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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Splintered Light


Feb 25 2007, 8:53pm

Views: 167
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

Subject User Time
Mythopoeia omeron Send a private message to omeron Feb 25 2007, 9:31am
    Link to review of article about "Mythopoeia". N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Feb 25 2007, 6:27pm
    most of us have, and welcome to the RR a.s. Send a private message to a.s. Feb 25 2007, 8:08pm
    Splintered Light squire Send a private message to squire Feb 25 2007, 8:53pm


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