The Shire Before the Great Years

(Or Bilbo Forgets his hanky)

© 2007 Jeff Lynch

In Winterfilth* we suffer, in lithetime* roll in hay,
We are the mortal Halflings, we work and sing and play.
We sing our song in Hobbiton, dance in Needlehole.
We are the mortal Hobbits, we work and love and play.

Between the pale Blue Mountains and gargling Brandywine,
Lay the Sleepy greenshire, inhabited by doughty Halflings.
If you try to think just half as hard as a Hobbit must,
Happen then, you may recall some hamlet names
Like Pincup, Rushey, Waymeet, Nobottle or Cotton’s Farm.
Undisturbed save by a savage orc raid out of memory then.

A tale of Took hell raising and milder mien of Baggins men
Is mixed with silly names of Hobbits, Posco, Ponto, Isembold,
And Sigmismond, Ferumbras, Olo, Longo, Dudo and Posco.
But they were not silly, but simply had the fortune given,
To those who are not doomed to live in interesting times.
The Ivy Bush, the Dragon, work, play, cricket were enough.

In Forlithe* we welcome, the return of sun wrath’s rule.
We are the mortal Hobbits we work and dance and play.
At *Overlithe on leap years, we sing full right to evendim.*
We are the mortal Hobbits we work and love and play.

Belladonna thought her baby special, ah, she was a mother.
Bilbo was to be touched by fate as his father drowned.
And the Shire knew not of the Dwarf-Orc wars raging.
Sweet summers kissed the Shire, to ease small Bilbo’s pain.
He was brown burnt and bold, in the harvest time of youth.
But he did not marry, and he often dreamt of Hildifons.

Hildifons Took, Belladonna’s brother but disappearing strange,
When from this common land, he took himself away; gone
Into handed down tales, as a missing Uncle, missing man.
Went for a journey and never came back, Maddest thing
Since Marcho and Blanco*, but Tooks were queer no doubt.
Aged then ten, Bibo’s mind took a wry, wobbly turn about.

In Foreyule* we toil hard, to cellar up for winter’s toll
We are the mortal Halflings we work and sing and play.
Frosts shortly are hard upon us, we cuddle in our smial.
We are the mortal Hobbits we work and dance and play.

Holes in the ground sounds hard, but Bilbo’s earthly place
Was indeed a homely hill. Winding rooms were for clothes,
And bulging larder full was much a legend of Hobbiton.
Visitors all, had viands from the Forlithe boon of lands.
So Bilbo stole, soft to fifty and little Tookishness was seen.
Hobbits who believed in the quiet of the world, were wrong.

This bookish Halfling played no cricket, chose no girl.
Gandalf instead had chosen him; Hildifon’s blessing.
Was upon him, for he had an appointment with a dragon.
Refugee dwarves, from Eren Luin with gold lust in their eyes
Had forged an alliance with a wizard with ideas of his own.
Soon uninvited guests would steal a burglar from his home.

In the uncertainty of Rethe* we hardly hope to see the stars.
We are the mortal Hobbits we work and dance and play.
Licking winter’s wounds, we look to our cricket teams.
We are the mortal Halflings we sing and love and play.

It was by Dragonloot and fate, that the restless dwarves
Were led by, a wizard’s waggling beard to Bagend’s door.
And rivers crossed, riddles rhymed and fell deeds done.
And on a Hobbit’s holiday, went there and back again.
For Shire’s calendar and cycles and shades of normalcy,
Could never hold a Took, once he was sorely tempted.

Manure and cricket, and harvest dream was all there was.
No Hobbit who was not a Took, could see ought but that.
Frodo alone, knew that Bilbo would at times, cheat at cards.
A rare line from Bungo Baggins sprung, more like over water.
A patrician of the Shire, who never knew he was born to steal.
A hobbit who would live to see a dragon’s burrowed hoard.

As moonloop moves we are soon knee deep in Astron*
We are the mortal Halflings we work and sing and play.
And love budding, Hobbits, now surrender to moonsway.
We are the mortal Hobbits we work and dance and play.

The Gaffer was Hobitton’s wicket keeper and real handyman.
Spud specialist, lattice raiser, left handed bat and all round
Gardening man, he helped test the real ale at The Ivy Bush;
And kept Bag End grounds near best growing in village
Hobbiton, bested but by Lily, Tolman’s wife of Cotton Lane.
Gaffer’s name was Hamfast Gamgee, sometimes Gammidgy.

When Thrimmidge is among us we sharpen up our scythes.
We are the mortal Halflings we work and sing and play.
 We chant and long for Forelithe the holidays to come.
We are the mortal Hobbits we dance and sing and play.

Hamfast Gamgee had trained Samwise to prune and cut;
Prune a bush and cut a wayward ball from a slow bowler.
Staunch workers both and dour, or blithe, at crease in turn.
Just for recreation’s sake they were reg’lars at The Ivy Bush.
Happen that the gaffer told the bar, that Dwarves in swarms,
Were spotted (by his very eyes) and went in Baggin’s door.

Next morn, he was seen, sharply shifting to the ‘Dragon’
Hatless and right seeming for a Baggins, most unseemly!
The Green Dragon’s landlord* had also met the Dwarves,
With Baggins out of breath and minus pocket handkerchief.
Said they traipsed the East Road and were Frogmorton bent.
Now no Hobbit could imagine, which way a wizard went!

Forelithe soon to come again, and some will miss the feast.
We are the mortal Hobbits we work and dance and play.
We hope it will not bring moondoom, blighting harvest day.
We are the mortal Halflings we dance and sing and play.

The Gaffer found the breakfast dishes kiltered kitchenwide,
Underhill’s empty heart, lay heavy within his own hobbit hole.
But Gammidgy dug and calendared his garden just the same.
That year Hobbiton lost the cricket, they were off their game.
As the Shire’s moonshifts geared, Bilbo was still not sighted.
He was hiding like Hildifon, lost to the Misty Mountains; gone!

By day Baggins dreamt of bacon and eggs, in Tookish lands.
And even Dragons have their ending, or so the tales are told.
Certain interested citizens surveyed the shell of Underhill.
The auction board said, sale to commence ten o’clock (sharp.)
The buyers were, Bilbo wasn’t and legal jousting was assured
For years to come, to last until Friday the first, as they say.*
Our days are wrapped in honey, our nights in elven grey.
We are the mortal Hobbits we work and sing and play.
So join us in our travail, in harmony let us reign.
We are the mortal Halflings we dance and sing and play.
In Thrimmidge Bilbo finished off his first and last Hobbit’s Holiday,
as he took to poetry and rarely supplying answers,
To the Sackville Baggins definitely helped him to be happy.
Under thatch, close to hearth, underearth, until end of days.
Like most of us he was hurt by the past, past the hurting, and
Every time he left Underhill, he was certain to take his hanky.

The Shire at large, had never changed, all fifty leagues long.
Dwarves are an aberration and Baggins a poet in a poem.
From Whitwell to Willowbottom from Rushey to Brandywine,
Harvest rules, pub rules, cricket rules, rural rules all time.
But Hobbits are for humans a different, warmer, deeper wine.
The Halflings are dangerous dreams, those of younger times.

  • Winterfilth is the month of October, the onset of winter (there were twelve months as in our calendar note that the seasons are as European-England)
  • Lithetime is the mid-summer feast days.
  • Forelithe is the month of June and thus the onset of summer.
  • Ovrerlithe was the (leap year) special mid-summer harvest festival.
  • Evendim is twilight as the stars first appear.
  • Foreyule is the month of December the time first for stocking up and then the 6 day yuletide celebration.
  • Marcho and Blanco were the first Hobbits to cross the Brandywine and settle The shire (so the prhase means since the beginning of time).
  • Rethe is the month of March.
  • Astron is the month of April (ie spring).
  • Thrimmidge is the month of May.
  • Green Dragon’s landlord - the Green Dragon was at Bywater.
  • Friday the First never comes in the Hobbit calendar.


Back to Tilkal, Issue 3, eJournal of Tol Harndor