Three poems by J.R.R Tolkien:

1. “The Man In The Moon Came Stayed Up Too Late”

2. “Perry-the-Winkle”

3. “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil”



The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late 

There is an inn, a merry old inn
beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
one night to drink his fill.
The ostler has a tipsy cat
that plays a five-stringed fiddle;
And up and down he saws his bow
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
now sawing in the middle.
The landlord keeps a little dog
that is mighty fond of jokes;
When there’s good cheer among the guests,
He cocks an ear at all the jests
and laughs until he chokes.
They also keep a hornéd cow
as proud as any queen;
But music turns her head like ale,
And makes her wave her tufted tail
and dance upon the green.
And O! the rows of silver dishes
and the store of silver spoons!
For Sunday there’s a special pair,
And these they polish up with care
on Saturday afternoons.

The Man in the Moon was drinking deep,
and the cat began to wail;
A dish and a spoon on the table danced,
The cow in the garden madly pranced
and the little dog chased his tail.
The Man in the Moon took another mug,
and then rolled beneath his chair;
And there he dozed and dreamed of ale,
Till in the sky the stars were pale,
and dawn was in the air.
Then the ostler said to his tipsy cat:
‘The white horses of the Moon,
They neigh and champ their silver bits;
But their master’s been and drowned his wits,
and the Sun’ll be rising soon!
So the cat on the fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,
a jig that would wake the dead:
He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
While the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:
‘It’s after three!’ he said.
They rolled the Man slowly up the hill
and bundled him into the Moon,
While his horses galloped up in rear,
And the cow came capering like a deer,
and a dish ran up with the spoon.
Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;
the dog began to roar,
The cow and the horses stood on their heads;
The guests all bounded from their beds
and danced upon the floor.
With a ping and a pang the fiddle-strings broke!
the cow jumped over the Moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
with the silver Sunday spoon.
The round Moon rolled behind the hill,
as the Sun raised up her head.
She hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her surprise
they all went back to bed!

            J.R.R. Tolkien






The Lonely Troll he sat on a stone
and sang a mournful lay:
‘O why, O why must I live on my own
in the hills of Faraway?
My folk are gone beyond recall
and take no thought of me;
alone I’m left, the last of all
from Weathertop to the Sea’.


‘I steal no gold, I drink no beer,
I eat no kind of meat;
but People slam their doors in fear,
whenever they hear my feet.
O how I wish that they were neat,
and my hands were not so rough!
Yet my heart is soft, my smile is sweet,
and my cooking good enough.’


‘Come, come!’ he thought, ‘this will not do!
I must go and find a friend;
a-walking soft I’ll wander through
the Shire from end to end’.
Down he went, and he walked all night
with his feet in boots of fur;
to Delving he came in the morning light,
when folk were just astir.


He looked around, and who did he meet
but old Mrs. Bunce and all
with umbrella and basket walking the street;
and he smiled and stopped to call:
‘Good morning, ma’am! Good day to you!
I hope I find you well?’
But she dropped umbrella and basket too,
and yelled a frightful yell.


Old Pott the Mayor was strolling near;
when he heard that awful sound,
he turned all purple and pink with fear,
and dived down underground.
The Lonely Troll was hurt and sad:
‘Don’t go!’ he gently said,
but old Mrs. Bunce ran home like mad
and hid beneath her bed.


The Troll went on to the market-place
and peeped above the stalls;
the sheep went wild when they saw his face,
and the geese flew over the walls.
Old Farmer Hogg he spilled his ale,
Bill Butcher threw a knife,
and Grip his dog, he turned his tail
and ran to save his life.


The old Troll sadly sat and wept
outside the Lockholes gate,
and Perry-the-Winkle up he crept
and patted him on the pate.
‘O why do you weep, you great big lump?
You’re better outside than in!’
He gave the Troll a friendly thump,
and laughed to see him grin.


‘O Perry-the-Winkle boy’, he cried,
‘come, you’re the lad for me!
Now if you’re willing to take a ride,
I’ll carry you home to tea’.
He jumped on his back and held on tight,
and ‘Off you go!’ said he;
and the Winkle had a feast that night,
and sat on the old Troll’s knee.


There were pikelets, there was buttered toast,
and jam, and cream, and cake,
and the Winkle strove to eat the most,
though his buttons all should break.
The kettle sang, the fire was hot,
the pot was large and brown,
and the Winkle tried to drink the lot,
in tea though he should drown.


When full and tight were coat and skin,
they rested without speech,
till the old Troll said: ‘I’ll now begin
the baker’s art to teach,
the making of beautiful cramsome bread,
of bannocks light and brown;
and then you can sleep on a heather-bed
with pillows of owlets’ down’.


‘Young Winkle, where’ve you been?’ they said.
‘I’ve been to a fulsome tea,
and I feel so fat, for I have fed
on cramsome bread’, said he.
‘But where, my lad, in the Shire was that?
Or out in Bree?’ said they.
But Winkle he up and answered flat:
‘I aint a-going to say’.


‘But I know where’, said Peeping Jack,
‘I watched him ride away:
he went upon the old Troll’s back
to the hills of Faraway’.
Then all the People went with a will,
by pony, cart, or moke,
until they came to a house in a hill
and saw a chimney smoke.


They hammered upon the old Troll’s door.
‘A beautiful cramsome cake
O bake for us, please, or two, or more;
O bake!’ they cried, ‘O bake!’
‘Go home, go home!’ the old Troll said.
‘I never invited you.
Only on Thursdays I bake my bread,
and only for a few’.


‘Go home! Go home! There’s some mistake.
My house is far too small;
and I’ve no pikelets, cream, or cake:
the Winkle has eaten all!
You Jack, and Hogg, old Bunce and Pott
I wish no more to see.
Be off! Be off now all the lot!
The Winkle’s the boy for me!’


Now Perry-the-Winkle grew so fat
through eating of cramsome bread,
his weskit bust, and never a hat
would sit upon his head;
for Every Thursday he went to tea,
and sat on the kitchen floor,
and smaller the old Troll seemed to be,
as he grew more and more.


The Winkle a Baker great became,
as still is said in song;
from the Sea to Bree there went the fame
of his bread both short and long.
But it weren’t so good as the cramsome bread;
no butter so rich and free,
as Every Thursday the old Troll spread
for Perry-the-Winkle’s tea.


            J.R.R. Tolkien


Listen to Tolkien himself read this poem:





The Adventures of Tom Bombadil


Old Tom Bombadil was a merry fellow;
bright blue his jacket was and his boots were yellow,
green were his girdle and his breeches all of leather;
he wore in his tall hat a swan-wing feather.
He lived up under Hill, where the Withywindle
ran from a grassy well down into the dingle.


Old Tom in summertime walked about the meadows
gathering the buttercups, running after shadows,
tickling the bumblebees that buzzed among the flowers,
sitting by the waterside for hours upon hours.


There his beard dangled long down into the water:
up came Goldberry, the River-woman’s daughter;
pulled Tom’s hanging hair. In he went a-wallowing
under the water-lilies, bubbling and a-swallowing.


‘Hey, Tom Bombadil! Whither are you going?’
said fair Goldberry. ‘Bubbles you are blowing,
frightening the finny fish and the brown water-rat,
startling the dabchicks, and drowning your feather-hat!’


‘You bring it back again, there’s a pretty maiden!’
said Tom Bombadil. ‘I do not care for wading.
Go down! Sleep again where the pools are shady
far below willow-roots, little water-lady!’


Back to her mother’s house in the deepest hollow
swam young Goldberry. But Tom, he would not follow;
on knotted willow-roots he sat in sunny weather,
drying his yellow boots and his draggled feather.


Up woke Willow-man, began upon his singing,
sang Tom fast asleep under branches swinging;
in a crack caught him tight: snick! it closed together,
trapped Tom Bombadil, coat and hat and feather.


‘Ha, Tom Bombadil! What be you a-thinking,
peeping inside my tree, watching me a-drinking
deep in my wooden house, tickling me with feather,
dripping wet down my face like a rainy weather?’


‘You let me out again, Old Man Willow!
I am stiff lying here; they’re no sort of pillow,
your hard crooked roots. Drink your river-water!
Go back to sleep again like the River-daughter!’


Willow-man let him loose when he heard him speaking;
locked fast his wooden house, muttering and creaking,
whispering inside the tree. Out from willow-dingle
Tom went walking on up the Withywindle.
Under the forest-eaves he sat a while a-listening:
on the boughs piping birds were chirruping and whistling.
Butterflies about his head went quivering and winking,
until grey clouds came up, as the sun was sinking.


Then Tom hurried on. Rain began to shiver,
round rings spattering in the running river;
a wind blew, shaken leaves chilly drops were dripping;
into a sheltering hole Old Tom went skipping.


Out came Badger-brock with his snowy forehead
and his dark blinking eyes. In the hill he quarried
with his wife and many sons. By the coat they caught him,
pulled him inside their earth, down their tunnels brought him.


Inside their secret house, there they sat a-mumbling:
‘Ho, Tom Bombadil’ Where have you come tumbling,
bursting in the front-door? Badger-folk have caught you.
You’ll never find it out, the way that we have brought you!’


‘Now, old Badger-brock, do you hear me talking?
You show me out at once! I must be a-walking.
Show me to your backdoor under briar-roses;
then clean grimy paws, wipe your earthy noses!
Go back to sleep again on your straw pillow,
like fair Goldberry and Old Man Willow!’


Then all the Badger-folk said: ‘We beg your pardon!’
They showed Tom out again to their thorny garden,
went back and hid themselves, a-shivering and a-shaking,
blocked up all their doors, earth together raking.


Rain had passed. The sky was clear, and in the summer-gloaming
Old Tom Bombadil laughed as he came homing,
unlocked his door again, and opened up a shutter.
In the kitchen round the lamp moths began to flutter:
Tom through the window saw waking stars come winking,
and the new slender moon early westward sinking.


Dark came under Hill. Tom, he lit a candle;
upstairs creaking went, turned the door-handle.
‘Hoo, Tom Bombadil! Look what night has brought you!
I’m here behind the door. Now at last I’ve caught you!
You’d forgotten Barrow-wight dwelling in the old mound
up there on hill-top with the ring of stones round.
He’s got loose again. Under earth he’ll take you.
Poor Tom Bombadil, pale and cold he’ll make you!’


‘Go out! Shut the door, and never come back after!
Take away gleaming eyes, take your hollow laughter!
Go back to grassy mound, on your stony pillow
lay down your bony head, like Old Man Willow,
like young Goldberry, and Badger-folk in burrow!
Go back to buried gold and forgotten sorrow!’


Out fled Barrow-wight through the window leaping,
through the yard, over wall like a shadow sweeping,
up hill wailing went back to leaning stone-rings,
back under lonely mound, rattling his bone-rings.


Old Tom Bombadil lay upon his pillow
sweeter than Goldberry, quieter than the Willow,
snugger than the Badger-folk or the Barrow-dwellers;
slept like a humming-top, snored like a bellows.


He woke in morning-light, whistled like a starling,
sang, ‘Come, derry-dol, merry-dol, my darling!’
He clapped on his battered hat, boots, and coat and feather;
opened the window wide to the sunny weather.


Wise old Bombadil, he was a wary fellow;
bright blue his jacket was, and his boots were yellow.
None ever caught old Tom in upland or in dingle,
walking the forest-paths, or by the Withywindle,
or out on the lily-pools in boat upon the water.
But one day Tom, he went and caught the River-daughter,
in green gown, flowing hair, sitting in the rushes,
singing old water-songs to birds upon the bushes.


He caught her, held her fast! Water-rats went scuttering
reeds hissed, herons cried, and her heart was fluttering.
Said Tom Bombadil: ‘Here’s my pretty maiden!
You shall come home with me! The table is all laden:
yellow cream, honeycomb, white bread and butter;
roses at the window-sill and peeping round the shutter.
You shall come under Hill! Never mind your mother
in her deep weedy pool: there you’ll find no lover!’


Old Tom Bombadil had a merry wedding,
crowned all with buttercups, hat and feather shedding;
his bride with forgetmenots and flag-lilies for garland
was robed all in silver-green. He sang like a starling,
hummed like a honey-bee, lilted to the fiddle,
clasping his river-maid round her slender middle.


Lamps gleamed within his house, and white was the bedding;
in the bright honey-moon Badger-folk came treading,
danced down under Hill, and Old Man Willow
tapped, tapped at window-pane, as they slept on the pillow,
on the bank in the reeds River-woman sighing
heard old Barrow-wight in his mound crying.


Old Tom Bombadil heeded not the voices,
taps, knocks, dancing feet, all the nightly noises;
slept till the sun arose, then sang like a starling:
‘Hey! Come derry-dol, merry-dol, my darling!’
sitting on the door-step chopping sticks of willow,
while fair Goldberry combed her tresses yellow.


            J.R.R. Tolkien


Listen to Tolkien himself read this poem:



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