If The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and hundreds of poems, fables, essays, textbooks and spin-off material weren’t enough Tolkien for you, then we have some good news – because two previously unseen poems from the author have been unearthed in a 1936 school magazine.
Apparently written while Tolkien was teaching Anglo-Saxon literature at Oxford University (and before his first novel The Hobbit was published), the poems were discovered in the annual of Our Lady’s School in Oxfordshire after Tolkein scholar Wayne Hammond found a reference made to them in a note from the author.
The first poem, The Shadow Man, looks to be an earlier draft of a poem Tolkien later published in 1962 collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil according to The Guardian, and speaks of “a man who dwelt alone / beneath the moon in shadow”, who “sat as long as lasting stone, / and yet he had no shadow”. When “a lady clad in grey” arrives, he wakes, and “clasped her fast, both flesh and bone; / and they were clad in shadow”.
Interestingly this poem can be said to be set in Middle-earth, as Tom Bombadil himself was a character in The Lord of the Rings (though he was cut from the film version). The second poem, Noel, is not set in that realm but its Christmas tale certainly has touches of high fantasy around it.
“The hall was dark without song or light, / The fires were fallen dead,” the poem describes, also mentioning “the lord of snows”, whose “mantle long and pale / Upon the bitter blast was spread / And hung o’er hill and dale”.
We might have to wait a while to see the full poems, as the school now plans to display them in an exhibition, but one thing’s for sure – Peter Jackson’s six-movie adaptation of The Shadow Man must be in pre-development already.
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