Saturday, August 4, 2007

Bath-Song by JRR Tolkien


Sing hey! For the bath at close of day
that washes the weary mud away
A loon is he that will not sing
O! Water Hot is a noble thing!

O! Sweet is the sound of falling rain,
and the brook that leaps from hill to plain;
but better then rain or rippling streams
is Water Hot that smokes and steams.

O! Water cold we may pour at need
down a thirsty throat and be glad indeed
but better is beer if drink we lack,
and Water Hot poured down the back.

O! Water is fair that leaps on high
in a fountain white beneath the sky;
but never did fountain sound so sweet
as splashing Hot Water with my feet!
--JRR Tolkien

Sorry the picture on this is so generic. I'm pretty sure there's a great painting of this scene by a professional artist like the Brothers Hildebrandt or Alan Lee, but I realized fairly soon that I didn't want to sort through hundreds of pictures with bath in the title.

OK, this poem got picked today for a couple of reasons. First, I haven't posted a from a novel in a while. Second, I just like this poem. It makes me laugh -- especially as I imagine Pippin getting so excited about his song that, "It appeared that a lot of Pippin's bath water had imitated a fountain and leaped on high." Third, I love a hot bath, especially in a tub that's big enough to contain me, which is rare. Whenever I imagine what it would be like to do as so many fantay heroines do, and magically get transported to one of these fantasy worlds to somehow defeat the evil sorcerer and free the country, I think, "Yeah, that would be fun, but the first thing I'd do once all the shouting died down, is instiute some kind of indoor plumbing with hot showers." Seriously. I do.

My final reason for posting this poem is complicated. I often dream, sometimes several dreams in a night. They seldom make much sense, though they seem logical in that dream sort of way. When I'm under a lot of stress, I have nightmares which often end in me yelling out loud (once I can make sound come), whereupon Peter wakes me up, and everything's OK. Well one night last week, Peter had to wake me up twice in one night. The first time, Everything was going fine in the dream, and then suddenly the floor dropped out from under me, I fell into some water and was drowning. The second time, I was walking along, and suddenly heard a noise behind me and turned around to find a giant kangaroo monster with a tiny head and long long arms. The weirdest part, though was that neither dream was a nightmare type dream. They were fine until the second or two before I yelled and woke up. Anyway, somebody was trying to interpret the dreams for me, and asked me what I associate with water. All I could come up with were good things like fun times with family at the beach or pool or water skiing, and nice hot showers. Of course, drowning had entirely different associations, few of which had anything to do with water, which was more to the point. Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about water ever since, and that's why this poem in particular jumped out at me.

Added 8-10-07:

I stumbled on this picture while looking for a picture for The Sea (posted today). It's not the one I remember, but it is better than the generic one I posted earlier.


  1. Knock Knock

    Who's There?


    Dwayne who?

    Dwane the baff tub, I'm dwowning.


  2. Thank you, Dad. That was... well... as painful as ever.

  3. You mentioned that you sometimes
    scream during the night, and Peter has to wake you up. I've been
    thinking about that. Well, I used to do that too, but fortunately I
    didn't do it very often. I've heard that "night terrors" can be caused by a drop in blood sugar during the night. If our kids wanted a snack before bed we made sure it had some kind of protein such as apples & peanut butter, or peanut butter and orange juice. I know you like to eat ice cream at night sometimes, so perhaps it would help to have nuts with it, or a spoon full of peanut butter, or switch to something with less sugar such as cheese.

    Just thought this might be helpful. Screaming at night is no fun.

    -Kathey Ahlstrom