The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, XIII: Shadow-Bride

Shadow-Bride is a haunting poem, with a flair of mythological spirit, probably the most abstract of the poems in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. An earlier version of this poem, The Shadow Man, was published in 1936.

There is a man who dwells alone, sitting still as stone and casting no shadows, with owl’s perched on his head (believing him dead). A lady in grey came there in the twilight, she shone and had flowers in her hair.

He wakes up, the spell that bound him broken, and holds her fast, her shadow wrapped around him. Now she doesn’t walk as free by sun, moon or star. She dwells below where there are no days or night.

Once every year, they dance together until dawn, making a single shadow.


I actually find this poem difficult to understand. I am not sure exactly what it means, or what it represents. In the comments concerning this poem a comparison is made to the myth of Persephone and Hades, which explains the cycle of seasons, and other Middle-Earth stories. The poem give rise to many questions..!

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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