JRR Tolkien

My #PoetryinJune spot has been taken over by dwarves today who have been busily tidying Bilbo Baggins’ kitchen, much to the poor Hobbit’s consternation. Fortunately nothing was broken despite the sound of the following verses. This is J.R.R. Tolkien’s (1892-1973) second appearance on The Landing as I featured the beautiful Father Christmas Letters in my Advent Reading Challenge last December.

I’ve taken the following text from my old copy of The Hobbit (Harper Collins, 1993) which my daughter has been recently re-reading. Last summer holidays, she tackled the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy with He Who Put the Shelves and Up, but I have to admit that I have never got around to reading it myself. Another one on the groaning TBR Pile I’m afraid.

Chip the Glasses and Crack the Plates

Book jacket of The Hobbit

Smaug in his gold filled lair

Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates –
Smash the bottles and burn the corks.

Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!
Splash the wine on every door!

Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;
Pound them with a thumping pole;
And when you’ve finished, if any are whole,
Send them down the hall to roll.

That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates!
So, carefully! carefully with the plates!

I was delighted to come across a recording on YouTube of J.R.R. Tolkien himself singing about Bilbo Baggins’ crockery. It’s only a short recording (I don’t know the date of the piece) but do give it a listen. Versions of Tolkien’s poem have been set to music in the film versions of The Hobbit, including the most recent one.

Perhaps I should set myself a Tolkien Reading Challenge? Or maybe I’ll just incorporate The Lord of the Rings into my existing Landing Book Shelves Reading Challenge as I have quite a queue of books yet to read!

YouTube Credit: Uploaded to YouTube February 2013 by MightyCrow19 – With Thanks

Advent Reading Challenge: Tolkien Letters

3rd December

A christmas Classic..

The Father Christmas Letters

The Father Christmas Letters by JRR Tolkien, edited by Baillie Tolkien (George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1976). I have had this book for many years, though it was not bought new. Within its pages lurks a newspaper cutting on a new edition of Tolkien’s book from The Birmingham Post 23rd December 1995. I never did get around to buying a newer edition of The Father Christmas Letters

Tolkien wrote the first letter to his children in 1920, and for over twenty years continued to regale them with the goings-on at the North Pole. Father Christmas’ main helper was the Polar Bear, along with an assorted cast of characters including the bear’s nephews Paksu and Valkotukka.

This is such a wonderful book that it was difficult to select a passage to quote here. I was about to resort to the time honoured tactic of letting the book fall open and picking a piece at random, when my daughter pointed out that it would be a good idea to choose the piece that featured on the back cover. Tolkien’s illustration captures the poor old Polar Bear’s accident beautifully. Parcels scattered down the stairs, Polar Bear sprawled at the foot and a rather vexed Father Christmas at the head of the stairs.

Polar Bear falling down the stairs

Polar Bear’s accident – one of Tolkien’s brilliant illustrations

Thursday December 20th 1928

‘What do you think the poor dear old bear has been and done this time?…Only fell from from top to bottom of the main stairs on Thursday! We were beginning to get the first lot of parcels down out of the store-rooms into the hall. Polar Bear would inist on taking an enormous pile on his head as well as lots in his arms. Bang Rumble Clatter Crash! awful moanings and groanings:

Never fear, it all turned out right in the end!