Tolkien speaks, we listen
Three weeks later, on March 30, 2005 during the House of Tom Bombadil discussion, N.E. Brigand replied with a loud “Psst” to one of dna’s posts on another topic.
Psst. (Revisiting Bombadil's Visit to Maggot)
It will depend on how canonical we take Letters to be, but Tolkien said we were both wrong: Bombadil's visit to Maggot, in the poem, "Bombadil Goes Boating," occurred neither on the night Frodo met Gildor, nor the next night after Maggot took Frodo to the Ferry, but before Frodo even set out. I found that and other notes on the poem in Letter 240 to Pauline Gasch (Baynes), dated 1 August 1962:
"In the poems as now to be published Tom appears (in line 4 of the first poem) with a 'swan-wing feather:' to increase the riverishness, and to allow for the incident in the second poem, the gift of a blue feather by the king's fisher. That incident also explains the blue feather of the L.R. Poem one is evidently, as said in the introduction, a hobbit-version of things long before the days of the L.R. But the second poem refers to the days of growing shadow, before Frodo set out (as the consultation with Maggot shows: c.f. L.R. I p 143).2 When therefore Tom appears in the L.R. he is wearing a blue feather. . . .
"I found that the bird's name did not mean, as I had supposed, 'a King that fishes.' It was originally the king's fisher. That links the swan (traditionally the property of the King) with the fisher-bird; explains both their rivalry, and their special friendship with Tom: they were creatures who looked for the return of their rightful Lord, the true King.
"Do not be put off by this sort of thing unless it affects the picture! The inwardly seen picture is to me the most important. I look forward to your interpretation. The donnish detail is just a private pleasure which I do not expect anyone to notice. (E.g. the hanging up of a kingfisher to see the way of the wind, which comes from Sir T. Browne3; the otter's whisker sticking out of the gold, from the Norse Nibelung legends4; and the three places for gossip, smithy, mill, and cheaping (market), from a mediaeval instructive work that I have been editing!5)"
Notes from Letters (note 1, omitted, precedes excerpted text)
"2. 'He made no secret that he owed his recent knowledge to Farmer Maggot, whom he seemed to regard as a person of more importance than they had imagined.'
3. Sir Thomas Browne, Vulgar Erros, III Chapter 10 'That a Kingfisher, hanged by the bill, showeth where the wind lay.'
4. '"Your mother if she saw you, / she'd never know her son, unless 'twas by a whisker."' (The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, p. 19.) Cf.: 'The Aesir handed over the treasure to Hreidmar, stuffed the otterskin full and set it on its feet. Then the Aesir had to pile the gold alongside and cover it up. When that was completed, Hreidmar went up and saw a single wishker, and told them to cover that.' (Völsungasaga, Chapter 14; translation by R.G. Finch.)
5. '"queer tales from Bree, and talk at smithy, mill, and cheaping."' (The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, p. 21.) Cf.: 'From mulne ant from chepinge, from smiththe ant from ancre hus me tidinge bringeth.' ('From mill and from market, from smithy and from anchor-house one hears the news.') (Ancrene Wisse, edited by J.R.R. Tolkien, Early English Text Society, 1962, p.48; translation from The Ancrene Riwle by M.B. Salu, Burns and Oates, 1955, p. 39.)"