All that is Gold Does Not Glitter was a poem written by Bilbo Baggins to describe Aragorn, used to help convince Frodo and company to trust him in his guise as "Strider". Gandalf includes the poem in his letter to Frodo, which he leaves at The Prancing Pony for Barliman Butterbur to deliver. Aragorn recites the first two lines when he is attempting to get Frodo to trust him enough to journey with him. The poem reads:
- All that is gold does not glitter,
- Not all those who wander are lost;
- The old that is strong does not wither,
- Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
- From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
- A light from the shadows shall spring;
- Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
- The crownless again shall be king.
It is recited again by Bilbo at the Council of Elrond. He whispers to Frodo that he had written it many years before, when Aragorn first revealed who he was.
Early versions of the poem are recorded in The Treason of Isengard, part of The History of Middle-earth by Christopher Tolkien. The first draft of the poem, which at that stage of composition was the only content of Gandalf's letter, reads:
- All that is gold does not glitter;
- all that is long does not last;
- All that is old does not wither;
- not all that is over is past.
The second quatrain was added during the following revision:
- Not all that have fallen are vanquished;
- a king may yet be without crown,
- A blade that was broken be brandished;
- and towers that were strong may fall down.
The lines were changed in stages, with many experimental forms rejected. Christopher Tolkien also suggested that "the Sword that was Broken [Narsil] actually emerged from the verse 'All that is gold does not glitter': on this view, in [the last version cited above] the words a king may yet be without crown, A blade that was broken be brandished were no more than a further exemplification of the general moral."