When jan-u-wine first showed me this poem (which imagines Elijah Wood’s last take playing Frodo, finishing the Red Book), I had already posted my screencaps for that moment in the RotK EE extras. I thought, "What a shame I hadn’t seen this poem before!" I had already presented caps for the writing desk scene, too (see links for those below).
But, uncomfortable with the idea of seeming presumptuous—as if she thought her conjectures represented Elijah Wood's real thoughts and feelings—jan-u-wine wasn’t sure she wanted this poem made public, anyway. I argued for posting it. It wasn't as though the poem was an RPF (“real person fiction"). She wasn't inventing relationships or making up an imaginary life for him. No, she was imaginatively “filling out” a real moment, a visual moment and a verbal moment. The visual moment, the filming of Elijah's last take as Frodo (and subsequent farewell), was done openly, the results appearing for anyone to see in the DVD extras. The verbal moment was a remark from an interview, also offered for public consumption.
After the end of principle photography for Everything is Illuminated, Elijah gave an interview with Raymond Johnston ( click here to read the whole piece). In it, Elijah conceded that he and the other LotR actors would, in all likelihood, be perpetually associated with their roles in the films. But he didn't "disavow" Frodo. "I'll do other things", he said. "But Frodo I think will always be there, like my little shadow."
Yes, Jan's poem involves conjecture, but conjecture based on publically accessible material. Arguing with her to let me post it, I asked, would she balk if I wrote an essay reflecting on Elijah Wood's thoughts and feelings as he did his last take? No. Why should a poem be different?
While I do not think EW consciously thought all the things presented in this poem, or not until later and only in fragments, this poem has the ring of truth for me. I think that most of what anyone thinks and feels at any given moment (and not just Elijah Wood), happens at a profound level, deeper than conscious thought—certainly deeper than what can be expressed in words. It is into this otherwise unarticulated level that poetry reaches, speaking the unspoken. Perhaps because I care so much for the character he played, and want him to have valued it accordingly, it is wishful thinking on my part to believe this poem gives voice to what Elijah Wood experienced acting this role, that in its words—words that he did not have and perhaps still does not have—is something true. But that is my hope.
For images to set the poem off, I have capped the part of the desk scene in which Sam enters the study, Frodo having finished his last entry in the Red Book. The new caps appear below the poem.
I Have a Little Shadow
~ by jan-u-wine
He won't be wearing these clothes anymore.
Won't feel the odd thickness of wooden buttons,
or the now-customary line of breeks,
lying chocolate-warm mid-calf.
No longer espy his feet
(a wish that another voice in his head subscribes to as well)
he might wake and find them ....
No more the mirror-silver'd reflection of an elegant ear,
(shapely as a dancer's curvéd leg)
like some cast-up and tender shell,
beneath a tangle of midnight and leavened russet.
*It* won't be there,
Strange, as weeks ran into months
how It did become....
against where the vein in his throat
sang with life,
pushing against him.
Oh, but he's an actor,
and that weight
it feeds him,
until his voice,
beneath the weight,
beneath the knowledge of what It might do,
if It were,
He knows how to be this person now,
loving the feel of the quill in his hand,
the darkened curl of ink upon the page,
the line like a quirked eye-brow that frames
of his adopted name.
And the three diamond-dots,
like the trace of a star-field,
which grace the 'a' of his surname....
He loves them, too.
And he writes it, his borrowed name, for the last time,
the "f" falling small and simple,
(like the person it recalls).
He writes it, and closes the book,
thumb resting upon the cover
there is no footage
(and he laughs, inside, at the word)
being shot now.
Not ever again.
And there are so many
caught within this last one...
There are tears rising in his throat,
These aren't just *his* moments,
And of all of the things in the world he might be,
all of the things which at this moment
he was, is.....
of all those things,
closest to his heart.
Frodo is writing at his desk until a moment of pain interrupts him. He is rubbing his shoulder when Sam comes in.
Sam: Mister Frodo? What is it?.
Frodo: It's been four years to the day since Weathertop, Sam. It's never really healed.
The moment passes and Sam looks and sees what Frodo has been writing.
Sam: "There and back again: A hobbit's tale by Bilbo Baggins." And "The Lord of the Rings, by Frodo Baggins." You've finished it.
Frodo closes the book and looks up.
Frodo: Not quite. There's room for a little more.
~ Frodo Returns to Bag End - establishing shots.
~ Frodo Writes the Red Book, Pt. 1, featuring "Star of the Sea", by Pearl, Pt. I.
~ Frodo Writes the Red Book, Pt. 3, with "The Tale of the Tale" by jan-u-wine; screencaps from “Cameras in Middle-earth”, from the EE of RotK.
~ Elijah Wood’s final take, from “Cameras in Middle-earth”, from the EE of RotK.
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