The Sea-Bell

From Tolkien Gateway

The Sea-Bell is a Hobbit poem, one of the very few which are not lighthearted or frivolous. It is also remarkable as one of the latest pieces of the Fourth Age in the Red Book.

A hand had scrawled at its head the words "Frodo's Dreme". The author is unknown since it is most unlikely to have been written by Frodo Baggins himself.

The subtitle (which refers to his nightmares of March and October during the last three years of the Third Age) and connection to Frodo Baggins, represented the inherent distrust for the Sea, the 'wandering-madness', and anything that was not part of the Shire.[1]


A wanderer walks by the shore and comes across a white bell-like shell in which he hears the sound of distant harbors and seas. Suddenly a boat appears and he is borne away to a strange land beyond the deep, glittering, beautiful and mysterious. There, he hears the sound of distant music, voices and foot falls, but when he seeks the source of the sound the mysterious inhabitants of the land flee from him.

Climbing onto a mound he presumptuously names himself king of the land, and challenges its people to come forth, but then darkness descends upon him and he falls to the ground, blinded and bent. Afterwards he wanders in the wood growing old. After a year and a day, broken and weary, he seeks out the sea and boards a ship that will take him back to his own land.

When he arrives home the sea-bell is silent and himself is alienated from his own world, misunderstood and forsaken by those he once knew.

Other versions

The poem was written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published within The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.[2] It is a revised version of a poem originally entitled Looney.

J.R.R. Tolkien once told Pauline Baynes that this poem was the poorest of those collected in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and one that he did not really wish to include with the others.[3]

See Also-

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