Poppy’s song in episode 5 of The Rings of Power, during the Harfoots’ migratory walk along the fantastical landscapes, harkens back to some good old Tolkien wisdom. Here are all the connections it bears with the previous LOTR works.
The live-action adaptations of the vast and abundant works of J.R.R. Tolkien have all succeeded in one undisputed territory so far — world-building.
Be it Peter Jackson’s LOTR and The Hobbit trilogies or the ongoing Prime Video’s The Rings of Power, the imaginatively opulent world of fantasy that Tolkien created, has been portrayed with excellent dexterity every time.
Aided by huge budgets each time, the films and shows adapting Tolkien’s works have done a great job bringing the fantasy to life, with all the grandeur and magic within it.
However, instilling the movie magic to convey actual magic and mystique involves a great number of filmmaking elements. One of these elements, used with a higher degree of success in LOTR, The Hobbit, and now Rings of Power, is music.
Bear McCreary has been on a roll with The Rings of Power’s themes so far. The latest piece of music comes in a form of a song called “This Wandering Day”.
Poppy Proudfellow’s “Mom’s Walking Song”
During the great migration that the Harfoots have embarked on, Poppy Proudfellow, a close friend of Nori and her family, belts out a song befitting of all that transpires in the scene.
It’s the song that her mom used to sing, and now Poppy keeps the tradition alive by singing it herself. Truly Tolkien-like, Poppy’s song is a reminder of the nomadic nature of the Harfoot way of life.
It’s also a reminder of how despite their nomadic nature, they’re not wandering souls that are lost. No, they’re wandering spirits with their paths set to the next patch of land they’ll call their abode, albeit for a transient period.
A song for all stories
Poppy’s song befits not only the Harfoots and their way of life but also almost all the other storylines going on right now in The Rings of Power.
Númenoreans have sailed off to the Southlands with Galadriel. The enemy, purpose, and the truth of the lands they have sailed off for are shrouded in ambiguity and likely peril.
While the Númenoreans heading out to a place where peril exists may think they’re lost, the song is a reassurance that wondering and wandering while on a journey for good never constitutes being lost.
Similarly, the song also applies to the aimless and doubtful Halbrand, who has finally decided and taken off on a journey to a destination he knows little of.
An ode to Tolkien
Poppy’s song also carries within it, a crucial and immediate reference to Tolkien’s works. The last lines of the song are an inspiration from LOTR.
In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the King, Gandalf writes a letter to Frodo, and in it, is a poem containing two lines, one of which goes “Not all those who wander are lost”.
Poppy’s song’s “That not all who wonder or wander are lost” line is an evident homage to the poem in LOTR, also opening up doors for interpretation regarding Gandalf’s letter.
One can surmise that Gandalf knew of the line from thousands of years ago when he heard it from the Harfoots — the ancestors of hobbits. This speculation finds firmer footing when one considers the Stranger in The Rings of Power to be the Maiar wizard.
Anyway, the reference does impart some form of continuity and it’s always great to see some callbacks to the other Tolkien works.