“When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.” – Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
September 22nd is the date Bilbo and Frodo would celebrate their birthdays together.
Since “Mr. Baggins was not quite so prosy as he liked to believe” (The Hobbit), I’ve chosen a poem of special magnificence in honor of the occasion.
Written by Mr. Bilbo Baggins himself, the “Song of Eärendil” is the longest poem within the text of The Lord of the Rings and is a fascinating use of language. Here are the first few verses. You can find the rest of the poem at Song of Eärendil.
Song of Eärendil
Eärendil was a mariner
that tarried in Arvernien;
he built a boat of timber felled
in Nimbrethil to journey in;
her sails he wove of silver fair,
of silver were her lanterns made,
her prow was fashioned like a swan,
and light upon her banners laid.
In panoply of ancient kings,
in chainéd rings he armoured him;
his shining shield was scored with runes
to ward all wounds and harm from him;
his bow was made of dragon-horn,
his arrows shorn of ebony;
of silver was his habergeon,
his scabbard of chalcedony;
his sword of steel was valiant,
of adamant his helmet tall,
an eagle-plume upon his crest,
upon his breast an emerald.
Beneath the Moon and under star
he wandered far from northern strands,
bewildered on enchanted ways
beyond the days of mortal lands.
From gnashing of the Narrow Ice
where shadow lies on frozen hills,
from nether heats and burning waste
he turned in haste, and roving still
on starless waters far astray
at last he came to Night of Naught,
and passed, and never sight he saw
of shining shore nor light he sought.
The winds of wrath came driving him,
and blindly in the foam he fled
from west to east and errandless,
unheralded he homeward sped.