Lost in the Translation: 1. Lost in the Translation

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1. Lost in the Translation

Frodo and Bilbo sat together in Rivendell, leafing together through Bilbo's three books of elvish lore. As Frodo's eyes ran swiftly over the pages, Bilbo nodded and snored, then woke up abruptly.

"So, what did you think of that poem, my boy?"

"It was excellent, Bilbo - and the five poems after it."

"Oh dear, asleep again. Time for dinner soon, surely. The Elves always laugh about that."

Frodo gnawed his lip. "There was just one thing, Bilbo."

"What, what? Come now, out with it!"

The younger hobbit patted the stack of books beside him. "It seems like some of how the Elves truly act is...missing. Do they not, ah...aren't they really rather..."

Bilbo yanked his feet off the cushioned footstool and stomped them on the floor. "Randier than hobbits in their tweens at the Lithe summer-dances? Of course!" He tottered over to his desk, where scrolls and old tomes were piled high. "Here it all is; "Princess Mee," which you read, really about two girls laying down together; The Lament of Turin for Beleg; an essay by one Altariel of the Noldor, all about "Ways of Love of the Body." They've got more words I can't translate for activities I can't imagine! You were travelling with an Elf --"

Frodo slumped on his chair and groaned. "Don't let me begin, Bilbo. We were in Lorien over two weeks, and Legolas only spent the night in our tents once! If I told you what else he got up to, you'd never believe it."

Bilbo snorted. "Since seven gossipy Elves have taken the trouble to tell me already, and none of them can believe it either, I suppose it's true. Can't think what he sees in a Dwarf. They're lusty enough, and I should know, having travelled--"

"But, Bilbo, why isn't it in any of your translations? Even if it is in the original poems and tales?"

Bilbo sighed, and left the pile of scrolls and slim volumes to poke up the fire. "A lot of it I've translated directly, but the meaning doesn't come through in the Common Tongue. "Her limbs were fair and free," to us that sounds very pretty, but it means something altogether different to an Elf."

He gazed into the fire. "And if I was just writing away for myself, lad, that would be one thing. But these books are going with you. To the Shire. For hobbits to read, so that they know"-Bilbo waved his hands -" about what was, and what has faded, and how lucky they are, and how grand the Elves and Dwarves were, and, well, all of that, really."

"And you don't think their lusty side is part of it?"

"Perhaps I'm a touch old-fashioned," Bilbo quavered, "but I want hobbits to read these books - my books - for the right reasons. To understand the high parts. They're simple folk, Frodo. And think of it from a hobbit's view," His eyes sharpened as he looked at Frodo under his brows. "Now, do you want all those fine folk ruled by Aragorn to remember Hobbits by the big summer Lithe-pole? By the trulls of the Green Dragon? By the song 'The Farmer And His Favorite Sheep?'"

Frodo looked down, chuckling. "Pippin sang that for the Fellowship once, in Eregion, to cheer us all up. It's true the others never forgot it. Sam didn't stop blushing for days."

"Well, that shows you, then. I'm sure the Elves would rather be great and sad than lusted over. Besides, us Bagginses are disreputable enough."

"All right, Bilbo. I think it's very high-minded of you." Frodo's gaze deepened into an uncanny look. "But if I take these books to the Shire, they will be read longer than you could imagine, Bilbo. And some of the readers will think it very strange."

"Hmm, humpf. Well, let them. As long as they read. With both their hands on the books, mind."

A set of clear bells rang out. "Dinner! Save a good seat for me, Frodo-lad, I must find my wrap and cane."

Bilbo watched his nephew leave, then fondly picked up a leather book - a fourth one- with blue covers. He opened it to the title-page. His own spidery handwriting had picked out several titles: "Other Translations from the Elvish. Elvish Ways of Love. Of How They Lay Down And What Happens After. Private Library of B. Baggins."

"Not half as high-minded as you think, my boy," he chuckled, and picked up his walking-stick with a flourish.

Story Notes:

1. "Princess Mee" is a slightly obscure Tolkien poem about an elf-princess who dances, night after night, with her reflection in a clear pool.

2. "Then he gave Frodo his mithril-coat and Sting, forgetting that he had already done so: and he gave him also three books of lore that he had made at various times, written in his spidery hand, and labelled on their red backs: Translations from the Elvish, by B.B." Return of the King, Book VI, Chapter 6, Many Partings.

3. "Legolas was away much among the Galadhrim, and after the first night he did not sleep with the other companions..." Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, Chapter 7, The Mirror of Galadriel.

4. In the essay "Laws and Customs of the Eldar," published in the book Morgoth's Ring: The Later Silmarillion, Part One, Tolkien actually DOES go into elves' sex lives, as far as a discreet essay about general elf lifestyles can. The results, of course, are disappointing for the modern reader, but what is unsaid leaves room for creative extrapolation.

Feedback is welcome to Tyellas@hotmail.com.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: Tyellas

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Post-Ring War

Genre: Humor

Rating: General

Last Updated: 01/31/03

Original Post: 07/16/02

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WARNING! Comments may contain spoilers for a chapter or story. Read with caution.

Lost in the Translation

DrummerWench - 27 Aug 06 - 8:04 AM

Ch. 1: Lost in the Translation

I'm so glad this popped up in the "featured story" corner!  I've added it to My Bookshelf so I can reread it anytime I want.  I giggle each time, too.  Thanks for writing it, Tyellas!


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