Further musings on Tom Bombadil

maswan

New Member
So, in episode forever ago, when we said goodbye to Tom Bombadil, class was discussing his general activities:

"I've got things to do," he said: "my making and my singing, my talking and my walking, and my watching of the country."
The conclusion I most clearly remember from Corey was that this is a good argument for this being distinct activities, and in particular that Tom's making and singing being two different activities (making boots like a cobbler, not singing boots into existence).

Having had this ferment in my mind for a while, I've come to a disagreement. When we see Tom do one of these activities, he is usually doing more than one of them at the same time. His talking is his singing, his walking also overlaps his singing, and his watching of the country is both walking and singing (his approach to Old Man Willow before encountering the hobbits is something I'd count as good example of "watching of the country").

So, my conclusion is that his making is also his singing, something which probably occurs while walking, and this is my case for "I sang of boots, of yellow boots, and yellow boots there were."
 

Jim Deutch

Active Member
Tom Bombadil said:
"I've got things to do," he said: "my making and my singing, my talking and my walking, and my watching of the country."
The conclusion I most clearly remember from Corey was that this is a good argument for this being distinct activities, and in particular that Tom's making and singing being two different activities (making boots like a cobbler, not singing boots into existence).

Having had this ferment in my mind for a while, I've come to a disagreement. When we see Tom do one of these activities, he is usually doing more than one of them at the same time.
Hmm...that Bombadil quote isn't particularly iambic, is it? It makes me wonder for the first time if Tom has an actual language deficiency, rather than just a distinctive idiosyncrasy. Let's first consider a literal parsing of Tom's words:
Tom Bombadil paraphrased said:
"I've got things to do, my making/singing, my talking/walking, and my watching of the country."
But you go beyond that, and put making, singing, talking, and walking all together, even placing them all "within" his watching of the country. I have, actually, no problem with that at all: I like it, in fact. Bombadil has a thing that he does, which he characterizes as "things to do" because his thing encompasses all those different things together.

But you've gone beyond the evidence when you conclude he just sang his boots into being. I would certainly believe he sang while he made them--perhaps that's essential to the yellow color!--but I'm also pretty sure he used tools and natural materials, just as the Elves did in making the ropes and the cloaks of Lorien, not to mention the Lembas.

You are putting Tom's abilities up another level, on par with the making of Lothlorien rather than on par with the making of a cloak, and Galadriel needed a Ring to do that. [Or--wait a minute--does Lothlorien post-date the Three? Hmm...seems the answer is appropriately both no and yes: there were Elves there already, but Galadriel and her Ring turned it into the realm we know from LotR.]
 

maswan

New Member
True, I did go too far. Just because my reading of that quote doesn't exclude it, doesn't mean it is good support for it.
 

Jim Deutch

Active Member
"I sang of boots, of yellow boots, and yellow boots there were."
I have one more comment (at this time: I'm not claiming this will be my last one!).

Even the "making" of Lorien is very much exaggerated in Galadriel's song. I don't want to claim she's self-aggrandizing, and it's actually quite probable that she's not the author of the song anyway, but... The words "I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew" seem to imply that she created Mallorn trees out of thin air (or, at least, out of barren soil). But we know that is not the case. There were already Mallorn trees in the region. They just became better Mallorn trees when touched by Galadriel's magic.

I can't think of any instance of anyone's magic creating any thing from "thin air" (barring Ilúvatar 's creation of Arda itself).
Of course, there are some who advocate the theory that Bombadil is Ilúvatar. . . see https://lotr.fandom.com/wiki/Theories_about_Tom_Bombadil

One of the other "theories" on that page is that Bombadil is the Witch King! This theory was first posed in jest and also appears on the Tolkien Sarcasm "crackpot theories" page http://flyingmoose.org/tolksarc/theories/bombadil.htm but it appears that the wiki has accepted it on face value. o_O
 

maswan

New Member
Yes, but there are better documented cases of creation by singing, Lúthien is the one that springs to my mind (well, outside of the Valar). Not out of thin air, but with the power of song rather than needle and thread.
 
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