Close window
© 2010 Festival in the Shire Journal. All rights reserved.

Tom Bombadil A Romantic Hero For Our Times Part 3

J.Storer (with A.Taylor, T.Tailby)
Ironville & Codnor Park Primary School, England


5.  Is Green The New Red ?  Chance of a Lifetime

6.  (A Poem)  "Aftermath"

7.  Acknowledgements


5. Is Green The New Red ?   Chance of a Lifetime …

“ He merely knows and understands about such things as concern him in his natural little realm. He hardly even judges … “

Is green the new red? If Tolkien were alive today, his pen would be very busy adding to the collection of letters if he found state employees snooping around to check on the content of his dustbin ! Add to this: draconian recycling laws, planning regulations flouted in order to build  new towns irrespective of what local residents feel about it, with the ironic backdrop of  failed environmental summits in Copenhagen and Kyoto, and one can imagine  Tolkien stirring in his grave with justified fury. Maybe he would send Tom Bombadil  to sort out the Orwellian “Orcs.“ Even someone as non-judgemental as Tom might struggle to stay on the sidelines today. In the Old Forest he made no attempt to reform Old Man Willow and generally had a live and let live approach to life :

“The trees and the grasses and all things growing or living in the land belong each to themselves“

 But there were indications he could move outside his self-imposed geographical limits (he had been to see Farmer  Maggot, for instance) and today he could be kept  busy  promoting a new pro-nature dialogue with the natural world, based on a diet of vegetables, honey, cheese, butter and salad. Tom values the contribution of all animals and trees in the creation of a new culture of eccentric self-sufficiency.

Well, girls are allowed to dream !

No thought police ; nothing red or even faintly pink.

Yes, Tom Bombadil is indeed forever green.

“The only things that won’t talk to me
Say what they do or what they be.
I wonder what they got to hide?“

This brief extract from “Once Upon a Time,“ an obscure poem  from the late 1960s, asks an  important question : the answer is the one Tolkien spent a lifetime writing about – the human weakness of hiding from goodness, truth, simplicity, purity , faith and the beauty of the natural world in the search for power, progress and  material gain. His  emissary from a time before time is the romantic hero we all need more than ever today and far into the future.

“ I’ve got things to do... my making and my singing, my talking and my walking, and my watching of the country.“

For all our sakes let us hope Tom’s tales will always stay unfinished.

In these terms, Tom Bombadil is very much a romantic hero for today. He combines sensitivity and an instinctive love of all things natural ; a creator of goodness, genuflecting once more to Kantian absolutes,  to fight against  the dark forces found in so many places – both in man’s inner consciousness and in the external world.

Yes, Tom will guard us against Yeat’s “Second Coming“ ; he will save us from the many traps set for the unwary  in the perilous realm of faerie. Most of all he will be in the trees – those still growing and the souls of those fallen victims to modern day “orcs“ – and in the animals and birds in our forests and woodlands, and in the rivers : so many badly polluted with industrial effluent. If only they could all be cleansed through the power of goodness and laughter :

“His eyes were blue and bright, and his face was red as a ripe apple, but creased into a hundred wrinkles of laughter.“

Heroes come in many shapes and forms. The fallen soldier, the caring relative, the Good

Samaritan.  They all have a moral virtue which is embodied in the two heroes of this paper: Professor J.R.R. Tolkien and his romantic enigma, Tom Bombadil, a man of many talents - and roles yet to come  - as the road of history and progress winds ever on.

To finish, here is our personal ode to romanticism, and to Tolkien, who has unlocked the

key to learning and opened the door to the treasure chest of knowledge and life for us in the years ahead. I hope that wherever Professor Tolkien is today, he will sympathise with our call for peace and harmony in the world.

This is : Aftermath...

 6.  (A Poem) AFTERMATH

Nobody answers the knock,
Emptiness pervades.
Body and soul absent from any room.
Fighting on a foreign field, maybe?
Or closer to home: on a bomber’s train to doom ?
Perhaps among a race, a culture trampled underfoot ?
Genocide on our TV screens, while we eat cake,
And sip afternoon tea.
How great if none of this was true ?
No Afghanistan, no July 7th , no September 11th
A new ideology of peace; people really free.
Wouldn’t that just be the day !
Forget warplanes. Come, let’s watch the skylarks
Duck and dive across Montague Square.
Poetry not  politics making its mark.
Dream over.
The girl knocks again: still nobody home.
Daddy’s gone.
All dark.

 Written on  Poetry Day held in school on Saturday, February 6th, 2010.

7. Acknowledgements 

So many people have willingly given up their time to help me write this paper.

They include : Lynn Forest-Hill and Ian Collier from the U.K. Tolkien Society  for moral, bibliographic and intellectual support. 

Susan Edwards who made us so welcome at the 2009 Tolkien language conference in Whitehaven, and who somehow makes Quenya comprehensible.

Professor Thomas Honegger and the conference Board of Editors for believing in me.

Mr Ennis for nagging me unmercifully to keep writing !

Mrs Smith, Mrs Ennis and Mrs Bowler – inspirational teachers.

My friends, Abbie and Tayah, for being here and, Jenna, who I wish was here.

My mother for, well, everything.

And not forgetting .. Immanuel Kant and J.R.R. Tolkien for linguistic and spiritual guidance ; and last, but definitely not least,  “ the merry fellowwho has inspired every word.

References in the text are primarily from Lord of the Rings, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, The Silmarillion, Once Upon A  Time and Tolkien’s Collected Letters.

In addition, extracts from the works of Coleridge, Shelley, Hemans, Clare and modern romantic poets, Roberts and Bogan, are also quoted.

Jodi Storer
April 2010

Close window

Found this page without going through the magazine front page? Click here: Festival in the Shire Journal. For all things Tolkien inspired.