Episode 210 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

Breaking off and singing softly:
  • This is Bilbo’s second attempt to hide his strong emotions from Frodo, behaving casually.
  • By saying “if I am spared”, Bilbo is referring to whether or not he will live long enough to do this.
  • Bilbo’s doubt seems to be based on awareness of his age, as he had expressed back in Bag End.
  • Note: While in the film version, Bilbo is shown to have aged up rapidly after giving up the Ring, there is no evidence in the text that Bilbo has aged at all since finding the Ring at 50 years old. The moment in the film is used to illustrate to Frodo the power of the Ring over its owner, but this is inconsistent with the text, as Gollum would have died from extreme old age long ago.
  • Gandalf had point to the fact that Bilbo seemed unaware of the connection between his extended preservation and the Ring, but he seems to understand that much better now.
  • Bilbo has been made aware, through its effect on Frodo, what Ring did to him, and how it is still affecting him, which means that he may understand what unmaking the Ring means for him.
  • Even if Bilbo has not visibly aged, he has begun to feel old internally, and extremely old at that.
  • Note: Chronologically, Bilbo is currently the second oldest hobbit known to have ever lived.
  • Bilbo is being somewhat optimistic in mentioning writing the second book, though unlikely.
  • The book writing acts as a proxy for seeing Frodo again, as much as his legacy. This shows his hope that Frodo will succeed, as no one would be able to write the second book otherwise.
Bilbo’s farewell song:
  • The basic rhythmic meter of the poem is perfectly iambic, which is typical of hobbit poetry.
  • The only exception is “flowers”, which the meter insists on being pronounced as one syllable.
  • The opening line of each stanza might be pronounced as spondaic, like in the Bombadil poetry.
  • The overall feel is iambic heptameter, with the seven feet split between four in the first line and three in the second line. This deviates from the usual “hobbit meter”, or iambic tetrameter.
  • The lack of punctuation in the pairs of lines emphasizes that the two lines are joined in meter.
  • The heptameter feel is usually associated with the Elves, so this may show their influence.
  • The rhyming quatrains with rhymes on the even lines, rather than couplets, are a stylistic choice.
  • Note: Rhyming “seen” and “been” seems unusual in American dialects, but in British English, and especially historical dialects, this would be a common rhyme, going back to Chaucer’s time.
  • There are sound associations, such as alliterations, within the odd lines, but no end rhymes.
  • This lends to the enjambment between the pairs of lines, which adds to the feel of a couplet.
  • There of the first seven stressed syllables begin with “s”, giving an alliterative feel in the line.
  • “Meadow-flowers” uses a similar sound in the two words, which is an intentional sonic choice, which when paired with the quicker “butterflies”, alters the rhythm without changing meter.
  • The “s” pattern continues within the first stanza, extending into the fourth line, and there is another “f” pattern withing the same stanza. There are many small sound relationships.
Sitting beside the fire and thinking:
  • The main verbs are in present tense, and all the following lines are subordinate to that clause.
  • The acts of sitting and thinking are reminiscent of Bilbo’s description of Rivendell in The Hobbit.
  • The lines that follow are in present perfect, using the helping verb “have” rather than “had”.
  • This is a retrospective on Bilbo’s life as of these current actions, not only focused on the past.
  • Using the verb “been” anthropomorphizes the summers as something going on apart from him.
  • Bilbo doesn’t mention anything that happened in those summers, in particular to himself, but only that they happened. Bilbo doesn’t insert himself into that scene, but simply frames it.
  • The use of “have been” before the semicolon acts as a linking verb between the two stanzas.
  • The overall subject of the first stanza is summer itself, which acts as kind of protagonist in it.
  • This is the beginning of the pattern of the seasons going on throughout the rest of the poem.