XXXVI

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

It is now 1973-4, my first year in theological seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School north of Chicago, working on my Master of Divinity degree.  Just as I had been constantly running off to read Augustine, Calvin, Hodge, or Warfield when I was supposed to be studying English literature, so now I was constantly sneaking off to read Dante, Shakespeare, Spenser, or Milton when I was supposed to be studying theology.  I think it is the best possible approach to both subjects.

But the autumn of 1973 saw a much more portentous event than a new set of studies: the passing of J. R. R. Tolkien, whose Lord of the Rings had helped to awaken me from my prosaic slumbers in high school.  His elegy naturally had to take the form of the laments for Gandalf given by the Company while they rested in Lorien.

TO J. R. R. TOLKIEN

On a day when Fall’s first leaves were flying

And the Wind was howling, and Geese were crying,

Word first came, on dark wings riding:

“Tolkien is dead!”

Was all they said,

And left us crying.

He heard by light of star and moon

The Elven-songs, and learned their tunes.

He had longs walks with them, and talks,

Beneath the swaying trees in June.

Dwarf-mines deeply delved he saw

Where Mithril glittered on the walls

And might kings wrought wondrous things

And reigned in hollow, torchlit halls.

To forests wild and deep he went

And many lives of men he spent

Where leaves of years fall soft like tears,

Listening to the speech of Ents.

In lofty halls of men he sat

Or rustic rooms of bar-man fat;

In hobbit holes heard stories told

By an old man in a wizard’s hat.

With magic words of Dark and Light

And days of Doom and coming Night

And magic Rings and hoped for Spring,

He wrought the record of his sight.

In Beowulf’s bold fleet he sailed,

With Gawain the Green Knight beheld;

By Beortnoth’s side he stood and cried,

As scores of pagan Danes he felled,

“Will shall be sterner, heart the bolder,

Spirit the greater as our strength fails!”

 

On a day when Fall’s first leaves were flying

And the Wind was howling, and Geese were crying,

Word first came, on dark wings riding:

“Tolkien is dead!”

Was all they said,

And left us crying.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://www.createspace.com/3562314 and order Stars Through the Clouds!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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About gandalf30598

Theologian, philosopher, poet, and critic; minister of the Gospel who makes his living by teaching medieval and renaissance literature; dual citizen of Narnia and Middle Earth.

Posted on July 11, 2011, in Donald Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Middle Earth, Poetry, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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