From "Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon" (2003) by Brian Rosebury

This text is reproduced exclusively for the purposes of discussion on The One

[page 40] 

‘Fair lady!’ said Frodo ... ‘Tell me, if my asking does not seem foolish, who is Tom Bombadil?’

He is’, said Goldberry, staying her movements and smiling.

Frodo looked at her questioningly. ‘He is, as you have seen him’, she said in answer to his look. ‘He is the Master of wood, water and hill.’

‘Then all this strange land belongs to him?’

‘No indeed!’ she answered, and her smile faded. ‘That would indeed be a heavy burden’, she added in a low voice, as if to herself. ‘The trees
and grasses and all things growing or living in the land belong each to themselves. Tom Bombadil is the Master. No one has ever caught old
Tom walking in the forest, wading in the water, leaping on the hill-tops under light and shadow.
He has no fear. Tom Bombadil is master.’
(FR, 135)