John Ronald Reuel Tolkien

(3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973 / Orange Free State)

All Woods Must Fail

The text of this poem could not be published because of Copyright laws.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Oxford University Press HarperCollins Houghton Mifflin   Christopher Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's Other Poems

  • All That is Gold Does Not Glit
  • I Sit and Think
  • One Ring
  • Journey's End
  • Cat
  • Bilbo's Last Song (At the Grey
  • Gil-galad
Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.


Read poems about / on: despair, sun, dark, rose

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (All Woods Must Fail by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien )

  • Rookie - 7 Points Sylva Portoian (2/22/2010 3:16:00 AM)

    All woods must fail,
    I understood in a different way-
    That everyone will die,
    No one forever can stay! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Sara S (11/27/2009 1:32:00 PM)

    micheal hockenbarger- don; t know about the allegory stuff but this poem was not 'uttered by an elf leaving middle earth' it was said by frodo in the Old Forest. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Sheaffer (4/24/2009 9:30:00 AM)

    In Tolkien's own words:

    'Other arrangements could be devised according to the tastes or views of those who like allegory or topical reference. But I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers. I think that many confuse 'applicability' with 'allegory'; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.
    An author cannot of course remain wholly unaffected by his experience, but the ways in which a story-germ uses the soil of experience are extremely complex, and attempts to define the process are at best guesses from evidence that is inadequate and ambiguous.'

    You confuse applicability with allegory. Please stop doing that. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Sheaffer (4/23/2009 7:48:00 PM)

    Michael Hockenbarger:
    You have a gross misunderstanding of the definition of an allegory.

    It is true that Tolkien is not an allegorical writer. He said so himself. But it aggravates me that so many people have misinterpreted this statement. So many people like you make uneducated comments like this, bashing those who claim to find some bit of symbolism or meaning in Tolkien’s work.
    From, an allegory is:
    “1. A figurative sentence or discourse, in which the principal subject is described by another subject resembling it in its properties and circumstances. The real subject is thus kept out of view, and we are left to collect the intentions of the writer or speaker by the resemblance of the secondary to the primary subject.”

    Allegories employ multiple metaphors or symbols that each correlate a particular part in another well-know piece of literature, historical event, person, etc.

    For an example, read Animal Farm by George Orwell. Individually, the characters represent different historical figures. Collectively they are an allegory for the Socialist Revolution in Russia under the Stalin regime.

    For an example of something that is NOT allegory, read Crime and Punishment. The character Sonia is a Christ-figure. However, the novel is NOT allegorical of the Bible or anything else. It just happens to have a symbol in it. Just because a piece of work employs, metaphors, symbols, or has real-life relevance, it is NOT AN ALLEGORY! ! !

    This poem by Tolkien has significance within the context of his work. It also happens to have pertinence in our world. Each of us are the wanderers. The “woods” in this poem, as I interpret it, represent all the troubles and darkness in life. He calls them “a shadowed land.” The underlying message is that in the end, all our troubles will pass away and all the horrors of life must come to an end. Nothing is as bad as it seems, don’t take your troubles too seriously because things will get better. I take this from where he says “Despair not! ”

    There are obviously many interpretations for any give poem, some literal, some more intuitive such as mine.

    So basically, Tolkien’s work CAN be applied to our life. THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT ALLEGORY! Stop spreading this lie. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Qalame-Tire Misterres of Death Nat. Norville (5/1/2008 8:27:00 AM)

    This poem is true because so many woods do fail. It does not matter that the poem came from one of Tolkien's works. It might have been written in a fictional world but can be used in this world in this time frame. It is a lovely peace of work. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Hockenbarger (8/28/2007 10:50:00 AM)

    You dig too deep. Poem uttered by an elf when leaving Middle Earth. Tolkien was not an allegorical writer. He wrote fiction to be exactly that: Fiction. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Eluin Estel (4/3/2005 10:33:00 AM)

    Why exactly? I thought he was against industry taking over... (Report) Reply

Read all 7 comments »

Famous Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  3. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  4. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  8. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  10. A Dream Within A Dream
    Edgar Allan Poe
Trending Poets
Trending Poems
  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  3. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  4. The Rose that Grew from Concrete, Tupac Shakur
  5. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  6. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  7. Daffodils, William Wordsworth
  8. As I Grew Older, Langston Hughes
  9. Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
  10. Dreams, Langston Hughes
[Hata Bildir]