Crown and Bough

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Happy Birthday, Professor

I read "Leaf by Niggle" for the first time about six weeks ago.  It was one of my last as it was hard to find, but I picked it up in a little 1975 collection that includes Tree and Leaf in a charity shop (nice to be in Britain for things like that!), and it was an easy and quick read.  It's one of Tolkien's simpler, straightforward tales, and his insight into us humans as silly little people doing silly little things that can--by fortunate accident or divine providence?--be beautiful and meaningful.  I knew what it was about as I had read Joseph Pearce's thorough and highly commendable biography.  But it was good to read it and absorb it for myself.  I cannot do it any more justice than to quote it here:


'Niggle's Picture!' said Parish in astonishment.  'Did you think of all this, Niggle?  I never knew you were so clever.  Why didn't you tell me?'

'He tried to tell you long ago,' said the man, 'but you would not look.  He had only got canvas and paint in those days, and you wanted to mend your roof with them.  This is what you and your wife called Niggle's Nonsense, or That Daubing.'

'But it did not look like this then, not real,' said Parish.

'No, it was only a glimpse then,' said the man; 'but you might have caught the glimpse, if you had ever thought it worthwhile to try.'


Happy birthday, Professor.  Thank you for sharing your little tree with us.

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