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ravenous reader

POEMS (or other sundry quotes) that remind you of ASOIAF

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Hi everyone! 

As some of you may have noticed, I like poetry and will sometimes quote a poem in the middle of a post -- which might seem bizarre to you at times.  Nevertheless, "Different roads sometimes lead to the same castle. Who knows?" (AGOT-Jon II); so it's neither unusual nor outlandish for some of GRRM's themes to have been reflected in other literary works, including poems.  Moreover, GRRM is an extremely well-read and allusive author, who enjoys giving a reverent, sometimes cheeky nod to other authors who have shaped his vision, borrowing from them in spirit, and sometimes even going so far as quoting snippets from them verbatim, so it's fun to pick up on those literary references.  

I invite you to join me in sharing poems (or other quotes from the literary canon and/or popular culture, e.g. quoting lyrics from songs, etc.-- the original meaning of 'song' was 'poem') that remind you of ASOIAF for some reason, whatever reason -- your creativity is welcome, so don't worry about 'derailing' this thread!  This is one thread I predict can not be derailed, since as I said, 'many roads lead to the same castle,' so I predict we'll be circling back on ourselves arriving back where we started, many times over, circling in on the elusive heart of the castle.

You may quote your poem without leaving an explanation; or if you prefer you may leave a brief (or lengthy...) accompanying comment, explaining the rationale behind why you associate that particular excerpt with ASOIAF, which I'd always be most interested in reading.  

As I mentioned above, the original meaning of 'song' is poetry, since bearing historical witness in the oral tradition (before written records were widely available) was easier for the bard to remember in rhyme.  First and foremost, 'The Song of Ice and Fire' is a 'song' -- a kind of poetic utterance -- and importantly though GRRM is the one 'singing' it, it's not a piece for one.  It's not a solo; it's a dialogue for many voices.  This may surprise you, but it's dawned ;) on me that the most important word in the title is neither 'song' nor 'ice' nor 'fire,' as is commonly presumed -- it's 'AND.'  This is something we can only do together.  Paradoxically, even when we're out of tune, off-time, brazenly dissonant, or singing our own song, we're part of and -- for better or for worse -- can never exit this song, not even when we die.

The etymology of 'poetry' also reveals something interesting about our enterprise in this respect:

Quote

Poiesis. Poïesis (Ancient Greek: ποίησις) is etymologically derived from the ancient Greek term ποιέω, which means "to make". This word, the root of our modern "poetry", was first a verb, an action that transforms and continues the world.

Poetry is not merely an artifact; it's the way we tell our stories -- and thereby make ourselves and our world.

Have fun.  Remain good-humored and open-minded to each other's contributions.  And remember -- we all proceed from one another's thoughts as well as preceding others to come --so in the end no one really has exclusive ownership of any given thought, and that should give us pause to always be respectful of one another, which is a way of paying respect to ourselves and the long tradition out of which we emerge and has brought us here where we find ourselves now.

So, without further ado, the poem I'd like to introduce to you today:  It's simply called 'POWER.'

Quote

Power

Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified

It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power.


 Adrienne Rich, The Dream of a Common Language

This reminds me of GRRM's unflinching acceptance and courageous engagement with the fundamental duality of life.  It's not about 'good' vs. 'evil' per se, because the materials we're using are neither good nor evil, but derive from a common source.  Rather, it's our intentions which are good or evil -- and tragically, even with the best intentions, there's always a residual by-product or side-effect, if you like, to everything we do.  In other words, a kernel of 'good' emerging within the 'evil'; and reciprocally a seed of 'evil' growing out of the 'good.'  Also, since we're embedded in history, 'good' and 'evil' effects ripple out over time with trans-generational consequences, which have to to be borne by those who inherit this karmic legacy.  It's like having to catch a boomerang you can't refuse!  Yet, you may choose in which direction you'd like to throw it next.

I dedicate this poem to @Pain killer Jane whose thoughts surrounding these ideas, on 'sacrificing oneself for power' and others, have echoed and informed my own in many a stimulating back-and-forth brainstorming session, and who first encouraged me to pursue a thread such as this.  Thanks PK Jane -- even when I don't at first 'get' your special brand of poetry, your pearls of wisdom silently gleam and slowly reveal themselves with time.  :)

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25 minutes ago, ravenous reader said:

I dedicate this poem to @Pain killer Jane whose thoughts surrounding these ideas have echoed and informed my own in many a stimulating back-and-forth brainstorming session, and who first encouraged me to pursue a thread such as this.  Thanks PK Jane -- even when I don't at first 'get' your special brand of poetry, your pearls of wisdom silently gleam and slowly reveal themselves with time.  :)

Thank you. You humble me with this dedication. :wub: Our many chats have inspired me as well. 

This is one of my faves and is on the wall of my office.

Quote

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

- William Ernest Henley

 

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Just now, Pain killer Jane said:

Thank you. You humble me with this dedication. :wub: Our many chats have inspired me as well. 

This is one of my faves and is on the wall of my office.

 

You in love now. No but sued i be in this thread or should i lee you to alone to have this poetry talk well i guess you did make it public so i can post.  

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On 12/11/2016 at 5:56 PM, Pain killer Jane said:

Thank you. You humble me with this dedication. :wub: Our many chats have inspired me as well. 

This is one of my faves and is on the wall of my office.

 

'Great minds think alike!'  I've loved that one ('Invictus') for a while -- so inspiring.  It's fortified many a soul.  Faced with the devastating consequences of Tuberculosis and having to suffer the amputation of one of his legs and threatened with the possible amputation of the other, it kept the poet going following surgery while he was suffering through his convalescence, during which he was moved to write the poem.

Famously, Nelson Mandela also read it to himself while he was in prison in Robben Island.

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54 minutes ago, ravenous reader said:

'Great minds think alike!'  I've loved that one for a while -- so inspiring.  It's fortified many a soul.  Faced with the devastating consequences of Tuberculosis and having to suffer the amputation of one of his legs and threatened with the possible amputation of the other, it kept the poet going following surgery while he was suffering through his convalescence, during which he was moved to write the poem.

Famously, Nelson Mandela also read it to himself while he was in prison in Robben Island.

:cheers:

Here is one that reminds of the old men of the north going on their wild hunt. 

Quote

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

- Do not go gentle into that good night, Dylan Thomas

 

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4 hours ago, Pain killer Jane said:

Here is one that reminds of the old men of the north going on their wild hunt. 

Nice!

4 hours ago, Pain killer Jane said:

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors

For our friend @LmL who ostensibly doesn't like poetry:

Quote

Sternschnuppe:

      Aus der Höhe schoß ich her
      Im Stern- und Feuerscheine,
      Liege nun im Grase quer –
      Wer hilft mir auf die Beine?

 

“Once I blazed across the sky,
Leaving trails of flame;
I fell to earth, and here I lie -
Who'll help me up again?
-A Shooting Star” 
 

 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 

Quote

'Nun gut, wer bist du denn?' Mephistopheles: Ein Teil von jener Kraft, Die stets das Böse will und stets das Gute schafft.' 

 

“Who are you then?" 
"I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good.” 
 

 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust: First Part

 

Quote

'Grau, teurer Freund, ist alle Theorie,/Und grün des Lebens goldner Baum.''

All theory, dear friend, is gray, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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2 minutes ago, ravenous reader said:

For our friend @LmL who ostensibly doesn't like poetry:

Dammit, I like poetry just fine! I just don't care for Shakespeare because i cannot penetrate the language. And obviously comet poetry is my sort of thing. :)

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Just now, LmL said:

Dammit, I like poetry just fine! I just don't care for Shakespeare because i cannot penetrate the language. And obviously comet poetry is my sort of thing. :)

Dammit, I might never look at a comet in the same way again...

Of course you like poetry.  You are a poet, of a kind!

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This one is very significant for me it is William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and the specific section is called Proverbs of Hell

Quote

Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.

The pride of the peacock is the glory of God.

The lust of the goat is the bounty of God.

The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.

The nakedness of woman is the work of God.

Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps.

The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the destructive sword, are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man.

The fox condemns the trap, not himself.

Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth.

Let man wear the fell of the lion, woman the fleece of the sheep.

The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.

The selfish smiling fool, & the sullen frowning fool, shall be both thought wise, that they may be a rod.

What is now proved was once only imagin'd.

The rat, the mouse, the fox, the rabbit: watch the roots; the lion, the tyger, the horse, the elephant, watch the fruits.

The cistern contains; the fountain overflows.

One thought, fills immensity.

Always be ready to speak your mind, and a base man will avoid you.

Every thing possible to be believ'd is an image of truth.

The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow.

 

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10 minutes ago, Pain killer Jane said:

This one is very significant for me it is William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell and the specific section is called Proverbs of Hell

How apt: I think that's precisely what GRRM is after -- the alchemists' coincidentia oppositorum -- the uniification or rather reconciliation of opposites in the marriage of good and evil, heaven and hell.

I adore Blake -- a genius.  And, of these, the most significant is:

15 minutes ago, Pain killer Jane said:

What is now proved was once only imagin'd.

Also these:

Quote

“Eternity is in love with the productions of time.”


 William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

 

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William Blake (1757–1827).  The Poetical Works.  1908.
 
Selections from ‘The Four Zoas’
[The Wail of Enion]
 
(Four Zoas, Night II, ll. 595–626.)

I AM made to sow the thistle for wheat, the nettle for a nourishing dainty:
I have planted a false oath in the earth; it has brought forth a Poison Tree:
I have chosen the serpent for a counsellor, and the dog
For a schoolmaster to my children: 1
I have blotted out from light and living the dove and nightingale,         5
And I have causèd the earthworm to beg from door to door:
I have taught the thief a secret path into the house of the just:
I have taught pale Artifice to spread his nets upon the morning.
My heavens are brass, my earth is iron, my moon a clod of clay,
My sun a pestilence burning at noon, and a vapour of death in night.         10
 
What is the price of Experience? Do men buy it for a song,
Or Wisdom for a dance in the street? No! it is bought with the price
Of all that a man hath—his house, his wife, his children.
Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy,
And in the wither’d field where the farmer ploughs for bread in vain.         15
 
It is an easy thing to triumph in the summer’s sun,
And in the vintage, and to sing on the waggon loaded with corn:
It is an easy thing to talk of patience to the afflicted,
To speak the laws of prudence to the houseless wanderer,
To listen to the hungry raven’s cry in wintry season,         20
When the red blood is fill’d with wine and with the marrow of lambs:
 
It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements;
To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughterhouse moan;
To see a God on every wind and a blessing on every blast;
To hear sounds of Love in the thunderstorm that destroys our enemy’s house;         25
To rejoice in the blight that covers his field, and the sickness that cuts off his children,
While our olive and vine sing and laugh round our door, and our children bring fruits and flowers.
 
Then the groan and the dolour are quite forgotten, and the slave grinding at the mill,
And the captive in chains, and the poor in the prison, and the soldier in the field
When the shatter’d bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead:         30
It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity—
Thus would I sing and thus rejoice; but it is not so with me.
 
 
 

 

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This one is so obvious, I'm not sure it should even count, but:

Quote

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

(Robert Frost, Fire and Ice)

 

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1 hour ago, Walda said:

This one is so obvious, I'm not sure it should even count, but:

Quote

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

(Robert Frost, Fire and Ice)

Robert Frost's poems always seem 'obvious' at first, but this is deceptive!  

Thanks for joining in and reminding us of this one.  Didn't GRRM acknowledge this poem in particular as contributing towards the inspiration for the title of ASOIAF?

What do you think Frost means by saying 'if it had to perish twice' -- why 'twice'?

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Indeed. Once in fire, and once in ice. Once bitter, and once sweet. From the prologue the dead have risen and have had to perish twice.

Frost said he was inspired by the astronomer Shapley's hypothesis that the world would either die when the sun exploded, or would be propelled by it into outer space, where it would freeze over. He also claimed inspiration from the ninth circle of Dante's Inferno - the lowest level of hell, reserved for traitors and kin-slayers, breakers of guest-right and betrayers of their lord. These are trapped in a lake of ice " As they denied God's love, so are they furthest removed from the light and warmth of His Sun. As they denied all human ties, so are they bound only by the unyielding ice."

Quote
Oh ill-starr’d folk,
Beyond all others wretched! who abide
In such a mansion, as scarce thought finds words
To speak of, better had ye here on earth         15
Been flocks, or mountain goats. As down we stood
In the dark pit beneath the giants’ feet,
But lower far than they, and I did gaze
Still on the lofty battlement, a voice
Bespake me thus: “Look how thou walkest. Take         20
Good heed, thy soles do tread not on the heads
Of thy poor brethren.” Thereupon I turn’d,
And saw before and underneath my feet
A lake, whose frozen surface liker seem’d
To glass than water. Not so thick a veil         25
In winter e’er hath Austrian Danube spread
O’er his still course, nor Tanais far remote
Under the chilling sky. Roll’d o’er that mass
Had Tabernich or Pietrapana 1 fallen,
Not e’en its rim had creak’d. As peeps the frog         30
Croaking above the wave, what time in dreams
The village gleaner oft pursues her toil,
So, to where modest shame appears, thus low
Blue pinch’d and shrined in ice the spirits stood,
Moving their teeth in shrill note like the stork.         35
His face each downward held; their mouth the cold,

Their eyes express’d the dolour of their heart.

(Dante, Inferno: Canto 32)

 

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19 minutes ago, Walda said:

Indeed. Once in fire, and once in ice. Once bitter, and once sweet. From the prologue the dead have risen and have had to perish twice.

Frost said he was inspired by the astronomer Shapley's hypothesis that the world would either die when the sun exploded, or would be propelled by it into outer space, where it would freeze over. He also claimed inspiration from the ninth circle of Dante's Inferno - the lowest level of hell, reserved for traitors and kin-slayers, breakers of guest-right and betrayers of their lord. These are trapped in a lake of ice " As they denied God's love, so are they furthest removed from the light and warmth of His Sun. As they denied all human ties, so are they bound only by the unyielding ice."

 

Sounds like the 79 sentinels. 

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13 hours ago, Walda said:

Indeed. Once in fire, and once in ice. Once bitter, and once sweet. From the prologue the dead have risen and have had to perish twice.

Frost said he was inspired by the astronomer Shapley's hypothesis that the world would either die when the sun exploded, or would be propelled by it into outer space, where it would freeze over. He also claimed inspiration from the ninth circle of Dante's Inferno - the lowest level of hell, reserved for traitors and kin-slayers, breakers of guest-right and betrayers of their lord. These are trapped in a lake of ice " As they denied God's love, so are they furthest removed from the light and warmth of His Sun. As they denied all human ties, so are they bound only by the unyielding ice."

 

Thanks for explaining those associations!  The Dante quote also reminds me of 'the frozen hell reserved for Starks'.  How should we interpret that cryptic comment by Ned?  With reference to the ninth circle of hell in Dante's inferno, should we take that to imply that there's a kinslaying secret at the heart of the Stark family?

13 hours ago, LmL said:
13 hours ago, Walda said:

Indeed. Once in fire, and once in ice. Once bitter, and once sweet. From the prologue the dead have risen and have had to perish twice.

Frost said he was inspired by the astronomer Shapley's hypothesis that the world would either die when the sun exploded, or would be propelled by it into outer space, where it would freeze over. He also claimed inspiration from the ninth circle of Dante's Inferno - the lowest level of hell, reserved for traitors and kin-slayers, breakers of guest-right and betrayers of their lord. These are trapped in a lake of ice " As they denied God's love, so are they furthest removed from the light and warmth of His Sun. As they denied all human ties, so are they bound only by the unyielding ice."

 

Sounds like the 79 sentinels. 

Good point.

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18 hours ago, ravenous reader said:

I AM made to sow the thistle for wheat, the nettle for a nourishing dainty:

I have planted a false oath in the earth; it has brought forth a Poison Tree

The whole argument for the weirwoods being just like the shade of the evening trees. 

And we have the Broken Man theme

18 hours ago, ravenous reader said:

What is the price of Experience?
Do men buy it for a song,
Or Wisdom for a dance in the street? No! it is bought with the price
Of all that a man hath—his house, his wife, his children.
Wisdom is sold in the desolate market where none come to buy,
And in the wither’d field where the farmer ploughs for bread in vain.

And so we can say Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori - It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country.  

Quote

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, 
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, 
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs 
And towards our distant rest began to trudge. 
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots 
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; 
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots  
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling, 
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time; 
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling, 
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . . 
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, 
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. 
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, 
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. 
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace 
Behind the wagon that we flung him in, 
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, 
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin; 
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood 
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, 
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud  
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, 
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest  
To children ardent for some desperate glory, 
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est 
Pro patria mori.

And the dead walking, field of fire and red flowers and something the living 'owe,owe,owe'

Quote

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

 

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Our 'poem' today is not really a poem but a short story by Rudyard Kipling, taken from the 'Just So Stories':

'THE ELEPHANT'S CHILD'

link to story

You'll recognise that GRRM has lifted the titular 'Just so'', the characteristic idiomatic phrase with which the Bravosi, particularly Syrio Forel, Illyrio Mopatis, the Faceless Men and others stemming from the Free Cities punctuate their statements, geographically identifying these otherwise-elusive characters.  

In so doing, GRRM betrays his intent to reference Kipling and that particular story for some reason.  Perhaps it's merely a witty nod to one of his favorite authors, or perhaps it means more thematically?  You be the judge!

The 'Just So Stories' are children's stories reworking various creation myths using anthropomorphized animals as protagonists; so in that sense one might say GRRM is doing something similar, considering one might view ASOIAF as his version of the creation myth, in addition to being a cautionary fable of the perks and perils of hubris.

In the accompanying notes by Lisa Lewis which I've linked for you below, she observes:

Quote

Therefore, we might interpret Bran's quest bringing him to Bloodraven's lair fed by the 'sunless sea' of the black, underground river to be the equivalent of the 'little elephant of 'satiable curiosity [i.e. insatiable curiosity]' venturing to the banks of the 'the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River,' in order to discover what the crocodile eats.  Is Bloodraven the equivalent of the crocodile -- or another?

Did you notice that: 'grey-green' in combination with 'greasy'...GRRM peppers his text liberally with symbolically pregnant 'grey-green' references, so I don't think that's a coincidence.  We'll return to that later.

For a brief orientation to the circumstances around which Kipling wrote the story in question, see these background notes as well as a review by the children's author Michael Morpurgo (the latter also  has a great color picture of the epic war between the elephant and the crocodile -- or should I say 'lizard-lion' or 'sea dragon'! -- attempting to drag the former into the water).

About that 'grey-green'.  Here is something @Cowboy Dan wrote on that which may provide a starting point:

On 12/9/2016 at 10:37 AM, Cowboy Dan said:

Grey-green is specifically attached to the notion of rotting bodies at Maidenpool.

The weirwood would be the seventh, the Stranger staring down at the death and destruction he caused. Littlefinger is constantly associated with grey-green eyes and is the catalyst for the War of the Five Kings.

'Grey-green' is thus associated with weirwoods, and therefore magic (specifically greenseeing; the Others are also associated with the dappled grey-green armor of the trees), in addition to death, destruction and treachery.  As @Isobel Harper has noted, Aurane Waters like Littlefinger also has grey-green eyes; I wonder what that signifies?  

Generally, we can think of this color concept as the 'cosmic soup,' the turbid, dirty river fraught with danger and possibility, out of which power is forged.

I'll develop the 'grey-green' in a further supplementary post.

Additionally, there's a curious astronomical reference which comes up in the story, namely to the 'precession of the equinoxes' which I think might have some bearing for GRRM's story (perhaps @LmL or some other resident forum astronomer/astrologer would care to comment?).  I think I may have discovered several recurrent images in ASOIAF hinting of this phenomenon (axial precession), which I'll share with you anon.  The relevant passage in question:

Quote

One fine morning in the middle of the Precession of the Equinoxes this 'satiable Elephant's Child asked a new fine question that he had never asked before. He asked, 'What does the Crocodile have for dinner?' Then everybody said, 'Hush!' in a loud and dretful tone, and they spanked him immediately and directly, without stopping, for a long time.

By and by, when that was finished, he came upon Kolokolo Bird sitting in the middle of a wait-a-bit thorn-bush, and he said, 'My father has spanked me, and my mother has spanked me; all my aunts and uncles have spanked me for my 'satiable curtiosity; and still I want to know what the Crocodile has for dinner!'

Then Kolokolo Bird said, with a mournful cry, 'Go to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, and find out.'

That very next morning, when there was nothing left of the Equinoxes, because the Precession had preceded according to precedent, this 'satiable Elephant's Child took a hundred pounds of bananas (the little short red kind), and a hundred pounds of sugar-cane (the long purple kind), and seventeen melons (the greeny-crackly kind), and said to all his dear families, 'Goodbye. I am going to the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, to find out what the Crocodile has for dinner.' And they all spanked him once more for luck, though he asked them most politely to stop.

'The Precession had preceded according to precedent' -- that's the kind of wordplay that cracks me up!

To be continued...

 

ETA: also note the 'fever-trees' on the banks of the grey-green river, which are reminiscent of weirwoods, since fever trees in line with the duality inherent in weirwoods are thought to both allay and produce fever.  

Also, people like Jaime, Bran, Jojen, Theon and others happen to be more susceptible to the influence of greendreams and other 'third-eye' influences when they have a fever!

Quote

fever tree

n.

Any of several trees having leaves or bark used to allay fever or sometimes thought to cause fever

especially Pinckneya bracteata of the southeast United States, Acacia xanthophloea of 

southern Africa, certain species ofeucalyptus, or cinchona.

 

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The recessional cycle is basically the reason we move from the ago of one zodiac sign tot he next every 2160 years. The astrophysics explanation is complicated, but it has to do with planetary wobble. Generally, the precessional cycle is used as a way to mark time in ancient historical accounts, or as a way of referencing epochs you might say. So your story is about an elephant and a crocodile struggling, right? Sounds like one age passing to the next, possibly. But where in ASOIAF did you see the precessional cycle being referenced?

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Also, the precessional cycle goes through the zodiac backwards, compared to the months of the year. 

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13 hours ago, ravenous reader said:

Our 'poem' today is not really a poem but a short story by Rudyard Kipling, taken from the 'Just So Stories':

'THE ELEPHANT'S CHILD'

link to story

You'll recognise that GRRM has lifted the titular 'Just so'', the characteristic idiomatic phrase with which the Bravosi, particularly Syrio Forel, Illyrio Mopatis, the Faceless Men and others stemming from the Free Cities punctuate their statements, geographically identifying these otherwise-elusive characters.  

In so doing, GRRM betrays his intent to reference Kipling and that particular story for some reason.  Perhaps it's merely a witty nod to one of his favorite authors, or perhaps it means more thematically?  You be the judge!

The 'Just So Stories' are children's stories reworking various creation myths using anthropomorphized animals as protagonists; so in that sense one might say GRRM is doing something similar, considering one might view ASOIAF as his version of the creation myth, in addition to being a cautionary fable of the perks and perils of hubris.

In the accompanying notes by Lisa Lewis which I've linked for you below, she observes:

Therefore, we might interpret Bran's quest bringing him to Bloodraven's lair fed by the 'sunless sea' of the black, underground river to be the equivalent of the 'little elephant of 'satiable curiosity [i.e. insatiable curiosity]' venturing to the banks of the 'the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River,' in order to discover what the crocodile eats.  Is Bloodraven the equivalent of the crocodile -- or another?

Did you notice that: 'grey-green' in combination with 'greasy'...GRRM peppers his text liberally with symbolically pregnant 'grey-green' references, so I don't think that's a coincidence.  We'll return to that later.

For a brief orientation to the circumstances around which Kipling wrote the story in question, see these background notes as well as a review by the children's author Michael Morpurgo (the latter also  has a great color picture of the epic war between the elephant and the crocodile -- or should I say 'lizard-lion' or 'sea dragon'! -- attempting to drag the former into the water).

About that 'grey-green'.  Here is something @Cowboy Dan wrote on that which may provide a starting point:

'Grey-green' is thus associated with weirwoods, and therefore magic (specifically greenseeing; the Others are also associated with the dappled grey-green armor of the trees), in addition to death, destruction and treachery.  As @Isobel Harper has noted, Aurane Waters like Littlefinger also has grey-green eyes; I wonder what that signifies?  

Generally, we can think of this color concept as the 'cosmic soup,' the turbid, dirty river fraught with danger and possibility, out of which power is forged.

I'll develop the 'grey-green' in a further supplementary post.

Additionally, there's a curious astronomical reference which comes up in the story, namely to the 'precession of the equinoxes' which I think might have some bearing for GRRM's story (perhaps @LmL or some other resident forum astronomer/astrologer would care to comment?).  I think I may have discovered several recurrent images in ASOIAF hinting of this phenomenon (axial precession), which I'll share with you anon.  The relevant passage in question:

'The Precession had preceded according to precedent' -- that's the kind of wordplay that cracks me up!

To be continued...

 

ETA: also note the 'fever-trees' on the banks of the grey-green river, which are reminiscent of weirwoods, since fever trees in line with the duality inherent in weirwoods are thought to both allay and produce fever.  

Also, people like Jaime, Bran, Jojen, Theon and others happen to be more susceptible to the influence of greendreams and other 'third-eye' influences when they have a fever!

 

Re: grey-green

Only three characters have been described as having grey-green eyes: LF, Aurane Waters, and Rohanne Webber.  It seems to be an uncommon trait.  (Side note: Waters and Webber also share a dimpled chin, which makes me curious if they're related.  If Webber's "mysterious disappearance" involved her going into hiding and assuming a new identity, Waters could be related to the Lannisters without him knowing it.)

I'm familiar with the pun "green sea" and "greenseeing," and I'm curious what LF or Waters' eye color might have to do with this. Does this make them potential greenseers?  "Grey and green" is the most common way that the color of the sea is described.  Are LF and Waters connected to the sea in others ways besides greenseeing?  Are "grey-green" eyes somehow connected to both the GREY King and Garth the GREEN?  

A few characters' coloring match the coloring of their sigil: the Tullys with their red hair and blue eyes, (potentially) the Daynes with their purple eyes and Valyrian hair.  LF and Waters are one of these few characters as well; House Baelish and House Velaryon have "sea green" (ie, grey-green) backgrounds.  House Baelish's Titan head is grey, but LF's mockingbirds are silver.  House Velaryon's seahorse is silver. Both of these men have silver hair.  And when dawn breaks before the snow castle scene which "brought color into the world" (I don't know if Waters is significant here), the colors Sansa sees matches the green and grey/light grey (silver?), like the colors of (at least) Baelish's sigil. 

Speaking of sigils, Waters sigil ought to be reversed since he's a bastard, making him a sea green seahorse, so to speak.  With regard to sigils as astrological elements, is Waters perhaps some sort of green falling star/fallen star, like the star on Dunk's shield?  

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