We had some good times…

I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen
of meadow-flowers and butterflies
in summers that have been;
 
Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.
 
I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall ever see.[3]
 
For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.
 
I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know.
 
But all the while I sit and think
of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
and voices at the door.[4]JRR Tolkien (C)

JRR Tolkien

Tolkien’s well-known poem is spoken by the elderly Bilbo at Rivendell; he reflects on his past and on his mortality and on his place in the created (or in this case sub-created) world. The poem follows well from the Yeats poem in the previous post, as it too uses the term ‘times’ – ‘times there were before,’ rather than the singular ‘time’. Some belief systems hold that individual consciousnesses do experience ‘times’, that they return for life after life. But here Bilbo is thinking of the ‘time’ that has gone before in his life – or is he? is he thinking back through the ages of Middle-earth, the ‘time’ of the elves, the ‘time’ of the Valar, and even the ‘time’ before creation. If so, maybe Yeats’s ‘times’ were also mythological or legendary.

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