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The Road Goes Ever On (song)

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The name The Road Goes Ever On refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see The Road Goes Ever On (disambiguation).

The Road Goes Ever On, also known as A Walking Song, is a walking song by J.R.R. Tolkien, fictionally written by Bilbo Baggins; verses of it are sung at various places in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. This poem was set to music by Donald Swann; the sheet music and an audio recording are part of the song-cycle aptly named The Road Goes Ever On, A Song Cycle.

The Hobbit

The original version of the song is recited by Bilbo in the last chapter of The Hobbit, at the end of his journey back to the Shire. Coming to the top of a rise he sees his home in the distance, and stops and says the following:

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains of the moon.

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.

The Lord of the Rings

There are three versions of this walking song in The Lord of the Rings.

The first is sung by Bilbo when he leaves the Shire and is setting off to visit Rivendell:

The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

The second version is identical except for changing the word "eager" to "weary" in the fifth line. It is spoken aloud, slowly, by Frodo, as he and his companions pause at the borders of the Shire, looking beyond to lands that some of them have never seen before.

The third version is spoken by Bilbo in Rivendell after the hobbits have returned from their journey. Bilbo is now an old, sleepy hobbit, who murmurs the verse and then falls asleep.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

Portrayal in Adaptations

1977: The Hobbit (1977 film):

Sections of the poem are sung during the trip through Mirkwood. It appears on the soundtrack titles "Roads".

1980: The Return of the King (1980 film):

A song inspired by the poem is sung at the end of the film called "The Roads Goes Ever, Ever On".

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

Bilbo sings the song as he leaves Bag End. It is sung by John Le Mesurier to a tune by Stephen Oliver.

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

Parts of the song are sung by Gandalf in his first appearance, and also by Bilbo as he leaves Bag End.