~ 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:
~ by jan-u-wine
The Road is not long between the City of the White Tree
and the close-held autumn of Rivendell.
save to those of weary heart.
I am one such,
by the small figure
who does not rise to my greeting,
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,
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 for he who need learn no more...
for he who
learn every thing*.
The book he gifts me with, as well,
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
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,
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.
~ 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.
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.
Find other Frodo Art Travesties LJ entries HERE.
View Frodo Art Travesties album of images HERE.