This phrase is taken from The Fellowship of the Ring, book II, chapter 1, page 265 (emphasis added):

"You needn't," said Bilbo. "As a matter of fact it was all mine. Except that Aragorn insisted on my putting in a green stone. He seemed to think it important. I don't know why. Otherwise he obviously thought the whole thing rather above my head, and he said that if I had the cheek to make verses about Eärendil in the house of Elrond, it was my affair. I suppose he was right."

Why does Bilbo say that Aragorn thought the whole thing rather above his head?

  • 1
    Again, are you looking for just the meaning of the English phrase "above my head", or asking why the whole thing was considered above his head in this context?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 4, 2020 at 17:52
  • @Randal'Thor why was the whole thing considered above his head?
    – S E
    Jul 4, 2020 at 19:13
  • @Randal'Thor because our languages are different,we have different ways to say sentences and these sentences have their specifications. I think that Tolkien has used special structure to say these phrases and it may be difficult for a foreigner(non-native) like me to know them.
    – S E
    Jul 4, 2020 at 19:18
  • OK, I've edited to clarify what you're asking, as well as giving a title that actually describes the question, and providing more context for the quote. By the way, your other question could probably be incorporated into this one, since both questions are about interrelated parts of the same sentence in the same book.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 5, 2020 at 4:00
  • @Randal'Thor Thanks for editing and clarifying my question
    – S E
    Jul 5, 2020 at 4:09

1 Answer 1


This conversation between Bilbo and Frodo follows after Bilbo recites his own poem about Earendil the Mariner. Poetry played a big role in the history of Middle Earth; it was created through what was described as 'holy music', and The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings contain many old poems about historical events. Poetry was held in high regard by the elves, and Aragorn ('he' in your quote), being a regular guest in Rivendell for hundreds of years, knew this. An attempt by a mere mortal like Bilbo to compose a poem not about Hobbit history, but about one of the defining events of the First Age, surely is out of the ordinary. 'Above my head' is one of the ways to express that in English ('out of my league' would be another idiomatic one).

  • 2
    Plus, of course, it was about the father of his host.
    – Mary
    Jul 4, 2020 at 22:22
  • 1
    "Aragorn, ..., being a regular guest in Rivendell for hundreds of years": I thought Aragorn was in his eighties at the time of these events.
    – Tsundoku
    Jul 11, 2020 at 23:55
  • @Tsundoku: ah, forgive Glorfindel... it must be difficult keeping straight which Dúnadan they're hosting at a given time. At least he's not as rude about it as Lindir! :-)
    – user570286
    Sep 4, 2022 at 9:20

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