A Lost Tolkien Poem

Not long ago the Tolkien-scholar Wayne Hammond rediscovered two poems by J.R.R. Tolkien that had previously been considered lost. “The Shadow Man” and “Noel” were originally published in the 1936 Annual of Our Lady’s School in Abingdon-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. One of the two poems has since been published online. “The Shadow Man” is an early version of the “The Shadow Bride,” which appeared decades later in the The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.

“The Shadow Man” by J.R.R. Tolkien

There was a man who dwelt alone
beneath the moon in shadow.
He sat as long as lasting stone,
and yet he had no shadow.
The owls, they perched upon his head
beneath the moon of summer;
They wiped their beaks and thought him dead,
who sat there dumb all summer

There came a lady clad in grey
beneath the moon a-shining.
One moment did she stand and stay
her hair with flowers entwining.
He woke as had he sprung of stone.
beneath the moon in shadow,
And clasped her fast, both flesh and bone;
and they were clad in shadow.

And never more she walked in light,
or over moonlit mountain,
But dwelt within the hill, where night
is lit but with a fountain –
Save once a year when caverns yawn,
and hills are clad in shadow,
They dance together then till dawn
and cast a single shadow.

Compare both versions of the poem here.


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