Talk:Tom Bombadil

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From -- (in the case it disappears and for knowledge).

Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow;
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.

This verse describes the surface appearance of the strange entity known as Bombadil. He seems a jovial (if not somewhat absurd) fellow, skipping and singing through the treacherous Old Forest at the Bounds of Buckland; but beneath the surface is hidden a Power that few, even the Wise, can comprehend. He is old beyond the count of years - indeed, the Elves once called him Iarwain Ben-adar, Oldest and Fatherless - and once leapt upon the hilltops across the wide lands of Middle-earth. Now, though, he has settled in the Old Forest with his wife Goldberry the River-daughter, and set for himself unseen bounds which he no longer crosses.

Within those bounds, Tom is the Master; not that he claims ownership or lordship over anything or anyone within those bounds, but that he is his own master, and no one has ever caught him unawares. He has at times displayed the power to cast down barrow-wights and master the wiles of the dangerous Old Forest, as well as calming mighty Old Man Willow and resisting the corrupting power of the One Ring as though it were but a worthless trinket. Those wandering in the Old Forest would do well to seek refuge with Old Tom, or they might find themselves at the mercy of the waking trees.

J.R.R. Tolkien described Tom as an enigma in Middle-earth, for he himself had never determined who or what exactly Tom Bombadil was, nor did he believe it necessary to consider it, recommending that readers simply leave him as a mystery. In The Lord of the Rings, Tom comes to the rescue of Frodo and his companions on more than one occasion, and players in The Lord of the Rings Online™: Shadows of Angmar™ may well find themselves in much the same straits as those hobbits.

Quick Facts

Dates: Probably immortal - certainly very old indeed
Race: Never identified, but apparently some kind of spirit
Meaning: Unknown1
Other Names:   Forn, Iarwain Ben-adar, Orald
Titles: Eldest, Master

1 Tolkien suggests that Tom's name is Hobbit-like in character, and that it was probably given to him by the Hobbits of Buckland. The resemblance of the -dil ending to the common Elvish -(n)dil, 'friend', is probably no more than coincidence.

A mysterious and powerful being, called by the Elves Iarwain Ben-adar (Oldest and Fatherless), who dwelt in the valley of the Withywindle, east of the Shire. What kind of being he was has never been certainly discovered, but at some stage in the past, he seems to have settled at the edge of the Old Forest, setting himself boundaries, but boundaries within which his power was extraordinary. Tom was a creature of contradictions, one moment defeating ancient forces with hardly an effort, the next capering and singing nonsensical songs.

He appeared as an old man, at least in Hobbit eyes, with a wrinkled and ruddy face, bright blue eyes, and a bristling brown beard. He was said to be taller than a typical Hobbit, but too short to be a Man, so he seems to have been about five feet in height. His costume consisted of a blue jacket and yellow boots, and he wore an old and battered hat, surmounted by a feather. He seems to have preferred to wear a swan-feather in his hat, but before he met Frodo and company on the banks of the Withywindle, he had acquired the feather of a Kingfisher instead. In his own house, rather than a hat, he wore a crown of autumn leaves, perhaps revealing something of the elemental powers he possessed.