Doubled up on the couch with a crippling, hacking cough on Sunday, and for want of anything better to do, I put on the DVD of Fellowship of the Ring. There’s old Bilbo beginning his book of adventure, and in a preface, ‘Concerning hobbits’, mentions their love of growing things.
As a gardener, the voice-over can’t help but make you feel warm and fuzzy, even if the visuals of Sean Astin’s stupid face, while gazing at a pretty pathetic bit of obvious nursery-stock, doesn’t do the words justice. You can almost hear the director crying out ‘look lovingly at it – I said lovingly!‘.
It sent me running to my daggy and dog-eared copy of LOTR to see if I could find the very words Bilbo spoke. They’re not there. The closest thing in ‘Concerning Hobbits’ tells that ‘they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth’.
But there’s some other really lovely stuff in LOTR, of such insight into the simple beauty and dignity of growing things.
How about this, revealing the difference between the values of the dwarves and the elves. Gimli and Legolas are entering Minas Tirith. Gimli (the dwarf) starts
“‘There is some good stone-work here,’ he said as he looked at the walls; ’but also some that is less good, and the streets could be better contrived. When Aragorn comes into his own, I shall offer him the service of stonewrights of the Mountain, and we will make this a town to be proud of.’
‘They need more gardens’ said Legolas. ‘The houses are dead, and there is too little here that grows and is glad. If Aragorn comes into his own, the people of the Wood shall bring him birds that sing and trees that do not die.’”
or this, from Faramir, speaking to Frodo
“’..You are a new people and a new world to me. Are all your kin of like sort? Your land must be a realm of peace and content, and there must gardeners be held in high honour.”
“Not all is well there,’ said Frodo ‘but certainly gardeners are honoured’”