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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Main:
Any chance we could see some of Tolkien's early/non middle earth poems republished?, and/or a expanded edition of Letters?...Thoughts?


Aug 5 2013, 6:02pm

Post #1 of 7 (235 views)
Any chance we could see some of Tolkien's early/non middle earth poems republished?, and/or a expanded edition of Letters?...Thoughts? Can't Post

Hi all, once again I have rambling thoughts and questions, on a difficult subject with no likely answer (I've noticed its a trend of mine Wink) anyway, I was surfing the net just now and came across the following lists:



It got me thinking, was there ever a collection of Tolkiens early/non middle earth poetry released along the lines of Tales from the Perilous Realm? I seem to recall there was an edition of his Poems from LOTR, The Hobbit and TAOTB released in the 60's? (Geordie?), but nothing along these lines-do you think this would be a good idea?

Although I'm aware Tolkien poetry is rather...divisive, there is no denying his poems were a massive influence and aspect of his writing and help set Tolkien apart from other writers, it would certainly be interesting to see such a release marketed after the hype surrounding The Hobbit films (Obviously the Fall of Arthur and The Legend of Sigurd and Gurdun were poetic volumes, but I've seen more than a few comments on Amazon etc expressing surprise that they weren't middle earth related novels-don't people read the blurb??) if only for the convience, and to showcase how diverse Tolkien's writing was to the ever increasing audience of his work.

Given how the long promised The Fall of Arthur finally saw a release this year, I was wondering if anyone else would be interested in seeing such a volume, and whether such a release would even be feasible.

I'm aware that many of these poems have been published at least partially in recent years (in Tolkien and The Great War, and The Annontated Hobbit for instance), but many I had never heard of, or at the most only seen extracts (One of the few issues I have with many otherwise excellent books on Tolkien is the references to otherwise unpublished or rare material-don't get me wrong I'm thankful to see such extracts, but it can be a little confusing rembering who and and what, and annoying to know that's all we are likely to see, especially when Tolkiens poetry has been viewed as a relatively niche area).

Admittedly there are probably very good reasons (copyright or otherwise) why The Tolkien Estate dosen't feel comfortable or able to re-release (or publish) such writing, (and it certainly isn't my place to queston why), the market for such a release might be rather small, and the amount of effort and legal obstacles in putting together such a release might be more trouble than its worth, but I personally would find such a collection an interesting idea, and judging by the Lay of Aotrou and Itroun, a very rewarding one as a reader.

As a relative novice when it comes to Tolkien (unlike many others on this site), I was wondering whether anyone could clear this up, or offer some thoughts.

On a similar note I have recently started re-reading The Letters of JRR Tolkien, and in the Introuction Humphrey Carpenter mentions the possibility of a second edition, I'm aware that Letters is a relatively niche, and comparitively old (though excellent) book, and a rather personal book to Tolkien's family, but again I was wondering whether there have been any recent developments on an expansion.

Although I seem to remember reading the low sales of the book reportedly nixed an earlier expansion, Letters does seem to be one of the more popular 'ancillary' books on Tolkien, I have seen on several other forums (sorry!) querries on an expansion, and once again there does seem to be a large number of unpublished letters meriting a second edition:


I'm aware that many letters were likely left out for reasons of brevity or space, and there is alot to be said for keeping some of Tolkien's writing unpublished, but I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

I realise enquiring about such personal subject matter might not be in the best taste, and I'm sorry if this came across as offensive to anyone -not my intention at all, but I for one would be very, very interested in seeing more of Professor Tolkien's thoughts and feelings (even with the risk of treading over private or familiar ground) in print (especially any more on Zimmerman's script-I would love to see his annontations).

Once again this post has turned out much more rambling than I hoped, and I realise it probably reads as a fanboy demanding more books without due consideration (I'm simply bad at marshalling my thoughts coherently) but those were my questions.

Thoughts? Bad Idea? Good Idea? Likely or Unlikely?

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Aug 5 2013, 6:51pm

Post #2 of 7 (144 views)
Songs for the Philologists [In reply to] Can't Post

Apart from your other references to Tolkien's earlier non-middle-earth poems, I'd really like to see the complete set of poems (even by other authors) that was written for 'Songs for the Philologists' ... really wishing they could someday publish that.

Also, I wouldn't mind a one-volume book of collected poems (and/or essays) by Tolkien himself!


'A Tolkienist's Perspective' Blog


Aug 5 2013, 7:05pm

Post #3 of 7 (150 views)
Glad to see I'm not alone...I have wondered about S for the P myself [In reply to] Can't Post

It would be very cool to read such early Tolkien, I seem to remember their were only about 14 copies printed privately in 1922...its easy enough to get a copy if you are willing to spend $30,000:


But, I'm not even aware if Tolkien had registered the copyright to it, and as a co-author his estate might have no legal right to publish it if they wanted to (presuming they could get hold of a copy and be brave enough to scan a near 100 year old VERY rare book very few people who be interested in reading)

The Talking Purse is Awesome, deal with it.

But he isn't quite as aweome as Cirdan.


Aug 5 2013, 7:10pm

Post #4 of 7 (138 views)
Copyright issues [In reply to] Can't Post

I completely agree that co-authorship might interfere with its publication.

Regarding a copy, I seem to recall Tom Shippey stating (somewhere) that he actually had a scanned copy of the book - I wonder where and howShocked

In the meantime, I might start saving money for that $30,000 price mark ... Laugh

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Aug 6 2013, 3:59am

Post #5 of 7 (163 views)
At least one you can buy [In reply to] Can't Post

is a collection of three translations from Middle English that Tolkien did: Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo. It's one I enjoyed adding to my collection; having studied Gawain and the Green Knight in college (in the original Middle English) and several translations, I found that Tolkien's best caught the alliterative feel and rhythm of the original.


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Tol Eressea

Aug 6 2013, 12:32pm

Post #6 of 7 (116 views)
Songs for the Philologists - [In reply to] Can't Post

yes, that is one of the very rare ones. I've actually held one in my hand - I guess it's the one being offered at that ridiculous price at the moment. When I saw it, it was around the $11,000 mark. I see it now and again, for sale on either side of the Atlantic. That thing must have clocked up more air time than Henry Kissinger.

The poems were composed at Leeds in the 1920s by Tolkien and Gordon, to amuse their students at their 'beer and Beowulf' evenings. One of the student, A.H. Smith, found his copy of the typescript years later, in 1936, when he was teaching at London University. He gave it to his class to set up in type on the university's press as an exercise; then remembered he hadn't gotten permission. So he told his students to hand them back in. Not all did; and then there was a fire, and all those copies were destroyed, leaving only those whose owners had held onto them.. there are supposed to be no more than 20 copies in the world. Rare indeed.

(This post was edited by geordie on Aug 6 2013, 12:33pm)


Aug 9 2013, 11:20am

Post #7 of 7 (114 views)
*snigger* [In reply to] Can't Post

It makes me think of Bilbo squirreled away in Rivendell doing translations of Elven works ;)

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