The LOTR Movie Site
October 31, 2000

Re: Bombadil Solution

(In response to Rex F.)

First of all, WOW, and I thought my essays were long…

The idea that Bombadil is a walking remnant of the Music of the Ainur is a pretty neat idea, and the most original one that I have seen. It at least ranks with the idea that he is Iluvatar, but like that one, the notion has problems.

“Interwoven with the melody were all the creations, including Man and Elf. Old Tom is, I venture to speculate, the "hidden melody," the secret tune of the One from which His children took form and grew, the divine tonal DNA!”

The Music of the Ainur’s purpose was to create and sculpt Arda, not produce the Children of Iluvatar. Yes, the fates and actions of Children of Iluvatar were “interwoven” into the themes, and the final theme was kept secret from the Ainur, but the Children’s genesis was not part of the songs. Eru used the Flame Imperishable to form Elves, Men, etc—the same Flame Imperishable he used to create the Ainur. If the Music of the Ainur created life, how could they sing and create themselves before they were created??? The true genesis of life was kept secret from them, as you suggest, but not in the form of song. Melkor apparently searched long and hard in the void for the Flame, which was the origin of life. So I cannot agree with linking the name “Bombadil” and its “secret song” meaning to the Ainulindale and coming up with Tom being some prototype for the Children of Iluvatar. If you could link the name “Bombadil” to the Flame Imperishable, I might agree to his true identity!
 being some sort of mold for sentient life in ME.

“But the song that is the genesis of Bombadil is that strain that was untouched by Melkor, the promise of Iluvatar to His children; and in this fashion the Ring's power has no way of affecting him… So there we have it. The name Bombadil means "secret song" -- Eru's counter theme to Melkor's disharmony.”

Again, the Music of the Ainur only created Arda. It was not the genesis of any life form. And surely it is a bit apocryphal to claim to know which themes Melkor touched or did not touch. He tried to affect and take control of as many of them as he could, but mostly Iluvatar opted to incorporate his discord, rather than counter it.  Yes, Eru pitted other Aniur against him and at the end of the Ainulindale he hit a chord at once “higher than the Firmament” and “deeper than the Abyss” to establish his dominion over Melkor, and silence his defiance, but I do not think he used specific themes involving one or another being to directly counteract Melkor, or if he did, you can be sure Melkor would have exacted some excruciating revenge had the poor sucker settled in Arda, which Tom did. In other words, if Tom’s song were used against Melkor, he would have ended up as pieces of Glaurung’s stool, or something of the sort, if Glaurung did not prove powerful enough to do the job. Tom would not have been singing his merry way out of that one.

To me, no other explanation has been defended better than the one that Tom is a Maia “gone native”. But this one is good! It took a lot of thought, no doubt. And it certainly is better than Tom being the Witch King of Angmar.  That one was so bad it HAD to be a joke. I mean, everyone knows the Lord of the Nazgul is Angmar, right? Right? And if the Ring were going to affect anyone, it would be him. There is no way Angmar would slip it on and off like a two-timing husband discarding his wedding ring for a night or two, like Tom did with the One Ring.

Over and above all of this, anyway, is the fact that Tolkien already supplied an even kooler idea for what was residual Music of the Ainur: the sounds of the ocean. When I read that passage in the Silmarillion, it was such a flawless wrap-around connection to the idea of the Ainulindale producing the world, it really floored me. It gave perfect closure to the Ainur’s part in the story of the creation of Arda.  Tolkien was without a doubt a creative genius.