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Some Tolkien connections

Tol Eressea

Oct 14 2012, 4:16pm

Views: 766
Some Tolkien connections Can't Post

This being a quiet Sunday, I've been noodling around the stacks of the geordie library; picking up an item here and there, and finding what I feel to be connections between some of Tolkien's works - bear with me...

To take as a starting point 'The Review of English Studies', Volume I (1925). This academic journal was issued in four parts. Tolkien contributed two articles to this volume - 'Some Contributions to Middle English Lexicography' in pt 2 (April) and 'The Devil's coach-horses' in pt 3 (July). These are interesting for themselves, but also for the fact that they were published at around the time Tolkien was applying for the Chair of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford.

Looking at Tolkien's 'Contributions' article, I see he examined a series of Middle English phrases to be found in the Early English Texts Society ed. of Hali Maidenhad (1922). Prof. Tolkien weighed in straight away by remarking that the title ought to have been 'Meidhad', (and gave his reasons for it) - but what struck me was this phrase:

'medi widh wiccen'.

The EETS translation is, 'deal with witches', but they suggest this ought to be emended to 'medli' - which would neatly form the first incidence of the word 'meddle'; so, 'meddle with witches'. But Tolkien was adamant; for several reasons (not least alliteration) Tolkien reckoned the word _was_ 'medi', which in this case would translate to 'bribe, purchase the service of, witches'.

That was in 1925. Twenty years later, Tolkien had published a tale of a childless lord who purchased the services of a witch - a corrigan, actually - with disastrous results. This was his poem 'The Lay of Aotroun and Itroun', published in 'The Welsh Review' (Vol.IV, no.4, December 1945). Part of this poem runs:

'He heard her voice, and it was cold
as echo from the world of old,
ere fire was found or iron hewn,
when young was mountain under moon.'

These lines were themselves echoed some nine years later, in Gandalf's poem about the Ents -

'Ere iron was found or tree was hewn,
When young was mountain under moon,
Ere ring was found or wrought was woe,
It walked the forests long ago.'

(TT, 'The Road to Isengard')

And as for 'medi widh wiccan' - well, that comes through in LotR too, of course; but in the 'incorrect' form;

'Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger'.

A lot of folk spend a lot of time looking for Tolkien's 'sources'. Sometimes, he provided his own sources; from both his academic works, and his own fiction. Connections, connections...

(This post was edited by geordie on Oct 14 2012, 4:19pm)

Subject User Time
Some Tolkien connections geordie Send a private message to geordie Oct 14 2012, 4:16pm
    Sometimes everything seems to be connected, Escapist Send a private message to Escapist Oct 14 2012, 5:02pm
    A delightful Sunday read geordie Hamfast Send a private message to Hamfast Oct 14 2012, 6:37pm
    Interesting borrowings Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Oct 14 2012, 7:03pm
        Not quite - geordie Send a private message to geordie Oct 14 2012, 8:02pm
            Same meter Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Oct 14 2012, 8:18pm
    That's a very interesting example of Tolkien's recycling habit squire Send a private message to squire Oct 14 2012, 10:03pm
        Well, how about this? geordie Send a private message to geordie Oct 14 2012, 11:10pm
        I just remembered - geordie Send a private message to geordie Oct 15 2012, 4:49pm
    All of this mountain and moon talk Hamfast Send a private message to Hamfast Oct 15 2012, 12:41am
    That seems far to obvious to be accidental. Wonderful! It makes me think Ethel Duath Send a private message to Ethel Duath Oct 15 2012, 3:07pm
    Nice little thread Geordie SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Oct 15 2012, 6:42pm


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