The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, II: Bombadil Goes Boating

For the second poem in this publication, Tom is yet again the main character. This time the reader follow him on a boating trip along the Withywindle and his journey to meet Farmer Maggot. In this story we encounter familar places in Buckland and the Shire. The idea is that the events set out occured some time after Frodo and the other Hobbits visited Farmer Maggot and Tom Bombadil and that the poem is composed by Buckland hobbits.

It is autumn and Tom Bombadil decides to go boating down the Withywindle. A Little Bird starts conversing with him while he mends his boat and they start to have a contest in insults. Then he starts his journey. He meets a King’s Fisher and they start another contest of insults. Tom also says that he wants to go to the Brandywine and meet the Little folks he know there. The bird leaves tom a blue feather, which he puts onto his hat, replacing an old swan feather.

While going down the stream he also have a talk-off and teasing with an otter and later also a swan. At Grindwall Tom leaves his boat and meet hobbits of Hays-end and Breredon. They also tease each other, but mockingly the hobbits shoot three arrows into his hat! Tom tells he has business to the Shire, on the other side of the Brandywine.

As the sun sets Tom walks alone along the road. Nearing the village of Rushey a voice calls him. It is Old Maggot, asking what business Tom has there, giving and taking insults with Tom just like with the previous encounters. Tom joins Maggot on his cart and they are off laughing. At Farmer Maggots house Tom engages into a party with Maggot and his family: singing, eating, and dancing during the evening into the night. When everyone is asleep, and dawn come, Tom has left.

For three days Tom’s boat was still lying at Grindwall, but the animals that he met on his trip brought it back to Tom’s creek. Though they had forgotten his oars.

Characters to note:

  • Tom Bombadil – An enigmatic character, with great power in his domain, who lives outside the Old Forest.
  • Little Bird – The first animal Tom meets on his boating trip.
  • King’s Fisher – The second animal Tom meets on his boating trip.
  • Whisker-lad/Otter – The third animal Tom meets on his boating trip.
  • Old Swan – The fourth animal Tom meets on his boating trip.
  • Farmer Maggot – A Hobbit who is friend with Tom Bombadil who lives in the Marish. Known from The Fellowship of the Ring.
  • The Little Folk – Hobbits. Tom meet them in Hays-end and Breredon.

Features/Places to note:


  • Brandywine – A River located on the eastern border of the Shire.
  • Withywindle – A tributary to the Brandywine river passing through the Old Forest.
  • Hays-end – A village in southern Buckland.
  • Grindwall – A hythe/landing by the Withywindle.
  • Breredon – A village in Buckland.
  • Shire –  A region in Eriador, where Hobbits live.
  • Rushey – A village in Eastfarthing of the Shire.
  • Marish – A region in Eastfarthing of the Shire.

A map of the places covered can be found here.


What I like about this poem, is the depiction of Tom being on good terms with the Hobbits and the animals. They may make jests by insulting each other. But they still welcome him and help him. This poem was quite long, but easy to read. The commentary for this one is extra interesting I think, with lots of notes on the language.

Have you read this poem?  Please comment and tell us what you think of this story and if you have anything to add!



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