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Old 11-14-2019, 06:47 AM   #1
Huinesoron
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Pipe Songs for the Philologists

Do you know what the rarest Tolkien book is? It's not any sort of first edition, or anything of that kind: it's Songs for the Philologists, a collection of poems (13 by Tolkien) that was apparently made without his permission, never distributed, and almost entirely lost in a fire. (I first learnt about it in the course of a Balfrog/Seth thread a couple of years back.)

Well, it turns out that a few years ago, someone with far too much time on their hands wrangled up a copy and turned it into a convenient PDF, which (in the course of trying to do something similar myself) I've just found.

Songs for the Philologists, 2007 edition

(Be aware that the PDF is apparently coded so that you can't copy and paste the contents, which is very clever and very annoying. )

One of the more... interesting Tolkien works (and one of the few in modern English) is Frenchmen Froth, which is, er... extremely snarky:

Quote:
Though Education quack, quack, quack,
And force upon our weasands
The nostrums from its nonsense pack
In endless silly seasons
Though tyrant force behind our back
Shall thrust us without reason
To halls that light and leaning lack
Where teachers talk of treason,

This is my faith, I do maintain, until the stars shall fall, sir!
That fear and false report shall not make English fall, sir!
hS

Last edited by Huinesoron; 07-06-2020 at 08:41 AM. Reason: Relinking to Wayback Machine.
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Old 11-14-2019, 07:50 AM   #2
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I've heard of that collection before. Tolkien's incomparable use of language is, to me, one of the inexorable pulls of his works.
However, the study of words themselves never has commended itself to me especially.
Still, this is worth a look just to see the man revel in his passion.
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:18 AM   #3
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Well, the collection was certainly made with Tolkien's (and EV Gordon's) permission, since they made it! But the printed booklet certainly was done without, a decade after Tolkien left Leeds.
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:39 AM   #4
Huinesoron
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
Well, the collection was certainly made with Tolkien's (and EV Gordon's) permission, since they made it! But the printed booklet certainly was done without, a decade after Tolkien left Leeds.
Ha, good catch. The fact that they were typed up for students is really interesting, because it might make sense of that caption on the cover:

Mál-rúnar skaltu kunna

Google Translate identifies this as Icelandic, and translates it as Know the Runes, but the actual translation looks a bit more... well, snarky. Still entirely by Google:

-Mál-rúnar, by itself, translates as 'speech-runes'.
-kunna is a form of 'be able to', 'can' (or maybe 'have').
-skaltu is translated as 'please', but alternate translations are 'do' or 'you should' - it's an imperative.

Which means, I think, that the entire thing comes out not as 'know the runes', but as:

Please learn the words!

hS
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Old 04-08-2020, 06:34 AM   #5
The Squatter of Amon Rûdh
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Pipe

I've been looking for a copy of this for years. Tom Shippey quotes from it in The Road to Middle-earth, but like many of Tolkien's less well-known work it was published in an obscure place. In this case it was a limited print run of an earlier booklet made as a teaching aid for the B or 'birch' (primarily linguistic) stream of the University of Leeds English school.

It doesn't surprise me that UCL was involved, since it's one of the centres for medieval English studies even today. It turns out that A.H. Smith, a former student at Leeds, was responsible for the printing.

To be fair to HarperCollins, the audience for a teaching aid in medieval studies, largely written in dead languages and long ago overtaken by scholarship, is doubtful. Probably the copyright is disputable between Leeds university and the estates of Tolkien, Gordon and the other contributors, and the questionable marketability of the work has made untangling the legal situation uneconomical. Still, here a copy is. Thanks for that one, hS. Éadig béo þu
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Old 04-08-2020, 01:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huinesoron View Post
Do you know what the rarest Tolkien book is? It's not any sort of first edition, or anything of that kind: it's Songs for the Philologists, a collection of poems (13 by Tolkien) that was apparently made without his permission, never distributed, and almost entirely lost in a fire. (I first learnt about it in the course of a Balfrog/Seth thread a couple of years back.

One of the more... interesting Tolkien works (and one of the few in modern English) is Frenchmen Froth, which is, er... extremely snarky:



hS
That is a spoof, a better word currently eludes me, of the satirical 18th song the Vicar of Bray, which having learned at my mother’s knee, I am now going to have as an ear worm.
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Old 04-08-2020, 01:57 PM   #7
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