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The Little House of Lost Play Poem, Interpretations?


Registered User
Mar 17, 2013
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Hi all,

I haven't read the Book(s) of Lost Tales yet, but I came across the poem 'The Little House of Lost Play' from BOLT 1 online the other day. It captivated me and I really like it as a poem, but I'm not sure I wholly understand what it means.

Here's a link to it, as posting it exceeds the character limit -
http://valarguild.org/varda/Tolkien/encyc/articles/t/Tolkien/TolkiensWork/The_Little House_of_Lost_Play.htm

I'd like to hear your interpretations on what you think it means, both the words of the poem themselves and what Tolkien was trying to say by them. As far as I can see, the poem is about the memories of a person whom used to visit a dream-world with a friend, but perhaps does not do so any more. They used to tread many paths in the dream world, and would come across a little cottage. Within the cottage they would see lots of other children, but could not understand them for they were in a different dream, as it were. However, I'm not sure what this means and what to think about it. Perhaps I've utterly missed the point of the poem, but hey.

So, what do you think about the meaning of the poem? Take a read.


Registered User
Jan 9, 2003
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Toronto, Canada
You appear to have properly interpreted Tolkien’s poem “The Little House of Lost Play”.

The concept is that children of Men can through dreams visit the Lonely Isle in the west by Valinor, and play in their dreams in a cottage and its environs which have been set aside for children who come there in dreams. The language of the other children which the two protagonists do not understand would be Elvish, I believe. The two children may have been originally intended to be J. R. R. Tolkien (the fair child) and Edith Mary Bratt (the dark child) whom Tolkien married.

The conceit of the poem may be that Tolkien originally met his future bride in dreams when they were young children and later rediscovered one another when they were almost adults, after they had become too old for these dreams.

The poem is referred to in “The Cottage of Lost Play” , chapter I of The Book of Lost Tales, p. 19, as “a song among Men” .

Tolkien later rejected a concept so twee from his legendarium. Tolkien, in 1971, remarked on his poem “Goblin Feet”  (see http://ladyaleta.com/aleta/tolkien.htm ) written about the same time: “I wish the unhappy little thing, representing all that I came (so soon after) to fervently dislike, could be buried forever.” 

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