from Gandalf's POV. I thought how awful it must have been for him to have seen Frodo suffer so. :(
mechtild at 2006-05-15 15:44 (UTC) (Link)
Peachy, go back and begin it again. I realised I inadvertently left off the very first establishing line, when I copied and pasted it from the draft version.

It is much clearer, the POV, with that opening sentence restored.
golden_berry at 2006-05-15 14:11 (UTC) (Link)
Guh. Too gorgeous for words!
*dies happy*
mechtild at 2006-05-15 15:46 (UTC) (Link)
Goldenberry, I don't know when you posted, but, if you are referring to the achingly lovely poem, I inadvertently left out its opening, establishing first line when I copied it from my draft pages. It's much clearer, the POV and setting, with the first sentence restored.

Thanks for commenting, sweetie!
(Deleted comment)
mechtild at 2006-05-15 21:00 (UTC) (Link)
That was what made sailing possible for Frodo, what made it possible for him to even take hold of the hope for healing.

Do you mean that getting some sense of meaning in what he did in the greater scheme of things (by working on the book), was what made it possible for Frodo to take heart enough to wish to sail? I suppose if he were totally despondent, he wouldn't have bothered; he would just have waited until death and/or madness took him.

Something like that?
(Deleted comment)
whiteling at 2006-05-15 17:34 (UTC) (Link)
Mechtild, I'm so glad you couldn't resist!
The result of your new manip is simply wonderful. I love how Frodo's head and expression is mirrored by the statue of Goliath (I suppose) in the background left.
I was very touched by jan-u-wine's poem; and your pic and her writing go together very well.
Thank you for making and sharing it, dear! It *is* a great joy to come to your LJ!
mechtild at 2006-05-15 21:02 (UTC) (Link)
Whiteling, you sharp-eyed artist, you! I had not even noticed that was David and Goliath back there. It's like finding one of those "Easter Eggs" in the manip. I ogled Frodo so completely, the only thing that registered for me in the background was "statue." I never really looked at it.

That is so NEAT!

I am so pleased you enjoyed the entry, poem and manip. They really went well, I agree.
bagma at 2006-05-15 17:47 (UTC) (Link)
Your Art Travesty is so beautiful... I'm speechless! Frodo and Bronzino are a good match.:) Thank you for posting the poem as well; it's very moving.
Speaking of moving, I always found that the lines you quote:

I am too late. All is lost. I tarried on the way. All is lost. Even if my errand is performed, no one will ever know. There will be no one I can tell. It will be in vain.’ Overcome by weakness he wept. And still the host of Morgul crossed the bridge.

were awfully sad; I believe it's the only time we see Frodo weeping, and I think it's significant that he weeps about a story he's not going to be able to tell, and not about his own fate. I don't remember him weeping in Mordor.
mechtild at 2006-05-15 21:11 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Bagma. I don't remember him described as weeping elsewhere, either. I think it was too much for him, the gloom and horror of it: seeing those soldiers emerge endlessly, bound straight for the land where his newest host/rescuer/friend was sure to have to meet them in battle and be crushed. And then to think of all the others who would be killed, in concentric waves of mental associations. And what does he say? He's too late, he should not have tarried. He takes a portion of the responsibility for the debacle he envisions. Yet he goes on, because "it" goes on -- the onslaught of the enemy.

Tolkien said, Frodo wept, "and still the host of Morgul crossed the bridge." I think that's a brilliant bit of writing, as if to say, we may be stricken and weeping but the hard events that caused us to do so are not affected; they roll right over us and everyone else who falls across their paths.
ex_lbilover at 2006-05-15 18:22 (UTC) (Link)
I can't thank you enough not only for this beautiful new manip and your thoughtful words, but the link to Jan-u-wine's poetry, which is new to me and so wonderful. Would you mind if I friended you? I've been visiting here a lot lately :)
mechtild at 2006-05-15 21:13 (UTC) (Link)
Please, do! And thank you for the words of appreciation. They mean a lot to me.

I must let Jan-u-wine know how affected you were by her work. Poets are not read nearly enough compared to writers of fics. I think they have a lonely if sublime road, artistically. She is not on LJ, or I would give you a link.
maeglian at 2006-05-15 21:03 (UTC) (Link)
I completely love the poem. It's beautiful.

And so is your art "travesty". Gorgeous; - though that all-covering, ballooning robe he's wearing? I see a *huge* Ripper temptation in that one. She probably would think a little shredding would be the order of the day! :-D
mechtild at 2006-05-15 21:16 (UTC) (Link)
Isn't it great? I loved the poems she wrote for the other art travesties that have inspired her, too.

Have you checked out her poems? There are so many gems. As someone from the Tolkien Society said who was just reading through some of her work, "There's not a stinker among them." LOL, he said better things than that, but you know what I mean. Read, "No Child of My Body." *WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!*

I think the Ripper must be on an extended rip elsewhere. She's not been seen in donkey's years.

(It's good to see you here, Maeglian. *smooch*)
pearlette at 2006-05-15 21:45 (UTC) (Link)

Beautiful poem, beautiful Frodo, beautiful thoughts.

I'd never made that connection between Frodo and Earendil before, in terms of their respective fates. Both of them helped to bring about grace and redemption for their worlds, but it was not without cost - even more so in Frodo's case.

Wow. Just ... wow.

Mechtild, where are jan-u-wine's poems archived?
mechtild at 2006-05-15 22:01 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Pearl. You are another thinker with a wonderful vision for post-Quest Frodo labouring over the Red Book. One day you must let me post a segment of you gorgeous Star of the Sea when I make a manip that might set it off. What would you say to that?

Jan-u-wine's poetry can be found in the link posted at the bottom of the poem above. The site is called "LOTR Scrapbook," but the link takes you right to her page. As I told Maeglian, read, "No Child of My Body." What a weeper!
hobbitlove83 at 2006-05-15 22:46 (UTC) (Link)
This is utterly, utterly beautiful, Mechtild-
you just found the perfect Frodo face for that painting!

And jan-u-wine's poem is so fitting, and wonderful!

In the end, there was someone to tell, and people did come to know. I am one of them.

It was not in vain.

mechtild at 2006-05-15 23:04 (UTC) (Link)
Amen, indeed.

Hobbitlove, how lovely of you to stop by and how gracious your words! I will pass on your comment to Jan-u-wine, too, who is not on LJ.

(Anonymous) at 2006-05-16 00:48 (UTC) (Link)

Just amazing, both the manip and the poem.

oohhhhhhhhhhh, how incredibly beautiful... that manip.. it takes my breath away, and the poem is a perfect accompaniment. Jan-u-wine ever has her finger on the pulse of Frodo's soul.


Also I enjoyed so much Metchild's essay... I had forgotten that that's pretty much the only place where Frodo weeps. It made me so sad to read it again.
It makes me remember why I'm avoiding re-reading LOTR for a while... it affects me too much. He experiences so much loneliness and sorrow. It really is depressing(for me). I love Frodo, and hate to see him so miserable.

But wow...

thank you all, again.
mechtild at 2006-05-16 03:10 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Just amazing, both the manip and the poem.

Mary (crb), thank you for your heartfelt comments. Truly, they mean a lot to me, for you seem to have poured yourself into them.

I will email jan-u-wine and tell her of your comment. If you browse through the collection of her Frodo poems at that site, you will see how deeply she seems to have got into Frodo's POV, reflecting his many moods. And the Frodo whose POV (point of view) she has got herself into is noble, thinking, wise, aesthetic -- but very, very human (LOL, I should say, "hobbit-like"), with strong feelings, sensitive to those of others.

It is a good sign, I think, that you are affected so deeply by reading LotR that you can't bear to do it often. What a powerful book it is!

I hope you read this, since you are not a registered LJ user. I know you will not be getting any sort of automatic notice that I have replied.

~ Mechtild
lembas_junkie at 2006-05-16 00:55 (UTC) (Link)
Gosh, Mech...I just love your manips! :) That was a very nice poem, too. My favorites are still Psyche, and the Chatterton ones; but these new ones you make are very mrrrrow, too!

Lembas :)
mechtild at 2006-05-16 03:13 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Lembas! Want something more "mrrrrow"?

Just hold your eyeballs. One of these days I will post my "erotic manips" that I have been working on. They are made from black and white photos (tasteful, more atmospheric than any sort of explicit), so they have presented new challenges to my novice skills at working with these programs. I am pleased with them, though, even if they aren't perfect. I will post them one day soon.
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