From book 1, Chapter 8, of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien:

"There you'll find an old inn that is called The Prancing Pony. Barliman Butterbur is the worthy keeper. There you can stay the night, and afterwards the morning will speed you upon your way."

What's the meaning of the phrase in bold?

1 Answer 1


The word ‘speed’ is used here in an archaic sense, but one that you should be easily able to find in a dictionary, for example:

speed, v. 6.a. To further or assist (a person); to cause to succeed or prosper

Oxford English Dictionary

Today this sense mostly survives in stock phrases like ‘God speed’, meaning ‘(may) God assist (you)’.

When Bombadil suggests that ‘the morning will speed you’ what he means is that the hobbits will find it easier to continue on their journey in the morning, when it is light. The attribution of this assistance to the ‘morning’ is a kind of (mild) personification. This is in character for Bombadil, who is prone to speaking of natural objects as if persons, for example,

“Sun won’t show her face much today, I’m thinking.”

J. R. R. Tolkien (1954). The Fellowship of the Ring, book I, chapter 7. London: George Allen & Unwin.

  • Don't lots of people refer to the Sun and Moon with genders in LotR, not just Bombadil? I even remember a parenthetical somewhere about how the genders assigned by Hobbits to the Sun and Moon are the opposite of those assigned by Men.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Mar 14, 2020 at 15:50
  • @Randal'Thor: That might make a good question for Literature.SE. Mar 14, 2020 at 16:00
  • Footnote to the song about the "merry old inn" in the Prancing Pony chapter: "Elves (and Hobbits) always refer to the Sun as She". This is accounted for in The Silmarillion, as a matter of fact, in the legend of the creation of the Sun and Moon, in which a male Maia (an angel of sorts) is given the task of steering the boat that carries the Moon and a female Maia the Sun.
    – A. B.
    Jul 5, 2020 at 2:13

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