Listening to a Lord of the Rings audiobook is a really good thing to while spending a long week moving out of an apartment. I’ve been doing a lot of driving lately and for the most part it’s been while listening to how Frodo makes up his mind to give up his home and go on a dangerous journey. Those whose exposure to Lord of the Rings is entirely through the movies might not realise just how much time transpires between Bilbo’s sudden departure and Frodo actually leaving the Shire. Peter Jackson did a lot of condensing for the sake of cinematic tension but I love the more gradual process in the book.
Frodo has to sell his house, Bag End, to a branch of the Baggins family he and Bilbo have never gotten along with. Many of Bilbo and Frodo’s belongings end up at Merry’s home where the four hobbits enjoy one of several final meals before heading out. Conventional wisdom might say this is a terrible way to begin an adventure novel but for me it has two virtues; it emphasises the sense of danger in what comes later, by contrast, and it celebrates the joy of staying in one place with a bunch of stuff even as it a portrait of that state of being passing away. Or maybe because of it. It’s very mono no aware. Even after the cheering meal at Farmer Maggot’s, the cheering meal and bath at Merry’s, the cheering meal at Tom Bombadil’s, and the cheering meal at the Prancing Pony (with various minor terrors in between), there’s this lovely moment of foreboding and regret as Frodo stands on Weathertop with Aragorn;
They stood for a while silent on the hill-top, near its southward edge. In that lonely place Frodo for the first time fully realized his homelessness and danger. He wished bitterly that his fortune had left him in the quiet and beloved Shire. He stared down at the hateful Road, leading back westward - to his home.
. . .
Twitter Sonnet #1295
Absorbing lanes constrict to river realms.
A valley drew the kingdom lines in rock.
A web of roads creates the stymied elms.
An inky page completes the paper lock.
Effective clamps restore the batt’ry spoon.
Electric forks afford the crispy bite.
A blender weds the oven very soon.
The younger saucers watch throughout the night.
In iris clouds remembered lamps recede.
A gentle ticking minds a crossing eye.
Beneath the canvas, muddy shoes proceed.
A thousand grains converge to make the pie.
Contrasting suns combined to make a lamp.
Compelling stars submerged in ether damp.