I have read The Lord of the Rings probably a dozen times. I’ve read the appendix, I’ve read The Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin. I’m not unfamiliar with Middle Earth. Just look at (the second copy of) my book! It’s been read!
Right now, we’re listening to The Fellowship of the Rings as a family. Despite the fact that I’ve read it a dozen times, and that he’s one of my favorite characters, I just realized something about Tom Bombadil. Tom, famously, is a man(?) of song and rhyme, but I only now discovered just how much a song-master he is– that everything he says has a rhythm and rhyme, not just those things Tolkien wrote in verse. Every sentence sings:
“This is Goldberry’s washing day” he said, “and her autumn-cleaning. Too wet for hobbit-folk–let them rest while they are able! It’s a good day for long tales, for questions and for answers, so Tom will start the talking.”
“Hey there!” cried Tom, glancing toward him with a most seeing look in his shining eyes. “Hey! Come Frodo, there! Where be you a-going? Old Tom Bombadil’s not as blind as that yet. Take off your golden ring! Your hand’s more fair without it. Come back! Leave your game and sit down beside me! We must talk a while more, and think about the morning. Tom must teach the right road, and keep your feet wandering.”
Perhaps it’s obvious to you, and you think I’m a bit slow on the up-take. But if you don’t see it, try reading the two passages out loud. Do you hear the song in his words? Just hearing his voice gave a new richness and depth to an already beloved character.
This is something I’ve long known when it comes to proof-reading. I tell my girls (and sometimes they listen!), “Read your work aloud, because your eyes will miss things that your ears will catch.” Sometimes hearing our words will also help us realize we didn’t communicate something clearly. (And no, I don’t always take my own advice when it comes to blogging. Do as I say, etc.) Hearing, in other words, gives us another perspective. Hearing reveals a familiar story in new ways. This doesn’t mean I’m going to switch to only audiobooks, but I certainly might revisit some old favorites by reading aloud or audiobook. Who knows what I’ll discover next?
Have you ever had a revelation where you experienced something familiar in a new light?