The Rants, Raves, Gripes, and Prophecies of Paul R. Potts

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Tue, 22 Feb 2005 Slogging Along with Turin

So, I'm working my way through the second book of Lost Tales. The early versions of Beren and Luthien were easy to read, especially with the somewhat comic scenes with the cat-lord, Tevildo. The draft of the story of Turin Turambar, entitled "Turambar and the Foaloke," is not so easy. It is long, and grim, largely in a very formal style, and it veers perilously close to reading like "the telephone book in Elvish." This is in part because so many of the names are different in the version of the story with which I am most familiar.

I'll have to fortify myself by listening to my recorded version of the tale of Turin Turambar as it appears in the Silmarillion. If that doesn't get me through it, I'll set it aside for now and move on to the next story. Maybe I'm just tired today.

In our bedtime storytelling we're in the midst of the Council of Elrond, the point at which fellowship is formed and the story really gets moving. The night before last we were in the hall of fire, and I read out loud Bilbo's poem about Earendil. I had long thought this was one of the more abstract and dull of the poems in the book, but now that I am older, when I read the poem out loud I find it stunning: an amazing vocabulary, great subtlety of wording, with alliteration and internal half-rhymes, makes it perhaps the best single poem in the book, in my haughty and egomaniacal opinion.

Shortly I'll have the chance to read Tolkien's early Tale of Earendel (an earlier spelling), which contains several earlier poems. I'm very much looking forward to it. It makes me laugh even more at Bilbo's cheekiness in reciting a poem about Earendil in the house of Elrond. But it is a remarkable poem, and the elves were not mocking Bilbo when they asked him to recite it again. It also makes me wonder what it would be like to be old enough to remember personally a world that is now only myth -- but since I was born in the 1960s, perhaps I do -- and wonder further what it would be like to have a constellation for a father!

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