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Errantry is a Hobbit poem which was probably composed by Bilbo Baggins, shortly after his return from the Lonely Mountain in T.A. 2941,[1] and probably having heard Elvish tales of the First Age. The attribution to Bilbo is made because of its similarity to the Song of Eärendil, believed to be a transformed and applied to the legend of Eärendil version of this poem.[2]

While it referred to original Elvish names, they were probably fictitious.


[edit] Structure

Errantry was actually one of the cyclical nonsense poems which amused Hobbits, although this one is the longest and most elaborate of the kind found in the Red Book.[2]

The poem has complex trisyllabic assonances with an original metre invented by Bilbo, and was obviously proud of them. Such do not appear in other pieces in the Red Book.[2]

[edit] List of words

Below is a partial list of rare and/or obsolete words used in the poem.[3]

[edit] Inspiration

It is a three-page long poem by J.R.R. Tolkien, first published on 9 November 1933 in The Oxford Magazine. Tolkien himself considered it his most attractive poem. The meter is his own invention (using trisyllabic assonances or near-assonances) and never wrote another in this style.[4]

[edit] Usage outside the legendarium

This poem was set to music by Donald Swann. The sheet music and an audio recording are part of the song-cycle The Road Goes Ever On.[5]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "Preface"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "Errantry"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 133, (dated 22 June 1952)
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Donald Swann, The Road Goes Ever On, "Errantry"