The Rivendell Resort for the Resting (J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings)

I read Tolkien’s “Canon”, that is, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, every year about Christmas. So also this year.

What was Bilbo up to after he left Hobbiton, and until Frodo met him again in Rivendell. While there are few explicit mentions, there are some cues that we may explore.

First, when Bilbo was packing and leaving Bag End after his long expected party, he was again going with dwarves. They are not named, but it seems likely that they are the same who delivered goods from Dale to the party, and have probably stayed in the guest rooms of Bag End since. No dwarves were mentioned at the party, and I guess they would have, had they been present. So Bilbo goes with the dwarves, and as he tells to Frodo later, he goes on his last journey all the way to The Mountain, that is, Erebor, and to Dale. He comes too late to visit his old friend Balin – he had left for Moria. Then Bilbo returned to Rivendell. No more is told about his travels back, though it is easy to speculate. When he left the Mountain, returning homewards the previous time, he was invited to the halls of his friend the Elven King, that is Thranduil of Mirkwood/Greenwood the Great, but gently rejected the offer. It would be natural to pay him a visit on his second return westwards. The elves would give him safe journey through the forest. By legend, he was probably well known to the Beornings too, and I would guess he got a safe and well escorted journey back over the Misty Mountains.

Back in Rivendell, Frodo got acquainted to Aragorn the Ranger. If Bilbo uses one year on his journey to Erebor and back to Rivendell, he is 112, and Aragorn would be at the frisky age of 71. While Aragorn is often away, helping in the watch of the Shire, or on errantry for Gandalf, like going hunting for Gollum, he is probably often back in Rivendell. Bilbo speaks of him as his good friend, the Dùnadan, and when they sneak away in the Hall of Fire, it sounds like it is not the first time they redraw to look over his verses.

So what has Bilbo done over the next 16 years? Like the Asbjørnsen and Moe, or the Grimm brothers, he has literally collected fairy tales. The Red Book of Westmarch that goes from Bilbo and Frodo to Sam at the end of the story, contains several long stories and verse translated from Elvish by Bilbo. Within this frame, this is what we may call the Silmarillion Traditions. And based on this, he may have written quite a few verses of his own. When he recites for Erestor and other elves in the Hall of Fire, it is clear that this is not the first time he does this, though he does not often get asked for a second hearing.

Finally in Rivendell, Bilbo got his own parlor. After Frodo’s reception dinner, and all the singing and reciting of verse in the Hall of Fire, we are told that Frodo and Bilbo retreats to Bilbo’s room, where they can exit to a veranda that looks out over a garden and the river. We know Bilbo was always fond of his garden, and it is nice to know that the elves of Rivendell provided him with one just outside his room.

If I had to grow old in solitude, I’d like a room at the Rivendell Resort for the Resting, please.

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