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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
I don't know -

Tol Eressea

Jan 9 2013, 12:15pm

Views: 376
I don't know - [In reply to] Can't Post

- I haven't read her book. but it's a work of fiction, isn't it? Is this Byatt's view of Tolkien's poetry, or the view of one of her characters? At any rate, I recall seeing a TV programme a few years ago which included several authors talking about Tolkien, and LotR and its appeal. Kate Mosse and China Mielville were two of these, and A.S. Byatt was another. As far as I can remember, Byatt seems to have enjoyed reading Tolkien - so prob. best to stave off any sacrifices to Melkor, till we know more.


As for criticism of Tolkien's poetry - one of the best, and currently the most easily available, collection of pieces about Tolkien's poetry is to be found in Scull and Hammond's two-volume work 'The JRR Tolkien Companion and Guide', which has a section on poetry (Vol.II, pp.766-770), as well as erudite notes on many of Tolkien's individual poems, in alphabetical order.

Otherwise, there's not much general criticism around, that I can remember. There are detailed studies such as Shippey's on 'A Clerke's Complainte' - a very obscure poem, found by Anders Stenstrom while going through back numbers of 'The Gryphon' in the library at Leeds University, back in the 1980s IIRC. I say 'discovered' because this poem seems to have escaped notice till then - one reason being it is not signed Tolkien, but with the enigmatic 'N.N.' Shippey reckons that stands for 'No Name'. Shippey's article was published in the Swedish Tolkien Society's journal 'Arda', and so not easy to get hold of.

Shippey also looks at more of Tolkien's more obscure poems such as 'The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthtelm's Son', in his book 'The Road to Middle earth', where he also considers some of Tolkien's poems to be found in 'Songs for the Philologists'. In his later book, 'Roots and Branches', Shippey has a paper on the versions of Tolkien's poem 'The Hoard', most easily to be found in 'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil'.

Others who come to mind are Paul Kocher - who includes a piece on Tolkien's poem 'The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun' in his book 'Master of Middle-earth'. Tolkien's 'Lay' was published in 'The Welsh review' in 1945 and hasn't been reprinted, AFAIK. And Jessica Yates, who published a piece on the sources of the Lay in a Tolkien Society booklet, 'Leaves from the Tree', in 1989.

Going back even further, George Burke Johnston published a paper 'The Poetry of JRR Tolkien' in the journal 'Mankato State University Studies', vol.II, no.1, February 1967, which covers much the same ground as Shippey, Kocher and Yates.

One thing which Tolkien himself noted in a letter is that critics tend to look at the poems in TH and LotR as if they were the agonized outpourings of his tortured psyche - (radical paraphrase, form memory) - wheras, as he says, these are poems made up by his characters in those books. But looking at some of his earlier poems, it seems Middle-earth was peeping into his published works way before TH was published. For example, Earendil and the Lonely Isle turn up in a poem called 'The Happy Mariners', published in 1923 in a small booklet of poetry called 'A Northern Venture'. And his re-telling of The Cat and the fiddle in LotR comes from another, older poem first published in 'Yorkshire Poetry' in 1922. Tolkien often used to re-use his poetry - but that is a large topic, and this post is taking too long to write as it is.


Subject User Time
Tolkien's poetry nothinglikethesun9 Send a private message to nothinglikethesun9 Jan 7 2013, 5:22pm
    And... nothinglikethesun9 Send a private message to nothinglikethesun9 Jan 8 2013, 2:02am
        "If you start thinking [about Tolkien], youve got to stop reading." squire Send a private message to squire Jan 8 2013, 2:39am
            AS Byatt's books CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 8 2013, 10:41am
        I don't know - geordie Send a private message to geordie Jan 9 2013, 12:15pm
        POSSESSION may allude to Tolkien's poetry. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 9 2013, 1:28pm
    W.H. Auden, for what it's worth, NZ Strider Send a private message to NZ Strider Jan 9 2013, 11:19am
        Woot! squire Send a private message to squire Jan 9 2013, 11:32am
        OMG. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 9 2013, 1:16pm
            Someone? Voronw_the_Faithful Send a private message to Voronw_the_Faithful Jan 10 2013, 1:42am
                Quick reply to all... NZ Strider Send a private message to NZ Strider Jan 11 2013, 5:42pm
            WNEBCFTPFY! // Aunt Dora Baggins Send a private message to Aunt Dora Baggins Jan 12 2013, 5:24am
    Corey Olsen analyzes the song of the Ent and the Entwife. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Jan 9 2013, 1:41pm


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