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Twice Twenty  by Dreamflower

Title: “He Sat and Sang a Melody…”
Theme: Set #1, Theme #19, “Song”
Genre (s): Fluff
Pairing (s): N/A
Rating: G
Notes: This takes place during the same annual spring visit as Story #12 of Set #1, “Looking Back”
Summary: Pippin spends the morning singing a particular song, which triggers memories for Merry, Sam and Frodo.


Pippin leaned back against the trunk of the ash tree, his furry little feet swinging gently from the branch where he sat. He finished singing the last verse of “Nob O’ the Lea”, and then cast about in his mind for what to sing next. Soon his boyish treble soared out in one of old Cousin Bilbo’s compositions:

“There was a merry passenger,
a messenger, a mariner;
he built a gilded gondola
to wander in and had in her
a load of yellow oranges
and porridge for his provender;
he perfumed her with marjoram
and cardamom and lavender…”

In the grass below, Merry put his hands behind his head and settled in to get comfortable. He loved to listen to Pippin sing. His little cousin always seemed to pour his whole heart into the music. It was the one time he seemed to relax, and lose the fidgety restlessness that seemed to grip him the rest of the time. And this was a nice long song, one that went on for ages. The first time he had heard Cousin Bilbo sing it, it had lulled him to sleep. Idly, Merry wondered how it was that a lad who could forget from one moment to the next what he had done with his jacket, or who had given him a message, never seemed to forget the words of a song, no matter how long or complicated.

“He called the winds of argosies
with cargoes in to carry him
across the rivers seventeen
that lay between to tarry him.
He landed all in loneliness
where stonily the pebbles on
the running river Derilyn
go merrily forever on.
He journeyed then through meadow-lands
to Shadow-land that dreary lay,
and under hill and over hill
went roving still a weary way

He sat and sang a melody,
his errantry a-tarrying:
he begged a pretty butterfly
that fluttered by…”

By the hedge, Sam grinned and hummed along. That there was one of old Mr. Bilbo’s songs, one that was full of fanciful words. It wasn’t one Sam had ever managed to get his own tongue around--a lot of nonsense, the Gaffer had called it, and Mr. Bilbo had laughed and agreed. “Utter nonsense,” he had said, “just a bit of doggerel to see how the rhymes fit.”
But listening to Master Pippin singing it, it almost made sense. It made a lovely picture in the mind--though exactly what of, Sam could not say.

Pippin continued on, for it was a very long song, carried away himself by the wonderful way the words all seemed to flow together.

“…He passed the archipelagoes
where yellow grows the marigold,
where countless silver fountains are,
and mountains are of fairy gold.
He took to war and foraying
a-harrying beyond the sea,
and roaming over Belmarie
and Thellamie and Fantasie.

He made a shield and morion
of coral and of ivory,
a sword he made of emerald
and terrible his rivalry…”

In his study, at his desk next to the open window, Frodo put down his quill and putting his elbows on the desk, rested his chin in his hands and listened to the clear voice floating up to him. He remembered when Bilbo had written it. “I have in mind a more serious and longer work I should like to do some day, a translation of a tale from the Sindarin. But I want to see how the rhyming scheme and scansion will fit. This is just a bit of practice.” But Frodo had found himself enraptured by the imagery that the strange poem conjured up, and now coming from little Pippin’s sweet voice, he found himself somehow journeying with that mythical voyager, that merry mariner…

“…he took and turned, and coming home
with honeycomb, to memory
his message came, and errand, too!
In derring-do and glamoury
he had forgot them, journeying
and tourneying, a wanderer.
So now he must depart again
and start again his gondola,
forever still a messenger,
a passenger, a tarrier,
a-roving as a feather does,
a weather driven mariner.”*

Pippin’s voice faded out at the end of the song, and he breathed a sigh at its ending. Such a strange song, it seemed somehow both light-hearted and sad at the same time, the way he imagined Elves might be. He wondered if maybe the mysterious mariner was an Elf. Perhaps.
Now, what should he sing next?
*These are portions of the poem “Errantry” from “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil” in The Tolkien Reader The title is also taken from part of the poem: “He sat and sang a melody, his errantry a-tarrying…” According to JRRT, “Errantry” was practice for the poem about Eärendil which Bilbo wrote in Rivendell. Personally, I find it far more charming than the more serious poem which followed from it.

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