When the Thrush Knocks


Artwork for The Hobbit Card Game; Sophisticated Games, Cambridge UK 2012. All works gouache on board, 3 ¾” x 5 ¾”

“Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durin’s Day will shine upon the key-hole.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

“Thrushes are large speckled brown birds with a special fondness for snails, whose shells they remove by breaking them against stones. The thrush that Bilbo Baggins and the Dwarves encountered on the Lonely Mountain was unusually large and nearly black with dark spots on its pale yellow breast.[1] Thorin stated that it was a member of an ancient breed, long lived and magical.[2]

In T.A. 2941[3] the thrush on the Lonely Mountain was instrumental in the downfall of Smaug. On Thrór’s Map, the Moon-letters instructions said to “Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks” on Durin’s Day to see the magic key-hole.[4] Sure enough, when Durin’s Day arrived this thrush knocked a snail on the grey stone in the small rocky alcove on the Mountain, which alerted the company to watch for the appearance of the keyhole and secret door.[1]

-From the Tolkien Gateway – read more of the entry here…

Various Tolkien scholars have different ideas about the significance of the Thrush in Tolkien’s work.  What do you think?  Let us know by replying below!

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