Bilbo's Last Song
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Revision as of 01:26, 22 April 2006
Bilbo's Last Song is a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien. It was originally entitled "Bilbo's Last Lay", but this was later changed due to the obvious difficulties over the last word. It was given by Tolkien as a gift to his secretary Joy Hill in 1966. After Tolkien's death in 1973 Hill showed the poem to Donald Swann, who liked the poem so much that he set it to music and included it in the second edition of The Road Goes Ever On in 1978. The poem was also illustrated by Pauline Baynes, and published as a poster in 1974. In 1990 the text was finally published in book form, reillustrated by Baynes.
The poem is sung by Bilbo Baggins at the Grey Havens, as he is about to leave Middle-earth forever. Chronologically this places it at the very end of The Return of the King, the last book of The Lord of the Rings, although it was written later than the books and never included in them.
The song is included in the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (1981), with music by Stephen Oliver. The first verse is chanted by John Le Mesurier as Bilbo, the second omitted, and the third sung by a boy soprano.
Day is ended, dim my eyes,
but journey long before me lies.
Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship's beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Foam is salt, the wind is free;
I hear the rising of the Sea.
Farewell, friends! The sails are set,
the wind is east, the moorings fret.
Shadows long before me lie,
beneath the ever-bending sky,
but islands lie behind the Sun
that I shall raise ere all is done;
lands there are to west of West,
where night is quiet and sleep is rest.
Guided by the Lonely Star,
beyond the utmost harbour-bar,
I'll find the heavens fair and free,
and beaches of the Starlit Sea.
Ship, my ship! I seek the West,
and fields and mountains ever blest.
Farewell to Middle-earth at last.
I see the Star above my mast!