Bilbo’s Last Song was sung by Bilbo Baggins at the Grey Havens as Bilbo, Frodo and the Keepers of the Rings departed Middle-earth on September 21, 3021, marking the end of the Third Age. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote the poem after the completion of The Lord of the Rings, and it was discovered by his secretary Joy Hill in his library. Tolkien gave her the poem as a gift. It was first published as a poster illustrated by Pauline Baynes in 1974, the year after Tolkien’s death, and has been set to music by Welsh composer Donald Swann in 1978, and published in book format with new illustrations by Pauline Baynes in 1990.

Here is Bilbo’s Last Song, on the 124th anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien’s birth.

Bilbo’s Last Song (At the Grey Havens)

Day is ended, dim my eyes,
but journey long before me lies.
Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship’s beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Foam is salt, the wind is free;
I hear the rising of the Sea.

Farewell, friends! The sails are set,
the wind is east, the moorings fret.
Shadows long before me lie,
beneath the ever-bending sky,
but islands lie behind the Sun
that I shall raise ere all is done;
lands there are to west of West,
where night is quiet and sleep is rest.

Guided by the Lonely Star,
beyond the utmost harbour-bar,
I’ll find the heavens fair and free,
and beaches of the Starlit Sea.
Ship, my ship! I seek the West,
and fields and mountains ever blest.
Farewell to Middle-earth at last.
I see the Star above my mast!

 

J.R.R._Tolkien_-_Bilbo's_Last_Song

A copy of this poem was presented to Miss M. Joy Hill on September 3, 1970, and also the ownership of the copyright of this poem, with the intention that she should have the right to publish it, or to dispose of the copyright, as she might wish to do so, at any time after my death. This was a free gift as a token of gratitude for her work on my behalf.

Bilbos-Last-Song-Poster-Pauline-Baynes

 

About The Author

Olga Hughes is currently pre-occupied with fairy tales, fantasy, misanthropy, medieval history and the long eighteenth century. She has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Victorian College of the Arts and is currently majoring in Literature and History at Deakin. She has contributed to websites such as History behind Game of Thrones, The Anne Boleyn Files and The Tudor Society.

2 Responses

  1. Underdogge

    I know of Donald Swann best as half of the comedy musical duo (from my younger days) of Flanders and Swann. Somebody told me off once for singing one of their songs with the refrain “The English, the English, the English are best, I wouldn’t give tuppence for all of the rest” – how could I sing that song when I was of part Irish descent? Of course, it was a tongue-in-cheek song. Back on topic, how nice of J R R Tolkein to gift the copyright of the song to his secretary!

    Reply
    • Olga Hughes

      Lovely isn’t it? I think she gave it to church or a charity, which he would have loved.
      There’s a story in his biography about a farmer who wanted to use the name Rivendell for cows and bulls he was breeding, and Tolkien told him the Elvish name for bull and gave him some variations to use so he wouldn’t have to pay to licence the name.

      Reply

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