SUMMARY: A well-known encounter, cast into verse
AUTHOR’S NOTES:  Marigold’s prompt included earth, air, fire and water, and time for a task.  Italics indicate quotations from The Fellowship of the Ring Book I, Chapters V, VI, and VII “The Old Forest”, “In the House of Tom Bombadil” and “Fog on the Barrow-Downs”.
DISCLAIMER: Middle-earth and all its peoples belong to the Tolkien Estate. I own none of them. Some of them, however, seem to own me.
TOM BOMBADIL AND THE FOUR TRAVELLERS
“Buckland has a number of traditional songs about the mysterious Tom Bombadil, who was rumored to dwell in the Old Forest by the Withywindle. This particular version did not become popular until the Fourth Age, and this is one that was widely believed to have been written by the Master of Buckland, Master Meriadoc the Magnificent, himself. There is no doubt that there are some gaffers still living, who can claim to have heard the song sung from the lips of Thain Peregrin I.” From Legends and Tales of Buckland and the Marish by Hibiscus Brandybuck-Gardner
Old Tom Bombadil was a merry fellow
Bright blue his jacket was, and his boots were yellow,
In the Old Forest up along the Withywindle,
Under shade and sunlight, in the dell and dingle,
By oak, ash and thorn, by earth, air, fire and water,
Tom dwelt in joy with the River-woman’s daughter,
In Tom’s house of stone, his pretty lady Goldberry,
Fair as a lily bloom, and her heart was merry.
Tom went down to riverside, each year as days grew shorter
There to fetch for his lady, lilies by the water
Lilies white and leaves of green, he brought them for her pleasure,
Time it was to do that task, to bring her such a treasure.
There he spoke with badger folk, and swans upon the water,
Teasing the kingfishers there, spying on the otter,
Plucking forth the flowers there, and as the day grew warmer
He spied across the water then his old friend, a farmer.
“Hi-Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadil-o!
News I have to bring to you, now, you merry fellow!
Through the Old Forest now hobbits are a-wandering,
Though what it all may mean, I’ve no time for pondering.”
“Why, old Maggot! This is a jolly meeting!
Thanks for the news and for the cheery greeting.
But I’ve no time for chatting, my task it cannot wait--
For my fair Goldberry, Tom would not be late!”
Now Tom turned about, his arms with flowers laden,
And turned his face to home, to the bank a-wading.
About his ruddy cheeks a gentle wind was wafted.
“Tell her I am coming” said he to the breeze with laughter,
Tom went to hurry on, lest the lilies they be wilting,
When a fair voice he heard, a lovely and a lilting.
“Ho, now!” Tom cried, “Now here is one of the Fair Folk,
Sitting up overhead, making free with branch of oak!
Making the leaves to shake, and the acorns falling!
Why have you come here, old Tom a-calling?”
“O Tom Bombadil! O oldest and fatherless!
Iarwain Ben-adar, I bring news most grievous--
Hobbits are fleeing, pursued by fell and fearsome foe,
Wraiths are coming after them, bringing weal and woe!”
“Hey-ho!” said Bombadil, “thank you for your warning!
Wraiths cannot come here, nor Tom’s lands be harming.
Tom is the Master here, and their evil cannot enter.
But now I must hurry on! My task will not be hindered!”
Tom hurried on, then, for flowers he was bringing
To his lady Goldberry, and Tom he was a-singing:
O slender as a willow-wand! O clearer than clear water!
O reed by the living pool! Fair River-daughter!
O spring-time and summer-time and spring again after!
O wind on the waterfall, and the leave’s laughter!”
Through the forest Tom did haste along the waterside,
Where the river reeds did sing and the haughty swans glide,
Home to his Goldberry, she who waited there
In his stone house under hill, in a dingle fair.
On he went a-hurrying, past birch and beech and alder
When a voice crying out did cause his steps to falter.
“Help! Help!” it called loud and clear and full of fright.
Round the river bend Tom saw a hobbit come in sight.
Fair he was for hobbit kind, his face was marred with fear,
But Tom kept on a-singing, and his voice was firm and clear.
And now another hobbit came a-running with an outcry of his own,
With their hands stretched out in plea, they made a grievous moan.
“Whoa! Whoa! Steady there! Now my little fellows,
Where be you a-going to, puffing like a bellows?
What’s the matter here then? Do you know who I am?”
They stared at Tom astonished, their eyes with tears swam.
“Tell me what’s your trouble--don’t you crush my lilies!”
“My friends are caught in the willow-tree!”
The hobbit cried. “Master Merry’s squeezed in a crack,”
Said the other, and then quickly stepping back.
For there in the forest deep, close against the river-bank
There grew an ancient Willow tree, its branches dark and lank.
Old Man Willow, whose heart was black and rotten,
Grew in his malice there, old insults not forgotten.
Once he had been the master of the forest, thick and tangled,
And he had sought to put his power forth, the legged ones to strangle.
The trees were brought by his dark power to attack the Hedge,
Moving close against it putting branches over the edge--
Crowding up and growing up, ever and ever higher.
Until hobbits put an end to it by bringing in a fire.
And now he had his victims, caught fast within his trap:
A Took and a Brandybuck, lulled into a deadly nap--
His singing had bespelled them, and they found an unwise pillow,
Cradling their heads against the Old Man Willow.
“What?” shouted Bombadil, “Old Man Willow?”
Angrily, Tom put his burden down, and began to bellow.
“Old grey Willow-man! I’ll freeze his marrow cold if he don’t behave…
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away!”
Bending down to the crack, old Tom began a-singing
All within that hollow heart his voice it was ringing,
Showing who was Master, he brought forth all his power
And Old Man Willow before old Tom did cower.
Tom smote the tree and said “You let them out again,
Old Man Willow! What be you a thinking of? You should not be waking!”
Tom, he was angry now, and his voice was quaking.
“Eat earth! Dig deep! Drink water! Go to sleep!
Bombadil is talking!” and he seized the hobbit’s feet.
Old Man Willow gave a groan, a mighty crack a-splitting,
And both hobbits shot forth, as though the tree was a-spitting.
The hobbits thanked old Tom, a-bowing and a-grinning.
Tom laughed, said “Enough of jawing and a-chinning!
Come home with me and have white bread and butter,
Yellow cream and honeycomb and good things for supper!
Time enough for questions around the supper table.
You follow after me, as soon as you are able!”
The hobbits followed after Tom, puffing and a-blowing,
But Tom hurried on before, never was he slowing.
Tom had his task to do, and the flowers for to carry,
All to take home to his beautiful Goldberry.
But Tom led them on with his capering and singing--
Though they lost sight of him, his voice was a-ringing!
With many a “Hey now!” and a jolly “derry dol!”
Tom led them on to a green and grassy knoll.
And so hungry and weary, to Old Tom’s house they came,
And he met them there and greeted them, and called them by name.
And there they saw her, lovely as the heather,
Fair as the lily-bloom, lively as the weather,
Eyes as deep as pools and sparkling as the water,
Fair Lady Goldberry, the River-woman’s daughter.
And Tom stood beside her, and together they were singing,
There they welcomed their guests, in voices that were ringing:
“Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather.”
And warm was the welcome, and glad was the greeting,
And happy were the travellers to find a merry meeting.
And danger stayed without the door while all within was cheer.
Within was light and life and love, and naught was there to fear.
Only food and song and laughter, on the hearth a cheery fire,
And clear water and soft beds, for when they began to tire.
A night, a day, another night, with Bombadil they stayed,
Until their errand beckoned them, and their fright did fade.
With hearts all filled with gratitude they bid their hosts farewell--
And yet ‘tis not the end, for there is something more to tell--
How once again Tom Bombadil put them right when they’d gone wrong.
But that is for another day and for yet another song!
The Old Forest is a perilous place where hobbit-kind are strangers,
But old Tom may there be found, to rescue them from dangers!
Old Tom Bombadil, he is a merry fellow!
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow!
None has ever caught him yet, for Tom he is the master;
His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.
He leaps along the hill-tops, he looks into the earth
Where badgers dwell. The forest creatures know his worth.
He dances down the wooded path, the breeze carries his laughter,
As home he goes to his own hearth and a cheery fire after.
Tom bides in the forest yet, beside the flowing water,
With his lovely Goldberry, the River-woman’s daughter.
“There has been speculation that Master Meriadoc wrote a second song, or that there is a longer version of this one, relating events occurring after this concerning Tom Bombadil, and dealing with the Matter of the Ring. However, no written evidence of this has yet been discovered.”