The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, XVI: The Last Ship

This poem is one of the poems in this publication that is said to be derived from traditions in Gondor, but a part of Shire-lore written down in the Fourth Age. The story features a mortal woman invited to join the elves and sail to “Elvenhome” An earlier version of this poem was published in 1934 and was called Firiel.

Late at night, close to early morning, Fíriel looks out into the dark night when she hears a cock’s crowing. She watches until the sun begin to dawn, and the light is shimmering. She leaves her home, and ran down to the river. She suddenly hears music, flutes, harps, singing, and bells ringing.

On the river she then sees a boat gliding, bearing elves, three of them crowned. She asks them where they are going, could it be to a secret lair, the great forest, or northern isles? They answer that they are leaving from the western havens, daring to cross the sea, back to Elvenhome and the White Tree. They are saying farewell to the mortal fields and Middle-Earth.

They ask her if she can hear the call, because they have room for one more, she should hurry, because her days are coming to an end. Fíriels moves to join them, taking a step. The ship went by and she cries that she “cannot come”, because she was born Earth’s daughter. She returns home to live her life. No more elven ships travel the river and their song has faded.

Characters, Features and Places to note:

  • Fíriel – A human woman with long hair. Fíriel is Quenya for “mortal woman”.
  • Elvenhome – Valinor, across the Great Sea from Middle-Earth.
  • The Seven Rivers – Lefnui, Morthond-Kiril-Ringló, Gilrain-Serini, and Anduin. They join before they reach the sea.

Comments

This was the final poem from The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. I think this poem certainly has a lot of Middle-Earth themes in it. The elves leaving for Valinor and the theme of time and mortality. It is one of those poems that gets better everytime you read it. I found it easy to visualise the story while reading it. It is quite descreptive, but at the same time being a bit subjective.

As this is the final of the poems, I wonder, which poems in this publication speak the most to you? 

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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