Listening to the Water and the Music – Part 1
Part 1 – An interview with Dan Cruver and John Pletcher

With this two-part, interview-style article, authors Dan Cruver and John Pletcher dialog regarding J.R.R. Tolkien’s unique use of the music and the water. Enjoy their banter and insights!

1. What are some favorite scenes where water and waterfalls show up in Tolkien’s legendarium?

First, please forgive me, but my answer jumps ahead by combining water and music. I just couldn’t help myself. There is an obscure poem that Tolkien first wrote in 1915 (he wrote three versions of it) that uses the imagery of water and music in a hauntingly beautiful way. It’s one of those very melancholy poems that sneaks into a corner of your mind and refuses to leave. You can find it in The Book of Lost Tales Part 1 (p. 26; Mass Market Paperback). Notice both the italicized and bolded text.

When bannered summer is unfurled
Most full of music are thine elms –
A gathered sound that overwhelms
The voices of all other trees.
Sing then of elms, beloved Kortirion,
How summer crowds their full sails on,
Like clothed masts of verdurous ships,
A fleet of galleons that proudly slips
Across lang sunlit seas.

Actually, if you noticed, Tolkien combines water, music, and trees! Surprise! Surprise! I find the imagery absolutely captivating. To me, this poem captures Tolkien’s love of all three. If Tolkien tried to communicate this in any other form than a poem, it would have fallen flat. But in a poem, my mind can actually picture trees gliding across a sea under sunny skies.

Seeing water, music, and trees appear together in a poem written in 1915 helps me better appreciate the beauty of each when found in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

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