I kind of love the Hobbit movies. They’re not perfect, and they’re not the book, but I’ve really enjoyed them on their own terms. That even goes for their completely revisionist, frankly nutty portrayal of an elf/dwarf romance between Tauriel and Kili. I rolled my eyes and sighed, and then found myself on that ‘ship faster than you can say, “She walks in starlight.” Nope, it doesn’t make sense, and Tolkien would probably hate it, but darn, they are adorable.
This semester, I’ve been taking a class on Spenser, and we’ve read a good deal of his chivalric romance, the Faerie Queene. It’s been fun to read, and I can even see its influence on other authors, including Tolkien. (For instance, Spenser loooves alliteration. And he is incapable of mentioning dungeons without making them “dungeons deep.”) In Book Three of the poem, Arthur’s squire Timias encounters the beautiful huntress Belphoebe, with whom he falls in love. When they meet, Timias has just vanquished three vile foresters, taking a mortal arrow wound to the leg in the process, and Belphoebe finds him unconscious in a mire of his own blood. (There is a lot of gore in Spenser.) Moved to pity, she gathers healing herbs from the forest and uses them to purify his wound. “Elvish medicine!” I thought when I read that. “And apparently tobacco is the Spenserian version of Athelas…” And then, because I am a dork, I identified all the parallels between this scene and Tauriel’s healing of Kili in The Desolation of Smaug. Furthermore, because I am a dork with access to internet screencap databases and plenty of excuses for doing this instead of real work, I put together a Hobbit/Faerie Queene illustrated crossover, if you will. Lord only knows what Tolkien would think. After all, C.S. Lewis once described him as someone who “can’t read Spenser because of the forms [and] thinks all literature is for the amusement of men between thirty and forty.” Sorry, Professor T., but literature is also pretty amusing for fangirls between twenty and thirty.
With Apologies to Tolkien and Spenser (Or Perhaps Not)
(From Bk. 3, Canto V of The Faerie Queene)
Shortly she came, whereas that woefull Squire
With bloud deformed, lay in deadly swownd:
In whose faire eyes, like lamps of quenched fire,
The Christall humour stood congealed rownd;
His locks, like faded leaues fallen to grownd,
Knotted with bloud, in bounches rudely ran,
And his sweete lips, on which before that stownd
The bud of youth to blossome faire began,
Spoild of their rosie red, were woxen pale and wan.
Saw neuer liuing eye more heauy sight,
That could haue made a rocke of stone to rew,
Or riue in twaine: which when that Lady bright
Besides all hope with melting eyes did vew,
All suddeinly abasht she chaunged hew,
And with sterne horrour backward gan to start:
But when she better him beheld, she grew
Full of soft passion and vnwonted smart:
The point of pitty perced through her tender hart.
Into the woods thenceforth in hast she went,
To seeke for hearbes, that mote him remedy;
For she of hearbes had great intendiment,
Taught of the Nymphe, which from her infancy
Her nourced had in trew Nobility:
There, whether it diuine Tobacco were,
Or Panachæa, or Polygony,
She found, and brought it to her patient deare
Who al this while lay bleeding out his hart-bloud neare.
The soueraigne weede betwixt two marbles plaine
She pownded small, and did in peeces bruze,
And then atweene her lilly handes twaine,
Into his wound the iuyce thereof did scruze,
And round about, as she could well it vze,
The flesh therewith she suppled and did steepe,
T’abate all spasme, and soke the swelling bruze,
And after hauing searcht the intuse deepe,
She with her scarfe did bind the wound frõ cold to keepe.
By this he had sweete life recur’d againe,
And groning inly deepe, at last his eyes,
His watry eyes, drizling like deawy raine,
He vp gan lift toward the azure skies,
From whence descend all hopelesse remedies:
Therewith he sigh’d, and turning him aside,
The goodly Mayd full of diuinities,
And gifts of heauenly grace he by him spide,
Her bow and gilden quiuer lying him beside.
Mercy deare Lord (said he) what grace is this,
That thou hast shewed to me sinfull wight,
To send thine Angell from her bowre of blis,
To comfort me in my distressed plight?
Angell, or Goddesse do I call thee right?
What seruice may I do vnto thee meete,
That hast from darkenesse me returnd to light,
And with thy heauenly salues and med’cines sweete,
Hast drest my sinfull wounds? I kisse thy blessed feete.
Thereat she blushing said, Ah gentle Squire,
Nor Goddesse I, nor Angell, but the Mayd,
And daughter of a woody Nymphe, desire
No seruice, but thy safety and ayd;
Which if thou gaine, I shalbe well apayd.
We mortall wights, whose liues and fortunes bee
To commun accidents still open layd,
Are bound with commun bond of frailtee,
To succour wretched wights, whom we captiued see.