This is not another "Who was Tom Bombadil" question. Close to the end of ROTK Gandalf tells one of the Hobbits that it's time for him to go and have a long talk with Tom Bombadil. Was there anything significant to this talk? Does anyone know what it would be about, etc?

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    If the conversation is about anything other than Goldberry or water lilies for Goldberry, Tom Bombadil isn't going to be interested. – Wad Cheber Sep 22 '15 at 0:00
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    +1 for any interesting question about Bombadil because I know it's not going to be full of BS from the films. ;-) – R.. GitHub STOP HELPING ICE Sep 22 '15 at 3:06
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    I guarantee the consistency and flavor of pipe-weed will come up at some point. – Omegacron Sep 22 '15 at 18:49
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    Doesn't he say something like "For I have been like a pebble stumbling down a river and Tom has been like a stationary rock." – Joe C Oct 3 '15 at 6:07
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    "I am going to have a long talk with Bombadil: such a talk as I have not had in all my time. He is a moss-gatherer, and I have been a stone doomed to rolling. But my rolling days are ending, and now we shall have much to say to one another." - The Return of the King (Homeward Bound) – maguirenumber6 Mar 9 '16 at 5:05

With the understanding that

  • Bombadil was clearly depicted as the oldest being in Middle Earth (He tells the Hobbits this in their encounter with him ... "Tom was here before the river and the trees"(FoTR))
  • Gandalf was one of the Maiar, which were spirits created before Middle Earth took the shape it was in when the elves first awoke (Olórin he was called before Gandalf, cited in LOTR and The Silmarillion)

it is easily argued that these two were kindred spirits from waaaaay back.

Tolkien humanizes Gandalf in his role as "old man", in that he hungers to have the freedom (after his long labors against Sauron, who was also once one of the Maiar*) to sit down over a pipe and have a long discussion or reminiscence with someone more like him, someone who remembers the old days.

There are very few beings on Middle Earth who could fulfill that hunger: Bombadil was one such.

I am going to have a long talk with Bombadil: such a talk as I have not had in all my time. He is a moss-gatherer, and I have been a stone doomed to rolling. But my rolling days are ending, and now we shall have much to say to one another." - The Return of the King (Homeward Bound)

*As @corsiKa pointed out, Gandalf had recently defeated three other Maiar: (Durin's Bane aka the Balrog (corrupted ages ago by Morgoth), Sauron, and Saruman (who had been corrupted by the desire for Power, or as Gandalf put it in LOTR, wanting to "become a Power")). These three were, back during the Great Music described in The Silmarillion, originally spirits of the same kind. Gandalf and Tom Bombadil might very well be "the last of the breed" in Gandalf's reckoning, and as such would be one of the few with whom he could share the old stories.

** FWIW, his Sindarin name Iarwain Ben-adar (Eldest and Fatherless) is another point to him being the first being on Middle Earth as we know it.

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    Not only is Tom Bombadil someone Galdalf may have a good time with, but he also represents the peace and prosperity Middle-Earth may now achieve. Just like Gimli and Legolas went off to visit their favorite places, Gandalf visiting Tom may be representative of the fact he no longer has to worry about the well-being of the world, and can afford to sit back and enjoy himself. – DaaaahWhoosh Sep 21 '15 at 20:45
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    Gandalf also recently defeated three of the other Maiar he could talk to (Durin's Bane the Balrog, Saruman, and Sauron) and the other three he didn't have all that much contact with (Peter Jackson's rabbit-sleds not withstanding). That left himself and Tom for people who really could kick up the old stories. – corsiKa Sep 21 '15 at 22:09
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    @Shokhet: “what's-his-name the Brown is also recently dead”. Is he? Wikipedia says: “The only other reference to Radagast in The Lord of the Rings is after the Council of Elrond when it is decided to summon all the allies against Sauron together. Scouts are sent to look for help, and it is reported that Radagast is not at his home at Rhosgobel and cannot be found. Tolkien makes no mention of what has happened to Radagast, and he plays no further role in events.” – Paul D. Waite Sep 22 '15 at 14:03
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    @Chop Tom is not one of the blue wizards. The wizards, being Maiar, existed before Time, making them older than the world. Tom is clearly younger than the world, as per Tolkien Letter 153: Only the first person (of worlds or anything) can be unique. which is a footnote on the phrase he is. – corsiKa Sep 22 '15 at 14:42
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    They could talk together about what an egomaniac old Sauron turned out to be, since they all sang together in the same school choir. :-) – KorvinStarmast Sep 23 '15 at 2:23

Perhaps Gandalf wanted to investigate any being who could not be affected by the One Ring, as it contained the power from a Maiar (Sauron). Remember how Bombadil remained visible when he placed the Ring on his finger, and how, in fact, he had power over IT, causing it to disappear and reappear.

  • No need to investigate, if he is, as is often supposed, one of the Maia and thus of the same age/lineage as Gandalf. – KorvinStarmast Sep 22 '15 at 23:48
  • @KorvinStarmast Gandalf believed he would be corrupted by the ring, and Bombadil felt no fear of it, and was not corrupted by it. So even if Bombadil is a Maia, he knows something Gandalf does not (how to resist the ring). – Yakk Sep 23 '15 at 13:55
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    @Yakk That's a good point, but, since the Ring is destroyed at this point in the story, whatever Gandalf can learn from Bombadil can't or won't be applied to the Ring anymore. It might offer him insights into his own Ring, but that too is about to pass into the West. – KorvinStarmast Sep 23 '15 at 14:30
  • Why would Tom want to be invisible? The Ring does as told as long as that gets it closer to Sauron. – Cees Timmerman Sep 23 '15 at 17:29
  • @CeesTimmerman When Bilbo first uses the ring, he does not tell it to turn him invisible. That effect simply happens and he then exploits his new invisibility to escape. – KorvinStarmast Sep 24 '15 at 19:20

There's also the theory to consider, that Tom Bombadil was some kind of aspect of Iluvatar; a way to have a perspective in the world without interfering himself. This means it could be just a report on the situation to his superior.

The power of Tom Bombadil had no match. The ring was a thing so complex, so powerful, that were none in the world able to undo it, or even completely control it (except for Sauron in this regard). None but Tom. Tom could not be corrupted by the ring, could not be controlled or tempted. Even more impressively, he could change the ring, control it, play with it in a technically impossible way.

So I always imagined this talk between him and Gandalf as a discussion about "Is the work really done now? What is left to do? What are the possibilities for the future; is it really rid of Melkor and Sauron's influence for good?". Should I stay or should I go now?

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