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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Rivendell 5 ~ The Red Book: “I’m not like you, Bilbo”, plus “Rivendell Suite".

Posted on 2008.10.19 at 13:16
Tags: , , , ,

One of the things that struck me, re-reading these chapters set in Rivendell, is how close, what intimate friends Frodo and Bilbo actually are. I had forgotten. In part, it is because of the book itself: Bilbo isn’t there that much, literally, in the pages of The Lord of the Rings—an inevitability, perhaps, because he doesn’t go on the Quest.

But I think my amnesia also comes from reading a lot of fanfiction that portrays Frodo in intense love relationships. Whether the author imagines Frodo involved with Sam or Merry or some other person from the Quest, or with an original character back in the Shire, these stories necessarily make Frodo’s relationship with Bilbo a side interest. It is this way in real life for most of us: when we fall in love with someone, our existing relationships with family or friends tend to take a back seat, at least for a while.

The Rivendell chapters reveal a relationship that is close and unique. Bilbo and Frodo are not depicted as a loving parent and child, or even a devoted mentor and student, but as intimate friends, of long standing, who hold each other very dear. Even the power of the Ring cannot tarnish their mutual regard. In the book, it is on Frodo’s first day out of bed, in the Hall of Fire, that the shadow of the Ring falls between them. Bilbo asks to see the Ring and suddenly, to Frodo's shock and dismay, he sees Bilbo as a grasping, withered, frightening old creature. (The specific book excerpt and more discussion will be provided when I get to that film scene.) Bilbo understands that the power of the Ring has overshadowed them. He makes a brief acknowledgement, pulls himself together, and moves the conversation in another direction. In that way they are able to let it go, and they do, spending the ensuing months delighting in each other’s company. That’s how strong their love is, and how comfortable they are with each other.

The two cousins may be widely separated in age and very different in temperament, but they have much in common, and not only ties of blood and a shared past. They share knowledge, interests and enthusiasms, perhaps even a their aesthetic sense. Perhaps the most important thing they have in common is their exceptional honesty and decency. This is difficult to find in one person, much less two.

This post also features the third poem in jan-u-wine’s “Rivendell Suite”, written specifically for this scene. Whether Frodo is out on the gallery with Bilbo in the sunlight-hours, or in the archives of Imladris at night, jan-u-wine takes up the particular bitter-sweetness, even melancholy of the film scene and develops it with the depth of her book-lover’s perspective. The Frodo Baggins I know and love resonates in every word. When I have finished reading, a savour of him lingers in my heart and mind, the way a fine wine echoes on the palate.


Book scenes.

From Many Meetings:

The scene below continues immediately from the excerpt in the previous entry, in which Bilbo recited his song of Eärendil to the company. As the attention shifts elsewhere, Bilbo makes a proposal.

‘What do you say to slipping off for some more quiet talk?’

‘Can we?’ said Frodo.

‘Of course. This is merrymaking not business. Come and go as you like, as long as you don’t make a noise.’

They got up and withdrew quietly into the shadows, and made for the doors. Sam they left behind, fast asleep still with a smile on his face. In spite of his delight in Bilbo’s company Frodo felt a tug of regret as they passed out of the Hall of Fire. Even as they stepped over the threshold a single clear voice rose in song.

The Elves sing ‘A Elbereth Gilthoniel’.

Frodo halted for a moment, looking back. Elrond was in his chair and the fire was on his face like summer-light upon the trees. Near him sat the Lady Arwen. To his surprise Frodo saw that Aragorn stood beside her; his dark cloak was thrown back, and he seemed to be clad in elven-mail, and a star shone on his breast. They spoke together, and then suddenly it seemed to Frodo that Arwen turned towards him, and the light of her eyes fell on him from afar and pierced his heart.

He stood still enchanted, while the sweet syllables of the elvish song fell like clear jewels of blended word and melody. ‘It is a song to Elbereth,’ said Bilbo. ‘They will sing that, and other songs of the Blessed Realm, many times tonight. Come on!’

He led Frodo back to his own little room. It opened on to the gardens and looked south across the ravine of the Bruinen. There they sat for some while, looking through the window at the bright stars above the steep-climbing woods, and talking softly. They spoke no more of the small news of the Shire far away, nor of the dark shadows and perils that encompassed them, but of the fair things they had seen in the world together, of the Elves, of the stars, of trees, and the gentle fall of the bright year in the woods.

At last there came a knock on the door. ‘Begging your pardon,’ said Sam, putting in his head, ‘but I was just wondering if you would be wanting anything.’

‘And begging yours, Sam Gamgee,’ replied Bilbo. ‘I guess you mean that it is time your master went to bed.’

‘Well, sir, there is a Council early tomorrow, I hear, and he only got up today for the first time.’

‘Quite right, Sam,’ laughed Bilbo. ‘You can trot off and tell Gandalf that he has gone to bed. Good night, Frodo! Bless me, but it has been good to see you again! There are no folk like hobbits after all for a real good talk. I am getting very old, and I began to wonder if I should ever live to see your chapters of your story. Good night! I’ll take a walk, I think, and look at the stars of Elbereth in the garden. Sleep well!’

From The Ring Goes South:

The brief excerpts below comes from later in the story, after the naming of the Fellowship at the Council of Elrond. I include them here because I think they give a good overview of how the hobbits spent their time during their autumn in Rivendell.

In those last days the hobbits sat together in the evening in the Hall of Fire, and there among many tales they heard told in full the lay of Beren and Lúthien and the winning of the Great Jewel; but in the day, while Merry and Pippin were out and about, Frodo and Sam were to be found with Bilbo in his own small room. Then Bilbo would read passages from his book (which still seemed very incomplete), or scraps of his verses, or would take notes of Frodo’s adventures.


For a while the hobbits continued to talk and think of the past journey and of the perils that lay ahead; but such was the virtue of the land of Rivendell that soon all fear and anxiety was lifted from their minds. The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song.

So the days slipped away, as each morning dawned bright and fair, and each evening followed cool and clear.


Film scene:

Bilbo and Frodo look through the Red Book. Seeing the page with the map of the Shire, Frodo tells Bilbo he misses it. “I spent all my childhood pretending I was off somewhere else, off with you on one of your adventures....”

Frodo: But my own adventure turned out to be quite different.

Bilbo listens, then Frodo looks at Bilbo.

Frodo: I’m not like you, Bilbo.

Bilbo touches Frodo's face.

Bilbo: My dear boy.






















There are no coverings to the arch of door
or window


No keeping out
(or in)

the small sounds contained
within night's dark fist,

the clear, sweet smell of dawn,
the cold

of grey rain,

the wandering finger-breaths of

strayed wind.

I know them all now,

*such* things as might travel

through the unguarded air.

I know them all,

of many a night

spent watchful
and silence-struck.

In the black pockets of those nights,
when I imagine, even, the stars have gone out,

(like melted diamond-ice)
from the swaddling of the sky,

those moments when sound becomes

for its very lack...

in those moments,
I have taken to visiting my Lord's library,

(as he said I might).

I do not feel small there,

and adrift upon a current

I cannot alter
for all my trying.

Ancient maps of Elvish device
weight the stand before me,

parchment yellow and curling
beneath silver'd runes,

jewel'd markers of places
long vanished from mortal eyes.

All the tales of the Ages are here,

open and simple,

all spun and told within the wandering
tracery of boundary,



And in the midst of all,
my heart quieted and

near-crushed with the very

of what is before me,

a scroll of no great size
falls open.

In the space of a breath,
my mind lends

to ink'd lines,

my feet deep
in the down-fine
dust of Shire lanes,

the rich tea-scent of
autumn leaves filling

my nose,

the pleasant dark bite
of bitter ale

and crisp
at the back of my throat.

And the maps of other lands,

the lined stories of people
and places

which are *not* Home,

without note,
upon the floor.

I do not see them any longer,
my fingers tracing,

the line of Road and River,

March and Marish,

Hill and 'Hallow.

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

I do not believe
that ever I understood myself
before now.

upon this autumn balcony,

Uncle's book open within my hands,

Uncle's voice
(trembling with time)

speaking still of storied places,

he shall never see again,

places which even now
his adventurous

yearns for.

And even while I love him
for all that he was

and *is*,

even while his voice yet dances
and weaves his longing about me,

even while
my eyes fill with fond tears

for the *knowing* of him,

I know, too, with finality,
my own self.

I am still

but the orphan-hearted lad who came,
once upon a harvest-time,

to live beneath a Hill.......

All else,

*all* else is but far-off dreme
and empty story,

legends writ upon scrolls
my heart should ne'er understand.

Never shall I have
an adventure

as you did, Uncle,

an Adventure
that I might

within bright words

and tell, sing-song,
to the little ones

on a summer's eve.

*My* adventure.

It is...

from yours,


As different as myself.

I'm not like you, Bilbo.

I am not like you at all.


Screencap lovers should know that the talented Blossom has capped these first Bilbo-Frodo scenes to create an animated gif and slideshow (with music and bits of dialogue), plus a gallery of selected caps. If you don’t know Blossom’s work, you are in for a treat. Her caps are all from the widescreen version, and are beautifully, expressively tweaked. Each one is a work of art. To show the difference, here is her version of one of the caps above. It’s gorgeous.

If you would like to see her slideshows and caps for this scene, go to her Frodo website, In Dreams. Go to the slideshow called “My Dear Boy”. The animated gif and the gallery of caps are accessed with links provided. You won’t be disappointed!

Previous entry:

Photobucket ~ Riv. 4 – Red Book: ‘This is wonderful!’, plus Pt. 2 of jan-u-wine’s ‘Rivendell Suite’.

Next entry:
Photobucket ~ Riv. 6 – ‘Ready to go home’, plus jan-u-wine's "Soon".

Other Links:

~ All entries with jan-u-wine's poems.

~ Main table for all entries

~ Mechtild


rakshi at 2008-10-19 22:44 (UTC) (Link)
I think that Bilbo's relationship with both Frodo AND Sam are some of the most deeply meaningful in the entire trilogy.

Just THINK of what it would have meant to Sam.. the gardener's son, that Bilbo Baggins, Master of Bag End, taught him his letters and told him stories and tales. You know Sam never forgot it. Sam's recitation of 'The Fall of Gil-galad' was, for me... a very touching moment and spoke volumes about what Bilbo's teachings meant to Sam.

And I agree with you.. Frodo's abiding love for Bilbo is a powerful thread that runs through the trilogy from start to finish. What a generous nature Bilbo had.. taking Frodo in the way he did... making him his heir.

You just know that Tolkien adored that little hobbit. And... I do too.

Thank you for the lovely screen caps... and the equally lovely poetry. As always.. it touches me so deeply.

mechtild at 2008-10-20 00:23 (UTC) (Link)
Sam's recitation of 'The Fall of Gil-galad' was, for me... a very touching moment and spoke volumes about what Bilbo's teachings meant to Sam.

You're right, Rakshi. Also, that it was unfamiliar to the others suggests that there were tales and songs Bilbo taught only to Sam, perhaps because Sam was always around, *and* so eager to hear anything Bilbo had to tell (in the way of Elves and tales). I dont' think I have ever stopped to think, or not much, how much it must have affected Sam when "Mr. Bilbo" disappeared. But re-reading these scenes and writing these posts--and reading the comments of fans like you--has helped me to see and feel more. Thanks for your comment!

Thank you for the lovely screen caps...

My pleasure. If you haven't already, do go to Blossom's "My Dear Boy" that I linked in the Note at the bottom of the post. Her caps are positively glorious.

Edited at 2008-10-20 12:24 am (UTC)
rakshi at 2008-10-20 01:28 (UTC) (Link)
Sam and Bilbo's relationship has always resonated for me. I work in education and it moves me deeply that Bilbo saw Sam's literacy needs as important... and that Bilbo's teachings obviously had great meaning to Sam.

If you ever have the time I wrote a story that speaks about this:


I will look at Blossom's caps right this minute.

Thank you again, and much love....

mechtild at 2008-10-20 03:38 (UTC) (Link)
I have bookmarked your story, Rakshi. Thank you!
shirebound at 2008-10-19 23:42 (UTC) (Link)
Oh my, how beautiful it all is. Your commentary, the pictures, and the exquisite poem. So much of my "Quarantined" series of stories was meant to capture the evolving and very special relationship between these two very special hobbits.

Tolkien really captures the heart of them both in these few lines...

They spoke no more of the small news of the Shire far away, nor of the dark shadows and perils that encompassed them, but of the fair things they had seen in the world together, of the Elves, of the stars, of trees, and the gentle fall of the bright year in the woods.

Edited at 2008-10-19 11:43 pm (UTC)
mechtild at 2008-10-20 00:27 (UTC) (Link)
Shirebound, I know you are extremely fond of Bilbo as a character, so I am not surprised to hear his relationship with Frodo has inspired you to write. And I love the quote you singled out. Yes, they shared a lot. That they could share delight in these things must have created a kinship in them that was soul-deep.
primula_baggins at 2008-10-20 03:44 (UTC) (Link)
Bilbo to Frodo: I am getting very old, and I began to wonder if I should ever live to see your chapters of your story.

I always thought that in this line and the line at the end of the book where Sam says to Frodo about the Red Book, "Why, you have nearly finished it, Mr. Frodo!" and Frodo replies, "I have quite finished, Sam...The last pages are for you" were really talking not only about pages in a book, but the chapters of a life. Bilbo was saying he didn't know if he'd get to see Frodo's life, and Frodo was telling Sam that he still had life to live.

That has nothing to do with your post, but it was just something I thought of while reading.

I have seen quite a few fanfic stories about the relationship between Frodo and Bilbo, actually. It seems to be a favorite topic.

I like your observation that they almost seemed like old friends more than father/son or mentor/mentee. They certainly had a great fondness for one another. I love the "my dear boy" scene from the movie.

Edited at 2008-10-20 03:45 am (UTC)
mechtild at 2008-10-20 05:17 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I am sure you are right about "chapters" or "pages" in the book -- that they were meant to be understood as chapters or pages in their lives. But that goes with the "Great Tale" into which *all* their lives fit, the tale into which they came, but also exited. I love the way Tolkien's theme of narrative -- in stories, in lives, and even in the breadth of human history -- are all related to each other. Smaller stories fit into larger stories, and on and on, sort of like those Russian dolls that fit one inside the other.

I have seen quite a few fanfic stories about the relationship between Frodo and Bilbo, actually. It seems to be a favorite topic.

I've no doubt that it is, Primula. :) I suppose I should have made clearer that if my sense of the story has been skewed in the years since I've been reading fanfic, it's not because there isn't every sort of story out there, it's because I've [mostly] been reading in one genre, a genre that doesn't normally give Frodo's relationship with Bilbo much attention.

Edited at 2008-10-20 05:19 am (UTC)
Estë   (or ST for short)
este_tangletoes at 2008-11-09 15:01 (UTC) (Link)
The “My dear boy” scene is so full of gentle beauty. Thank you Mechling.

The poetry is beautiful. Thank you Jan.

mechtild at 2008-11-11 01:24 (UTC) (Link)
You are welcome, Estë. Sorry for the delay in answering, I've been away and have just returned.
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