Tolkien’s Poetry Essay

1645 words - 7 pages

Mortality and death are constantly present throughout the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Doom and fate are inescapable motifs, as Tolkien presents the question of where the journey of life leads to in the end. In the poem “I sit beside the fire and think,” Bilbo not only reflects upon his own journeys, he also recognizes that the journey goes beyond himself and continues even after his life ends. Furthermore, Bilbo’s poems connect to one another as the poem “The Road” is alluded to in “I sit beside the fire and think” when he mentions “the door” in order to indicate a circular flow of life. Death is a necessary part for life. When a life ends, there is the space for another to begin. However, the current situation of Middle-earth in the novels, sets up an ambiguous future for the upcoming generations. Tolkien ends the novel without a clear indication that either good or evil will prevail. Through his poetry, Tolkien reinforces a theme of the Lord of the Rings trilogy that although an individual’s journey and life must eventually end to make way for the future generations, the natural world will continue on, and those generations will carry the same burden of their ancestors of continuously fighting good versus evil.
In the poem “I sit beside the fire and think,” Bilbo reminisces on his past journeys and expresses disappointment that he will not be able to go on the next adventure. His journey has come to the end, thus all he has left to do is to sit and think of all that he saw. Tolkien uses an anaphora with the beginning line, “I sit beside the fire and think,” in order to emphasize the warm and comfortable environment in which he reminisces. The atmosphere in which he reminisces is a reflection of the happiness he feels towards those memories. Each time the line is repeated Bilbo begins a new thought. The first two stanzas are a reflection of what he has seen, and the second time he repeats the line, he begins to discuss how he wonders how the world will change in the future. The final section then discusses people of the past. The repetition, therefore, can also reflect the passing of time, and that no matter whether it is the past, present, or future, there is always something that remains constant, although that consistency becomes more clear in context with the entire text. There is an obvious hope at the end for more adventure. He listens “for returning feet/ and voices at the door (lines 23-24)” in hopes that he will once again be invited on an adventure. However, the time for his adventures has ended, and Frodo’s adventure is beginning.
His acceptance that he will not be able to accompany the others on the next adventure also parallels the acceptance of his mortality. The journey and life are at times synonymous, and they both must one day come to an end. With the lines, “Of how the world will be/ when winter comes without a spring/ that I shall ever see,” (11-12) Bilbo recognizes that he is mortal, and soon one day he will not be...

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