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A Walking Song

From Tolkien Gateway

They began to hum softly, as hobbits have a way of doing as they walk along, especially when they are drawing near to home at night. With most hobbits it is a supper-song or a bed-song; but these hobbits hummed a walking-song (though not, of course, without any mention of supper and bed).

Walking-songs were a type of short song that Hobbits hummed especially when walking during the night towards their home.[1]

Donald Swann wrote music for Bilbo's walking-song, referred to as Upon the Hearth the Fire is Red. It can be found in the book The Road Goes Ever On;[2] it is also found on the accompanying CD of the latest version.


Bilbo Baggins had written the words of a walking-song, putting it to a tune that was "as old as the hills".[1]

On the 24 of September in the year T.A. 3018 of the Third Age,[3] Frodo, Pippin, and Sam sang Bilbo's walking-song as they hiked through the Woody End:[1]

Upon the hearth the fire is red,
Beneath the roof there is a bed;
But not yet weary are our feet,
Still round the corner we may meet
A sudden tree or standing stone
That none have seen but we alone.
  Tree and flower and leaf and grass,
  Let them pass! Let them pass!
  Hill and water under sky,
  Pass them by! Pass them by!

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though we pass them by today,
Tomorrow we may come this way
And take the hidden paths that run
Towards the Moon or to the Sun.
  Apple, thorn, and nut and sloe,
  Let them go! Let them go!
  Sand and stone and pool and dell,
  Fare you well! Fare you well!

Home is behind, the world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows to the edge of night,
Until the stars are all alight.
Then world behind and home ahead,
We'll wander back to home and bed.
  Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
  Away shall fade! Away shall fade!
  Fire and lamp, and meat and bread,
  And then to bed! And then to bed!

As the song ended, a tired Pippin re-sang the last line but changed it to match his desire for rest: "And now to bed! And now to bed!" Frodo hushed him when he heard the sound of hoofs approaching.[1]

On 22 September T.A. 3021,[4][5] Sam heard an altered version of Bilbo's walking-song being softly sung by Frodo as they rode westward through the Shire just before they met Elrond, Galadriel, Gildor and other Elves heading for the Grey Havens to depart for the Undying Lands:[6]

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon and East of the Sun

Portrayal in adaptations

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

Part of the lyrics are used for "The Edge of Night", a song sung by Pippin Took for Denethor, while he was eating, with scenes from Faramir's attack on Osgiliath playing during the song.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

Part of the lyrics are included in "Use Well the Days", an unused song sung by Annie Lennox for the film.

External links

See also