A wild surmise on Bilbo's poem


Well-Known Member
This speculation was triggered on thinking about Bruce N H's question in this forum, 'When did Bilbo write, "I sit beside the fire and think"'?

This wild surmise is that Bilbo had already composed most of the song in his head (to the tune, known today as 'Auld Lang Syne', as suggested by TThurston in this forum), before the conversation with Frodo on Christmas Eve.

However, I surmise that the song he composed was only four stanzas long. It ended with,
“in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.”

A perfect conclusion of estel for the world.

But, when Bilbo turned to the window the first time, “trying to hum a tune”, he thought it might be too abstract, and not personal enough for the situation facing Frodo.

On the spur of the moment, Bilbo made up the last two verses. Verse 5 is a bit redundant, covering themes and emotions already covered in the poem, but it served as a bridge to verse 6. Verse 6 is what he suddenly realized he really wanted, in order to add amdir for Frodo to the estel for the world from verse 4.

One of the things I most appreciate about this class is that it prompts these suppositions.
“Like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific – and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise –
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.”

Of course, just like those silent men (yes, I know they were led, in fact, by Balboa, not Cortez. Keats was supposedly informed as much right after he finished the poem. But, he did not like how ‘Balboa’ scanned, so left in Cortez. [I wonder which Corey would prefer to be compared to?].) I have no way of knowing if this wild surmise is correct.