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The Bear and the Maiden Fair: An Interpretation

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I searched the forums and read several threads discussing this song.

It is prominently featured in SoS.

Common theory is that it links several relationships:




The first mention is intermittently woven as a song by the fool Butterbumps in the chapter where the Tyrells dine with Sansa to discuss Joffrey.

In that chapter, upon reading it... my direct thought reference was that it was a link between Sansa (maiden fair) and Willas (bear), since she called for a knight (Ser Loras) but that wasn't the Tyrell that was to be paired with her for marriage.

If all lines in the song "hold weight", then I don't believe we can overlook any without a sound matching of words.

The pairs above are nice in their own... but they don't factor in four others:





And down the road from here to there from here, to there three boys, a goat and a dancing bear they danced and spun all the way to the fair!

Another theory popped into my head while reading and I decided to explore it (via forum thread).

I started here

1. Ashara Dayne as "maid with honey in hair". Ashara is a beautiful woman, yes.

And "honey in her hair" would make her an incredible infatuation to a "bear".

Ashara Dayne as "the fair". "Fair", here, being that Ashara is "the event"... or just that she is a "fair" woman.

Oh, sweet she was and pure and fair

From here, I started thinking about who could then represent "three boys, a goat, and a dancing bear".

Working off the "dancing" part, we know that Ashara danced with several people at the Tourney at Harrenhall.

It is revealed through the books that she danced with four men.

And perhaps these four men are her dancing partners, three of which will be "boys" and one "the goat".

2. Ser Barristan Selmy as "a boy". Oberyn Martell as "a boy". Jon Connington as "a boy".

3. Ned Stark as "a goat".

4. Brandon Stark as the "dancing bear".


Her first three dancing partners all being men. ("boys" for reference of the song)

Ned Stark is "the goat". I'm still working on this one a bit as there are some alternate definitions of "goat", such as "licentous" - lacking moral/sexual restraints or disregard for rules/correctness.

But also the term "goaded", which perhaps Ned was "goaded" into asking her to dance.

And perhaps Ned/Ashara hit it off so well that he arranged to meet with her for a night visit. (???)

And the "dancing bear" being Brandon Stark.

Perhaps the larger/stronger Stark was a bad dancer - as many large men are - and thus if he were to try to dance... he'd be a "dancing bear".

I called for a knight but you're a bear

This line above could be in reference to her expecting for Ned Stark to meet up with her... or some tie to Selmy desiring her.

I haven't made up on who I feel represents "the knight"... but either Ned or Selmy seem to fit well here.

The knight doesn't show up... just the bear (Brandon Stark).

all black and brown and covered in hair

It seems reasonable that this might describe the largest of a Stark boy.

She kicked and wailed the maid so fair

Could this be Brandon Stark having his way with her in bed?

Then she sighed and squealed and kicked the air she sang: my bear so fair and off they went the bear, the bear and the maiden fair

Sighing... squealing... (well)

Kicking (not consensual)

Off they went (continuing in the act, whether at will or not, until... perhaps... a seed was planted).

For me... I think GRRM tucks this into SoS... multiple times... as a story of what happened at Harrenhal and with Ashara Dayne.

And he tucks it into places in SoS because it several maiden-bear pairings to misdirect us towards.

(And I have heard that the song is in Dunk & Egg tales - but songs can be prophecies/visions from past or future)

Anyways... this is my thoughts.

I'm sure somebody else has theorized this one... but I didn't see it in any threads nor did I view it on the wiki.


Any thoughts?

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