Welcome back to Muse Monday, where you will find essays, photos, or wise sayings to entice the muse to come by and whisper in your ear!
Trudy G. Shaw offers a reflection on the manifestation of the perilous realm of Faërie at the end of the Third Age of Middle-earth. Bilbo and the dwarves actively seek it out after they cross its threshold in Mirkwood. But it refuses them at first and then imprisons the dwarves. Decades later, Frodo does not chase after it or push himself into it without invitation on the way to Crickhollow. He awaits its arrival and receives its welcome and protection with Gildor and his company. In Rivendell, the Golden Wood, and the Undying Lands, it again welcomes him and provides healing.
The silly (or not?) songs that welcome Bilbo and the dwarves to Rivendell would seem out of place in Elrond’s Hall of Fire. But in that Hall Frodo has a very Faërie-like experience, when he is drawn into the Elves’ singing as if he’s within the reality of the song. This is the kind of subcreation Tolkien attributes to the denizens of Faërie in “On Fairy-stories”: the ability to weave a secondary creation that seems completely real to those within it. Bilbo brushes off Frodo’s experience by saying it’s difficult, “…to stay awake here.” But Bilbo is a master of understatement and of brushing things off, especially, it seems, when Frodo’s involved, so who knows what he’s actually experienced in that Hall over the years? It’s interesting that Frodo wakes from his “dream” when the Elven singing stops and a mortal begins speaking; Bilbo’s poetry doesn’t have the same subcreational power that the Elves’ singing does. There are other episodes when Frodo or one of the other hobbits understands the sense of Elvish singing, even if he doesn’t know the words. The elves are somehow able to place their own images within the mortal’s mind, a very Faërie-like ability.
What aspect of Faerie have you experienced either as a reader or scribe in its realm?