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Bilbo's Last Song

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Bilbo's Last Song is a poem by J. R. R. Tolkien.


Day is ended, dim my eyes,
but journey long before me lies.
Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship's beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Foam is salt, the wind is free;
I hear the rising of the Sea.

Farewell, friends! The sails are set,
the wind is east, the moorings fret.
Shadows long before me lie,
beneath the ever-bending sky,
but islands lie behind the Sun
that I shall raise ere all is done;
lands there are to west of West,
where night is quiet and sleep is rest.

Guided by the Lonely Star,
beyond the utmost harbour-bar
I'll find the havens fair and free,
and beaches of the Starlit Sea.
Ship, my ship! I seek the West,
and fields and mountains over blest.
Farewell to middle-earth at last.
I see the Star above your mast!


Bilbo's Last Song was given by Tolkien as a gift to his secretary Joy Hill in 1966. After Tolkien's death in 1973, Hill showed the poem to Donald Swann, who liked the poem so much that he set it to music and included it in the second edition of The Road Goes Ever On in 1978.[Source?] The poem was also illustrated by Pauline Baynes, and published as a poster in 1974. In 1990, the text was finally published in book form, re-illustrated by Baynes.[1] Its original publisher was Houghton Mifflin, then Allen & Unwin in 1992, and then by Dragonfly Books in 1992.[2] and a few others like Riverwood Publishing Inc.[3]

Bilbo Baggins sings the poem at the harbours of the Grey Havens[4], as he is about to set sail on the sea following the Straight Road to the Undying Lands. Although it was never written in The Grey Havens, the The Lord of the Rings's last chapter, this places the reading of this poem by Bilbo at this point in the story.

The song is included in the BBC radio version of The Lord of the Rings, with the music being done by Stephen Oliver. John Le Mesurier, who plays Bilbo[5] chants the first verse by not the second versed, by the third verse was sung by a boy in soprano.[Source?]

There is no reference to the song in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). The film's distributor, New Line Cinema, was probably not licensed to use the poem as necessitated by the applicable copyright laws. The movie's closing credits are accompanied by the original song "Into the West", sung by Annie Lennox, meant to have similar emotional resonance.

J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium

Works published during his lifetime
The Hobbit | The Lord of the Rings | The Adventures of Tom Bombadil | The Road Goes Ever On

Posthumous publications
The Silmarillion | Unfinished Tales | The History of Middle-earth (12 volumes) | Bilbo's Last Song | The Children of Húrin

Lists of LOTR Wiki articles about Middle-earth
by category | name | writings | characters | peoples | rivers | realms | ages



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