Following the Great War (1914–1918), J.R.R. Tolkien edited the poetry collection A Spring Harvest (1918) by his close friend, Lieutenant Geoffrey Bache Smith (October 18, 1894 – December 3, 1916), who died of wounds from shrapnel while stationed on the Somme. According to John Garth, it was “one of the many slim, sad volumes of poetry published posthumously as a memorial of those who died in war.” A spring harvest is a barren harvest, but even at his young age, Smith left a number of stirring poems on life, death, and destiny that seem, in retrospect, to have prophesied his own brief lifetime and the sacrifices of his generation. The poems also illustrate several motifs and even phrases which Tolkien used in his own legendarium. This conference paper delivered at the 2021 Tolkien Symposium examines a few of Smith’s poems in the context of Tolkien’s work, and is derived from Kris Swank’s doctoral research at the University of Glasgow.



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