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Troll sat alone on his seat of stone -- J R R Tolkien

The lighter side of Tolkien...
(Poem #370) Troll sat alone on his seat of stone
Troll sat alone on his seat of stone,
And munched and mumbled a bare old bone;
For many a year he had gnawed it near,
For meat was hard to come by.
        Done by! Gum by!
In a cave in the hills he dwelt alone,
And meat was hard to come by.

Up came Tom with his big boots on.
Said he to Troll: 'Pray, what is yon?
For it looks like the shin o' my nuncle Tim.
As should be a-lyin' in the graveyard.
        Caveyard! Paveyard!
This many a year has Tim been gone,
And I thought he were lyin' in the graveyard.'

'My lad,' said Troll, 'this bone I stole.
But what be bones that lie in a hole?
Thy nuncle was dead as a lump o' lead,
Afore I found his shinbone.
        Tinbone! Skinbone!
He can spare a share for a poor old troll,
For he don't need his shinbone.'

Said Tom: 'I don't see why the likes o' thee
Without axin' leave should go makin' free
With the shank or the shin o' my father's kin;
So hand the old bone over!
        Rover! Trover!
Though dead he be, it belongs to he;
So hand the old bone over!'

'For a couple o' pins,' says Troll, and grins,
'I'll eat thee too, and gnaw thy shins.
A bit o' fresh meat will go down sweet!
I'll try my teeth on thee now.
        Hee now! See now!
I'm tired o' gnawing old bones and skins;
I've a mind to dine on thee now.'

But just as he thought his dinner was caught,
He found his hands had hold of naught.
Before he could mind, Tom slipped behind
And gave him the boot to larn him.
        Warn him! Darn him!
A bump o' the boot on the seat, Tom thought,
Would be the way to larn him.

But harder than stone is the flesh and bone
Of a troll that sits in the hills alone.
As well set your boot to the mountain's root,
For the seat of a troll don't feel it.
        Peel it! Heal it!
Old Troll laughed, when he heard Tom groan,
And he knew his toes could feel it.

Tom's leg is game, since home he came,
And his bootless foot is lasting lame;
But Troll don't care, and he's still there
With the bone he boned from its owner.
        Doner! Boner!
Troll's old seat is still the same,
And the bone he boned from its owner!
-- J R R Tolkien
I've mentioned before that Tolkien's comic verse is among the best that
I've read; it's all due to the effortlessness with which he captures the
rhythms of (in this case) rustic speech while staying strictly within
the confines of rhyme and metre. Marvellously, skilfully done - and a
very funny poem to boot.


PS. Pun fully intended <grin>

6 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Scott said...

This is a very good poem, and I'm glad you had it on your webpage it saved me literally an hours worth of school work, by the way this poem is read by tolkien on the cd that was packaged with the millenium edition of Lord of the Rings

Good page keep up the good work


Martin DeMello said...

Picked up the following fragment on usenet:

Sam's song about the troll ("Old troll sat on his seat of stone...")
can be sung to the music of "Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night", and
on one of the Caedmon recordings, Tolkien actually sang it to
one version of that tune.

[broken link]


On TC1477, JRR sings "Troll Sat Alone," which is said (on the album cover) to
be freely set to the folk-tune The Fox and Hens.

I've also heard the tune referred to as "The Fox and the Hounds" and
"The Fox Went Out on a Winter's Night". Here are the lyrics:
[broken link]

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