Book review: The Adventures of Tom Bombadil by J.R.R Tolkien

Tom Bomadil review

Pages: 298

Published by: Harper Collins

As a huge Tolkien and Tom Bombadil fan, I’ve wanted this book for years. It was really hard to find anywhere (other than pretty poor quality editions from like 50 years ago that I saw online), so it’s safe to say that when I saw this beautiful edition in Waterstones I may have definitely internally screamed like a little kid…

The Adventures Of Tom Bombadil is a collection of verses and poems written by Tolkien himself, and is another instalment of the history of the fascinating people from middle earth. It chronicles poems regarding Tom Bombadil (who is my favourite Lord Of The Rings character), and other charming poems, mainly concerned with legends and jests of the Shire at the end of The Third Age.

I absolutely adore Tolkien’s work, and all of his middle-earth lore is amongst my favourite fiction ever. As someone who not only loves Tolkien, but also words and poetry, it’s probably no surprise that I found this book a pleasure to read, and I feel that it really shows off his talent as an unpraised and unsung (ha) poet. A quote from inside the book jacket from ‘Listener’ sums this up well:

“Professor Tolkien revealed in the verses scattered through The Hobbit that he had a talent for songs, riddling rhymes, and a kind of balladry. In The Adventures Of Tom Bombadil this talent can be seen to be close to genius.”

Also look at the illustrations and sketches (below) – it’s just so perfect, and Pauline Baynes brings such a complementary illustrative creativeness to the book that really helps to bring the poems to life.

The stand out poem in this book for me is “The Mewlips” which has a more dark, and brooding feel than the rest of the poems in the collection, but is an example of great, atmospheric poetry:

“The Shadows where the Mewlips dwell

Are dark and wet as ink,

And slow and softly rings their bell,

As in the slime you sink.

You sink into the slime,

who dare To knock upon their door,

While down the grinning gargoyles stare

And noisome waters pour.

Beside the rotting river-strand

The drooping willows weep,

And gloomily the gorcrows stand Croaking in their sleep.

Over the Merlock Mountains a long and weary way,

In a moldy valley where the trees are grey,

By a dark pool’s borders without wind or tide,

Moonless and sunless, the Mewlips hide.

The cellars where the Mewlips sit

Are deep and dank and cold

With single sickly candle lit;

And there they count their gold.

Their walls are wet, their ceilings drip;

Their feet upon the floor

Go softly with a squish-flap-flip,

As they sidle to the door.

They peep out slyly; through a crack

Their feeling fingers creep,

And when they’ve finished, in a sack Your bones they take to keep.

Beyond the Merlock Mountains, a long and lonely road,

Through the spider-shadows and the marsh of Tode,

And through the wood of hanging trees and gallows-weed,

You go to find the Mewlips – and the Mewlips feed.”

If you love poetry or Tolkien, you absolutely need to read this book.

Have you read The adventures of Tom Bombadil? If so what was your favourite poem? Let me know in the comments below


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