Episode 212 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

Winter is coming:
  • When compared to the first two stanzas, the third stanza starts at the beginning again, which makes the first line seem like a refrain, and the two-stanza pattern expected to continue.
  • Unlike the second stanza, the simple rhyme is very strong, and the rhythm is very regular.
  • Lines two and three are enjambed and are intended to be read without a pause in between. This is different from the previous stanzas, which used a comma to show a pause after line two.
  • The previous stanzas used the lines following the opener as a list of items Bilbo is thinking about. The third stanza is a series subordinated clauses which comprise a single thought.
  • There is a sense that time is moving along without a pause like this stanza is also doing.
  • Unlike the first two stanzas, which used a semicolon to show that the two are connected, the third stanza ends with a period, showing a different relationship with the next stanza.
  • There is another near-rhyme between lines one and three, moving toward an ABAB scheme.
  • Alliteration becomes central, framing with “s” sounds, though dominated by “w” alliterations.
  • By closing with “see” in line four, this recalls the act of seeing in the second line of stanza one.
  • The use of “w” alliteration increases over the first three stanzas, becoming central in the third.
Winter has come:
  • There is an interesting lack of negative words while still expressing a lack of a spring he shall see.
  • By removing himself from the spring, Bilbo echoes his absence from the other seasons before.
  • There is no imagery about the winter and spring, in contrast to the summer and autumn he saw.
  • The winter and spring seem to be treated more as metaphorical of his life, while the spring and summer are treated as literal seasons of the year that he is remembering and looking forward.
  • Bilbo is thinking more about the future of the world at large, not himself, in winter and spring.
  • Winter doesn’t seem to be the frame of reference, keeping it in the future along with spring.
  • This seems to be in autumn, which explains why he spent four lines on it, and less on summer.
  • This is both a literal and figurative autumn, for both the current world and his own life.
  • Bilbo maintains his distance as an observer, removing himself from past, present, and future.
The Gift of Men:
  • Is there something more ominous in this metaphor? At this point in the story, there is a real possibility that Sauron will win, and there will be no spring to follow the winter that is coming.
  • Note: There is an interesting comparison between this poem and the Elvish song sung by Treebeard. Both use seasonal metaphors, and the winter stands in as the end of the world.
  • At a minimum, the apocalyptic theme is an overlay placed atop the personal metaphors.
  • This makes Bilbo’s future tense somewhat hopeful, even if he doesn’t live to see that future.
  • It also shows how far Bilbo has come from the influence of the Ring, no longer thinking about the Ring or its ability to extend his life or deliver what he wants, and he has let go of both.
  • Bilbo also doesn’t linger on the winter and places his emphasis on the spring that is coming.
  • It would also not be in Frodo’s interest to emphasize the winter if it turns out to be apocalyptic.