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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Mythopoeia

omeron
Registered User

Feb 25 2007, 9:31am

Post #1 of 4 (333 views)
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Mythopoeia Can't Post

Have you all read Mythopoeia? Tolkien wrote it for C.S. Louis after their discussions about myth and religion. You can find it in print in his Tree and Leaf book, or you can read it online.
To one who said that myths were lies, and therefore worthless, even though 'breathed through silver'


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Feb 25 2007, 6:27pm

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Link to review of article about "Mythopoeia". [In reply to] Can't Post

Some Tolkien studies-studies: "Mythopoeia" by John R. Holmes, reviewed by squire.

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Detail from earliest version of Thror's MapTolkien Illustrated! Jan. 29-May 20: Visit the Reading Room to discuss art by John Howe, Alan Lee, Ted Nasmith and others, including Tolkien himself.

Feb. 19-25: The Hobbit.


a.s.
Valinor


Feb 25 2007, 8:08pm

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most of us have, and welcome to the RR [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Have you all read Mythopoeia? Tolkien wrote it for C.S. Louis after their discussions about myth and religion. You can find it in print in his Tree and Leaf book, or you can read it online.
To one who said that myths were lies, and therefore worthless, even though 'breathed through silver'



I'm not sure if we've discussed it in depth here, but most of us have probably read it. It's often referred to when discussing the subject of "subcreation":

Though now long estranged,
man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act:
not his to worship the great Artefact,
man, sub-creator, the refracted light
through whom is splintered from a single White
to many hues, and endlessly combined
in living shapes that move from mind to mind.
Though all the crannies of the world we filled
with elves and goblins, though we dared to build
gods and their houses out of dark and light,
and sow the seeds of dragons, 'twas our right
(used or misused). The right has not decayed.
We make still by the law in which we're made.


which pretty much (and very prettily) sums up Tolkien's theory of sub-creation.

Welcome to the RR. Are you new, or are you an oldtimer with a new name?

a.s.



"an seileachan"

Everybody's wondering what and where they all came from.
Everybody's worried 'bout where they're gonna go when the whole thing's done.
No one knows for certain, and so it's all the same to me:
I think I'll just let the mystery be.
~~~~Iris DeMent


squire
Valinor


Feb 25 2007, 8:53pm

Post #4 of 4 (195 views)
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Splintered Light [In reply to] Can't Post

I did not remember this when I was writing a review of the Encyclopedia article on "Mythopoeia", but this otherwise obscure and personal poem is (I guess) known only because Tolkien quoted from it in his popular and much-cited essay "On Fairy-stories". Many more people have read those fourteen lines than have read the much longer poem that includes them (thanks for the link, by the way).

And Verlyn Flieger then picked up the image of "splintered light" from that excerpt, and made it the central theme and title of her seminal book of Tolkien criticism. It is noticeable that after briefly mentioning that they are part of a larger poem, she proceeds to analyze the fourteen "Mythopoeia" lines in "On Fairy-stories" as if they are the entire poem (see Splintered Light, p. 43).

And certainly, except for the beginning line, which is broken since it picks up from the lines above it, the excerpt does make a very good poem. With a little modification it would make an excellent sonnet.

I suppose we should credit Tolkien with deciding that the excerpt is the best part of the poem; certainly he and Flieger between them have made it the only part that anyone can remember.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

 
 

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