Today’s Journal prompt asks a question that most of us in this class will probably answer with similar replies. The question is, “Do you like poetry?” And based off the kinds of people this Creative Writing class is composed of, I’d deduce that most of us are likely to retort, “Do I need oxygen?”
Of course I like poetry. I love it. I don’t breathe it and meditate on it day and night, but how can anyone not love poetry? How can one dislike a collection of beautifully-chosen words that flow with rhythm and often rhyme – a piece of art where each stroke of the pen equates to a loving brushstroke? Poetry is song without tune; it’s emotion on paper; it’s part of a soul carved out in words.
So now that we’re asked to share our favorite poem, I get to share one of too many favorites.
In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien often integrates poetry in the form of song for his characters. One of my favorite poems from Middle-earth comes up a few times: “The Road Goes Ever On” (or “The Walking Song”) appears not only in The Hobbit, but also thrice in the trilogy, each time with slightly different lyrics. My favorite version of these appears in The Fellowship of the Ring, when Bilbo sings as he departs Hobbiton for Rivendell after leaving the Ring for Frodo:
“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”
First off, I love the simple rhythm and rhyme of the poem. It’s so simple and flows easily in a form that most of us have seen hundreds of times. I’ll admit that I used to be one of those people who got annoyed at poetry that had inconsistent rhyme and rhythm, yet though I’ve come to appreciate the different styles of poetry, sometimes certain verses simply need a rhyme and/or rhythm. I think Tolkien chose this style perfectly for this poem.
Also, I think I particularly like this piece because I love the Road. We travel often, not only on this paths of Earth, but also along the roads of life, where we take many turns, and where often the path ahead is dark and unclear; but still we continue to follow the path until we can finally see how it all turns out at the “larger way / Where many paths and errands meet.” And once we see how everything fits together, how can we even guess at what comes afterwards, or where we will go from there? For the Road go ever on and on, even past the reaches of this life.