aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

An old favorite

J.R.R. Tolkien was very thrifty with his poetry. The following piece was written very early in his career as a philologist, as a kind of inside joke for his friends. It was a supposed scholarly reconstruction of a nursery rhyme. Later on, he brushed it up and had Frodo sing it in The Prancing Pony.

The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too late

There is an inn, a merry old inn
     beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Main in the Moon himself came down
     one night to drink his fill.

The ostler has a tipsy cat
     that plays a five-stringed fiddle;
And up and down he runs the bow,
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
     now sawing in the middle.

The landlord keeps a little dog
     that is mighty fond of jokes;
When there's good cheer among the guests,
He cocks an ear at all the jests
     and laughs until he chokes.

They also keep a hornéd cow
     as proud as any queen;
But music turns her head like ale,
And makes her wave her tufted tail
     and dance upon the green.

And O! the row of silver dishes
     and the store of silver spoons!
For Sunday there's a special pair,
And these they polish up with care
     on Saturday afternoons.

The Man in the Moon was drinking deep,
     and the cat began to wail;
A dish and a spoon on the table danced,
The cow in the garden madly pranced,
     and the little dog chased his tail.

The Man in the Moon took another mug,
     and then rolled beneath his chair;
And there he dozed and dreamed of ale,
Till in the sky the stars were pale,
     and dawn was in the air.

The ostler said to his tipsy cat:
     'The white horses of the Moon,
They neigh and champ their silver bits;
But their master's been and drowned his wits,
     and the Sun'll be rising soon!'

So the cat on his fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,
     a jig that would wake the dead:
He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
While the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:
     'It's after three!' he said.

They rolled the Man slowly up the hill
     and bundled him into the Moon,
While his horses galloped up in rear,
And the cow came capering like a deer,
     and the dish ran up with a spoon.

Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;
     the dog began to roar,
The cow and the horses stood on their heads;
The guests all bounded from their beds,
     and danced upon the floor.

With a ping and a pong the fiddle strings broke!
      the cow jumped over the Moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
     with the silver Sunday spoon.

The round Moon rolled behind the hill,
     as the Sun raised up her head.
She hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her surprise
     they all went back to bed!

              -- J.R.R. Tolkien

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