Tolkien Gateway

The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late

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The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late is a Hobbit poem composed by Bilbo Baggins.

Contents

History

In The Prancing Pony at Bree Frodo jumps on a table and recites "a ridiculous song" invented by Bilbo.[1]

Form

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

1981: BBC Radio's The Lord of the Rings:

Frodo sings the song in Bree. Speeding up at every line, he becomes nigh unintelligable near the end.

2002: Vivendi's The Fellowship of the Ring:

Frodo sings an abridged version at the Prancing Pony.

Other media

A musical version of this poem was recorded by the Tolkien Ensemble on their album A Night in Rivendell.

Inspiration

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.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony"