The writers who created the bloated, third Hobbit film out of Tolkien’s notes will be overjoyed to hear that two rare poems by the author have been discovered in an old literary magazine published through Our Lady’s School in Oxfordshire.
Unlike Tolkien’s unfinished The Children of Húrin, these new poems have nothing to do with expanding Middle-earth, but once released in full to the public, they deserve a place on any nerd’s bookshelf, next to last year’s The Story of Kullervo. The frenzy over Tolkien’s 1915 retelling of a Finnish poem is a testament to how desperate the literary world has become for good fantasy.
Many of us who still yearn for Tolkien’s unabashed sentimentality and ideas of morality are now watching MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles or reading Rat Queens, waiting for the day high fantasy recaptures the magic of Tolkien’s original stories and cursing George R.R. Martin’s procrastination. The content of Tolkien’s world wasn’t his only draw, though: our contemporary fascination with even his old poems speaks to his command of language and rhythm. In his poem on winter, Tolkien describes a character he calls the “lord of snows”:
“mantle long and pale / Upon the bitter blast was spread / And hung o’er hill and dale.”
If you squint while reading, you can almost imagine the poem is about an elven king. The second poem, though, which The Guardian reports is about marriage, sounds pretty dark and foreboding:
“[he] clasped her fast, both flesh and bone; / and they were clad in shadow.”
The texts will be on display, in full, at the school in which they were published, and will undoubtedly hit the internet soon after they’re unveiled.