For Altariel on completion of her thesis
The Fair Folk don’t suffer from surfeit themselves
And a very hard head is the Gift of the Elves,
So even when mortals feel near to death,
They still go on singing to Elbereth.
A gift that I envy, it can’t be denied,
As I wake, somewhat late, and a bit blurry eyed,
To find that someone has made my day
And brought me in a breakfast tray.
Now, as I chew my egg and bacon
And feel my mind begin to waken,
I know the time has surely come
When I will finish Chapter One.
In Rivendell the morning light
Shines on the peaks – a sheer delight.
In all the world there’s no sight so fine
As silver birch and mountain pine,
So I reckon that a morning walk
Will persuade my stubborn muse to talk.
The garden gleams with special grace
Imladris is truly a blesséd place.
I pause at a bench, for I don’t feel whole
Till I’ve filled up with weed and smoked my first bowl;
And then I notice, behind one of the bowers,
Elrond strolling, admiring his flowers.
He politely asks me “How’s it all going?”
And I mutter a bit about “Growing …and growing”
Though really the problem is something quite other:
Too few words - far too much paper to cover.
It is a discourtesy, far worse than most,
To ignore the words of a generous host,
Yet I dearly hope that it won’t take long
As the kindly elf-lord rambles on.
He suggests some more sources, both old and new,
Other highways and byways I might like to pursue.
Some sound quite useful, but, ah here’s the rub,
I must visit the library to look them all up.
Good manners mean that I ought to explore
Every road pointed out by the Master of Lore,
But I might as well bid the morning farewell
In that “crowning glory of Rivendell”.
Elrond himself has used it so long
He has ceased to notice all logic is gone;
Lacking the memory of the Elves
I can never find anything on the shelves.
Still I do my best with a prayer and a hunch
Til my stomach tells me it’s time for lunch.
A Homely House luncheon’s a jolly affair
With the best food and drink and plenty to spare.
Time passes quickly with laughing and joking
And as always, in my case, a fair bit of smoking.
It’s true what they say, I should feel no surprise,
In convivial company, time simply flies,
But I still can’t believe that it’s going on four
When I’m seated in front of my papers once more.
Perhaps t’would be better, as hope almost flees,
To start on revising the Appendices?
The Dúnadan said, just the other night,
Grim words dropped like stones from double my height,
“Bilbo, old friend, you’ll just have to learn”
(At times that Man can be terribly stern)
“The pen can be mightier than the sword
And persistence reaps its own reward.
So gird your loins, and do not shirk -
Just knuckle down and do the work.”
But Arwen tried a different tack
To woo my wandering muses back.
“Would it help,” she asked with a gentle frown,
“If I wove the cloth for a special gown?
A jaunty red with border of blue
And matching hood and tassel too?”
I had to admit, were I taller and thinner,
It would cut quite a dash at a formal dinner.
She seemed a bit sad, and was silent a while
Til she spoke up again with a radiant smile,
“At least if I start and get the yarn spun
That’s a sign of hope that the end will come.”
I sigh and return to the present once more
And look at the piles of notes on the floor.
I wonder, if I rearranged them a bit
The various parts might at last start to fit?
“T’would be easy” I muse, as I stoop and bend,
“If I could just search out where it goes in the end.”
It’s then that I glimpse just a glimmer of light
Something’s definitely there, be it ever so slight.
Is it something to do with “back”and “again”?
I must pin it down and make it remain.
With rising excitement I shuffle the pack
Swapping side to side, then front to back,
From left to right, from lower to upper -
I’m so engrossed I forget about supper.
I rush to the Hall with stomach a flutter
And hurry on back with some plain bread and butter.
I sit at my desk with a sudden thrill
And, with heart in my mouth, I pick up my quill -
“Ah Bilbo, what fun! I’m so glad that you’re here;
Fancy, still writing on an evening this clear!”
How could I have missed the footsteps of Doom
As Elladan pokes his head in my room?
“There’s just so much scribing a scholar can take
And you’ll work all the better for having a break.
I was hoping you’d spare me your valuable time
To drink a few drafts of this excellent wine?”
With a sigh of despair I lay down my pen,
As the light in my head is extinguished again,
But almost at once I don’t feel so bad
For the bottle he bears is the best to be had.
Still a hobbit my age should try a bit harder
To resist skipping off to sing praises to Varda.
Later, much later, I lie in my bed
And a curious fancy enters my head.
If only fate would at last take a hand
And set me down in the Undying Land,
Where, even with breaks to dance and sing,
There’d be plenty of time to finish the thing.
Or perhaps ‘tis better to sort my affairs
And pass it on to my unfortunate heirs?
As my bed rocks me gently, and I drift slowly away
I’m sure I’ll find answers with the clear light of day.