27

Bilbo wrote this song for Aragorn:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be Blade that was Broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

But based on the timeline of Aragorn, Aragorn was only 10 years old when they first met in the year 2941. Was this song written in 2941, when they first met, or it was written sometime later? Are there any records of Bilbo meeting Aragorn after the events of The Hobbit and before the events of The Lord of the Rings?

I am just curious about why anybody would write a song for a ten-year-old kid.

  • 1
    It doesn't answer your question, but, according to the tolkiengateway page on Aragorn, there were propheties saying that Aragorn would bring hope to the Dunedain. Elrond certainly knew about these propheties (he called it Estel, which means hope). Bilbo probably heard about this while staying in Rivendell, when Aragorn was l0 or later. Note also that, from the same link, it is not clear that Aragorn and Bilbo actually met at that time; and that Aragorn was not aware of his true identity before he was 20. – Taladris Mar 19 '15 at 7:30
  • 2
    Note that quite apart from the excellent answers here, Bilbo referred to Aragorn as "my friend the Dunadan", so it's clear they've met many times over the years. – Daniel Roseman Mar 19 '15 at 10:54
54

There's absolutely no indication in the books that Bilbo and Aragorn met in 2941. This would have been during Bilbo's stop in Rivendell on the Quest of Erebor, when Aragorn also lived there as a child, so it's a fan surmise that they may have met, but not one based on anything Tolkien actually wrote.

Also note Bilbo's words about the poem (Council of Elrond, with my emphasis):

'I made that up myself,' he whispered to Frodo, 'for the Dúnadan, a long time ago when he first told me about himself. I almost wish that my adventures were not over, and that I could go with him when his day comes.'

So Bilbo didn't write the poem when they first met, but rather when Aragorn first told Bilbo about himself. Now, Bilbo and the Dwarves were in Rivendell in 2941, but the Tale of Years records that Aragorn was not told his true identity and lineage until 2951 (10 years later):

Elrond reveals to 'Estel' his true name and ancestry, and delivers to him the shards of Narsil.

So even if Bilbo had met Aragorn in 2941, he could not have written the poem then, because Aragorn could not have told Bilbo about himself then, because Aragorn didn't even know about himself then. The answer to "why would anyone write a song for a 10 year old kid" is therefore "they didn't".

The actual date of their first meeting is unrecorded, but we can narrow down the range of possibilities and arrive at a probable date.

The Tale of Years records that Bilbo, following his long-expected party, settled in Rivendell in 3002 but that from 3009 onwards Aragorn was engaged (with Gandalf) in the search for Gollum, who was finally captured (by Aragorn) in 3017. So the most likely date for their first meeting is sometime in that range - 3002 to 3009 - but Aragorn's movements during that time are unrecorded, aside for 3006/3007 when Aragorn was known to be in the north and met his mother before her death.

So Bilbo almost certainly would not have had the opportunity to meet Aragorn before 3002, and the strongest possibility for the year of their first meeting seems to be 3006/3007.

When Bilbo says "a long time ago" to Frodo, he's actually talking about (most likely) no more than 16 years previously, with a strong possibility that it was only 11/12 years previously.

  • 1
    brilliant answer. – Vishvesh Mar 19 '15 at 10:49
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    I don't think there is any way to document it, but there is no reason to exclude the 50 years between 2950 and 3002. Bilbo was notorious for receiving unusual travelers and also for taking walking trips, even to Bree. Aragorn most certainly would have know about Bilbo's history, and the Dunedain made it their business to patrol the borders near Bree. – Yorik Mar 19 '15 at 14:53
  • 2
    I agree with Yorik - it's entirely possible that the two met sometime between 2951 and 3009. There's no reason to assume that Bilbo never visited Rivendell in that time, or that Aragorn never visited Bilbo at Bag's End. – Omegacron Mar 19 '15 at 16:05
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    @Yorik - Definitely agreed; I just restricted myself to what there was evidence for in my answer, but it is entirely possible that it may have happened earlier. – user8719 Mar 19 '15 at 16:24
  • Yeah documenting is the problem. – Yorik Mar 19 '15 at 17:08
6

Since Bilbo spent most of the 17 years between his eleventy-first birthday party and the creation of the Fellowship (TA 3001-3018) living in the same place as Aragorn's girlfriend (Rivendell), it seems likely that they would have met frequently. And he retired to Rivendell partly in order to get some time to write, so the song was probably written during that period.

  • 3
    Arwen actually lived with her grandparents during that time, so while Aragorn undoubtedly visited Rivendell quite often he wasn't there because of her. – BMWurm Mar 19 '15 at 9:18
  • Arwen returned from Lothlorien in TA 2951. So she was most certainly around during that time. – John Bell Oct 22 '15 at 16:09
1

user8719 (was Darth Satan) gave an excellent answer. But it is also worth pointing out how truly special Aragorn's heritage is—beyond simply that of a vaunted Númenórean. Aragorn, like Elrond, was the descendant of Edain, Noldar, Sindar, and Maiar, but unlike Elrond, Aragorn was bound to the fate of Men. So, in addition to his temporal role in the end of the Third and start of the Fourth ages, Aragorn has a special spiritual position within Middle-Earth's history.

As someone appreciating the Elves and their history, and undoubtedly something of their spiritual lives, Bilbo therefore had reason to write a song about Aragorn, because he signified greatly in that world.

  • Great comment... But it's a comment and doesn't address the question. Perhaps you could edit it into the accepted answer. – TGnat Mar 19 '15 at 18:34
  • @TGnat I have edited to make my point (as an answer) more clear. – Lexible Mar 19 '15 at 21:36
  • Who is Darth Satan? I suppose that's a reference to this answer, by a user who has since unregistered? – Wildcard Dec 7 '18 at 20:11
  • @Wildcard See edit. – Lexible Dec 7 '18 at 20:28
0

I think Bilbo wrote it after he left home (after his party) and returned to Rivendell, at the beginning of Lord of the Rings. He certainly wouldn't have written it when Aragorn was 10. As the timeline says, it is unknown whether he met Aragorn then, during his first time in Rivendell, and in any case the "pre-adventure" Bilbo certainly would not have been writing songs like that. As for why he wrote it...I guess he was just inspired to do it.

-1

It seems clear that Bilbo wrote his rhyme a long time after Aragorn was ten, since even Aragorn didn't know his true idenity until he was twenty, but why couldn't Bilbo have written a rhyme about Aragorn when Aragorn was ten?

Wouldn't Aragorn have been a close friend of Bilbo by the time he told Bilbo his secret identity? And wasn't Aragorn Bilbo's rightful sovereign? If Biblo knew and liked Aragorn and knew he was the heir of Isildur when Aragorn was only ten, Bilbo might have written a poem about Aragorn when Aragorn was only ten.

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