01 April 2016

Who is Tom Bombadil

 © Alan Lee
Few questions in all of Tolkien scholarship have proved more vexing than the identity and nature of Tom Bombadil. Is he an elf? Is he a Vala or Maia? Is he Eru Ilúvatar, God himself, come down to Middle-earth? Long has the answer eluded both scholars and fans, leading them to despair of ever solving this riddle. Careful scrutiny, however, of the many clues within the text will repay our efforts. Careful, I say, but not too much so. It's a corner of the eye sort of thing, best explained through brief points rapidly made:

  • Tom repeatedly suggests the importance of the color blue.
  • Tom speaks the languages of birds and beasts.
  • Tom has been around forever.
  • For Tom Time has no meaning.
  • Tom can take people on journeys through time.
  • Tom has been known in many different guises.
  • Tom has a house which evil cannot penetrate.
  • Tom dances.
  • For Tom Song is all important.
  • Tom finds distance no hindrance.
  • Tom runs a lot.
  • Tom saves people from monsters.
  • Tom is a bit of a madman.
  • Tom's initials are TB.

Tom is the Doctor.

Finally, for those who might hold these truths not to be self-evident, consider the following irrefutable points. The name of the Doctor's wife, River Song, is the result of a difficulty translating her true name, Melody Pond. Since Amy Pond (of blessed memory) is Melody's mother, then her name may also be translated as River. Who is Tom's wife, Goldberry, but 'the River-woman's daughter'? And what is Tom's frequent refrain about her but 'Goldberry is waiting'? Thus she, too, waits, like her mother, Amy Pond (of blessed memory), 'the girl who waited.'

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