The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, V: The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late

This is the first poem out of two featuring the Man in the Moon in this book. There are only two minor differences between this version and the one featured in The Lord of the Rings. An original version can be read in The Return of the Shadow. A revision of that one was published in Yorkshire Poetry in 1923 as The Cat and the Fiddle: A Nursery-Rhyme Undone and Its Scandalous Secret Unlocked. The poem or song is written by Bilbo Baggins.

The Man in the Moon went down to an in one night to drink some beer. There, a cat plays the fiddle. There is also a dog, laughing at all the jests when the mood is good. When the music plays, a cow there starts to dance.

The Man in the Moon continues drinking and the animals keep up their joys, then Man in the Moon drinks a last mug and falls asleep, dreaming of ale until dawn. His horses tries to make noise enough to get him up, because the sun is soon rising. The cat starts playing an intensive jig and the landlord tries to wake the Man in the Moon, because it is after three.

They roll him up a hill and bundled him into the moon. The cat still playing and the other animals are acting wildly and the guests at the inn went up fom their beds and joins the dance. The fiddle-strings broke and the cow jumps over the moon, then the moon rolled behind the hill and the sun rises. The sun was surprised to find that everyone went to bed now that it was day.

Characters to note:

  • The Man in the Moon – An old being who lives on the moon according to hobbit folklore.
  • The Tipsy Cat – The cat plays a five-stringed fiddle.
  • Little Dog – He is owned by the inn’s landlord.
  • Horned Cow – When she hears music, she can’t resist dancing.
  • White Horses – Moon horses belonging to the Man in the Moon.


We hear a briefly sung version of this in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (EE). There it is the dwarf Bofur who sings it, although, in the books it is Frodo who sings it at the inn The Prancing Pony. I found that it was close to impossible for me to read the poem without getting the rhythm and melody that was used in An Unexpected  Journey.

I love the comedic touch of this poem. A cat playing the fiddle, dancing cows and horses. I imagine that the Man in the Moon is the same character as the one in Roverandom.

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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