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Bagme bloma
English
Gothic
Manuscript

𐌱𐍂𐌿𐌽𐌰𐌹𐌼 𐌱𐌰𐌹𐍂𐌹𐌸 𐌱𐌰𐌹𐍂𐌺𐌰 𐌱𐍉𐌲𐌿𐌼
Brunaim bairiþ Bairka bogum
The birch bears fine
𐌻𐌰𐌿𐌱𐌰𐌽𐍃 𐌻𐌹𐌿𐌱𐌰𐌽𐍃 𐌻𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌴𐌹,
laubans liubans liudandei,
leaves on shining boughs,
𐌲𐌹𐌻𐍅𐌰𐌲𐍂𐍉𐌽𐌹, 𐌲𐌻𐌹𐍄𐌼𐌿𐌽𐌾𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌴𐌹,
gilwagroni, glitmunjandei,
it grows pale green and glittering,
𐌱𐌰𐌲𐌼𐌴 𐌱𐌻𐍉𐌼𐌰, 𐌱𐌻𐌰𐌿𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌴𐌹,
bagme bloma, blauandei,
the flower of the trees in bloom,
𐍆𐌰𐌲𐍂𐌰𐍆𐌰𐌷𐍃𐌰, 𐌻𐌹𐌸𐌿𐌻𐌹𐌽𐌸𐌹,
fagrafahsa, liþulinþi,
fair-haired and supple-limbed,
𐍆𐍂𐌰𐌿𐌾𐌹𐌽𐍉𐌽𐌳𐌴𐌹 𐍆𐌰𐌹𐍂𐌲𐌿𐌽𐌹.
fraujinondei fairguni.
the ruler of the mountain.



𐍅𐍉𐍀𐌾𐌰𐌽𐌳 𐍅𐌹𐌽𐌳𐍉𐍃, 𐍅𐌰𐌲𐌾𐌰𐌽𐌳 𐌻𐌹𐌽𐌳𐍉𐍃,
Wopjand windos, wagjand lindos,
The winds call, they shake gently,
𐌻𐌿𐍄𐌹𐌸 𐌻𐌹𐌼𐌰𐌼 𐌻𐌰𐌹𐌺𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌴𐌹;
lutiþ limam laikandei;
she bends her boughs low in sport;
𐍃𐌻𐌰𐌹𐌷𐍄𐌰, 𐍂𐌰𐌹𐌷𐍄𐌰, 𐍈𐌴𐌹𐍄𐌰𐍂𐌹𐌽𐌳𐌰,
slaihta, raihta, ƕeitarinda,
smooth, straight and white-barked,
𐍂𐌰𐌶𐌳𐌰 𐍂𐍉𐌳𐌴𐌹𐌸 𐍂𐌴𐌹𐍂𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌴𐌹,
razda rodeiþ reirandei,
trembling she speaks a language,
𐌱𐌰𐌽𐌳𐍅𐌰 𐌱𐌰𐌹𐍂𐌷𐍄𐌰, 𐍂𐌿𐌽𐌰 𐌲𐍉𐌳𐌰,
bandwa bairhta, runa goda,
a bright token, a good mystery,
𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌳𐌰 𐌼𐌴𐌹𐌽𐌰 𐌸𐌹𐌿𐌸𐌾𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌴𐌹.
þiuda meina þiuþjandei.
blessing my people.



𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌰𐌽𐌰𐌷𐍄𐌹 𐌼𐌹𐌻𐌷𐌼𐌰𐌼 𐌽𐌴𐌹𐍀𐌹𐌸,
Andanahti milhmam neipiþ,
Evening grows dark with clouds,
𐌻𐌹𐌿𐌷𐍄𐌴𐌹𐌸 𐌻𐌹𐌿𐌷𐌼𐌰𐌼 𐌻𐌰𐌿𐌷𐌼𐌿𐌽𐌹;
liuhteiþ liuhmam lauhmuni;
the lightning flashes,
𐌻𐌰𐌿𐌱𐍉𐍃 𐌻𐌹𐌿𐌱𐌰𐌹 𐍆𐌻𐌹𐌿𐌲𐌰𐌽𐌳 𐌻𐌰𐌿𐍃𐌰𐌹,
laubos liubai fliugand lausai,
the fine leaves fly free,
𐍄𐌿𐌻𐌲𐌿𐍃, 𐍄𐍂𐌹𐌲𐌲𐍅𐌰, 𐍃𐍄𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌰𐌽𐌳𐌴𐌹.
tulgus, triggwa, standandei.
but firm and faithful
𐌱𐌰𐌹𐍂𐌺𐌰 𐌱𐌰𐌶𐌰 𐌱𐌴𐌹𐌳𐌹𐌸 𐌱𐌻𐌰𐌹𐌺𐌰
Bairka baza beidiþ blaika
the white birch stands bare and waits,
𐍆𐍂𐌰𐌿𐌾𐌹𐌽𐍉𐌽𐌳𐌴𐌹 𐍆𐌰𐌹𐍂𐌲𐌿𐌽𐌹.
fraujinondei fairguni.
ruling the mountain.

Commentary
Bagme Bloma “Flower of the trees” is a poem composed by J. R. R. Tolkien and included in a collection called Songs of the Philologists. It is a scholars’ amusement made of comical verse – satirical poems, famous tunes, drinking songs – composed or translated in early Germanic languages. It was published privately in 1936 for Tolkien and his colleague and friend E. V. Gordon. A few have been published in T. A. Shippey’s critical essay The Road to Middle-earth, including this one, with a translation supplied by Rhona Beare. It is intended to be sung to the tune of O Lazy Sheep!

The poem is in a reconstitution of Gothic rather than in Gothic properly, for it includes many words unknown in this language because of its limited attestation, but that Tolkien plausibly reconstructed after the corresponding words in the other Germanic languages. Tolkien’s close association with Old English is sometimes mirrored in the semantics: for instance the word *bogus (no pun intended!) used in the first line (in the dative plural) has the sens of “bough” (Old English bóg) which is specific to English; this word is found in other Germanic languages but there rather means “shoulder”: Old High German buog (Modern German Bug “prow, shoulder, chuck”), Old Norse bógr “shoulder”.

The English translation is Rhona Beare’s interpretation of the poem.

The value of the spellings ai and au is debated: some scholars consider that everywhere they denote open varieties of e and o, long or short, while others assign them at times these values, at times the value of diphthongs, on etymological criteria. The first of these positions has been adopted here.

The text is transcribed in the Gothic alphabet invented by Wulfila. We made use of George Douros’ typeface Analecta.

References
Shippey, Thomas Alan. The Road to Middle-earth: How J. R. R. Tolkien created a new mythology. London: Grafton, 1992. 337 p. ISBN 0-261-10275-3.
Thöny, Luzius. Bagme Bloma by J. R. R. Tolkien: Grammatische Analyse. 🌍 Swanrād.

The works of John Ronald Reuel and Christopher Tolkien are under the copyright of their authors and/or rights holders, including their publishers and the Tolkien Estate.
Quotations from other authors, editors and translators mentioned in the bibliography are under the copyright of their publishers, except for those whose copyright term has ended.
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