via Wikipedia: fair-use
The esteemed Prof. Tolkien’s birthday was actually on Saturday, January 3rd, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate does it? I thought not. He would be 117 today.
I am about to out myself as a total Tolkien nerd. I grew up reading his The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Silmarillion stories, and Letters From Father Christmas. My mother used to read them to me before I could manage on my own and I’ve probably read the Middle Earth writings about 10 times. I took a Tolkien class in college and I still dislike the third film simply on the principle that they left out the scouring of the Shire. Ahem, anyhow, even if you’re not a fantasy fan, the worlds and languages that Tolkien creates in his writings are truly spellbinding. His essays though, are what made me fall in love with writing. The way he talks about telling stories, you’d think it was all one could live for.
One of my favorites is his Mythopoeia, a love letter written about fiction and mythology to C.S. Lewis. It is purported that this single piece of writing made Lewis, who believed that myths were nothing but “lies . . . though breathed through silver” into the writer of Narnia and Out of the Silent Planet that he became. Here’s a taste:
“Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme
of things not found within recorded time.
It is not they that have forgot the Night,
or bid us flee to organized delight,
in lotus-isles of economic bliss
forswearing souls to gain a Circe-kiss
(and counterfeit at that, machine-produced,
bogus seduction of the twice-seduced).
Such isles they saw afar, and ones more fair,
and those that hear them yet may yet beware.
They have seen Death and ultimate defeat,
and yet they would not in despair retreat,
but oft to victory have tuned the lyre
and kindled hearts with legendary fire,
illuminating Now and dark Hath-been
with light of suns as yet by no man seen.”
Here’s how to celebrate John Ronald Reuel:
- Watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but scoff at where the script strays from the literature (hehe, only if you’re a brat)
- Study the philology of your favorite word
- Have your tea time in illicit places like the library or a lecture hall
- View the natural world as the staging for an epic adventure
- Sit on a porch and toss sugar cubes into the hats of passersby.
- Start a writer’s group in the back of a dingy pub and smoke out of pipes while reading each each others’ manuscripts
- Visit the Bird and the Baby or make up your own nickname for your favorite meeting place
Did you celebrate Tolkien’s birthday? What would/did you do?