Bilbo's Last poem

Timdalf

Active Member
There is another interesting parallel that is not exact in stanzas 1 & 2

Note the position in each stanza of the "...in..." phrases. In Stanza 1 the "in summers that have been" is the last line. But in Stanza 2 the "in autumns that there were" is the already second line. This has to be intentional, because he could have written the last two lines of Stanza 2 before the first two... perhaps inverting them to keep the trimeter/quadrimeter shape.... But what this might imply, I am not sure... ??? I might suggest that the two "...in..." lines are put together with the intro lines "I sit beside..." balanced by the final two lines of Stanza 2... Thus the intro is balanced by a conclusion. Thus the first two stanzas form a complete unit... The first two stanzas form a prelude to the central subject: that he is not going to see these things again... There are thus three 2 stanza units to the whole poem. Note he begins each one with "I sit beside the fire and think..." Thus part one is a reminiscence of what he has seen. Part two is what he will not see. But also of the many things that he has not seen. So he does not leave it with this melancholy thought... he not only accepts that he hasn't seen everything anyway... So he goes on to people who WILL see what he will not, and then finally of those people whom he anticipates. So it ends on a sort of upbeat, albeit mildly so, note. He is part of a larger whole... life goes on in his younger friends. One final thing, the imagery of the shades of green as being so variegated and multiple that we can't ever see them all which is an image often called up by various poets as being something we often do not notice, but should.
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
The parallel between the second two lines in stanza 1 and the first two of stanza 2 function as a link between these two stanzas. When read aloud, they actually sound like one quatrain of iambic heptameter rhymed couplets, this connection is one of the reasons why.

In these stanzas he is thinking nostalgically about the world he has known (and he will see a few more summers and autumns). But he has arrived at a place of peace with the fact that the world will continue without him when he dies - something that shows, I think, the influence of Rivendell and its timelessness, and why it has been so healing for him after he gives up the Ring and leaves the Shire. This is what is expressed in the third and fourth stanzas.

In the last two stanzas, there is a sense of busyness - the world has always gone on (though Treebeard would say always is too large a word) and always will, and there will be people after him as there were before. This leads to the thought of the people who are dear to him now, and his hopes for their safe return.
 
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