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Old 04-12-2008, 02:43 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril What connection between Goldberry and Ulmo?

In researching for the subject of music in Middle-earth, I have covered a wide range of Tolkien's works within a relatively short time. That means I notice similarities that are otherwise not close enough to each other to be connected. So it is with Ulmo and Goldberry. The connecting elements are water and music.

We read in the Sil that the echo of the Music of the Ainur lives on in water, which is Ulmo's particular element. He has (an) instrument(s), the Ulumúri, horns made of shell, which awakens the hearts of Elves and Men to a longing for the sea. He speaks through the music of water - fountains, streams, etc. He taught the Elves, especially the Teleri, music.

Goldberry is titled "River-daughter", an interesting epithet that makes her as much an enigma as her spouse Tom is. She also sings many songs, and they are closely connected with water - rain, especially, as we read of her rain-song and Tom's description of "Goldberry's washing day". She inspires Frodo, who seldom makes songs, to his own in praise of her.

I realize that we have no information of any connection between the two characters, and this could be another futile attempt to explain an enigma, but perhaps we can come up with some interesting ideas of our own. Could there be some connection between the two? What could it be?


Here's a real crackpot theory to start us off - what if "River" stands for Ulmo himself? Then Goldberry would be his daughter!
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Old 04-12-2008, 05:19 AM   #2
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Fascinating topic! Very interesting. Unfortunately, I don't seem to be able to come up with any good contributions right now, but I will just say what I can think of right at the moment.

The connection of water-music is overall apparent in Tolkien's works, and it doesn't even have to be necessary personalised by anyone or anything. We know from Ainulindalë that the Ainur and Children of Ilúvatar praised water the most of all... materials, because the echo of the Music remained the strongest in it. And so, despite water is Ulmo's "invention", it's possible that anyone/anything connected with it has similar attributes.

Ultimately, this is the question of Goldberry's identity, of course. If she has anything to do with water, is the "River-daughter", or the daughter of a (the?) River-woman (Adventures of TB), then her connection with the water is undeniable. Now, what does that mean? Is she some "byproduct" of water? Is she to be counted among the strange beasts living in the water? Is she some spirit sent there specifically by Ulmo, similar to the Ents sent by Yavanna? Is she simply a "spirit of the outside" (this strange kind of... creatures???) who joined the water of her own free will? Now she seems to be begotten in the already existing world, from water - so the most probable of these options would be the first I named.

The well-known heretic David Day in his "Tolkien's Bestiary", classifies Goldberry without a twinkling of an eye as a Maia of Ulmo (and he classifies Tom as Maia, too ). However, even this theory falls if we hold to the interpretation of the words "River-daughter" (or "Daughter of the River-woman") as that she was "begotten by water". However, what goes for Goldberry does not necessarily have to apply for her mother, the River-woman. However, the explicite referrences to River-woman could be eventually thrown away as an invention of the Hobbit folklore, and the fact that any River-woman really existed as concrete individual can be ignored - and we'll be back just at the mysterious term "River-daughter".

Well, these are more like questions to pose to think of, but not questions; however, this is what this is about - and the best I can come up with at the moment, anyway. So, I would like to see what others think
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Old 04-12-2008, 12:49 PM   #3
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Goldberry reminds me of the nymphs, the stewards of nature, in Greek mythology. As far as I know nymphs loved music and dancing; that would explain her singing and love for Tom Bombadil. So I think that she would have more of a connection with Yavvana than with Ulmo. What do you think?
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Old 04-12-2008, 02:12 PM   #4
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Goldberry reminds me of the nymphs, the stewards of nature, in Greek mythology. As far as I know nymphs loved music and dancing; that would explain her singing and love for Tom Bombadil. So I think that she would have more of a connection with Yavvana than with Ulmo. What do you think?
Good point, however I think nymph-like creatures don't need to have anything to do with Yavanna more than with Ulmo (and if anything, I would consider them being connected with Vána - just look at her description in Valaquenta: she would be the one to have anything to do with nymphs and such). However, first: let us not forget that whatever Goldberry may resemble, she is first of all the River-daugher, and only then something resembling a nymph or whatever. Second, there are water-nymphs as well, you know, and if there's anything that Goldberry resembles, then it's them. And I would like to point out one thing, not sure where else this appears, but in Slavic mythology there are water-nymphs (rusalka) who are very similar to Goldberry, and in Czech translation at least, the words "River-woman" are translated as "říční žínka", which is another word just for this water-nymph. So I naturally pre-determinedly imagined Goldberry always like something of that kind. However, this does not explain her nature, and where she came from, and what has she to do with Ulmo (if anything), any further.
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Old 04-12-2008, 05:20 PM   #5
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Ooh! another interesting topic about Goldberry. She is almost as much of an enigma as Tom. I always imagined her more earthy (maybe earthly) than a Maia, as she looks more...(I don't have the quote but I think it was something about her being mroe human than the elves, and if so, that probably rules out the possibility of Maia, since they are more celestial and high, and such).

She could be part of the music, which might be why she sings a lot. She sort of uses the music (rather than creating it, like Ainur), and because water is the one place where the Music still lives, this might be easier for her, or maybe it is what made her.

Also, I have a question. Do you think that Goldberry could be Ulmo's last contact with ME? She definitely is connected with water, which Ulmo just happens to control. Is it just coinciedence? Maybe she knows much more than she says.


PS. I can tell you like this subject Legate, especially the bits about Ulmo, which I'm sure doesn't have anything to do with your title (The Voice that Gainsayeth?)... Hmm?
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Old 04-13-2008, 08:59 AM   #6
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Also, I have a question. Do you think that Goldberry could be Ulmo's last contact with ME? She definitely is connected with water, which Ulmo just happens to control. Is it just coinciedence? Maybe she knows much more than she says.
This is actually very interesting idea. Ulmo's power was leaving the streams and rivers of Middle-Earth even during the First Age, and then of course, when the Valar laid down their power over Arda after the Fall of Númenor, he would leave M-E to itself like they did. However, I wonder whether Ulmo would not, as it has been his habit, still remain a little more active than the other Valar (more than just sending in the Istari, which was the only thing we know the Valar did by the time of Third Age) - one of these manifestations of his interest in the affairs of Third Age Middle-Earth being Goldberry. Still, there would be the question what is her presence supposed to mean, or what is the purpose of her being there (maybe just a spirit of water as a side effect of the "informator" status of the waters? I certainly don't think Goldberry would be a true "informator" herself - or not in the plain sense, at least).

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PS. I can tell you like this subject Legate, especially the bits about Ulmo, which I'm sure doesn't have anything to do with your title (The Voice that Gainsayeth?)... Hmm?
Ulmo is the Vala I always liked the most, and among other things, the choice of my personal title was influenced by this. So you can make the picture out of it
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Old 04-13-2008, 11:46 AM   #7
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Excellent topic, as always, Esty!

In discussing Goldberry, we have to consider both the Bombadil verse and the LotR. The two present different views of her and of her spouse. It is almost as if the original verses represent an older folkloric tradition that has been overlaid by a later version.

I have in the past associated Goldberry (through my rpg character) with Uinen and Osse. The story of Ulmo's vassal who was tempted by Melkor and then returned to faithful following by the intervention of his wife Uinen has seemed to me to be more in keeping with the original tales of Tom's and Goldberry's nature. Osse has the power to make sea storms while Uinen calms them. I'm sure seastorms still existed in the Third Age, so I'm not sure if this particular power was still ascribed to the husband and wife of the waters even as Ulmo's power was said to be receeding.

As to the link through music, well, I wonder if we need to clarify what precisely was the original music of Arda. Was it a music of sound, as we normally associate the word, or was it rather a music of proportion, order, and measure? Music and the history of music is not really my balliwick, but I think that originally the word implied order and proportion without sound--the mathematical relationships of the universe. Yet Goldberry's "washing day" and the implied control over weather might imply some relationship less controlled and even, possibly, aligned with chaos? The female element in early folklore often pertains to elements outside human order.

Water is also a culturally derived signifier of cleansing--Goldberry's "washing day", to say nothing of the generations of women who wash their clothes in the waters of a river's edge, throughout human cultures--so that works against the chaotic element, unless, for example, the chaos of the drowning of Numenor is regarded as of just proportion and order.

just some random thoughts from Bethberry
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Old 04-13-2008, 12:29 PM   #8
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As to the link through music, well, I wonder if we need to clarify what precisely was the original music of Arda. Was it a music of sound, as we normally associate the word, or was it rather a music of proportion, order, and measure? Music and the history of music is not really my balliwick, but I think that originally the word implied order and proportion without sound--the mathematical relationships of the universe.
I am actually not that much acquainted with this matter as well, but what you said reminded me - any resemblance with the "music of the spheres" and the Pythagorean view of the universe? There may be some parallel, or connection, even unconscious. I would have to think of it.

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Yet Goldberry's "washing day" and the implied control over weather might imply some relationship less controlled and even, possibly, aligned with chaos? The female element in early folklore often pertains to elements outside human order.
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Water is also a culturally derived signifier of cleansing--Goldberry's "washing day", to say nothing of the generations of women who wash their clothes in the waters of a river's edge, throughout human cultures--so that works against the chaotic element, unless, for example, the chaos of the drowning of Numenor is regarded as of just proportion and order.
Well, why have you thought of chaos in the first place? When you mentioned it, the first thing I also thought about was "washing" in some deeper meaning (the more if Goldberry is "higher" spirit and there is something more behind her "simple" look; the more if she were associated with Ulmo) - indeed, cleansing looks pretty good idea to me, especially at this time, when we know - confirming with the UT and such - that all the Old Forest and Barrow-Downs were awakened by the Riders, and all evil things were stirring; the day before Old Man Willow trapped the Hobbits. What if Goldberry's "washing day" is, apart from the obvious connotations, indeed some mending of this, putting at least the Forest to rest? I see this as a pretty good idea.
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Old 04-13-2008, 12:30 PM   #9
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From my standpoint, Goldberry (and her fashion-addled hubby, Tom) are enigmatic because they do not fit in a cosmogonical sense in Middle-earth -- they are in fact from outside of that universe. They do not precisely fit categorically into any designation in Middle-earth (they have attributes of Maiar, but have puzzling disparities as well); this is, I believe, Tolkien's personal joke on all of us.

When Bombadil (and by extension, Goldberry) claims he is 'the first', that is Tolkien winking at us, because Tom's tale did indeed come before the writing of LotR from both a conceptual and published standpoint. Goldberry and Tom, by Tolkien's own accounts, were important in their own right as characters and warranted their inclusion in the LotR. In fact, there is a letter Tolkien wrote to his publisher asking if Tom might be included in the story, although he does not necessarily fit tidily. Tom (and Goldberry) were written in for no other reason than Tolkien liked them and thought they were important in a personal sense beyond the telling of LotR.

And thus, like balrogs wings, the intellectual battle over Tom (and Goldberry) rages on unabated.

P.S. The Maiaric reference to Tom and Goldberry are certainly strong, particularly the maintenance of power in a defined area (much like Melian's girdle), their affinity and reverence of woods and water (like Maiaric disciples of Yavanna and Ulmo), and their power over the unseen (spiritually -- as in the Barrows) and nature (physically -- as in Tom's taming of Old Man Willow and Goldberry's washing day).
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Old 04-13-2008, 12:47 PM   #10
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Good, Morthoron, good, but allow me please one remark - what you wrote applies a lot to Tom, but not to Goldberry. Despite the fact they are put together as a couple, Goldberry does not seem otherworldly (quite the opposite - she is descended from "river", an existing creation!), says nothing in the sense that "she is" or that she'd be "oldest", and I think (though I am just guessing, I am not that acquainted with the Letters) Tolkien did not mention her as a problem in the Letters. All you said applies only to Tom. But ultimately, that says nothing about Goldberry!
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Old 04-13-2008, 02:43 PM   #11
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Good, Morthoron, good, but allow me please one remark - what you wrote applies a lot to Tom, but not to Goldberry. Despite the fact they are put together as a couple, Goldberry does not seem otherworldly (quite the opposite - she is descended from "river", an existing creation!), says nothing in the sense that "she is" or that she'd be "oldest", and I think (though I am just guessing, I am not that acquainted with the Letters) Tolkien did not mention her as a problem in the Letters. All you said applies only to Tom. But ultimately, that says nothing about Goldberry!
Not wishing to demean Lady Goldberry nor lessen her status, but if you are speaking in context of her creation, then you must look elsewhere than Lord of the Rings -- to a 1934 poem regarding Bombadil; thus she is part and parcel of the Bombadil story, an adjunct character that was not contrived organically by Tolkien for LotR. Therefore, I would include her in the Tom Bombadil Enigmatic & Utterly Unorthodox Journey.

I was not speaking in reference to Goldberry's original incarnation in the poem (which other posters have touched on here -- nymph, folkish water spirit, etc.), rather, her relationship strictly in context to LotR (or rather her uncontextuality). Interestingly enough, the name Goldberry could be taken to mean 'Flower Queen' in Sindarin (Golodh-bereth).
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Old 04-13-2008, 03:56 PM   #12
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I tend to think that what Goldberry is (meaning, what she is in relation to her presentation in the published version of LotR) is much the same as Tom Bombadil, an enigmatic creation that seems rather a "holdover" from the time that Tolkien was still thinking of LotR as a "Hobbit sequel." Their general nature feels more akin to the world we see in TH than it does to the world we see in LotR.

Now, that said, I sometimes wonder if she isn't also a bit of a holdover from other ideas Tolkien had once entertained, then discarded. From what we see of some of his earlier versions of The Silmarillion in the HoME books, the Valar/Ainur we see in what we think of as TS aren't the same as what Tolkien had once conceived. At some point, they were more "classic mythology" rather than "angelic" in nature. Even after Tolkien started referring to the Powers as the Valar rather than "the gods," he conceived of the Maiar as the Valarindi, the Children of the Valar; early versions of Eonwe and Ilmare (called, I believe Fionwe and Erinti) were the offspring of Manwe and Varda. I'm not saying that Goldberry (and possibly Tom) was ever another child of the Valar in Tolkien's mind, since no evidence of this exists, but in pure speculation, a character who appears to be more than human, referred to as the "River-daughter" could have (at some time in the evolution of Tolkien's created world) been indeed the daughter of a greater power, like Ulmo, or perhaps even Uinen (after all, if the Valar could reproduce, why would their children not also have this capacity?). Given the scope of what Tolkien was creating, I can well imagine that there were many, many more possibilities he devised, then discarded; and I think that it's possible that some aspects of these myriad variations might have crept into the final work -- some intentionally, others not so, just bits of that bigger tapestry he liked for some reason and didn't want to wholly abandon (rather like Tom himself, I suspect).

Just muddying the waters (so to speak)...
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Old 04-13-2008, 03:57 PM   #13
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. Interestingly enough, the name Goldberry could be taken to mean 'Flower Queen' in Sindarin (Golodh-bereth).
Or even a corruption of 'gold-bearer' which would be a nice kenning for a forest-river with fallen autumn leaves being carried upon its surface.
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Old 04-13-2008, 05:03 PM   #14
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Not wishing to demean Lady Goldberry nor lessen her status, but if you are speaking in context of her creation, then you must look elsewhere than Lord of the Rings -- to a 1934 poem regarding Bombadil; thus she is part and parcel of the Bombadil story, an adjunct character that was not contrived organically by Tolkien for LotR. Therefore, I would include her in the Tom Bombadil Enigmatic & Utterly Unorthodox Journey.
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I tend to think that what Goldberry is (meaning, what she is in relation to her presentation in the published version of LotR) is much the same as Tom Bombadil, an enigmatic creation that seems rather a "holdover" from the time that Tolkien was still thinking of LotR as a "Hobbit sequel." Their general nature feels more akin to the world we see in TH than it does to the world we see in LotR.
There are several views in which we can look at the topic. We can look at what Goldberry was supposed to represent in Tolkien's universe, even at different stages (as Ibri mentioned), whether she is anachronic in LotR or not, whether she is even consistent with the world etc.
What I am asking, is what would we say from the "in-world" point of view, i.e. if you were omniscient inhabitant of M-E who makes classifications of all people and creatures of Arda, what would you say about Goldberry? You cannot say "she was part of Bombadil's story" - she was not, she was a "River-daughter" (and we are to answer what that is) and Tom found her sometime during the Third Age! And now, we have to say: "She is a Maia", "she is another spirit sent by Ulmo" or "she is a being who somehow came from outside the Eä, and is not an Ainu or anything else".
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Old 04-13-2008, 06:40 PM   #15
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You cannot say "she was part of Bombadil's story" - she was not, she was a "River-daughter" (and we are to answer what that is) and Tom found her sometime during the Third Age! And now, we have to say: "She is a Maia", "she is another spirit sent by Ulmo" or "she is a being who somehow came from outside the Eä, and is not an Ainu or anything else".
I cannot say? She was not part of Bombadil's story? Tom found her in the 3rd Age? She was a "River-daughter" and we are to answer what that is? We have to say she is a Maia? *boggles*

Okay, I'll play this game.

If I were omniscient, then Balrogs did have wings, Orcs were derived from Men and not Elves, Hobbits have lunch (right after elevensies), and Tom and Goldberry were spirits of the Old Oxfordshire countryside (hence no ill effects from being in proximity or having direct contact with the One Ring, because they had no contextual connection with Middle-earth). But there is an excellent essay on Bombadil and Goldberry wherein the author, Gene Hargrove, puts forth the proposition that Goldberry is indeed Yavanna and Tom is Aule. It can be found here...

http://www.cas.unt.edu/~hargrove/bombadil.html

I don't necessarily agree with his assumptions, but the essay is well-researched and thought provoking.

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Or even a corruption of 'gold-bearer' which would be a nice kenning for a forest-river with fallen autumn leaves being carried upon its surface.
A very mellifluous description, davem, and quite an appropriate allusion for the Withywindle.
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Old 04-14-2008, 01:11 AM   #16
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I cannot say? She was not part of Bombadil's story? Tom found her in the 3rd Age? She was a "River-daughter" and we are to answer what that is? We have to say she is a Maia? *boggles*
Morthoron, don't be silly! I am not saying that you have to try to present it from the in-ME point of view. If you want to look at it in one of the other views, why not? I was merely explaining from which view I am trying to look at it, and therefore, what my posts refer to.

This far, it seems the most probable to me what I said above: That she is of the creation (river-daughter) - i.e. she is "daughter" of something which is already by itself a creation - unlike Tom, who is "Oldest" and "Fatherless" (! compare). Now, Ainur don't have any offspring in the published version of the mythology - or do they? (Melian...) Is is possible that Goldberry is a Melian-like character herself (joining old Tom instead of Thingol), or that she is already a descendant of such character? Quite possible. Or, is she really something that "came out of the river" by itself? (And is such a thing likely in Tolkien's world?)
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Old 04-14-2008, 07:17 AM   #17
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Tom is Aule.
IF he was a Vala, I would say he was much more like Orome
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Old 04-14-2008, 07:41 AM   #18
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Thanks for all the responses! Sorry I haven't the time to comment on them in detail, but I am enjoying your thoughts.

Morthoron, as the initiator of this discussion, I have no objection to either point of view - from "inside" the story or from "outside". However, mixing the two could be problematic; trying to argue from outside about suggestions from inside doesn't work, and vice versa.
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Old 04-14-2008, 08:42 AM   #19
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If I were going to look at this from "inside" the story -- say, as an Elf contemplating the mysteries of the world -- I would be inclined to think that, if Goldberry was known as the daughter of the "river woman," she was somehow a descendant of Uinen, whose "tresses are spread through all the waters of the world." If Melian, another Maia, could wed Thingol and have a daughter, why not the Lady of the Seas? I would wonder who the father of the River Daughter was, but the identity of her mother would seem quite plain to me. Of course, this would imply that Uinen was not faithful to her spouse, but given what was known of his tempestuous nature, I don't think I could be too hard on her for seeking even a fleeting moment of love akin to that between Melian and Thingol. How Goldberry and Tom eventually met, and why she would choose to stay with him, I would wonder, since he seems rather a peculiar individual, but since he is "oldest and fatherless," I would suspect Tom is some kind of Ainu, a creation of Eru alone, not conceived in the manner of normal incarnate creatures. "Oldest" I would also wonder about, and probably conclude that it meant "oldest being living in this particular place," since "oldest" is a claim also made by the Ents, and, for that matter, Melkor. A matter of perspective and interpretation. If Tom is an Ainu (probably a Maia, I should think), then it would seem perfectly natural to me for him to take as his lady the daughter of another Maia, who no doubt sees him as he is, in truth, and understands him -- idiosyncrasies and all -- much better than I.
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Old 04-14-2008, 11:04 AM   #20
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I would be inclined to think that, if Goldberry was known as the daughter of the "river woman," she was somehow a descendant of Uinen, whose "tresses are spread through all the waters of the world." If Melian, another Maia, could wed Thingol and have a daughter, why not the Lady of the Seas? I would wonder who the father of the River Daughter was, but the identity of her mother would seem quite plain to me. Of course, this would imply that Uinen was not faithful to her spouse, but given what was known of his tempestuous nature, I don't think I could be too hard on her for seeking even a fleeting moment of love akin to that between Melian and Thingol.
This does not sound bad as a variant, except for one point with which I must cathegorically disagree, and that's Uinen being unfaithful to her spouse. The main point is that I'd never have expected, or imagined, anything like that in Tolkien's works - as far as I know, there are no such cases mentioned anywhere in the books. Strangely, we have death, fading of the love or even turning it to hatred; we have also incest, but in neither case infidelity. Maybe with the exception of Aldarion (just metaphorically, though). Anyway, what I said - I find that unlikely and actually the more when thinking about Uinen, who, as far as we know her, is loving her husband to the point that she is able to live with him (this, for me, speaks for her being faithful to Ossë - if she had enough of his angriness, then she would have simply left him to storm as he wishes), she even calms him down when he almost destroys the land and under other occassions. This implies that she cares about him really deeply. So, if Goldberry were the daughter of Uinen, I would say she has to be also Ossë's daughter. However...

...what about this. I would say, if Goldberry were to be descended from Uinen, I would make her the granddaughter of Uinen, and not daughter; this way, the former problem would be solved and also the link to Ossë (whose furious nature does not go somehow with Goldberry) would be somewhat weakened. Also, the real daughter of Uinen could be some spirit more specifically linked to the rivers or river (one) or the rivers in NW Middle-Earth or something like that - and now even the words about "River-woman" would fit.

However, the ultimate question in the background is, are Ainur capable of having children with other Ainu? We know they do when it comes to mortals (Thingol), but with other Ainur, I wouldn't be so sure. At least in the published works there is nothing that would imply so. Then again, the question would be, if the offspring would have to be indeed "physical", as it was in Thingol and Melian's case, or some, like, "spiritual" offspring - note that in any case, the "child" won't be a "classic Ainu", as the Ainur were something created by Ilúvatar, where this one would be begotten - Lo! Indeed, a River-daughter.

So that would be my proposal when we come to the Ainur-origin option.
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Old 04-14-2008, 12:28 PM   #21
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1420! A tuppence

I think I would have to chime in with Legate and say that unfaithfulness to a spouse would not be a realistic attribute for any of the characters in Middle-earth. It simply is not part of Tolkien's range of possibilities. After all, he has the elves marrying for life and seemingly able to have creative control over their sexual drives. And for all the gender distinctions and differences amongst the maiar they seem quite a-sexual. Infidelity is simply not a 'given' in Tolkien's universe.

Yet something sexual is going on in the original verses of ATB, where there does seem to be some sort of primal sexual scene played out. The suggestions of aggression, if not violence, are broadly given--sorry, don't have the books to hand and may come back once I can get at them. First I think it is Goldberry who taunts and attracts Tom and then it is Tom who somehow has to outwit her mother. (Memory maybe be a bit dim here.) There is also a slight suggestion that Tom's eventual taking of Goldberry could possibly not be entirely consensual. It is very different from the domestic scenes in LotR.

It is one thing to say that we should consider Goldberry just as she appears in LotR, but I think to posit parentage from the maia on that without taking any consideration of how she appears in ATB would be niggling a bit much with the Legendarium--niggling by overlooking. One doesn't have to agree with Hardgroves, in the link kindly provided by davem, in order to find his concept of how Tolkien tinkered with anomalies and errors very attractive.

Well, really must dash off now.
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Old 04-14-2008, 01:08 PM   #22
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Well, if one is not willing to entertain the possibility of infidelity in Tolkien's subcreation (now, why did I know that this would be contested? ), there is the possibility of some other, unnamed (and previously unattached) Maia, of Ulmo's service, as a parent or grandparent of Goldberry's, rather than Uinen. I would consider this more likely, actually, all the way around, since we do know that the Maiar were vastly more numerous than the Valar, and more "available," so to speak, since their roles (and lives) within Ea are not as well-known as those of the Valar. Although I don't recall that Tolkien explicitly said that the Ainur do not reproduce among themselves, I believe this is strongly implied by the fact that early versions of his mythology have the Maiar as the children of the Valar, and in the later, more finished versions, this concept disappears completely. Only Luthien, the child of a Maia and an immortal incarnate, remains. This is given such prominence in Elvish lore, it is easy to believe that this is the ONLY such incident, and thus Luthien is the only child ever literally born of the Ainur. But given that Tolkien writes his books as if they are the histories and literature compiled by the inhabitants of his created world, there is always the possibility of stories unwritten, tales untold -- not to mention bias on the part of the "authors," who might tend to favor certain tales over others. Neither Tom nor Goldberry have the (apparent) historical prominence of Melian, Elwe, Luthien, or Beren, and thus there may be much of their story that is either unknown, or considered insufficiently interesting to publish. Although Tom is known to the Elves, he seems a greater part of the lore of the Hobbits (not surprising, given where he lives), and the Hobbits, being as unfond of "adventure" as they are, would likely know precious little about Tom's past, as well as his Lady's. The Elves (or at least the Elves who wrote the books we have seen) might simply have not been interested in Tom, because he does not appear to have done anything that might interest an Elvish writer. For a Hobbit, who enjoys more mundane song and dance and "nonsense," tales of Tom, real or imagined, might be much more appealing. (And this is not intended to denigrate Elvish writers, just an attempt to find an explanation for why so little is known, or was written, about Tom and Goldberry.)
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Old 04-14-2008, 07:30 PM   #23
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Morthoron, as the initiator of this discussion, I have no objection to either point of view - from "inside" the story or from "outside". However, mixing the two could be problematic; trying to argue from outside about suggestions from inside doesn't work, and vice versa.
Actually, I wasn't mixing anything Estelyn, merely following other poster's conjectures. I subscribe to the 'outside' the story theory regarding Goldberry and Tom based strictly on Tolkien's letters and the manner in which the two interact with nature, but do not interact with the world outside their self-imposed boundaries. They are an allegory bound within a microcosm.

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One doesn't have to agree with Hardgroves, in the link kindly provided by davem, in order to find his concept of how Tolkien tinkered with anomalies and errors very attractive.
The link was kindly provided by the Dark Elf, but I shan't hold it against you. *winks*
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:19 AM   #24
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Thank you for explaining your point of view more precisely, Morthoron - that helps clarify it for me.

Legate, Bb, Ibri, I was thinking along similar lines, and it's interesting to discuss various possibilities!
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Old 04-15-2008, 07:46 AM   #25
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The link was kindly provided by the Dark Elf, but I shan't hold it against you. *winks*
*The daughter of the daughter of the River-Woman bows to acknowledge the courtesy of the Dark Elf, as links, chains and other accoutrements of bondage, when held against her for study of effect, so do not become her*

There's one aspect of the Tom and Goldberry as nature spirits theory that I don't think has been addressed. When the Valar departed Middle-earth, they left it in Melkor's control. Sometimes Yavanna and others attempted to mend the effects of this evil presence, but their efforts were sporadic and did not extend over all of Arda. So, if Arda is marred, if Middle-earth is tainted by the evil and chaos of Melkor, does that not mean that all of the natural world is fallen? Nature cannot therefore be either neutral or positive, but must be something to be fought against, for fear of succumbing to Melkor's taint. And even with the defeat of Melkor, was this pollution repaired? I don't think so but perhaps there is some archane comment in one of the secondary sources that addresses this point.

So, if Goldberry (and Tom) are spirits of the natural world, are they part of this marring? The violence in ATB suggests as much, while the domestic peace of LotR would suggest something else.
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Old 04-15-2008, 08:56 AM   #26
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Is Tom a part of the natural world, meaning sprung of the incarnate world that Melkor marred? I've never thought so. That the Ring has no power or hold on him at all suggests that he comes of untainted roots, sent to or placed in Middle-earth with some other purpose to which he is so singularly dedicated, anything else is of little or at best temporary importance to him.

It's because of this (and his claim to be "oldest and fatherless," not to mention his query, "Who are you, yourself, alone, and nameless?") that I believe he's an Ainu. As I have studied Tolkien's works over the years, I've wondered if what he is is a Maia of Yavanna, sent to ME long ago, perhaps to check up on things for her, and/or to remain there as a guardian, before the awakening of the Eruhini. What tends to support this possibility (at least in my pointed little head ) is an examination of the few Maiar we know, especially those who are specifically sent as messengers or emissaries of those they serve. Both Sauron and Curumo were once Maiar of Aule, and both of them demonstrated reflections of Aule's desire for order (what do you call it when a person keeps rebuilding things that another tries to destroy?), as well as his impatience (as in his fashioning of the Dwarves). Unfortunately, they didn't pick up on Aule's willingness to serve humbly. Eonwe and Olorin are both Maiar of Manwe, and they both demonstrate his qualities of leadership, as well as his naievte in regard to evil (all three of them allowed freedom to people who had already amply demonstrated that they could not be trusted and would, in fact, turn on anyone, including their own kin, a freedom that invariably led to bad results).

So when I consider Yavanna's servant, Aiwendil, and what became of him... it looks not unlike the situation of Tom. Aiwendil became so enamored of the kelvar and olvar of ME, he forgot about his greater mission, spent more and more time around his home in Rhosgobel, and in the end did not return to Valinor (as Tolkien tells us in his poem fragment, "Wilt thou learn the lore/of five who came from a far country?/Only one returned..."). Tom is remarkably similar. He loves the land that is his domain, and all that is in it, and he does have knowledge of the world beyond it, but he will not leave it. It seems rather unlikely that the Old Forest is a place of such incredible importance that it truly requires a powerful guardian -- at least now. Perhaps once, it did, or perhaps once, Tom had a mission and a purpose that extended well beyond it. Orome and Yavanna did indeed appear to be the two Valar who showed the most interest in ME before the awakening of the Elves, and they also seem to be the ones who did the most active searching for them. If Orome himself would go to ME, hunting the monsters of Melkor and searching for signs of the Children, might not Yavanna have sent her own servants on a similar mission? Tom, I think, was one of them who became like Aiwendil: he so loved the world he had been sent to help, he put down roots of his own, and now will not leave the place he has made for himself.

If I were to try to compare Goldberry to any Maia we know, it might well be Uinen, for, aside from her appellation as the "River-daughter," she seems to be a calming influence on Tom, much as Uinen is to Osse, a gentler, more accessible -- more "normal," if you will -- presence that tones down what might be seen as his excesses.

Well, it's just theory, but most of it has been bouncing about in my brain for some years. Just another two cents.
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Old 04-15-2008, 12:28 PM   #27
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So, if Arda is marred, if Middle-earth is tainted by the evil and chaos of Melkor, does that not mean that all of the natural world is fallen? Nature cannot therefore be either neutral or positive, but must be something to be fought against, for fear of succumbing to Melkor's taint. And even with the defeat of Melkor, was this pollution repaired? I don't think so but perhaps there is some archane comment in one of the secondary sources that addresses this point.

So, if Goldberry (and Tom) are spirits of the natural world, are they part of this marring? The violence in ATB suggests as much, while the domestic peace of LotR would suggest something else.
Well, the idea that Melkor's evil had infested the very stuff of Arda had not come into being when either AoTB or LotR was written, so neither of them was composed with that idea in mind (& I don't think either of them can sustain the conceit). The idea of Arda being 'Morgoth's Ring' causes problems which were never really addressed. As with a lot of the stuff gathered together under the heading of 'Myths Transformed' in HoM-e 10 it causes numerous difficulties - not least the Tom/Goldberry one Bb points up here.

One of Tolkien's most annoying habits was continually coming up with concepts which had a major effect on the Secondary World & presenting them as 'givens' of M-e but not actually developing, or properly integrating them - & in many cases that's because those ideas conflict with each other to such a degree that they can't be integrated.

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Old 04-15-2008, 01:20 PM   #28
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So, if Arda is marred, if Middle-earth is tainted by the evil and chaos of Melkor, does that not mean that all of the natural world is fallen?
Yes I believe it does, but in the sense of fallen from its ideal (but utopian) state, not fallen to pure evil. I read Morgoth's marring as an allegory for mankind's (and nature's) capacity for evil or rebellion against god which also, of course, is a requisite for doing good. Much like christianity's Fall of Man

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...Nature cannot therefore be either neutral or positive, but must be something to be fought against, for fear of succumbing to Melkor's taint.
So I don't think nature nessesarily must be fought against even though it is tainted by Morgoth. Nature is in it's orgin good, and still is despite the marring of Morgoth. It might become twisted however like fex. Old Man Willow.

But as Ibrin noted, Tom seems to be 'untainted' however as the ring has no power over him or tempts him in any way.

As for the Goldberry's connection with Ulmo I can't think of anything clever to say.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:17 PM   #29
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Great replies here! Sadly, I have very little time right now to do them all justice.

I can see Ibrin's idea of Tom being similar to Aiwendil/Radagast but I still have difficulty seeing how Goldberry could fit into that kind of schema.

I've found an online copy of ATB so I'll quote some of it here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, poem
There his beard dangled long down into the water: up came Goldberry, the River-woman's daughter; pulled Tom's hanging hair. In he went a-wallowing under the water-lilies, bubbling and a-swallowing. 'Hey Tom Bombadil, Whither are you going?' said fair Goldberry. 'Bubbles you are blowing, frightening the finny fish and the brown water-rat,
startling the dabchicks, and drowning your feather-hat!'

'You bring it back again, there's a pretty maiden!' said Tom Bombadil. 'I do not care for wading. Go down! Sleep again where the pools are shady far below willow-roots, little water-lady!' Back to her mother's house in the deepest hollow swam young Goldberry. But Tom, he would not follow; on knotted willow-roots he sat in sunny weather, drying his yellow boots and his draggled feather.

. . . .
[Tom and Old Man Willow]
'Ha. Tom Bombadil! What be you a-thinking, peeping inside my free, watching me a-drinking deep in my wooden house, tickling me with feather, dripping wet down my face like a rainy weather?' 'You let me out again, Old Man Willow! I am stiff lying here; they're no sort of pillow, your hard crooked roots. Drink your river-water! Go back to sleep again like the River-daughter!'

. . . .

Then Tom hurried on. Rain began to shiver, round rings spattering in the running river; a wind blew, shaken leaves chilly drops were dripping into a sheltering hole Old Tom went skipping. Out came Badger-brock with his snowy forehead and his dark blinking eyes. In the hill he quarried with his wife and many sons. By the coat they caught him, pulled him inside their earth, and down their tunnels brought him. Inside their secret house, there they sat a-mumbling: 'Ho, Tom Bombadil' where have you come tumbling, bursting in the front-door? Badger-folk have caught you.
You'll never find it out, the way that we have brought you!'' Now old Badger-brock, do you hear me talking? You show me out at once! I must be a-walking.
Show me to your backdoor under briar-roses; then clean grimy paws, wipe your earthy noses! Go back to sleep again on your straw pillow, like fair Goldberry and Oid Man Willow Then all the Badger-folk said: 'We beg your pardon!' They showed Tom out again to their thorny garden went back and hid themselves, a-shivering and a-shaking, blocked up all their doors, earth together raking.

. . . .
[Tom says this to the Barrow Wight]
'Go out! Shut the door, and never come back after! Take away gleaming eyes, take your hollow laughter! Go back to grassy mound, on your stony pillow lay down your bony head, like Old Man Willow, like young Goldberry, and Badger-folk in burrow! Go back to buried gold and forgotten sorrow!' Out fled Barrow-wight through the window leaping, through the yard, over wall like a shadow sweeping, up hill wailing went back to leaning stone-rings, back under lonely mound, rattling his bone-rings.
. . . .

But one day Tom, he went and caught the River-daughter, in green gown, flowing hair, sitting in the rushes, singing old water-songs to birds upon the bushes.

He caught her, held her fast! Water-rats went scattering reeds hissed, herons cried, and her heart was fluttering. Said Tom Bombadil, Here's my pretty maiden! You shall come home with me! The table is all laden: yellow cream, honeycomb, white bread and butter; roses at the window-sill and peeping round the shutter. You shall come under Hill! Never mind your mother in her deep weedy pool: there you'll find no lover!'

Old Tom Bombadil had a merry wedding, crowned all with buttercups, hat and feather shedding; his bride with forgetmenots and flag-lilies for garland was robed all in silver-green. He sang like a starling, hummed like a honey-bee, lilted to the fiddle, clasping his river-maid round her slender middle.

Lamps gleamed within his house, and white was the bedding; in the bright honey-moon Badger-folk came treading, danced down under Hill, and Old Man Willow tapped, tapped at window-pane, as they slept on the pillow,
on the bank in the reeds River-woman sighing heard old Barrow-wight in his mound crying. Old Tom Bombadil heeded not the voices, taps, knocks, dancing feet, all the nightly noises; slept till the sun arose, then sang like a starling: 'Hey! Come derry-dol, merry-dol, my darling!' sitting on the door-step chopping sticks of willow, while fair Goldberry combed her tresses yellow.
The bolding is mine, not in the original. There's a couple of things which interest me here. First, it is quite remarkable in that Goldberry is clearly equated with those creatures who are hostile to Tom. She is "like" Old Man Willow, the badget-folk, the Barrow Wight. After all, she pulled Tom's hair and pulled him in under the water. I cannot see how Goldberry could be related to Maiar or Valar given these circumstances. She belongs to the animated natural world which is some threat to Tom. Think of the Selkies of Scottish folklore.

She also belongs to an underworld, the deep, deep waters of the river/pond. And Tom comes and abducts her away from her mother. It is almost as if Tolkien here were reversing the traditional mythology of Persephone and Demeter, but instead of becoming the mistress of the Underworld/Hades, Goldberry is kidnapped to the above ground and happy world of Tom. And even as she is said, in the Letters, to be Mistress of the Seasons, unlike Persephone, she apparently never returns to her mother even seasonally, although Tom does bring her mementoes and tokens of her underworld existence. She is told to forget good old mum, who remains behind in the underworld mourning the loss of her daughter.

Is this a primal scene of patriarchial domination of matriarchial society? of men over women? What part of the song of creation is this?

okay, me gots to go.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:41 PM   #30
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If I'm not mistaken, doesn't the presentation of the ATB suppose that it was probably written by Hobbits (most specifically, Bilbo and possibly Frodo)? While they were both more learned in Elvish lore than other Hobbits, there was much I'm sure they didn't know. Not to mention Bilbo's fondness for poetry, which often leans one in the direction of what sounds good rather than what presents an accurate picture of historical fact. It's not much to go on, alas. What is fact, what is fantasy? Enquiring minds want to know, but may never have an answer.
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Old 04-15-2008, 04:16 PM   #31
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Is this a primal scene of patriarchial domination of matriarchial society? of men over women? What part of the song of creation is this?
But Tom and Goldberry are sort of equal.

They are opposites, yet the same and they balance each other out.
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Old 04-16-2008, 12:22 AM   #32
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There is a third Bombadil poem which Tolkien didn't include in AoTB. It appeared in a 1969 collection called 'The Young Magicians' (story here: http://bromwell.dpsk12.org/stories/storyReader$179 )

ONCE UPON A TIME


Once upon a day on the fields of May
there was snow in the summer where the blossom lay;
the buttercups tall sent up their light
in a stream of gold, and wide and white
there opened in the green grass-skies
the earth-stars with their steady eyes
watching the Sun climb up and down.
Goldberry was there with a wild-rose crown,
Goldberry was there in a lady-smock
blowing away a dandelion clock,
stooping over a lily-pool
and twiddling the water green and cool
to see it sparkle round her hand:
once upon a time in elvish land.


Once upon a night in the cockshut light
the grass was grey but the dew was white;
shadows were dark, and the Sun was gone,
the earth-stars shut, but the high stars shone,
one to another winking their eyes
as they waited for the Moon to rise.
Up he came, and on leaf and grass
his white beams turned to twinkling glass,
and silver dripped from stem and stalk
down to where the lintips walk
through the grass-forests gathering dew.
Tom was there without boot or shoe,
with moonshine wetting his big, brown toes:
once upon a time, the story goes.

Once upon a moon on the brink of June
a-dewing the lintips went too soon.
Tom stopped and listened, and down he knelt:
"Ha! Little lads! So it was you I smelt?
What a mousy smell! Well, the dew is sweet,
so drink it up, but mind my feet!"
The lintips laughed and stole away,
but old Tom said: "I wish they'd stay!
The only things that won't talk to me,
say what they do or what they be.
I wonder what they have got to hide?
Down from the Moon maybe they slide,
or come in star-winks, I don't know:"
once upon a time and long ago.
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Old 04-16-2008, 02:43 AM   #33
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Boots

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Originally Posted by Bêthberry View Post
There's one aspect of the Tom and Goldberry as nature spirits theory that I don't think has been addressed. When the Valar departed Middle-earth, they left it in Melkor's control. Sometimes Yavanna and others attempted to mend the effects of this evil presence, but their efforts were sporadic and did not extend over all of Arda. So, if Arda is marred, if Middle-earth is tainted by the evil and chaos of Melkor, does that not mean that all of the natural world is fallen? Nature cannot therefore be either neutral or positive, but must be something to be fought against, for fear of succumbing to Melkor's taint. And even with the defeat of Melkor, was this pollution repaired? I don't think so but perhaps there is some archane comment in one of the secondary sources that addresses this point.

So, if Goldberry (and Tom) are spirits of the natural world, are they part of this marring? The violence in ATB suggests as much, while the domestic peace of LotR would suggest something else.
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Originally Posted by Bêthberry View Post
There's a couple of things which interest me here. First, it is quite remarkable in that Goldberry is clearly equated with those creatures who are hostile to Tom. She is "like" Old Man Willow, the badget-folk, the Barrow Wight. After all, she pulled Tom's hair and pulled him in under the water. I cannot see how Goldberry could be related to Maiar or Valar given these circumstances. She belongs to the animated natural world which is some threat to Tom.
These are interesting points, however I think they both present the extreme point of view. To me at least, they seem unnecessarily taking things to the extreme. Concerning the first one, indeed, as it was mentioned, I see it more like something being very close to the picture of the Fall of Man in Christianity (and I am quite inclined to think that it was intended). I am not familiar with the concept of Morgoth's Ring in depth, but from personal view I would see that the nature is good in origin, HOWEVER marred. But that does not make it evil by itself - one can drink water and that does not hurt him; or does it? The ultimate result is only that the marred Arda must be, at last, repaired, rebuilt in some way. And exactly as it was said, the concept of Morgoth's Ring would, I believe, help us if we look at Bombadil through it - as in that case, he would be obviously (somehow) part of Arda before its Marring. It may sound daring, but look at what we know about him, or what Goldberry says about him (or he himself), it would have to be like that.

Now to the second one, which I find very interesting. Tom is all right - but what about Goldberry? If she were a Maia, then it's again all right, as the would not be "marred" in any way (or would she?). If she were a daughter of Ossë and Uinen, still okay. If she were a daughter of Ossë&Uinen's child and something else (a spirit of the river, something like an Ent? An Elf? ), it would still be okay (as these spirits come from "elsewhere" - or Elves are Children of Ilúvatar, of course). The only moment when she would be "marred" could be if she is "river"-daughter, simply as we take it, then if she "sprung out" of created things. It may be that she were "begotten" by the already marred nature. However let us not forget that beings of own free will don't come out of nowhere in M-E, and ultimately, if Goldberry has free will or her own fëa (well, maybe she has not?), then in any case, she would have to be given the life by Eru - like the Dwarves, at maximum. Then, speaking very vulgarly, her body would be marred, but her spirit would be good and capable of remaining even across the destruction of Morgoth's Ring.

However, one more thing about the nature of water. Even assuming that Goldberry is in some way coming out of water, her profile would still be quite fine! Why? Because water, out of all materials of Arda, was closest to the Music, and it is overall presented as something positive (Melkor wished to destroy it; Black Riders could not cross the water !!! etc.).

And as to her "sinisterness" and the relationship of Tom and her, as presented in the Adventures of TB, like I said, Bêthberry, I think you are unnecessarily sharpening the point. Let us not forget that it is a poem, and a hobbit poem, a playful poem (definitely), and actually I had always the impression that it's the other way around: not like that by putting in the same line with other creatures threatening Tom, Goldberry would be made something sinister, but oppositely, the Barrow-Wight and Old Man Willow put in line with such creatures like Goldberry or some badger ( ) are made less sinister-looking. That's the overall playful nature of the poem: the BW is not presented as the horrifying monster as we know it from the Fog on the Barrow-Downs, but like a funny spook who comes and haunts children (indeed, with whom hobbit parents scare their children when they are naughty).

Last, as a related thing to Goldberry-Tom relationship in the poem, I would link here to Mr.Hookbill's thoughts posted here, which I find very good, very interesting and inspiring.
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Old 04-16-2008, 07:10 AM   #34
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Boots hey dol merry dol

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Originally Posted by Ibrîniğilpathânezel View Post
If I'm not mistaken, doesn't the presentation of the ATB suppose that it was probably written by Hobbits (most specifically, Bilbo and possibly Frodo)? While they were both more learned in Elvish lore than other Hobbits, there was much I'm sure they didn't know. Not to mention Bilbo's fondness for poetry, which often leans one in the direction of what sounds good rather than what presents an accurate picture of historical fact. It's not much to go on, alas. What is fact, what is fantasy? Enquiring minds want to know, but may never have an answer.
Tolkien's introduction to ATB is one of the funniest things he ever wrote! It's especially a treat to read if one has also read some of his 'serious' academic work. I've always rather fondly thought of it as his personal reply to those academics who ridiculed his work on the Legendarium, appended especially to such verse as appear in ATB.

But alas, alas! If all we have are hobbit translators for LotR and ATB, what works does that leave us with with any hope of--dare I say it--'canonicity'? Only I suppose those edited by Christopher Tolkien, whose work very much doesn't fall prey to poetry but is the very stuff of impeccable scholarship.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eönwë
But Tom and Goldberry are sort of equal.

They are opposites, yet the same and they balance each other out.
All depends on what one means by "sort of equal" I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
There is a third Bombadil poem which Tolkien didn't include in AoTB. It appeared in a 1969 collection called 'The Young Magicians' (story here: http://bromwell.dpsk12.org/stories/storyReader$179 )
Whatever would we do without the inspired efforts of principals such as the erudite Mr. Jonathan Wolfer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by skip spence
As for the Goldberry's connection with Ulmo I can't think of anything clever to say
That's probably how we all felt reading Esty's enlightening associations from her music perusals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate
These are interesting points, however I think they both present the extreme point of view.
And is there a problem with extreme points of view?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Legate
Last, as a related thing to Goldberry-Tom relationship in the poem, I would link here to Mr.Hookbill's thoughts posted here, which I find very good, very interesting and inspiring.
It is interesting, isn't it, how an idea pops up on one thread and doesn't seem to go anywhere and then presents itself again on another thread! I myself found the esteemed Mr. Hookbill's so inspiring that I was moved to offer yet other ruminations on Tom, which hypotheses are every bit as illuminating as any or all other ruminations I have ever offerred about the character.

http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showpos...6&postcount=52

Frankly, and I shall be serious now, I think as Tolkien was just starting work on the sequel to TH he hankered after not only his thoughts about his composition of his children's bedtime story but also other writings he made for his children. And voila! There were Tom and Goldberry in LotR. I rather suspect there is a missing story which Tolkien wrote for his children about balrogs, and in the telling of it he had to entertain ever so many questions from his children, who clearly knew of Smaug's wings, about whether balrogs had wings, that the good father was prompted to make said appendenges as enigmatic in LotR as they were in this story as well.

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Old 04-16-2008, 08:28 AM   #35
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Hmm, it's been so long since I read ATB, I shall have to add the amusing introduction to the list of reasons to dig out my office!

On the whole, though, I enjoy the speculation over these vague and sometimes contradictory questions that seem to have no hard-and-fast answers (and for the record, my personal feeling about balrogs is that they do have literal as well as metaphorical wings -- it's hard to spread a metaphor to the walls -- but that they are there only for show, an aspect of a chosen Maia form intended to strike fear into the hearts of foes by making them appear bigger and more powerful and thus more terrifying, thus also making them the largest "penguins" of ME, flightless). Everyone will come up with answers that make sense to them, if they feel they need an answer, and if they don't, all well and good, too. "Canon," I think, doesn't need an absolute answer for everything. Facts may provide proof, but they so seldom fire the imagination, IMHO. Arguments, oh, yes. I cannot help but think of friends I used to have who were armchair historians, sharing their love of history -- until they hit upon a subject for which one's preferred favorite source conflicted with the other's preferred source. More than just flames always ensued, and in the end, nothing was resolved because they couldn't even agree to disagree. Much better, I think, to endlessly speculate, and agree that there is no one answer, because the only source who could have provided one is no longer with us, and did not leave that desired answer behind.
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Old 04-16-2008, 09:45 AM   #36
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And is there a problem with extreme points of view?
Not at all!!! As long as we know they are extreme (wow, I believe I just summed up very nicely a large part of my overall worldview).

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Much better, I think, to endlessly speculate, and agree that there is no one answer, because the only source who could have provided one is no longer with us, and did not leave that desired answer behind.
I would say it this way: I think the most important thing is the dialogue (said Socrates ), it is not about convincing others that your view is the only right one, but the outcome of debating the stuff and not just dropping it is that we may learn something (and besides that, also that we communicate with each other). It may be that something will be answered (like that someone comes and says "oh, I found that in Letter 1201 Tolkien indeed states that Balrogs don't have wings at all, only no one has noticed that this far"), and something not, but we are going to gain something by discussing it instead of simply dropping it away as unanswerable at the very beginning.
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:18 AM   #37
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Not at all!!! As long as we know they are extreme (wow, I believe I just summed up very nicely a large part of my overall worldview).
And in this case of said comments about Goldberry and her consort, what makes them extreme?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibin

Much better, I think, to endlessly speculate, and agree that there is no one answer, because the only source who could have provided one is no longer with us, and did not leave that desired answer behind.
Yes, I guess somewhere Tolkien left us a rainbow, eh?

Oh, and, just to avoid any off-topic skwerls, I think Ulmo is waay too serious for the likes of Goldberry and Tom.
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Old 04-18-2008, 08:06 AM   #38
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The only moment when she would be "marred" could be if she is "river"-daughter, simply as we take it, then if she "sprung out" of created things. It may be that she were "begotten" by the already marred nature. However let us not forget that beings of own free will don't come out of nowhere in M-E, and ultimately, if Goldberry has free will or her own fëa (well, maybe she has not?), then in any case, she would have to be given the life by Eru - like the Dwarves, at maximum. Then, speaking very vulgarly, her body would be marred, but her spirit would be good and capable of remaining even across the destruction of Morgoth's Ring.

However, one more thing about the nature of water. Even assuming that Goldberry is in some way coming out of water, her profile would still be quite fine! Why? Because water, out of all materials of Arda, was closest to the Music, and it is overall presented as something positive (Melkor wished to destroy it; Black Riders could not cross the water !!! etc.).
So doesn't that mean that Goldberry could not be marred, because water could not be marred?
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Old 04-19-2008, 09:53 AM   #39
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lintips

Going back to the Bombadil poem I gave earlier, & taking this off at a tangent - does anyone have any idea what a lintip is/was

Quote:
Once upon a moon on the brink of June
a-dewing the lintips went too soon.
Tom stopped and listened, and down he knelt:
"Ha! Little lads! So it was you I smelt?
What a mousy smell! Well, the dew is sweet,
so drink it up, but mind my feet!"
The lintips laughed and stole away,
but old Tom said: "I wish they'd stay!
The only things that won't talk to me,
say what they do or what they be.
I wonder what they have got to hide?
Down from the Moon maybe they slide,
or come in star-winks, I don't know:"
once upon a time and long ago.
Clearly they're 'little', have a mousy smell, drink dew &, most importantly, are the only things that won't talk to Tom.

The '-ips' ending recalls the mewlips of course, but I can't find any mention of them in any other writing by Tolkien.
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Old 04-19-2008, 10:06 AM   #40
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Yes, the word itself suggested the mewlips to me as well, but there doesn't seem to be any other similarity. I wonder if they're a kind of insect, perhaps - though the "mousy" smell seems rather to suggest a very small mammal. Why would TB imagine them to slide down from the Moon?!
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