5

At the end of the movie version of The Two Towers, there's a song called "Gollum's Song".

The Lord of the Rings wikia states that it was based on "a song sung by Gollum in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings."

Now, the wikia isn't exactly known for being a reputable source. I also don't remember any song being sung by Gollum in either The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, and the links are to the book versions.

So what is this referring to? What was this song based on?

  • The tune for it is ostensibly based on his leitmotif, but yeah, no source on the lyrics I can find. – FuzzyBoots Jul 8 '18 at 16:27
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    I believe Gollum did sing a song but I don't think it bears any resemblance to this one. – Harry Johnston Jul 8 '18 at 21:18
9

I can't remember any instance of Gollum singing a song (certainly not one that doesn’t involve fish), but the lyrics seem to reflect Gollum’s history and a sense of being an outcast.

Where once was light
Now darkness falls
Where once was love
Love is no more

The first verse could be referring to his transition from living in an extended family by the river to his fall to the lure of the ring, expulsion and subsequent life alone in a cave under the Misty Mountains.

And we will weep
To be so alone
We are lost
We can never go home

The ‘we are lost’ motif may be picking up on Gollum’s response to Faramir:

‘We are lost, lost,’ said Gollum. ‘No name, no business, no Precious, nothing. Only empty. Only hungry; yes, we are hungry. A few fishes, nasty bony little fishes, for a poor creature, and they say death. So wise they are; so just, so very just.’

Chapter 6. The Forbidden Pool. The Lord of the Rings (The Two Towers, Book 4)

There’s a sense of loneliness and betrayal in the song, which reflects Gollum’s perception. He does show signs of trusting Frodo:

‘Nice Master!’ he whispered. ‘Nice hobbit, come back to poor Sméagol. Good Sméagol comes. Now let’s go, go quickly, yes. Through the trees, while the Faces are dark. Yes, come, let’s go!’

ibid

And feels betrayed when he’s caught by Faramir’s men.

Gollum crawled along close to the brink for a little way, snuffling and suspicious. Presently he stopped and raised his head. ‘Something’s there!’ he said. ‘Not a hobbit.’ Suddenly he turned back. A green light was flickering in his bulging eyes. ‘Masster, masster!’ he hissed. ‘Wicked! Tricksy! False!’ He spat and stretched out his long arms with white snapping fingers.

ibid

From Gollum’s point of view he’s been betrayed by Frodo, and Frodo recognises this.

‘Yes. Well no, I didn’t get him. He came to me, because he trusted me at first, I’m afraid. I did not want him tied up like this. I hope it will be all right; but I hate the whole business.’

ibid

If the song is from Gollum’s point of view, then this could fit with the verse:

These tears we cry
Are falling rain
For all the lies
You told us
The hurt, the blame

The lyrics could be directed at Gollum (because he’s lied) but the song seems to be more a lament for Gollum’s descent.

These tears you cry
Have come too late
Take back the lies
The hurt, the blame

This could be a reference to Gollum’s near repentance that’s disrupted by Sam on the stairs.

The gleam faded from his [Gollum’s] eyes, and they went dim and grey, old and tired. A spasm of pain seemed to twist him, and he turned away, peering back up towards the pass, shaking his head, as if engaged in some interior debate. Then he came back, and slowly putting out a trembling hand, very cautiously he touched Frodo’s knee — but almost the touch was a caress. For a fleeting moment, could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing.

Chapter 8. The Stairs of Cirith Ungol. The Lord of the Rings (The Two Towers, Book 4)

Gollum is lost (spiritually), alone and friendless, and he chooses not to change.

So in the end
I will be what I will be
No loyal friend
Was ever there for me

5

These are the only Gollum songs I can recall (from The Two Towers, one after another); but they seem to be entirely unrelated.

Gollum turned to the right, southward more or less, and splashed along with his feet in the shallow stony stream. He seemed greatly delighted to feel the water, and chuckled to himself, sometimes even croaking in a sort of song.

The cold hard lands
they bites our hands,
they gnaws our feet.
The rocks and stones
are like old bones
all bare of meat.
But stream and pool
is wet and cool:
so nice for feet!
And now we wish—

‘Ha! ha! What does we wish?’ he said, looking sidelong at the hobbits. ‘We’ll tell you,’ he croaked. ‘He guessed it long ago, Baggins guessed it.’ A glint came into his eyes, and Sam catching the gleam in the darkness thought it far from pleasant.

Alive without breath;
as cold as death;
never thirsting, ever drinking;
clad in mail, never clinking.
Drowns on dry land,
thinks an island
is a mountain;
thinks a fountain

is a puff of air.
So sleek, so fair!
What a joy to meet!
We only wish
to catch a fish,
so juicy-sweet!

In the paper Could Gollum Be Singing a Sonnet? The Poetic Project of The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien Studies vol. 14, 2017), Kathy Cawsey notes that the second part is basically a debased Petrachan sonnet. What's more, sonnets are a distinctly modern poetic form, one that supplanted older Germanic poetry like the alliterative verse that Tolkien so loved. And Gollum's fish-riddle song is the only sonnet in LotR; all other songs follow more folk-poetic patterns. Giving the "elegant" sonnet form to his most corrupted creature was probably one of Tolkien’s many subtle jabs against modernity in general.

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