1. The Hamster
Once upon a midnight dreary, as I pondered wroth and weary
O'er the arcane seeing stone of drownèd Númenor;
While I pondered, visions seeking, suddenly there came a creaking,
Yea, a veritable squeaking, as of weeping metal by my door:
'Oh not again,' I muttered, seething, 'not again, infernal Thor' —
Peace I ask! And nothing more.'
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
That I first did hear the timbre of that squeaking near the door—
Queer reminder of the danger into which had gone the stranger
(Who now merited my anger) at Pelargir, upon our shores,
Whence the enigmatic Eagle of the Star came never more—
Legend, he, for evermore.
And yet the dark-haired stranger wand'ring, called 'Thorongil', set me pond'ring,
thrilled me—filled me with dread suspicions that I'd never felt before;
So that I, to still the craving of my mind, which might be raving,
To know the all of him not saving secrets buried at his core—
I'd have the all of him not saving things he'd shown to none before—
I bought a hamster, nothing more.
Scantily did it resemble he who bore the star-brooched mantle;
'Sir', I'd said, 'or Madam, truly I am not versed in hamster "lore";
Nor care I to risk your biting simply so's to gain a sighting
Of your underside for tidings of your gender that I should ignore,
As I would your namesake's myst'ry' — Here I set 'him' by the door; —
'Yet I can't, and so I'm sore.'
Deep into the black eyes peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, thinking thoughts I'd never had to think before.
But the silence was unbroken, and the hamster gave no token
that he cared his name was spoken, that of the knight errant of yore;
"Thorongil," I hissed, and an echo murmured back that name of yore—
The hamster sniffed but nothing more.
Back from memory returning, all my soul within me burning,
For again I heard the churning of the wheel louder than before.
'Surely,' said I, 'I can withstand the wretched rodent's squealing mill
Oh foul namesake of Thorongil, distracting as the man before!
Let my mind be calm a moment and survey darksome Mordor—
I need but will and nothing more!'
But the baneful beast did skitter, in his wheel, feet aflitter,
And did not so much as twitter when I rose to cross the floor.
Not the least obeisance made he; nor acknowledgment did make me,
But rather lordly unafraid he ran heedless of the scowl I wore—
Ran within his squeaky wheel just beside my chamber door—
Ran on heedless, nothing more.
Beady-eyed, the beast beguiling my dear time to waste awhiling
By the many-tubèd warren of his domicile once more,
'Though thou art pint-sized and silly, thou,' I said, 'run'st willy-nilly,
Even as thy namesake, Gilly, who wandered hence from Gondor's shore—
Thorongil, a thousand thoughts why went thou hence to foul Mordor!'
Ran the hamster evermore.
For much I'd marvelled to be told by the puzzled warriors bold
Who thought his words had little meaning — 'Other tasks do call me, lord';
But though I'd ever borne him grudging, as with premature curmudging,
I'd never thought to know him trudging off towards foul Mordor.
Friend or foe or rival to the Stewardship of fair Gondor—
'Thorongil' he; I knew no more.
And the myst'ry, hard abiding, no clearer came from Gilly's biding
In his wheel, as if his soul in that damn wheel he'd outpour.
'Cursèd nuissance,' then I muttered, "cursèd nuissance like the other
Whose name I'd otherwise not utter but for you, you drat hamster—
As much trouble as that other who bore that name before.'
Paused the hamster by the door.
Startled by stillness unbidden I returned to see the hidden,
Darkling depths of that forbidden seeing stone of Númenor.
But caught in some unhappy vision of the Dark Lord's cruel mission
Suddenly, I felt a frisson from the sound hard by my door—
Yet again protesting metal, sound that pierced me to the core.
Ran the hamster, yea, once more.
But the hamster no more 'guiling me my time to waste awhiling,
Went I then and straight towards the many-tubèd cage and swore—
'Out with you, oh wretched hamling, ere I betake myself to thinking,
Inch for inch and ink for inkling, I'd take Thorongil from before,
Yea, that non-Rohirric wanderer that plagued me from before!
I mean it, Gilly!' So I swore.
So without I set the caging, bent upon my nerves assuaging,
And ignored the beady eyes that looked up now from on the floor.
Thus in peace I sat reclining, in my chamber there reclining
Before the palantír divining dark designs that Sauron gloated o'er,
Before the victory was shattered that I'd only lately gloated o'er,
For the sound renewed crept past my door.
Then, methought, I know the answer, 'tis the name that is a cancer:
'Thorongil's' not to be bestowed on any whom you'd not abhor.
'Wretch,' I cried, 'do not torment me! Of Thorongil I do repent me
And deny I ever meant thee to remind me of him evermore!
Yea, I swear it was a joke at his expense and nothing more!'
Crept the sound still past my door.
'Hamster!' said I, 'thing of evil! - cease your ceaseless running revel,
That my concentration devils, yea, even from the outside corridor;
Devils me with name 'Thorongil' that brings visions to my mind still
That I'd linger in until— Gagh! Stop this madness, I implore!
Such a little thing you seem, but stop your torment, I implore!'
Still the sound came past my door.
'Hamster!' said I, 'thing of evil! - that my stone-gazing bedevils,
Since you'd my reason lay to level with your squeaking wheel's roar —
Since you've destroyed my concentration, since you bear a prescient name, then
Tell me, shall I learn his name then, Thorongil's from of yore?
Shall I learn your namesake's true name, Gilly from Ye Olde Pet Store?'
Blithe ran Gilly all the more.
'I suppose 'tis not surprising, hamster,' I said then arising,
'That madness comes of your reprising tuneless squeaking in the corridor.'
Back I brought the hamster so queer, and thought of my son, Boromir,
Who for birthdays begs for brothers, being ignorant at age four.
Would he rather not a hamster, I thought, since he is but four?
Easier given than a brother...
And so Gilly, in my son's keeping, still runs squeaking, still runs squeaking
On the wretched wheel in his cage just as he did before.
And so in the palantír appearing (though the squeak's not in my hearing)
Still there comes the image leering, as I seek Thorongil as before,
Still through the glass there comes a vision of 'Thorongil' as before:
Of Gilly running evermore.
A/N: No hamsters or Stewards were (badly) harmed in the ripping off of this poem. Thanks to Stulti for the name "Gilly" and to Tay for her "Squeaky Wheel" drabble. Find them in "verse and adversity" and in the "Drabbles" forum, respectively.
Other tasks do call me, lord: Line barely modified from RoTK, Appendix A, "The Stewards", p. 417.
Link to The Raven.
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.