“You let them out again, Old Man Willow!” he said. “What be you a-thinking of? You should not be waking. Eat earth! Dig deep! Drink water! Go to sleep! Bombadil is talking!”
Chapter 6

The Old Forest

Ah hah! So the light and thunder of Frodo’s dream was Merry waking him up. But it still leaves the tower, huh?

I wonder if Tolkien had a bad experience in a forest of some kind when he was a kid. First Mirkwood, in the Hobbit, and now the Old Forest. I may not be remembering clearly, but Mirkwood wasn’t nearly as sinister as the Old Forest–Mirkwood seemed to go on forever, but at least the trees didn’t attack them or force them in the wrong direction!

I’m noticing similarities between Bilbo’s journey and now Frodo’s. Both had to traverse an evil forest of sorts. Members of both parties were captured (Spiders in the Hobbit, and the Willow tree, here). And now there’s this mysterious character that’s more in touch with nature (or with magical control over it, somehow) that welcomes our weary travellers into his home–reminding me of Beorn, the boisterious bear-man in the Hobbit.

Sure Bilbo et. al. visited Beorn’s before going into Mirkwood and Bilbo was the one to save his friends, but I don’t think the similarities are overly contrived.

Well, thank God for Sam, huh? I wonder how he managed to escape the Willow’s spell. Tolkien’s description of the overwhelming sleep of the willow tree reminds me of an experience I had. I was waking up after surgery one time for just a few, but the anesthetic hadn’t totally worn off, so I fought to stay awake for a while, but I couldn’t. Soon I gave up and drifted off. But, how much worse it would be to fall asleep uncontrollably, knowing that something sinister had you in its grasp!

I also wonder how often Frodo and the others will have to rely completely on the kindness of others and that pervasive “good luck” they just experienced. How often will the situation be totally beyond them and some un-looked-for help will suddenly appear? Like the Lord of Eagles coming to the aid of Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Dwarves.

till next time, keep thinking,


September 2000

Kanazawa, Japan