This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.



Saturday, 21 October 2017

Saturday Rave: The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

I've written about The Hobbit before, long ago, but today is the eightieth anniversary of the book's publication (and writing about The Hobbit means I can avoid writing about HG Wells, whose birthday it is today, but whose personality irritates me).

Yes, The Hobbit is a relatively slight work, and I'm fairly sure it wouldn't be so well-known if it hadn't given rise to The Lord of the Rings, but it does some things very well indeed.

Here's one of them. I've spoken before of the power of not-very-good verse, and here's some to prove it.

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old,
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.

It's that word pale that does it, and it does it, remarkably, even though gold isn't actually pale. I don't know how or why it works so powerfully, and I wish I did. It might be that it conjures up an image of something far away and mysterious; it might be because it makes the word enchanted seem even more piquant. It might even work because the first three lines are really not very good. As Tolkien says:

As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and a jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves.

I don't know about hobbits, but it works for me.

File:McLarty Treasure Replica.jpg

Word To Use Today: pale. This word comes from the Old French palle, from the Latin pallidus, pale, from pall─ôre, to look wan.


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