I've been reading The Fellowship of the Ring. First impressions of Tolkien's prose is that it is as immersive as the world of Middle Earth itself.
Additionally, like in The Hobbit, his fondness for verse is present. It is tempting to rush through these lines of verse in these books. Yet I find even this innocuous one provoking.
The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Speak aloud the first line. Notice the rhythm is said aloud like the pace of a steady strut.
Down from the door - Because its origin is in his own door, this suggests the road has always been there for him to take, or always waiting for him.
Now far ahead the road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
This road has grown since he last took it. If that seems impossible, that is because Bilbo is now well advanced in age. Travelling this road will be even harder than before.
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And wither then? I cannot say
He is facing an unknown future, 'where many paths and errands meet', where he will be faced with many choices, which is surely what you have when a path meets an errand.
But the phrases 'larger way' and 'wither then?' betrays a sense of foreboding, that final ultimacy, when we meet eternity in death. Bilbo is setting out to face an unknown future. Anything could happen, even his end, but he fully accepts the path as his. Remember, it begins from his own door.
I initially thought this was an innocent verse setting up Bilbo's journey from Hobbiton. Then I felt compelled to revisit it; that's when the above thoughts emerged. There are always greater things lurking in the depths...