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Poems from The Hobbit
J.R.R. Tolkien
Houghton Mifflin, 53 pages

J.R.R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born of English parents at Bloemfontein, South Africa on Jan. 3, 1892 and died in England on Sept. 2, 1973. He received his education at Oxford University. After graduating in 1915, he joined the British army and saw action in the Battle of the Somme. He was eventually discharged after spending most of 1917 in the hospital.

Tolkien was a scholar by profession. He worked as a staff member of the New English Dictionary, Reader then Professor of English Language at Leeds between 1920-25, Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford between 1925-45 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature until 1959.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Letters from Father Christmas
SF Site Review: The Hobbit
The Tolkien Timeline
The Electronic Tolkien Encyclopedia Project
The Last Homely House
Tolkien's Birmingham
Tolkien's Oxford
The Internet Tolkien Book Society Page
The Tolkien Collector Resources Page
The Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor Page
The Halls of Tolkien
The Numenor Chronology

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Trent Walters

Poems from The Hobbit Poems from The Hobbit is what it says. It prints up the poems from The Hobbit for a book of its own, alongside Tolkien's colour illustrations. The poems are probably more at home in their original context but do spark some of the energy, separated from the native text. But if you prefer Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" to William Carlos William's "The Red Wheelbarrow," then this may be the book for you:

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!
This new format also includes Gollum's eight riddles -- perhaps this reviewer's personal favourites of the collection.

Why these poems don't quite stand up as well outside the text stems from the fact that these were designed to build up the lore of Tolkien's world. While fun to read, they don't carry the weight of the best of contemporary poetry, which perhaps isn't always fun to read (unless it's Billy Collins or Albert Goldbarth). What does work for this collection is that they are unambiguous. As accomplished as these may be, one wonders if would-be speculative poets are relying too heavily on Tolkien as opposed to studying the true masters of the 20th century poetry like WCW, Stevens, Frost, et al.

The book is aimed at Tolkien fans, of course, of which there are deservedly many. Its charm relies on the small size, the detail of the drawings, and poetry whose aim is to entertain, rather than to provoke thought.

Copyright © 2000 Trent Walters

Trent Walters co-edits Mythic Circle, is a 1999 graduate of Clarion West, is working on a book of interviews with science fiction writers.

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