Evaluating the Poetry of JRR Tolkien

CTRandall

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I'm not particularly fond of this one. Besides the echoes of Dunstany (and thanks for that link, by the way!), to me it reads like a poor version of Jabberwocky. Worse, Tolkien's twisted and tortured syntax enables rhyme but makes the language sound awkward and unnatural. For example:

"And slow and softly rings their bell,
As in the slime you sink.

You sink into the slime, who dare
To knock upon their door,
While down the grinning gargoyles stare
And noisome waters pour."

Gah! That is what annoys me most about so much of the "poetry" that shows up in fantasy novels. Writers will do anything for a clever rhyme. I much prefer a good poem with striking imagery or insight to drivel governed solely by metre and rhyme.

I suspect I'll be in a minority here and I don't want to ruin other people's pleasures in reading, so I'll shut up now.
 

Boaz

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As we began to break up at my last book club meeting, someone mentioned Tolkien... and this woman said, "I read and reread it all. I wrote papers in school about his poetry."
So I proclaimed, in a loud voice, "Gil-galad was an Elven king..."
"Of him the harper's sadly sing," she replied.
"The last whose realm was fair and free," said I.
"No," she said.
I continued, "Between the Mountains and..."
"No," she said. "I'm not doing this."
"Earendil was a mariner..."
"No."
"The leaves were long, the grass was green, the hemlock-umbels tall and fair..."
"Look, there was a time in my life when that was important... that's not now."

I don't love or hate Tolkien's poetry... it's just the only poetry I know.
 

CTRandall

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I continued, "Between the Mountains and..."
"No," she said. "I'm not doing this."
"Earendil was a mariner..."
"No."
"The leaves were long, the grass was green, the hemlock-umbels tall and fair..."
"Look, there was a time in my life when that was important... that's not now."
I kind of wish I could delete my previous post, as I do not want to be like that woman (though, of course, she may be a wonderful person in many other ways). If the poetry speaks to you, enjoy it!
 

Boaz

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Don't be sorry. It's art... if it grabs you now or then... or never. I think that woman remembered fondly, until she realized I am a Tolkien fanatic... without inhibitions.
 
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