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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Book Question: Ponies of the Hobbits

The Shire

Oct 6, 2:04am

Post #1 of 9 (1622 views)
Book Question: Ponies of the Hobbits Can't Post

In the chapter Fog on the Barrow-downs, Tom Bombadil rescues the Hobbits from the Wight and returns with six ponies - five which were Merry's, and Fatty Lumpkin. Tolkien notes that Tom gave Merry's ponies all new names and they answered to them for the rest of their lives. I don't think Tolkien ever tells the reader what the names of the Hobbits' ponies are, does he? It would be nice to know their names.


Oct 6, 2:21am

Post #2 of 9 (1594 views)
I think they're named in Tom's song [In reply to] Can't Post

Hey! now! Come hoy now! Whither do you wander?
Up, down, near or far, here, there or yonder?
Sharp-ears, Wise-nose, Swish-tail and Bumpkin,
White-socks my little lad, and old Fatty Lumpkin!

He reappeared, hat first, over the brow of the hill, and behind him came in an obedient line six ponies: their own five and one more. The last was plainly old Fatty Lumpkin: he was larger, stronger, fatter (and older) than their own ponies. Merry, to whom the others belonged, had not, in fact, given them any such names, but they answered to the new names that Tom had given them for the rest of their lives. - LOTR I.8

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The Shire

Oct 6, 3:50am

Post #3 of 9 (1583 views)
Nice catch! [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh wow! I completely missed that. Thank you, great catch! I passed right over it because most of Tom's rhyming seems like jibberish. Haha.

Now, if we only knew who's pony was who's.

uncle Iorlas

Oct 9, 7:09pm

Post #4 of 9 (1475 views)
fun fact [In reply to] Can't Post

Everything old Tom says is in metered verse, even if it isn't rhyming and block-quoted in italics. There could possibly be some exceptions, this is from memory, but I kinda think there aren't.

The Shire

Oct 9, 11:57pm

Post #5 of 9 (1447 views)
Nice [In reply to] Can't Post

Ha! I didn't know that, despite having read LotR before. Thanks for the tidbit. Tom is really such an interesting character, as is Goldberry.

"I have seen it..."

Mari D.

Oct 15, 10:00am

Post #6 of 9 (1326 views)
Yeah, I ... [In reply to] Can't Post

... completely missed that the first times I read the books in English,
but last time I began to notice quite fun.

I wonder if translations do the same?

AND I wonder how long it would take others to notice
if one were to do that in real life ... =D

(This post was edited by Mari D. on Oct 15, 10:03am)


Oct 19, 5:14pm

Post #7 of 9 (1135 views)
I hear that Tolkien later regretted the metered verse [In reply to] Can't Post

Someone came round, read the meter, and the bill was more than he'd expected...


"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Oct 19, 5:45pm

Post #8 of 9 (1133 views)
hmmm- parses for thought.... [In reply to] Can't Post

My guess is that how quickly someone notices this separates folks who sub-vocalise or otherwise pay a lot of attention to the language as they read, from those who speed-read or otherwise go for meaning. Took me lots of goes...

Gosh yes, I wonder what a translator does? Maybe you can do much the same in German or French, but how about in languages such as Japanese where syllabification is very different to English, or so I hear?

I also wonder about audio books - I suppose the performer has to decide whether to do Tom's lines as very rhythmic chanting, or go for a more subtle effect.

Could you do it in real life? I suppose it depends on the kind of verse: If you tried writing tetrameter, it doesn't sound like English speaking. Soon I think that folks would notice - say "what's with that, Hiawatha?" (And I'll think that I will stop there, in case this rhythm runs forever....).

On the other hand, the 5/7/5 syllable pattern that is one form of haiku in English might be easier to do without sounding too obvious - the handy little robot 'HaikuD2' seems to be able to extract a lot of such forms that occur - presumably accidentely - in Twitter tweets. HaikuD2 - see https://twitter.com/HaikuD2 , though unfortunately:

Twitter is always
The funniest when I have
The most work to do

https://twitter.com/HaikuD2, parsing @aubrivnna

Can I also mention here the old "Tolkien's accidental haiku" game, which I rather enjoyed (not that I was much good at it...) - http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=932265#932265 ?

"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Oct 19, 5:51pm)

uncle Iorlas

Oct 26, 2:22am

Post #9 of 9 (952 views)
What a translator does [In reply to] Can't Post

Fascinating to read, if you haven't, the colume of Tolkien's scholarly essays, including notes on translating Beowulf. Certainly at least one answer to your question: if your translator.is like this guy, he most certainly does pay attention to every discernible subtlety of the meter.


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