Look, I haven't abandoned this!
What Happens: The hobbits spend one night with Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, being fed and sharing stories. At the end of the chapter, they resolve to set out the next day, armed with a rhyme to call Tom in need.
Relatively short domestic interlude, with hints of danger to come.
* * *
I did spot the rhythms of Tom's speech this time, so that's an improvement.
I will have to look whether Goldberry speaks in a manner similar to Galadriel, who I think she prefigures.
Is anyone able to picture Tom and Goldberry as a married couple in any psychologically realistic kind of way? Because I tried and I can't.
(I did notice, this time, that for all that Goldberry's barely present, she was the one to successfully reassure the hobbits that they were safe over the night.)
* * *
Have I remarked on Frodo's dreams yet? This time, he gets a direct hotline into plot elsewhere, seeing Gandalf escape Orthanc. Even though he doesn't recognize Gandalf, I still don't like it.
* * *
This is really a remarkable paragraph:
Suddenly Tom's talk left the woods and went leaping up the young stream, over bubbling waterfalls, over pebbles and worn rocks, and among small flowers in close grass and wet crannies, wandering at last up on to the Downs. They heard of the Great Barrows, and the green mounds, and the stone-rings upon the hills and in the hollows among the hills. Sheep were bleating in flocks. Green walls and white walls rose. There were fortresses on the heights. Kings of little kingdoms fought together, and the young Sun shone like fire on the red metal of their new and greedy swords. There was victory and defeat; and towers fell, fortresses were burned, and flames went up into the sky. Gold was piled on the biers of dead kings and queens; and mounds covered them, and the stone doors were shut; and the grass grew over all. Sheep walked for a while biting the grass, but soon the hills were empty again. A shadow came out of dark places far away, and the bones were stirred in the mounds. Barrow-wights walked in the hollow places with a clink of rings on cold fingers, and gold chains in the wind. Stone rings grinned out of the ground like broken teeth in the moonlight.
That shift of voice starting with "Sheep were bleating" is very effective.
This reminds me that if I didn't know the underlying myth, I'd be trying to catalog what we've been told to date and what one could get out of it. I remember skipping a lot of the long poetry when I was a kid, and I don't know if I ever understood about Earendil until I read The Silmarillion, or whether I could have if I tried.
* * *
Tom's description of himself:
"Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless — before the Dark Lord came from Outside."
If he fits into the cosmology established by The Silmarillion, I think this would make him a minor Maia.
* * *
I like the psychological realism in Frodo's reaction to Tom's handling of the Ring.
* * *
Action next chapter, which Le Guin has already analyzed, saving me some effort, so I hope it won't take me so long to get around to it.