The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late
The poem is in thirteen ballad-like five-line stanzas, introducing each element in turn: "the Man in the Moon" himself, the ostler's "tipsy cat that plays a five-stringed fiddle", the little dog, the "hornéd cow"
Portrayals in adaptations
- Frodo sings the song in Bree. Speeding up at every line, he becomes nigh unintelligable near the end.
- Frodo sings an abridged version at the Prancing Pony.
A musical version of this poem was recorded by the Tolkien Ensemble on their album A Night in Rivendell.
In the context of the legendarium, this song is the imagined original (by back formation) ditty that is derived to 'our time' in the simplified nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle". Part of Tolkien's brilliance in establishing the epic mood is his ability to introduce a version of a familiar saying and give the reader a sense of hearing the old proverb afresh, as if spoken for the first time, in the heat of the moment.
The title of this version is given in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.