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Much Interest in Poetry Competition

posted Sep 10, 2011, 1:32 PM by Peppy Bristlebrush   [ updated Sep 10, 2011, 1:49 PM ]
By Tibba Stoutfoot 

On the first thursday in September, a poetry competition organised by Miss Jadite Bumblefoot took place at the Methel Stage in Bywater. Interest in the competition had been high ever since the first announcement, and the nine available places in the competition had filled up in record time. The topic for the competition was "Home", and everyone was looking forward to hearing the contestants' poems about something so dear to a hobbit's heart. The identity of the judges was kept a closely guarded secret; for the longest time, rumour put Master Simbo in that position, until he mentioned that he was going to be one of the contestants. After that, speculations ran wild, but not a single name could be heard to pass Miss Jadite's lips, no matter how high the bribe. (It is said that not even Barmy could sway her with his finest ale!)

At the evening of the contest, the roads leading to Bywater and the Methel Stage were packed with people walking to the contest in high spirits. They were all looking forward to an evening of grand entertainment, and they were not disappointed. Nine poets, most of the Shire, some from Buckland and beyond, and even one elf, had come and brought their best poems with them. When Miss Jadite started the evening with the introduction of the judges, everyone went silent. The first judge was revealed to be none other than Miss Primmrose and she was cheered by all. The second name came as a surprise to many: The Shirriff of Bramblebury, Miss Nimelia, had agreed to act as judge as well, and she too received a lot of cheers. Miss Jadite took the judges to the back of the stage for some last-minute instructions (unfortunately, we could not get close enough to hear what was said), and then they came back and the contest started.

The first poet to go up on the stage was Miss Amorey, whose poem "Once Upon A Hobbit Lullaby" about the adventures of Master Bilbo Baggins moved the hearts of all. Some of the audience still remembered Master Baggins telling his tales, and the poem brought a fond smile to their lips. Miss Amorey, very well known for her lovely songs and beautiful voice, showed equal talent for declamation and gave a very expressive presentation, which was well received by the audience, and many an enthusiastic 'Bravo!' and 'Lovely' was shouted.
Next came Master Benevolent with the poem "Autumn Falls", which he said was told to him by a passing elf. And indeed the poem had an elvish air to it, and as Master Benevolent spoke of the passing of autumn on this mild summer evening, for a moment it was as if one could feel a cold wind, and smell the promise of snow in the air. A poem about love, full of beauty, and yet full of sadness and grief for all things that pass. As the last words drifted away on the breeze, silence reigned for a moment. And then the spell was broken, and the audience cheered Master Benevolent for his excellent recitation.
Master Lingard was called on the stage next, and the first verse of his poem "Homeless" made us remember old tales from childhood, of long-past times, when hobbits were still wandering and looking for a land of their own. Homeless then, yet rich in other things we now have forgotten. A few smiles were seen on the faces of the avidly listening Shire hobbits at the mention of settling down in the second verse, but faded as the verse lamented the things that were given up. The smiles came back with the third verse, which spoke of regaining what was once lost, and making the world one's home. Although the talk of leaving the Shire had made some of the elder hobbits look a bit uncertain, all agreed that Master Lingard's poem and presentation had been lovely, and he received enthusiastic applause and many cheers.
The fourth poet to step up was Miss Cloves. Her poem was titled "Hairy Feet" and turned out to be a most amusing story about a lass who only wants to marry a lad with the finest of foot hair, and is proposed to by a lad with nearly bare feet. His tale on how it came about that there was hardly any hair on his feet brought tears of laughter to many hobbits in the audience, as the poor lad stumbled from mishap to mishap, losing more and more of his once beautiful foot hair as he went. It is no wonder then that the lass in the poem was wooed by his wit and charm and married him, and everyone cheered mightly at this happy end, and at Miss Cloves for this well-written and witty poem.
The last poet to climb the stairs to the stage before the break was intended to be Miss Miralith. Alas, she had been detained, so in her stead her uncle, Master Matzo, went forward. His standing on the stage caused quite a stir among the spectators, as Master Matzo, a regular of the Green Dragon who likes to eat his pie and drink his ale in peace and is not shy about telling people when they disturb his quiet, had never struck anyone to be of the sensitive disposition so often found in poets. So eyebrows were raised and astounished whispers could be heard. Master Matzo excused his niece, in a fashion, held up a piece of paper she had given to him, and started to read the poem titled "My Home onna Hill". Alas, we will never hear more of it than that, as Master Matzo read the rest silently, frowned, and did away with the paper. Instead, he treated us to a poem he made up on the spot. It told of the building of his burrow, which he had begun by himself, but which was completed by other hands while he slept, although not quite to his plans and in a most peculiar fashion. By his description, his burrow must be the most extraordinary in all the Southfarthing, and the audience grew more and more curious to know who might have done this labour, which obviously was not of malicious intent, but only due to a basic misunderstanding of where things should rightfully be placed. You can imagine the chuckles when it turned out that Master Matzo's young nieces had come for a visit and had decided to 'help out', and the gales of laughter when he ended the poem with their announcement that they would move in with him. The poem earned Master Matzo a lot of cheers, and a few teases afterwards about his rough exterior hiding a heart of gold.

In the break following Master Matzo's poem, pie and ale was served, much to the pleasure of poets and audience alike, and Miss Primmrose entertained the crowd with her music. So all felt much refreshed and ready for the second half when Miss Jadite announced the next poet, who was none other than our well-known Shire poet, Master Simbo. His "Ode to an Abode" depicted a sight well-known to all hobbits, the interior of a burrow (well, perhaps not one decorated by Master Matzo's nieces). His description of the entrance hall with its clothes rack and welcome mat, the lovingly decorated passage to the interior, and the living room with its table and bookshelves, the fireplace waiting to be lit, instantly brought fond smiles to the faces of the audience. But a burrow needs more than just decoration, as Master Simbo so aptly reminded us. His closing line "The Hobbit is what makes a burrow home" was rewarded with instant applause and long cheering.
The next contestant came as a surprise, as he was not a hobbit but an elf, who introduced himself as Taramthir. He brought us a poem written by one of his kin, Gilandros, who sadly could not be present this evening. Master Taramthir explained that the poem told a story of where his people, the Eldar, began and what they had become. His poem took us far far back in time, when even the sun and moon had not yet awoken. In wonder did the hobbits listen as the tale unfolded, of peace under the trees broken by a terrible evil, and a war, won but at a high price, and a never-ending vigilance ever since. A shiver passed through one or the other of the audience at the words, as the poem gave a glimpse into a world so different from our Shire, and so hard and cold and lonely. Still, the poem earned loud clapping and cheers from the audience, and many an admiring comment about elven poetry.
The next to last poet to present his work was Master Hamsgard. His poem was called "Home and Heart", a short and sweet albeit very sad poem about a hobbit who was too restless to settle down and had lost his heart to a lass who loved another. This poem brought a tear to more than one eye, and exclamations of "Awww" and "how sad" mingled with the applause when the poem had ended. Master Hamsgard himself looked a bit pale as he resumed his seat, and some hobbits moved closer to him to give him some comfort, as it was clear that the poem was very close to his heart and its recitation had cost him a lot.
The mood was lifted again as Miss Ksys was called by Miss Jadite. She was the last poet of the evening, with her poem "Secrets Nearly Told". In this poem, she mercilessly teased her audience with hints and rumours, none of which she disclosed. With the final verse, she even announced that she had a crush on someone, but refused to give a name! With a mischievious glint in her eyes, she took her bows among the cheers and applause, leaving her audience to wonder and pepper her with questions as soon as she was off stage. But she evaded all questions very skillfully, much to the dismay of the curious crowd of hobbits surrounding her.

But then all attention was focused back on the stage as Miss Jadite called the two judges to her, and the three of them, Miss Jadite, Miss Primmrose, and Miss Nimelia, retired to the back of the stage to decide on the three winners of the contest. Again, ears were pricked, but not a single word could be overheard. The deliberations went on for some time, clearly it had been very hard to choose among all the poems that had been presented at this evening, each one lovely and a masterpiece in itself. Finally, when the crowd was already getting restless, the three judges broke away and Nimelia stepped up to the front of the stage. She explained what all had already suspected, that it had been very hard to choose, and continued to say that the only thing that had made it a bit easier for the judges was the fact that not all poems had, in fact, kept close to the given topic of home. She then proceeded to announce the winner of the third prize, which was Miss Cloves with her hilarious poem "Hairy Feet". She received a lovely vase of flowers, an impressive trophy fish, and ten mathoms as her prize, and a loud round of applause and a lot of cheers from the audience.
Next Miss Primmrose stepped forward and announced the winner of the second prize, a most surprised-looking Master Matzo. He grumbled under his breath as he went up to receive his reward, but a glint in his eye as he stepped through the frantically clapping and cheering crowd reveiled that he was secretly pleased. His prize was another vase of beautiful flowers, a glittering goldfish trophy, a pouch of Old Toby pipeweed, and fifteen mathoms. (Unfortunately, to the time of writing this article we did not find out whether Master Matzo had allowed his nieces a hand in placing the decorations in his burrow.)
Finally, Miss Jadite herself announced the winner of the poetry contest, and it was none other than Master Simbo! After a slight delay (our well-known poet, equally well known as a pie connoisseur, had just seen pies being handed out as the announcement was made), Master Simbo was pushed into the direction of the stage, still munching on a mouthful of pie. Up rose a cheer as he went up to accept his prize and his title of "Summertime Bard", and there seemed to be no end to the clapping.

It had been a grand evening, entertainment at its best, and congratulations to the winners of the contest! Congratulations too to the six other poets who did not win a prize. All of you won the hearts and appreciation of your audience, and that is what counts. We also want to thank Miss Jadite for coming up with the idea of the contest, and for organising the whole evening. You gave us an evening we will long remember. And last but not least, we want to thank everyone who participated and made the evening fun for all. You all deserve our thanks, for after all,

As the hobbit lends the burrow its air,
so do you all give the Shire its flair!