The Hoard

From Tolkien Gateway

The Hoard is a poem written by J.R.R. Tolkien and first published within The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book in 1962. It is a revision of the poem Iúmonna Gold Galdre Bewunden.[1] It makes use of caesura in the manner of Anglo-Saxon poetry.[2]

The tone of the poem is greed — an old elven hoard is taken by a dwarf, a dragon and a man. Each is consumed by the greed of owning the hoard until each in turn is killed and the next owner also becomes consumed by greed until he is killed in turn.[3] It is said to echo events of the First Age, specifically the Elven/Númenorean tradition of Túrin, Glaurung and Mîm in Nargothrond, possibly derived from Rivendell.[4]

Tolkien mentions the poem in a letter to Pauline Baynes in 1961, commenting that: "I suppose one would also have to except 'The Hoard' from being 'light-hearted', though the woes of the successive (nameless) inheritors are seen merely as pictures in a tapestry of antiquity and do not deeply engage individual pity. I was most interested by your choice of this as your favourite."[5]

In 1967, Tolkien recorded the poem for Poems and Songs of Middle Earth.

Tolkien didn't agree with Baynes's original illustration for the poem, specifically the depiction of the man, and the sleeping dragon facing away from the entrance; he chose it to be omitted, as only five illustrations were to be printed, but eventually all six passed for publication. Baynes however revised the picture for the poem's reprint in Poems and Stories.[6]

See also