I’ve been tweeting a line or two from one of Tolkien’s poems each day this week, asking people to identify the context. Here are the original sources:

Thursday: “I will not say the Day is done, nor bid the Stars farewell.” Tolkien. Speaker and context?

In the The Return of the King Sam is initially unable to find Frodo in the tower of Cirith Ungol, and in despair sinks down, bows his head, and to his surprise starts singing:
“Though here at journey’s end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars forever dwell,
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.”

Frodo hears him, and his attempt to answer, together with the coming of an orc, leads Sam to the trapdoor to Frodo.

At one time (it was lost in the fire) I had this and a number of Tolkien’s other songs set to music both in a book and on vinyl. I just found the book on Amazon and ordered it! Donald Swann’s music is still in my head whenever I read these poems.

Friday: “Ah, the sight and the smell of the Spring in Nan-Tasarion!” Tolkien. Singer and context?

In The Two Towers Treebeard is chanting to the hobbits as he carries them to his home in Fanghorn. In the film this is replaced by Entish that puts the hobbits to sleep. In the deeper context of Tolkien’s universe, Treebeard is singing a song of mourning for the lands drowned at the end of the First Age—the lands “under the wave.” (See The Atlas of Middle-Earth, by Fonstad.) The final verse:
“And now all those lands lie under the wave
And I walk in Ambarona, in Tauremorna, in Aldalome,
In my own land, in the country of Fanghorn,
Where the roots are long,
And the years lie thicker than the leaves
In Tauremornalome.”

Saturday: “Mist and twilight, cloud and shade
Away shall fade!” Tolkien. Singer and context?

In the book, this is part of a walking song (words by Bilbo) sung by Frodo, Pippin and Sam in the Shire, shortly after their first encounter with a Black Rider in The Fellowship of the Ring. The original song is not sad; in fact the next lines are:
“Fire and lamp, and meat and bread,
And then to bed! And then to bed!”
For the film it was repurposed as the song Pippin sings at Denethor’s request, as a background to the doomed charge of Faramir and his men against the orcs. The tune is in a minor key and quite different from Swann’s lively march.

Sunday: “what ship would come to me,
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?” Tolkien. Singer and context?

In The Fellowship of the Ring, this is the ending of the song Galadriel sings as she comes in her swan-boat to say goodbye to the Fellowship. The beginning is:
“I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew;
Of wind I sang, a wind there came and in the branches blew.
Beyond the Sun, beyond the Moon, the foam was on the sea,
And by the strand of Ilmarin there grew a golden tree.”
The scene was retained in the film, but not the song.

Monday: “The Road goes ever on and on, Down from the door where it began.” –Tolkien. When, where and who?

This is a song supposedly written by Bilbo, which is repeated in several places in The Lord of the Rings. The first time it appears, Bilbo is the singer as he leaves Bag End for Rivendell, running away from his birthday party. The same song is sung by Frodo shortly before the first meeting with a Black Rider, and a variant is sung by Bilbo in Rivendell when Frodo is on his way back to the Shire, and yet another by Frodo as he prepares to go to the Grey Havens with Bilbo. I don’t think it is in the film.

Tuesday: “and a far green country opened before him under a swift sunrise.” –Tolkien. Not a poem, but where does it occur?

This was Frodo’s dream the last night the hobbits spent in the house of Tom Bombadil in The Fellowship of the Ring. The whole quote is: “Frodo heard a sweet singing running in his mind: a song that seemed to come like a pale light behind a grey rain-curtain, and growing stronger to turn the veil all to glass and silver, until at last it was rolled back, and a far green country opened before him under a swift sunrise.” The last page of The Return of the King repeats this image as Frodo sails to the Undying Lands. In the film, Tom Bombadil does not appear, but the words of Gandalf to Pippin in Minas Tirith repeat Tolkien’s description.

Wednesday: “So we’re going to die, just as I should have died with everyone else, two centuries ago. “ –Bowling. Where?
This is Marna in Homecoming, speaking to one of her tinerals as she realizes that the life-support system of the satellite has failed. Tinerals resemble feathered monkeys with wings, can fly as juveniles but are ground-bound as adults, and after millennia of selective breeding sing in harmony with each other or with other singers.

Next week I’ll focus on Terry Pratchett. If you want to catch the daily questions, follow @sueannbowling on Twitter.