Hobbit poems. It's Middle Earth like you've never seen it before. And once you've read it, you'll know why. Yikes.
I enjoyed this book very much. TolkiHobbit poems. It's Middle Earth like you've never seen it before. And once you've read it, you'll know why. Yikes.
I enjoyed this book very much. Tolkien is probably better at prose than poems, but in this small book, he's expanded a great deal on Middle Earth mythology. He has poems by Bilbo and by Sam. He has goofy Hobbit folk poems. He's got Hobbits being silly and serious, sometimes trying to imitate Men and Elves with varying degrees of success. It's got Elvish gibberish, words that Hobbits have made up to sound Elvish but which don't mean anything. If this sounds funny, it is. I know that real languages and their histories inspired Tolkien to invent his own languages, and I also know that his own languages were the inspiration for Middle Earth. Reading these poems, I kind of felt like I was getting closer to some of the joy of invention; I could really understand why so many people have loved Middle Earth. Tolkien even makes some fun of his own poetry skills. Most of his poems keep a rigid rhyme scheme, but Tolkien also complains about all the rhyming, saying, "in their simplicity Hobbits evidently regarded such things as virtues." He also describes an annoying-on-purpose kind of poem by saying that it "may be recited until the hearers revolt." It really is cute.
However, this book is not perfect. It has a very uneven tone, and I'm not sure that I like either extreme.
This is a children's book, yet parts of it don't seem all that children-y to me. For one thing, it assumes that the reader has read The Lord of the Rings, and for another, it gets pretty dark (really, really creepy-dark) in some places. One of the poems, for example, tells of Frodo: "Like a dark mole groping I went, to the ground falling . . . beetles were tapping in the rotten trees, spiders were weaving . . . I saw my hair hanging grey . . . I have lost myself". This poem touches on old age and insanity and solitude; while I'm certainly not denying that children's literature can be dark, this just doesn't seem to be trying to appeal to children. Frodo isn't even described in the book--you'd have to read The Lord of the Rings for that.
On the other hand, this book has some lighthearted moments, to put it mildly, and those are certainly geared for children. If I could just quote one stanza:
"He battled with the Dumbledors, the Hummerhorns, and Honeybees, and won the Golden Honeycomb; and running home on sunny seas in ship of leaves and gossamer with blossom for a canopy, he sat and sang, and furbished up and burnished up his panoply"
This book offers Scripture quotes on love, and although it is a very short read, it nevertheless serves as a good reminder of what is perhaps the mostThis book offers Scripture quotes on love, and although it is a very short read, it nevertheless serves as a good reminder of what is perhaps the most central tenant of Christian faith. In his foreward, Leestma writes, "God loves us. We love Him--We love others. Putting all this together [. . .] makes life worth living."
I like the verses that he selected, which show what love is, what God's love means for us, and how our love for one another can enrich and comfort. I was surprised that he used the Living Translation. That is, while I understand why he would have avoided the older style of the 1611 KJV, I am surprised that he didn't pick the American Standard or something similar. Maybe the Living Translation was popular in 1971, but I seldom see it now.
I enjoyed this book, and while it certainly didn't delve deeply into theological subtleties, it is still a good reminder and a calming influence. Too bad that it's so short; it's really nicely done....more
Dark, unsettling, profound, ironic, and certainly fun to read -- I really liked these poems, even though they are somewhat . . . troubling. Not the plDark, unsettling, profound, ironic, and certainly fun to read -- I really liked these poems, even though they are somewhat . . . troubling. Not the place to go if you're looking for humor! I suppose that by now, the ideas in these poems may not seem so original, but I still found them chilling. ...more
I found this book to be distasteful and disrespectful. In order to explain why, I am going to draw from a TV show that deals with a similar concept.
InI found this book to be distasteful and disrespectful. In order to explain why, I am going to draw from a TV show that deals with a similar concept.
In one episode of M*A*S*H, Col. Potter says that he had chosen to get married on Groundhog's day so that he would never forget his anniversary. This is a sort of cute idea, and two special days -- one a holiday and the other a day of personal significance -- would coincide. Potter and his wife would celebrate both things on the same day, and it is possible that the festivities might blend together in his mind and in the minds of his friends and close family. For example, the phrase "six more weeks of winter" might remind him to buy a gift; "anniversary" might call to mind furry little rodents.
However, these two different occasions are not, could not possibly be, one and the same. His daughter is married, for instance, and it would be ridiculous to suggest that she checked the whether, glanced at a rat, and called it a wedding. Just because two events coincide does not mean that they are interchangeable, and that is the central flaw of this book.
Most people today recognize that the day we celebrate as Christmas coincides with (or, at least, comes within a few days of) many ancient pagan festivals. This does not mean that Christmas IS a pagan festival, although book claims that it is; specifically, it claims that Christmas is a version of Saturnalia [an ancient Roman festival]. Count writes, "The habit of Saturnalia was too strong to be left behind. At first the Church forbade it, but in vain. When a river meets a boulder which will not be moved, the river flows around it. If the Saturnalia would not be forbidden, let it be tamed. The Church Fathers now sought to point the festival toward the Christian Sun of Righteousness." Ouch.
He also claims that Christmas celebrations today are a watered-down version of the Babylonian and Persian annual tradition of human sacrifice, called Sacaea. I am not kidding. He writes, "One and the same basic idea . . . has . . . caught up with itself wearing another guise." Yes, this tradition occurred close to the same time of year. And sure, when different events happen at the same time, some ways of celebrating may be shared. This might be what happened with Saturnalia, with some minor traditions such as lighting candles being shared. On the other hand, this was before electricity -- didn't everyone use candles anyway? And Sacaea? Human sacrifice?!?
Count's evidence for these brash claims are sketchy at best. He says that the inspiration for "Santa Claus" is only partly St. Nicholas, and that Santa is really a blend between the Christian saint and the Norse god Odin. He supports this claim, in part, by saying that Odin's symbol was a boar. Then he quotes the Christmas tune known as "The Boar's Head Carol." Okay, so Christians ate boar. Among other things. Big deal! I eat bacon--does that mean that I worship Odin's great-aunt Edna? No! And this carol was one of many that focuses on festivities rather than religious doctrine. There are Christmas songs about decorating, building snowmen, shopping for gifts, and eating figgy pudding. Wait! Maybe I should write a book revealing how snowmen are actually a testament to the marble statues of ancient Greece, and we're all really just honoring Athena and Aphrodite without realizing it! Or maybe it's just a snowman . . . .
I feel really bad for slamming this book, as the author clearly has done a great deal of research, and there are several chapters that are nice to read. He also includes the words to some early Christmas carols, and they were a pleasure to read. However, he could have tracked some Christmas traditions without pushing his own agenda so forcefully and tactlessly. And he did, in places. For example, some people believed that evergreen plants brought the life of summer into the winter. Count writes, "Box, bay, ivy, holly, yew, larch, juniper, pine, spruce, fir--all are shields against the witches and demons [of winter]." That's interesting. That's history. Why couldn't the rest of the book be like that....more
If it were possible, I would probably give this about three and a half stars, which is a bit on the low side considering the high esteem in which I hoIf it were possible, I would probably give this about three and a half stars, which is a bit on the low side considering the high esteem in which I hold Keillor. The fact of the matter is that the individual tracks on this CD collection vary quite a bit in terms of content and style, and while some were hilarious, such as the humorous anecdotes and literary parodies, other parts were baffling or just plain depressing.
I recently majored in English, and I can certainly relate to most of his English-related humor. For example, this collection parodies classic literature: plays, poetry, and even a song. It also entertains with anecdotes of an English major's career, which includes, in this case, fast food (ha-ha). But there were some portions of the collection that seemed only tangentially related to the topic; that is, while the concept of writing was involved, neither writing nor humor was the focus. For example, there is a really depressing vignette about a pregnant teenager whose parents will disown her if she doesn't marry, but who is acutely aware of the sorrow and pain that such a marriage will bring. As she prepares for the big event, she is surrounded by aged married women telling her that marriage won't be that bad. Ouch. I know that Garrison Keillor doesn't always have happy endings, and I know, of course, that he often uses a measure of angst and a great deal of realism (and I would argue that realism is important and that GK generally uses it skillfully and to great effect) but this was just depressing as all get-out, even for him.
Do you see this? I'm an English major reduced to using phrases like "all get-out"!
Still, what's funny in this collection is very funny indeed. I particularly enjoyed the three(!) Shakespeare parodies....more
This book has everything. It gives history associated with children's literature generally, with the specific stories (the different versions of "LittThis book has everything. It gives history associated with children's literature generally, with the specific stories (the different versions of "Little Red Riding Hood," for example, are a fascinating study), and even with the content of some specific stories (e.g. the section on alphabet poems describes an older, 24-letter English alphabet). And what a collection! It contains tradition stories, including fairy tales. It contains more modern responses to these fairy tales, such as parodies and cynical, worldly retellings. Its collection of literature includes humor and serious works. It includes poetry, prose, plays, and picture books (and yes, the actual pages of the picture books are reproduced as images, so the readers can see more than just the text). It even has a section of full-color pictures. It includes many works that I recall from my own childhood, and it grounds them in context so that I can better understand their history and their context in the canon.