domenica 13 novembre 2016

Due poesie di Tolkien in Winter's Tales for Children 1, 1965

Winter's Tales for Children 1
Curato da Caroline Hillier
Macmillan, Londra
1° ed. 1965, pp. 200
Illustrazioni interne di Hugh Marshall
Illustrazioni di copertina di Hugh Marshall
Rilegato con sovraccoperta

Winter's Tales for Children è stata una serie di quattro raccolte pubblicate dal 1965 al 1968. Pubblicate dalla londinese Macmillan, vide i primi due curati dal Carolin Hillier, il terzo da Kevin Crossley-Holland, e l’ultimo da Ted Hughes. Nel 1964, a Tolkien fu chiesto di contribuire al primo  di questo volume per bambini e, il già affermato autore del Signore degli Anelli, inviò alla curatrice tre possibili poesie da includere nel testo. A parte le due che di seguito presento, Once Upon A Time e The Dragon’s Visit, la terza fu una poesia dedicata ad una lettrice americana, Rosalind Ramage, che gli aveva scritto nell’ottobre 1964 e che per ragioni di spazio non fu inserita nella raccolta. 

Assieme alle due poesie di Tolkien, la Hillier inserì anche quelle di Ted Hughes (una poesia), Rosemary Sutcliff (una storia); Philippa Pearce (una storia); Kevin Crossley-Holland (una storia e tre enigmi in antico inglese tradotti in inglese moderno); ed Elizabeth Jennings (due poesie). La Jennings, poetessa e traduttrice (Tradusse in inglese i sonetti di Michelangelo) fu legata al gruppo di poeti che diedero vita al "Nuovo movimento", fu amica intima della famiglia Tolkien. Uno dei suoi lavori A way of looking del 1955 fu dato a Tolkien che ne scrisse un commento, il 21 dicembre 1955, in una lunga lettera di quattro pagine indirizzate alla stessa autrice. Tutte le illustrazioni che arricchiscono il testo furono realizzate da Hugh Marshall.

Once Upon A Time
Questa poesia è stata scritta due anni dopo la pubblicazione di The adventures of Tom Bombadil (Avventure di Tom Bombadil), e parla di Goldberry, Tom Bombadil e alcune creature definite lintips, della cui definizione rimanda all’articolo di Douglas A. Anderson, The Mystery of Lintips. La poesia è stata pubblicata per la prima volta proprio in questa raccolta, poi riproposta nel 1969 in The Young Magicians curata da Lin Carter e, nel 2013, in Tolkien Studies: Volume 10, accompagnata da una introduzione e commento di Kris Swank.

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a day on the fields of May
there was snow in summer where the blossom lay:
the buttercups tall sent up their light
in a stream of gold, and wide and white
there opened in the green-grass skies
the earth-stars with their steady eyes
watching the Sun climb up and down.
Goldberry was there with a wild-rose crown,
Goldberry was there in a lady-smock
blowing away a dandelion clock,
stooping over a lily-pool
and twiddling the water green and cool
to see it sparkle round her hand:
once upon a time in elvish land.

Once upon a night in the cockshut light
the grass was grey but the dew was white;
the shadows were dark, and the Sun was gone,
the earth-stars shut, but the high stars shone,
one to another winking their eyes
as they waited for the Moon to rise.
Up he came, and on leaf and grass
his white beams turned to twinkling glass,
and silver dripped from stem and stalk
down to where the lintips walk
through the grass-forests gathering dew.
Tom was there without boot or shoe,
with moonshine wetting his big, brown toes:
once upon a time, the story goes.

Once upon a moon on the brink of June
a-dewing the lintips went too soon.
Tom stopped and listened, and down he knelt:
Ha! little lads! So it was you I smelt?
What a mousy smell! Well, the dew is sweet,
so drink it up, but mind my feet!’
The lintips laughed and stole away,
but old Tom said: ’I wish they’d stayl
The only things that won’t talk to me
say what they do or what they be.
I wonder what they have got to hide?
Down from the Moon maybe they slide,
or come in star-winks, I don’t know’:
Once upon a time and long ago.

The Dragon’s Visit
Di questa poesia Tolkien scrisse diverse versioni, ma sul primo dattiloscritto, che seguì due precedenti versioni differenti tra loro, scrisse “Oxford 1928? riv[ista] 1937”. La prima versione, che rientra nel ciclo dei Tales and Songs of Bimble Bay, fu pubblicata per la prima volta il 4 febbraio 1937 in The Oxford Magazine. Per Douglas A. Anderson, nel 1961, con molta probabilità, rivide la poesia, modificandone il finale e inserendo un altro verso, per inserirla nel volume delle Avventure di Tom Bombadil. La poesia però non fu inclusa nel libro, perché Tolkien non riuscì, seppur modellandola, a farla rientrare nel suo legendarium. Nel 1964, Tolkien riprese a lavorarci per pubblicarla in Winter’s Tales for Children 1. Come Once Upon A Time, anche questa fu inserita nella raccolta di Carter The Young Magician (1969). 

The Dragon’s Visit
di J. R. R. Tolkien
Oxford Magazine, 4 febbraio 1937

The dragon lay on the cherry trees
a-simmering and a-dreaming:
Green was he, and the blossom white,
and the yellow sun gleaming.
He came from the land of Finis-Terre,
where dragons live, and the moon shines
on high white fountains.

“Please, Mister Higgins, do you know
what’s a-laying in your garden?
There’s a dragon in your cherry trees!”
“Eh, what? I beg your pardon?”
Mister Higgins fetched the garden hose,
and the dragon woke from dreaming;
he blinked, and cocked his long green ears
when he felt the water streaming.

“How cool,” he said, “delightfully cool
are Mister Higgins’ fountains!
I’ll sit and sing till the moon comes,
as they sing beyond the mountains;
and Higgins, and his neighbours, Box,
Miss Biggins and old Tupper,
will be enchanted by my voice:
they will enjoy their supper!”

Mister Higgins sent for the fire brigade
with a long red ladder.
And men with golden helmets on.
The dragon’s heart grew sadder:
“It reminds me of the bad old days
when warriors unfeeling
used to hunt dragons in their dens,
their bright gold stealing.”

Captain George, he up the ladder came.
The dragon said: “Good people,
why all this fuss? Please go away!
Or your church-steeple
I shall throw down, and blast your trees,
and kill and eat for supper
you, Cap’n George, and Higgins, Box,
and Biggins and old Tupper!”

“Turn on the hose!” said Captain George,
and down the ladder tumbled.
The dragon’s eyes from green went red,
and his belly rumbled.
He steamed, he smoked, he threshed his tail,
and down the blossom fluttered;
Like snow upon the lawn it lay,
and the dragon growled and muttered.

They poked with poles from underneath
(where he was rather tender):
the dragon gave a dreadful cry
and rose like thunder.
He smashed the town to smithereens,
and over the Bay of Bimble
sailors could see the burning red
from Bumpus Head to Trimble.

Mister Higgins was tough; and as for Box
just like his name he tasted.
The dragon munching his supper said:
“So all my trouble’s wasted!”
And he buried Tupper and Captain George,
and the remains of old Miss Biggins,
on a cliff above the long white shore;
and he sang a dirge for Higgins.

A sad song, while the moon rose,
with the sea below sighing
on the grey rocks of Bimble Bay,
and the red blaze dying.
Far over the sea he saw the peaks,
found his own land ranging;
and he mused on the folk of Bimble Bay
and the old order changing:

“They have not got the wit to admire
a dragon’s song or colour,
nor heart to kill him brave and quick—
the world is getting duller!”
And the moon shone through his green wings,
the night winds beating,
and he flew back over the dappled sea
to a green dragons’ meeting.

The Dragon’s Visit
di J. R. R. Tolkien
Winter’s Tales for Children 1, 1965

On the cherry-trees the dragon lay
a-simmering and a-dreaming.
The blossom was white in the early day,
but green his scales were gleaming.
Over the seas he had flown by night,
for his land was dragon-haunted,
stuffed with gold and jewels bright,
but food and sport he wanted.

‘Excuse me, Mr. Higgins, please!
Have you seen what’s in your garden?
There’s a dragon on your cherry-trees!’
‘A what? I beg your pardon!’
Mr. Higgins fetched the garden-hose,
and the dragon woke from dreaming.
He blinked and snorted in his nose
when he felt the water streaming.

‘How cool!’ he said. ‘So good for scales!
I did not expect a fountain!
I’ll sit and sing here, till daylight fails
and the full moon’s mounting.’
But Higgins runs, on the doors he knocks
of Miss Biggins and old Tupper.
‘Come help me quick! Come Mr. Box,
or he’ll eat us all for supper!’

Miss Biggins sent for the Fire Brigade
with a long red ladder,
And a brave show their helmets made;
but the dragon’s heart grew sadder:
‘It reminds me of the wicked ways
of warriors unfeeling,
Hunting us in the bad old days
and our bright gold stealing.’

The Captain with his hatchet came:
‘Now what d’you think you’re doing?’
The dragon laughed: ‘Cap’n What’s-your-name,
I’m sitting here and stewing.
I like to stew. So let me be!
Or your church-steeple
I’ll batter down, blast every tree,
and you, and eat these people!’

‘Turn on the hydrant!’ said Captain George
and down the ladder tumbled.
The dragon’s eyes like coals in a forge
glowed, and his belly rumbled.
He began to steam; he threshed his tail,
and away the blossom fluttered.
But the Brigade were not the men to quail,
although he growled and muttered.

With poles they jabbed him from below,
where he was rather tender:
Havoc!’ the dragon cried, ‘haro!’
and rose in splendour.
He smashed the town to a rubbish-heap,
and over the Bay of Bimble
Sailors could see the red flames leap
from Bumpus Head to Trimble.

The Higgins was tough, and as for Box:
just like his name he tasted;
The dragon threw Tupper on the rocks,
and said: ‘This munching’s wasted.’
So he buried hatchet and Captain George,
and he sang a dirge for Higgins
On a cliff above the long white shores –
and he did not Miss Biggins.

Sadly he sang till the moon went down,
with the surf below sighing
On the grey rocks, and in Bimbletown
the red blaze dying.
He saw the peaks far over the sea
round his own land ranging;
And he mused on Men, and how strange they be,
and the old order changing.

‘None of them now have the wit to admire
a dragon’s song or colour,
Nor the nerve with steel to meet his fire –
the world is getting duller!’
He spread his wide wings to depart;
but just as he was rising
Miss Biggins stabbed him to the heart,
and that he found surprising.

‘I regret this very much,’ she said.
‘You’re a very splendid creature,
And your voice is quite remarkable
for one who has had no teacher;
But wanton damage I will not have,
I really had to end it.’
The dragon sighed before he died:
‘At least she called me splendid.’