Bilbo and his poem


New Member
Talking about Bilbo and his role in Rivendell, I'm taking this opportunity to go back a couple of chapters (or a couple of years).

A while back I was looking for something. I was interested in whether I could find an acrostic in the Eärendil poem - specifically I wanted to find Bilbo's name. It struck me as something he may have snuck in. “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” Well it isn't there. However...

whilst I had this in my mind something suddenly jumped out at me in the first stanza:
he built a boat of timber felled

So my question for Narnion or anyone else - is this on purpose?
In Errantry the line is, "he built a gilded gondola" so the change from 'gilded gondola' to 'boat' is understandable in the context.
So a coincidence?
I don't think so, but would appreciate opinions more knowledgeable than my own.


Well-Known Member
Hi khazaphod,

I take it you are wondering whether the name 'Bilbo' is hidden in the words Built a Boat?

I wouldn't necessarily put it past JRRT to do so. But, I think it less likely rather than more.

I think the main reason for the change in phrase between 'Errantry' and 'Earendil' is that Earendil's vessel is more serious and ocean-going. 'Gondola' calls to mind navigating the placid canals of Venice, or the seventeen rivers mentioned in 'Errantry', rather than the wild western ocean.

Among other changes in the poem, and especially a shift to a more serious and epic register, he had to shift from 'gondola' and move the alliteration.

Of course, JRRT could have made the line: "he shaped a ship of timber felled in Nimbrethil to journey in;" so, I don't think we can rule out the possibility that JRRT (or Bilbo) was trying to work Bilbo's own name in there cryptically.