Category Archives: Lord of the Rings

Tom Bombadil

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but here’s a post all about one of Middle-earth’s most mystical characters.

Recently I read the Lord of the Rings and I absolutely loved it.  It seems to me that it is far too in depth for a simple review, so I will post a few articles now and again about it.

Tom Bombadil is a mysterious character who lives in the Old Forest.  He is married to Goldberry “Daughter of the River” who herself seems to have power over the weather.  Tom has blue eyes and brown beard and hair.  He is between 4 and 5 feet in height, and wears a blue jacket and yellow boots.  He wears a battered hat with a feather, but in his own house a crown of autumn leaves is his preferred headgear.  According to Tolkien his name is Bucklandish in form, and was given it by the Hobbits of that region (The Adventures of Tom Bombadil), although he has been given many names – Forn by Dwarves, Orald by Northern Men and Irwain Ben-adar by Elves.

Within his own lands he possesses amazing power over virtually anything.  Goldberry describes him as “Master of wood, water and hill.”  Tom Bombadil describes himself as “Eldest” and says he remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn and was there before Melkor’s second entry into the world.  His Elvish name means Oldest and Fatherless.

The One Ring had no power at all over Bombadil, he neither became invisible when he wore it nor perceived another wearer as invisible.  The Ring did not enchant him as it had enchanted Bilbo, Frodo and Smeagol, and it was with no reluctance that he returned it to Frodo after trying it on.  He was immune to its influence.  This obviously would make him an ideal Ringbearer, but the Council of Elrond decided that it would be impossible to take the Ring from Rivendell to the Old Forest without it becoming known to Sauron.  Sooner or later he would bend all his power on the forest intent on recovering the One Ring.  Even Tom’s immense power could not have protected it for ever, in the opinion of the Council.  Additionally, due to the lack of power the Ring had over Bombadil, and the lack of regard Bombadil had for anything outside his forest, it was likely he would lose or forget about it.

He seems to be able to control people by singing, and on two occasions he rescues Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Sam.  On the first occasion he rescues them from Old Man Willow and on the second occasion he rescues them from a Barrow-wight.  On the second occasion Tom appears seconds after Frodo sings a song which Tom had taught him.

It is possible that Tom Bombadil is the embodiment of the countryside (The Letters of J. R. R. Tokien), but this book was written before Lord of the Rings and might be contradictory to Tolkien’s final idea of him.  Other people suggest he is the creator in Tolkien’s world, who is Eru Ilúvatar or a wise Elvin hermit.  He could also be a nature spirit or the Spirit of the Music of the Ainur.  He possibly could be an angelic being, e.g. a Maia or Vala.  Other theories include him being the embodiment of Arda, Father Time, an echo of Adam, the first man, a non-divine spirit or even the Secret Fire.  Abstract ideas include that he represented Tolkien’s friends, Tolkien himself, the reader, a living thought or the concentrated goodwill of the Old Forest.  A somewhat controversial theory proposes that Tom is an evil greater than Sauron himself or the Witch King of Angmar in disguise.

Personally, I don’t think it’s possible to be absolutely sure but I think the theories which appear likely are that he is either the Spirit of the Music of the Ainur, a Maia or the embodiment of Arda.

Below is a list of Tom Bombadil’s songs.

Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! Fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

 

Hey! Come merry dol! derry dol! My darling!
Light goes the weather-wind and the feathered starling.
Down along under Hill, shining in the sunlight,
Waiting on the doorstep for the cold starlight,
There my pretty lady is, River-woman’s daughter,
Slender as the willow-wand, clearer than the water.
Old Tom Bombadil water-lilies bringing
Comes hopping home again. Can you hear him singing?
Hey! Come merry dol! derry dol! and merry-o!
Goldberry, Goldberry, merry yellow berry-o!
Poor old Willow-man, you tuck your roots away!
Tom’s in a hurry now. Evening will follow day.
Tom’s going home again water-lilies bringing.
Hey! Come derry dol! Can you hear me singing?

 

Hop along, my little friends, up the Withywindle!

Tom’s going on ahead candles for to kindle.
Down west sinks the Sun: soon you will be groping.
When the night-shadows fall, then the door will open,
Out of the window-panes light will twinkle yellow.
Fear no alder black! Heed no hoary willow!
Fear neighter root nor bough! Tom goes on before you.
Hey now! merry dol! We’ll be waiting for you!

 

Hey! Come derry dol! Hop along, my hearties!
Hobbits! Ponies all! We are fond of parties.
Now let the fun begin! Let us sing together!

 

Now let the song begin! Let us sing together!
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather,
Light on the budding leaf, dew on the feather,
Wind on the open hill, bells on the heather,
Reeds by the shady pool, lilies on the water:
Old  Tom Bombadil and the River-daughter!

 

Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow;
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.

 

I had an errand there: gathering water-lilies,
green leaves and lilies white to please my pretty lady,
the last ere the year’s end to keep them from the winter,
to flower by her pretty feet till the snows are melted.
Each year at summer’s end I go to find them for her,
in a wide pool, deep and clear, far down the Withywindle;
there they open first in spring and there they linger latest.
By that pool long ago I found the River-daughter,
fair young Goldberry sitting in the rushes.
Sweet was her singing then, and her heart was beating!
And that proved well for you– for now I shall no longer
go down deep again along the forest-water,
not while the year is old. Nor shall I be passing
Old Man Willow’s house this side of spring-time,
not till the merry spring, when the River-daughter
dances down the withy-path to bathe in the water.

 

Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadillo!
By water, wood and hill, by the reed and willow,
By fire, sun and moon, hearken now and hear us!
Come, Tom Bombadil, for our need is near us!

 

Old Tom Bombadil 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.

 

Get out, you old wight! Vanish in the sunlight!
Shrivel like the cold mist, like the winds go wailing,
Out into the barren lands far beyond the mountains!
Come never here again! Leave your barrow empty!
Lost and forgotten be, darker than the darkness,
Where gates stand for ever shut, till the world is mended.

 

Wake now my merry lads! Wake and hear me calling!
Warm now be heart and limb! The cold stone is fallen;
Dark door is standing wide; dead hand is broken.
Night under Night is flown, and the Gate is open!

 

Hey! now! Come hoy now! Wither do you wander?
Up, down, near or far, here, there or yonder?
Sharp-ears, Wise-nose, Swish-tail and Bumpkin,
White-socks my little lad, and old Fatty Lumpkin!
Tom’s country ends here: he will not pass the borders.
Tom has his house to mind, and Goldberry is waiting!
Feel free to comment below what you think Tom Bombadil is, or anything you’d like me to post about.
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