Legendary fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien isn't done sharing his works with the world. In addition to The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954), Tolkien composed stories and poems throughout his life, many of which remained unpublished until after his death. Scholars are constantly on the lookout for lost or forgotten Tolkien writings. Now, Tolkien scholar Wayne Hammond has tracked down two of the writer’s previously unseen poems that were published in a 1936 issue of an Oxfordshire-based school magazine.
According to The Guardian, Hammond found a note in which Tolkien mentioned writing a few poems for a magazine he called the The Abingdon Chronicle. Hammond realized that referred to the magazine for Our Lady's Abingdon in Oxfordshire and got in touch with head teacher Stephen Oliver, who searched through old issues of magazine but couldn’t find Tolkien’s works. Finally, while going through materials for a school event, Oliver stumbled upon the poems.
“While preparing for an event for former pupils of the school, we uncovered our own copy and I saw the two poems Mr Hammond had been looking for,” Oliver told The Guardian. “My excitement when I saw them was overwhelming. I am a great Tolkien fan and was thrilled to discover the connection with the school.”
The first poem, called “The Shadow Man,” describes “a man who dwelt alone beneath the moon in shadow,” and is an early version of a poem that later appeared in Tolkien’s The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (1962). The other is a Christmas poem entitled “Noel,” and set in a land not unlike Middle Earth.
"'Noel' is a beautiful and unusual take on the Christmas story, set in a wintry landscape. The focus is on Mary, which may be why Tolkien wrote the poem for the school magazine, given that we are dedicated to Our Lady,” Oliver explains. "'The Shadow Man' is also a very beautiful story, about two people finding each other and thereafter casting only one shadow–it feels like a poem about marriage.”
Our Lady’s School plans to display the poems at an exhibition of their history. Though no official plans have yet been announced regarding publication, a few photos from the original magazine (including the entire text of “The Shadow Man”) can be viewed here.
[h/t The Guardian]