Tolkien’s Poetry

Disclaimer: The information on this page is provided as an overview. The course outline, readings, and assignments may be subject to change in the final syllabus as determined by the lecturer and/or preceptors.

How did Tolkien’s poetry change over time? How did Tolkien’s views of fairies change (or not) over time?

From his undergraduate days through the final phase of his literary career, Tolkien was a prolific poet. No matter what he was doing or how overwhelmed with other work he was, he continued to produce poems. Indeed, it seems that Tolkien’s lyric poetry was very near the heart of his creative process. In this class, we will examine Tolkien’s short poetic works in detail, taking a chronological look at Tolkien’s career through the window of his poetry. Starting with his early fairy poetry and ending with his final poetic retrospective in the Adventures of Tom Bombadil, we will take a journey through Tolkien’s poems that will provide you a refreshing new insight into Tolkien’s imagined worlds.

Course Schedule

Early Fairy Poetry

Early Fragments

For Edith

  • “Goblin Feet”
  • “You and Me and the Cottage of Lost Play”
  • “The Shores of Faery”

Elfin Pipers

  • “Tinfang Warble”
  • “Over Old Hills and Far Away”
  • “The Happy Mariners”

The Land of the Fairies

  • “The City of the Gods”
  • “Kortirion Among the Trees”
  • “The Wanderer’s Allegiance”

The Wild 20’s

Alliterative Verse

  • “Iumonna Gold Galdre Bewunden”
  • “Light as Leaf on Lindentree”

Fun with Tradition

  • “Man in Moon Came Down Too Soon”
  • “The Cat and the Fiddle”
  • “The Root of the Boot”
  • The Freaks of Fisiologus

Bimble Bay

  • “Progress in Bimble Town”
  • “The Dragon’s Visit”
  • “Glip”
  • “The Bumpus”

The Poetry of The Hobbit

Dwarves and Goblins

  • “Chip the glasses”
  • “Far over the misty mountains cold”
  • “Clap! Snap!”
  • “Fifteen birds”
  • “Burn, burn”
  • “The wind was on the withered heath”
  • “Under the Mountain dark and tall”
  • “The King beneath the Mountain”


  • “O! What are you doing”
  • “Roll roll roll roll”
  • “Down the swift dark stream”
  • “The dragon is withered”
  • “Sing all ye joyful”


  • Riddles
  • “Old fat spider”
  • “Lazy Lob”
  • “Roads go ever ever on”

Around the Lord of the Rings

Lost Songs of Rivendell

  • “Elvish Song in Rivendell”
  • “The Shadow-Bride”

Whimsical Keepers

  • “Errantry”
  • “Adventures of Tom Bombadil”

The Perilous Realm

  • “Firiel”
  • “Looney”
  • “Kortirion Among the Trees” (revised)

Mythical Journeys

  • “King Sheave”
  • “Imram”

The Poetry of The Lord of the Rings

Hobbit Poems

  • “The Road goes ever on and on”
  • “Upon the hearth”
  • “Ho Ho Ho to the bottle I go”
  • “Sing hey! for the bath”
  • “Farewell we call to hearth and hall”
  • “O! Wanderers in the shadowed land”
  • “All that is gold”
  • “I sit beside the fire and think”
  • “When evening in the Shire was grey”
  • “The cold hard lands”
  • “In western lands beneath the sun”

Elf Poems

  • “Snow-white!”
  • “Gil-galad was an elven-king”
  • “The leaves were long”
  • “Nimrodel”
  • “I sang of leaves”
  • “Green fields of Lebennin”
  • “To the Sea! to the Sea!”

Poems of Rohan

  • “Where now the horse and the rider?”
  • “Arise now, arise”
  • “From dark Dunharrow”
  • “Arise arise, Riders of Theoden!”
  • “Mourn not overmuch”
  • “Out of doubt, out of dark”
  • “We heard the horns in the hills ringing”

Poems of Gondor

  • “In Dwimordene”
  • “Boromir’s Elegy”
  • “Gondor! Gondor!”
  • “Over the land there lies a long shadow”
  • “Sing now, ye people of the Tower of Anor”

Mighty Singers

  • “Hey Come merry dol!”
  • The hobbit-welcoming duet
  • “Cold be hand and heart and bone”
  • “Ho! Tom Bombadil”
  • The Antiphonal Ent Song
  • “In the willow-meads”
  • “To Isengard”

Verses of Lore

  • Ring verse
  • “Seek for the sword that was broken”
  • “Learn now the lore”
  • “Ere iron was found”
  • “Tall ships and tall kings”
  • “When the black breath blows”

Miscellaneous Poems

  • Rivendell Errantry
  • “Earendel was a mariner”
  • “The world was young”

Pleasing Aunt Jane

Fairy Revisions

  • “The Little House of Lost Play”
  • “The Trees of Kortirion”
  • “Pincess Mee”

Misc Revisions

  • “Perry-The-Winkle”
  • “Mewlips”
  • “The Hoard”
  • “The Sea-bell”

Late Poems

  • “Cat”
  • “Bombadil goes Boating”

Required Texts

The links are provided for convenience only, and we encourage students to purchase texts wherever they wish.

Course History

This course has been offered in the following semesters.

Summer 2021Dr. Sara Brown
Spring 2018Dr. Sara Brown & Erin Aust
Summer 2015Dr. Sara Brown & Erin Aust
Tolkien's Poetry

In this class, we will examine Tolkien’s short poetic works in detail, taking a chronological look at Tolkien’s career through the window of his poetry.

START: May 3, 2021

DURATION: 12 Weeks

ID: LITA 5311