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The symbolism of kisses


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I've mentioned in a couple of recent threads that I think we need an in-depth discussion of kisses. At Joffrey's wedding feast, Tyrion wonders what it would be like to kiss Sansa. Sansa incorrectly recalls being kissed by Sandor Clegane (but she is kissed by Ser Dontos and she kisses Joffrey's sword, Heart Eater). There is a knight of Skulls and Kisses who may linger as a shadowy character (Lem Lemoncloak) in the story. 

More examples I just posted in another thread:

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Being "kissed by fire" seems to be an important symbolic moment that confers some magic on the recipient. It may function like the "Achilles heel" story, making the warrior immune to harm except the small area that was not exposed to fire. (Hmm. This may bring us back to the Lorch sigil with the scorpion, too.) 

We know the Ygritte is kissed by fire, and she kissed Jon Snow. I assume this means that he is kissed by fire, too. 

The Hound may be kissed by fire because his brother forces his face down into a fire, causing him to become disfigured. 

Ser Beric is kissed by fire because Thoros of Myr gives him the kiss of life, reanimating him after death. 

When Bran eats the weirwood paste, one of the flavors or sensations he describes is his mother's last kiss. 

If I'm right about the cheek / peach symbolism, this might mean that a kiss on the cheek is a way of conferring the "kissed by fire" magic, if it is done by the right person.

The other part that is relevant to peaches is that, I suspect, peaches are important because they are colored like fire: red, orange, yellow. There is an important motif around colors in ASOIAF. One of the important sets of colors is the rainbow, with the fire colors on one "side" of green and the "BIV" colors on the other side (blue, indigo and violet). I think the non-fire colors are  "eye" colors. Through wordplay, "eyes" and "ice" are paired. So the rainbow represents fire and eyes/ice, with green in the middle possibly acting as a sort of symbolic fulcrum. 

So maybe I've puttered around long enough that I've answered my own question. Peaches represent the kind of rebirth associated with "kissed by fire" magic. So your point may be well taken that peaches represent immortality. (One kind of immortality, anyway. Now we just have to figure out how or whether someone can be kissed by ice. My guess is that this balancing set of symbols will come back to interacting with snowflakes. I guess it's time to really start that thread I've been contemplating to discuss the symbolism of kisses.)

So let's examine examples of kisses, the "unkiss" and imagined kisses, and see if we can figure out their purpose. 

Does Petyr Baelish insist that Alayne give him a serious kiss because he is seeking some kind of kiss magic? Maybe it's not about romantic love but about her red hair? (Although Alayne has dyed her hair.)

Is there wordplay on "sick" and "kiss"? Is being kissed the opposite of being sick?

 

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I think that, firstly, kisses can be a love symbol and so also represent the promise of new life. The new life may not necessarily be literal but could be symbolic. I know Petyr fancies Sansa because she looks like her mother, but their kiss could also represent Petyr's satisfaction with his plans coming to fruition. Kisses also have death symbolism, e.g. the kiss of steel, the knight of skulls and kisses as you mentioned, Greyscale the grey kiss, the plant poison kisses etc. There is also R'hlorr's kiss of life, which signifies both death and life, as well as the kiss the drowned priests do to resuscitate those who have drowned.

With the imagined kisses, I think they could be serving as wish fulfillment for the characters who imagine them. The characters being kissed desire the change symbolised by the kisser.

There are these parts from one of Brienne's chapters in A Feast for Crows which I think could be significant:

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"Whenever Ser Clarence killed a man, he'd fetch his head back home and his wife would kiss it on the lips and bring it back t' life. Lords, they were, and wizards, and famous knights and pirates. One was king o' Duskendale. They gave old Crabb good counsel. Being they was just heads, they couldn't talk real loud, but they never shut up neither. When you're a head, talking's all you got to pass the day. So Crabb's keep got named the Whispers. Still is, though it's been a ruin for a thousand years. A lonely place, the Whispers."

So there could be a connection between kisses and secret or hidden knowledge, knowledge from beyond the grave that a kiss is required to reveal.

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The Just Maid, it was called. No common sword could check her, nor any shield withstand her kiss.

I need to think more about this part. There is another kiss-death connection but I believe there is more to it.

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"A kiss. Drown me for a fool, Tris, I should have remembered..." --The Wayward Bride, ADWD

"...Haldon said, "What a droll little fellow you are, Yollo. They say that the Shrouded Lord will grant a boon to any man who can make him laugh. Perhaps His Grey Grace will choose you to ornament his stony court."

Duck glanced at his companion uneasily. "It's not good to jape of that one, not when we're so near the Rhoyne. He hears.

"Wisdom from a duck," said Haldon. "I beg your pardon, Yollo. You need not look so pale, I was only playing with you. The Prince of Sorrows does not bestow his grey kiss lightly."  --Tyrion III, ADWD

"Aye, I've heard that too," said Duck, "but there's another tale I like better. The one that says he's not like t'other stone men, that he started as a statue till a grey woman came out of the fog and kissed him with lips as cold as ice." --Tyrion V, ADWD

Also, the Drowned God's priests may kiss by water. What is dead may never die...

Edited by Phylum of Alexandria
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As @Craving Peaches pointed out, kisses are assossiated with returning a person to the living as well as with causing death. Sick/kiss wordplay does seem significant in respect of the Shrouded Lord's "grey kiss" that causes  greyscale, a slow lingering illness or Arya's poison kisses that cause a skin rash. The skull and kisses sigil of House Lonmouth could also be pointing out this aspect of raising the dead with a kiss - particularly since the name Lonmouth contains the mouth required for the kissing. This is underscored by the Hound living on as Lem Lemoncloak, thought by readers to be Richard Lonmouth, who wears the Sandor's distinct helm.

I think in addition to the red-haired (and auburn-haired which is a variation of red hair), those who have suffered burns of any sort such as the Hound, Jon, Victarion and Jorah who was branded also qualify as persons "kissed by fire," and I suspect being "kissed by fire" makes it possible for these individuals to be raised from death by fire magic. We have not witnessed a White Walker in the actual process of raising the dead to become wights but the magic involved as well as the results of the raising definitely differ from a fire resurrection. I'm not sure the Others employ kisses, especially if the assumption that they are capable of mass raisings is correct. In contrast the "last kiss" as performed by Thoros is an individual affair involving a mouth to mouth action, and one that also takes a toll on the giver of the kiss (Thoros reveals that bringing Beric back a seventh time will be the end of him). The fact that Thoros concentrates his efforts solely on Beric, leader of the BwB also supports the idea that administering  " the last kiss" rules out mass resurrections and may be reserved for people with a particualar trait, possibly those "kissed by fire." Both Catelyn and Beric had variations of red hair (auburn and red- gold hair respectively). 

Sansa kissing Joffery's sword Heart Eater does remind me of a Nissa Nissa moment, or rather a variation thereof. Joff has Azor Ahai symbolism surrounding him, the name Heart Eater suggesting a sword that aims for and destroys a heart, akin to Lightbringer. Nissa Nissa's soul, her life fires, empowered the sword, warming it as well. As one kissed by fire, Sansa's kiss may have properties similar to Thoros's kiss or indeed Nissa Nissa's heart, her courage etc. Fire is warmth and life and perhaps Joff symbolically desired this enhancement for his sword. 

It's possible that the "kiss of life"  as in fire magic allows the recipient to retain important mental facualties such as intelligence and the ability to think and plan strategically. The "last kiss" seems to allow for this, contrasting the wights raised by the Others. The whispering heads also retain their intelligence after receiving the kiss from Clarence Crabbe's wife and presumably, so does the Shrouded Lord who is returned to life from stone by the kiss of a "grey woman." So perhaps by kissing Sansa, Littlefinger awakens or fosters her mental acumen, a necessary step if she is to evolve from a "little bird" incapable of thinking for herself to a player of the game. Lysa, who im my opinion isn't the smartest of people was very upset and kept insisting Littlefinger should have kissed her. It may be she symbolically desired LF's cleverness. Alternatively LF's kiss may be linked to the seasons:

 

On 8/22/2022 at 3:20 PM, Seams said:

Does Petyr Baelish insist that Alayne give him a serious kiss because he is seeking some kind of kiss magic? Maybe it's not about romantic love but about her red hair?

Marillion sings throughout the scene involving LF, Sansa and Lysa and the lyrics may also be significant to figuring out the controversy over the kissing. 

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The singer had remained discreetly in the rear of the hall, but at Lady Arryn’s shout he came at once. “My lady?” “Play us a song. Play ‘The False and the Fair.’” Marillion’s fingers brushed the strings.
“The lord he came a-riding upon a rainy day, hey-nonny, hey-nonny, hey-nonny-hey …”

.......

“The lady sat a-sewing upon a rainy day,” Marillion sang. “Hey-nonny, hey-nonny, hey-nonny-hey.” “Open the door,” Lysa commanded. “Open it, I say.

.......

“The lady lay a-kissing, upon a mound of hay,” Marillion was singing.

 

The song has an underliying fertility theme. First it's raining which is good for softening up the soil for planting. Then the lady sits a-sewing / or a-sowing while it's raining. Lastly, she lies kissing (the lord) on a mound of hay, the remnant of the harvest. Perhaps the lord and lady kissing is essential to ensuring a good harvest or to ending summer and ushering in the autumn season and/or nightfall. Attention is drawn to Lysa's and Alayne's hair as well. The song titled "Seasons of my Love" links female hair color to the seasons - “I loved a maid as red as autumn,” Rymund sang, “with sunset in her hair.”  Lysa's attempt to throw Sansa out the Moon Door could be the sacrifical element. 
 Marillion's song is titled "The False and the Fair." Judging by the lyrics, this could be a hint at "false" fertility /seasonal magic versus natural fertility and seasonal cycles, leaving it up to us to decide which of the two women represent a return to normal seasons  with the kiss bestowed by LF playing a key role regarding the choice of the female partner. 

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10 hours ago, Evolett said:

Sansa kissing Joffery's sword Heart Eater does remind me of a Nissa Nissa moment, or rather a variation thereof. Joff has Azor Ahai symbolism surrounding him, the name Heart Eater suggesting a sword that aims for and destroys a heart, akin to Lightbringer. Nissa Nissa's soul, her life fires, empowered the sword, warming it as well. As one kissed by fire, Sansa's kiss may have properties similar to Thoros's kiss or indeed Nissa Nissa's heart, her courage etc. Fire is warmth and life and perhaps Joff symbolically desired this enhancement for his sword. 

This gets at something I finally realized in relation to Lady Barbary Dustin: Brandon Stark (the uncle) liked to get blood on his sword and he deflowered young Barbary Ryswell. This is an Azor Ahai / Nissa Nissa allusion, to my thinking. But Barbary does not die as a result of her Azor Ahai encounter, she seems to have been empowered by it. 

What if the metaphor is that Azor Ahai has impregnated Nissa Nissa, but she is fated to die in child birth as a result of the sword plunged into her heart? We do see (or hear about) many women dying in childbirth, including (we suspect) Lyanna's bed of blood. 

This goes back to Joffrey's wedding feast because Tyrion observes a pregnant Fossoway kissing her husband, and he imagines what it would be like to be kissed by Sansa. 

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And there was one woman, sitting almost at the foot of the third table on the left . . . the wife of one of the Fossoways, he thought, and heavy with his child. Her delicate beauty was in no way diminished by her belly, nor was her pleasure in the food and frolics. Tyrion watched as her husband fed her morsels off his plate. They drank from the same cup, and would kiss often and unpredictably. Whenever they did, his hand would gently rest upon her stomach, a tender and protective gesture.

He wondered what Sansa would do if he leaned over and kissed her right now. Flinch away, most likely. Or be brave and suffer through it, as was her duty. She is nothing if not dutiful, this wife of mine. If he told her that he wished to have her maidenhead tonight, she would suffer that dutifully as well, and weep no more than she had to.

(ASoS, Tyrion VIII)

There also seems to be a link between kissing and singers. At the same feast, Leonette Fossoway (wife of Garlan Tyrell) tells Tyrion that maybe he should be a singer. 

So that really reinforces my deep admiration for your great catch:

11 hours ago, Evolett said:

The song has an underlying fertility theme.

One of the mysterious motifs connected to Lysa is that she may have been fertile early in her life - was she impregnated by Petyr Baelish? Did her father administer tansy to cause an abortion? She married Jon Arryn because she was known to be fertile. BUT. Turns out she and Jon Arryn have great difficulty producing an heir. Maybe Jon is the problem, but we do see Lysa sitting on the throne that is a dead tree.  Weirwood trees do not grow at the Eyrie. The replacement of Lysa with Sansa / Alayne may represent the cycle of seasons, with the young, fertile spring replacing the tired, old season. 

"The False and the Fair" song title may also allude to Falyse and Lollys Stokeworth, with Falyse symbolizing "false" and also being sacrificed (in Qyburn's recipe for reviving Gregor as Robert Strong). We know the Lollys' baby is fathered by half a hundred small folk - there's the fertility symbol of planting and raising crops. Of course, Lollys was raped during the Bread Riot and House Stokeworth is the bread basket of King's Landing, so the harvest wheat angle is fairly clear. Sansa was threatened with rape but was saved by Sandor at the time of the riot. 

The other song we know involving "Fair" is "The Bear and the Maiden Fair." And "fair" may involve wordplay with both "fire" and "hair," so this closes the circle with the "kissed by fire" magic. 

Now I think we also need to examine the False Spring and the Great Spring Sickness in relation to the sick / kiss and fertility / seasonal cycle associated with kiss symbolism. 

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Maybe this has been discussed before elsewhere but I just had a thought about being "kissed by fire." They are supposed to be lucky. Pehaps there's wordplay on luc - key / lock - key. Holding the lock and the keys, those kissed by fire may be door openers and closers. House Locke's banner shows two bronze keys crossed on a white pale on purple - lock in the name and keys in the sigil. Locke could also allude to a lock of hair, bringing us back to the lucky red-haired kissed by fire.
The Little Valyrian lemur monkey of Qohor has Valyrian features and is thought to be lucky as well.

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These lemurs are said to have silver-white fur and purple eyes, and are sometimes called Little Valyrians.  tWoiaF

Valyrians are "kissed by fire" in a different way. Note the colours of the Locke sigil match the lemur's / Valyrian features. 

Dwarfs are also considered lucky and one of Tyrion's aliases is "monkey demon." Is this a moon-key / key to a moon character? Daenerys was the moon of Drogo's life and Tyrion is on his way to her. Red-haired Lysa went out the moon door. Alayne is associated with the Eyrie and all its moon gates, mountains of the moon. 

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Is Littlefinger (a man completely unconcerned with the alarmingly prophetic curse of Harranhal) trying to absorb “kiss magic” from Sansa on account of her red hair? Really? C’mon guys…

I’m not trying to be flippant, I honestly don’t understand what this is getting at. Apart from GRRM using the word “kiss” to denote touch or contact… I haven’t a clue what this is about. Are you just compiling instances of when the author used the word in a way other than it’s most literal definition? Or are you saying “kiss” is some sort of cypher that unlocks a consistent deeper message? 

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30 minutes ago, The Mourning Knight said:

Is Littlefinger (a man completely unconcerned with the alarmingly prophetic curse of Harranhal) trying to absorb “kiss magic” from Sansa on account of her red hair? Really? C’mon guys…

 

She's auburn, not Ygritte flame red

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17 hours ago, The Mourning Knight said:

Is Littlefinger (a man completely unconcerned with the alarmingly prophetic curse of Harranhal) trying to absorb “kiss magic” from Sansa on account of her red hair? Really? C’mon guys…

I’m not trying to be flippant, I honestly don’t understand what this is getting at. Apart from GRRM using the word “kiss” to denote touch or contact… I haven’t a clue what this is about. Are you just compiling instances of when the author used the word in a way other than it’s most literal definition? Or are you saying “kiss” is some sort of cypher that unlocks a consistent deeper message?

Well, we have "kisses" that raise the dead and bring disembodied heads back to life (Thoros's "last kiss" that raises Beric six times over, Whispering Heads brought back to life by a kiss), a Knight of Skulls and Kisses, a Knight of Kisses, those "kissed by fire" who are supposed to be lucky etc. So there's obviously more to the kiss than meets the eye, way beyond its literal definition and worth taking a deeper look at :).

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20 hours ago, The Mourning Knight said:

I’m not trying to be flippant, I honestly don’t understand what this is getting at. ... Or are you saying “kiss” is some sort of cypher that unlocks a consistent deeper message? 

Hi and welcome to the discussion. 

You can bet money that all of my threads are looking at literary symbolism and searching for deeper layers of meaning. For awhile, I warned people to skip my threads if they were not interested in literary analysis. Maybe I should start adding those warnings back in. 

If you are truly interested in exploring the meaning of kisses, then I will try to add more information. 

I do see GRRM's use of metaphor and literary clues as similar to a maester's chain or to a shirt of mail: interlocking links create a larger whole. So kiss symbolism is one piece in a larger set of linked symbols. 

I know that most people think Petyr Baelish is trying to set up Sansa / Alayne as a future bride for himself; a replacement for the Catelyn he was never able to possess. Alternatively, he might be trying to use her to consolidate power: a marriage to Harry the Heir would help to ensure a strong alliance of the Vale, the North and the Riverlands. 

My own thinking is that Littlefinger is using Sansa / Alayne as a game piece. He is trying to win the Game of Thrones, with Sansa as his pick for future monarch. Others playing the game are Prince Doran (Arianne is his game piece), The Kindly Man (Arya is his game piece), Tywin (Tyrion), Bloodraven (Bran) and possibly Ned or Jeor Mormont (Jon Snow). I'm sure there are others, but you get the gist.

Sansa embodies the Maiden, in my opinion. I can't swear to it, but I suspect she will never physically consummate a marriage. (Margaery Tyrell and Brienne may be in the same category.) In the legends, the Maiden doesn't marry but she does give a wonderful sword to a true knight or to a fool/knight: Florian and Jonquil and Ser Galladon of Morne, the perfect knight. 

Could the maiden's kiss symbolize a magic sword? (See the mention of the Just Maid sword in the comment by  @Craving Peaches, above.) Sansa / Alayne sees a broken sword over the mantle and the Baelish home in The Fingers. Maybe Petyr needs a new sword before he can advance in the game. 

There is something about Sansa's kiss that is desirable to many men who cross her path. As cited above, Tyrion considers getting a kiss from Sansa at Joffrey's wedding feast. Ser Dontos kisses her. Sweetrobin kisses her. And then we have the Petyr kisses: in the snow as Lysa looks on, and the AFfC kiss:

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"I did not expect you back so soon," she said. "I am glad you've come."

"I would never have known it from the kiss you gave me." He pulled her closer, caught her face between his hands, and kissed her on the lips for a long time. "Now that's the sort of kiss that says welcome home. See that you do better next time."

"Yes, Father." She could feel herself blushing.

AFfC, Alayne II

I may be wrong, but that doesn't seem like a romantic or even sexy kiss to me. I don't think Petyr is trying to seduce her or even to just use her for his own physical pleasure. Maybe this kiss is like Arya trying to get the worm from the Kindly Man's dead eye socket - that would certainly help us to understand the meaning of the paired skulls and kisses, if each sister is charged with mastering one aspect of these paired symbols. 

Sansa has Catelyn's hair, and we know there is a pun on hair and heir. The "auburn" hair that is unique to these Tully-related characters (and to Robb, Bran and Rickon, apparently) may be wordplay on gold - periodic table symbol Au - and burn - as in melt. If this wordplay interpretation is accurate, I suspect that Viserys is a clue for us, as he died when melted gold was poured over his head. That does seem to be one way of making a literal "kissed by fire" recipient. Maybe the kisses are intended to activate Sansa / Alayne, similar to the "wake the dragon" symbolism that occurred with the death of Viserys. This would fit with the resurrection symbolism mentioned earlier. 

I do think that Littlefinger is aware of the curse of Harrenhal and he believes he knows how to beat it: by installing Sansa / Alayne as the lady of the House. She is Catelyn's heir and Catelyn (through her mother) is the heir of House Whent, the last family that supposedly rightfully owned Harrenhal. When Arya was at Harrenhal, she thought to herself, "Is this my home now?" I suspect that Catelyn's daughters feel some kind of resonance with this old family home. 

Instead of looking at the False Spring and the Great Spring Sickness, maybe we should zero in on the "unkiss" from the Hound and Lem Lemoncloak / Richard Lonmouth / The Knight of Skulls and Kisses wearing the Hound's helm when he hangs Brienne. In GRRM's system of linking body parts with fruit, lemons and mouths are linked. Sansa loves lemon cakes. (Hmm. In addition to kiss / sick wordplay, I wonder whether there is kiss / cakes wordplay? This feels right to me - the cakes Sansa loves are sweet, even though lemons are sour. Brienne is from an island called Tarth, and I suspect there is wordplay on tart. Arya steals fruit tarts before the weasel soup incident at Harrenhal. So the kisses tie into the bitter / sweet symbolism that we know GRRM has scattered throughout the novels. Mouths are for both biting and kissing.) 

It's interesting to note that, when Renly's bannermen are placing bets on who will seduce Brienne, Ser Owen Inchfield forces a kiss on Brienne and she pushes him into a fire - another example of kissed by fire?

But Inchfield is also the real name of Ser Lucas Longinch, the knight killed by Brienne's ancestor, Ser Duncan the Tall, in the trial by combat in The Sworn Sword. Literary clues tell us that Dunk is symbolically killing his father when he kills Longinch. Dunk had described him as cool-looking, as if he were on duty at The Wall. So it's interesting that Brienne pushes Owen into a fire.

After Ser Lucas is dead, Dunk takes a kiss and a hank of red hair from Lady Rohanne (symbolically his mother). 

The Inchfield kiss appears to be the only kiss Brienne receives in ASOIAF. Ser Hyle Hunt says he wants to kiss her, but she tells him he will be a eunuch if he tries. As I mentioned in the A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms thread, I suspect that Ser Hyle may be a reborn version of Dick Crabbe. Dick wanted a sword from Brienne (and he gets it just before he dies). So far, Ser Hyle has not gotten a kiss from Brienne. (I suspect Dick and Hyle are both linked to Ser Bennis in the Dunk story line.) 

I realize I'm meandering a lot here. TL;DR:

1) Sansa's kisses carry some kind of magic, possibly similar to The Maiden's power to bestow a magic sword on a worthy recipient (fool or knight). 

2) Petyr kissing Sansa may be part of his gameplay in the Game of Thrones, but does not necessarily involve romantic love or lust between Sansa and himself. It could be related to the "wake the dragon" magic associated with the "crown" presented to Viserys.

3) The Knight of Skulls and Kisses may represent the duality of sweet and bitter - kisses are sweet and skulls represent death. Arya is associated with skulls - in addition to the worm of the Kindly Man, Arya also steps through the dragon jaw of one of the larger skulls in the basement of the Red Keep. Sansa likes lemon cakes - bitter and sweet combined. Brienne may represent tart because of her Tarth origin. (Although she was also betrothed to a Beesbury, I believe, and there is queen bee symbolism around her overnight stay on the Quiet Isle. Maybe this represents the unification of bitter and sweet in her story line.) 

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5 hours ago, Evolett said:

So there's obviously more to the kiss than meets the eye, way beyond its literal definition and worth taking a deeper look at :).

lips :)

lisp? we have a lot of tongue tied characters like Pod and tongueless like Theon's squire (Wex?) and Varys's little birds

2 hours ago, Seams said:

1) Sansa's kisses carry some kind of magic, possibly similar to The Maiden's power to bestow a magic sword on a worthy recipient (fool or knight). 

.Dontos died, Sandor we'll see...all this I speculate due to her unreliable narration

10 hours ago, The Mourning Knight said:

I’m glad to see someone got the point of my post. :D

^_^

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  • 2 weeks later...

  

On 9/16/2022 at 6:15 AM, TheLastWolf said:

And Lem/Dake's watery end maybe foreshadowing for the end of Lem/Lonmouth who escaped the same at the Ruby Ford 

Here's another scene with Lem in flowing water:

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Hot Pie joined in lustily, even bouncing in his saddle a little on the rhymes. Arya stared at him in astonishment. He had a good voice and he sang well. He never did anything well, except bake, she thought to herself.

A small brook flowed into the Trident a little farther on. As they waded across, their singing flushed a duck from among the reeds. Anguy stopped where he stood, unslung his bow, notched an arrow, and brought it down. The bird fell in the shallows not far from the bank. Lem took off his yellow cloak and waded in knee-deep to retrieve it, complaining all the while. "Do you think Sharna might have lemons down in that cellar of hers?" said Anguy to Tom as they watched Lem splash around, cursing. "A Dornish girl once cooked me duck with lemons." He sounded wistful.

Tom and Hot Pie resumed their song on the other side of the brook, with the duck hanging from Lem's belt beneath his yellow cloak. Somehow the singing made the miles seem shorter.

(A Storm of Sword, Arya II)

Arya sees the red eyes of the Ghost of High Heart and compares them to the eyes of Jon Snow's wolf, who is a ghost, too. We know that "kisses" from Thoros are keeping Ser Beric alive. (And that Ser Beric's last kiss will reanimate Lady Stoneheart.) But the GofHH wants a kiss from Lem, who we believe to be the Knight of Skulls and Kisses:

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"A silver stag for your dreams, my lady," Lord Beric said, with solemn courtesy. "Another if you have news for us."

"I cannot eat a silver stag, nor ride one. A skin of wine for my dreams, and for my news a kiss from the great oaf in the yellow cloak." The little woman cackled. "Aye, a sloppy kiss, a bit of tongue. It has been too long, too long. His mouth will taste of lemons, and mine of bones. I am too old."

"Aye," Lem complained. "Too old for wine and kisses. All you'll get from me is the flat of my sword, crone."

(ASoS, Arya VIII)

So being "kissed by fire" causes one kind of immortality, apparently, and a "kiss by lemon" may be another kind of rejuvenation technique. Since tongues and swords are symbolic equals (or closely related) in ASOIAF, the offer of a sword may be the same as agreeing to the kiss. 

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9 hours ago, Seams said:

So being "kissed by fire" causes one kind of immortality, apparently, and a "kiss by lemon" may be another kind of rejuvenation technique. Since tongues and swords are symbolic equals (or closely related) in ASOIAF, the offer of a sword may be the same as agreeing to the kiss.

I had forgotton all about the GoHH asking for a kiss in payment for her prophetic dreams. So we have 2 characters, LF and the GoHH wanting kisses from lemon characters but with different outcomes. Lem sings Jenny's Song instead of giving a kiss. LF takes a kiss from kissed by fire Alayne/Sansa but Sansa is also associated with singing; she knows all the songs (or does her dyed hair mean she's symbolically not kissed by fire at this time?).

The Hound demands a song from Sansa and she remembers the "unkiss." Actually, this last situation is similar to that of the GoHH and Lem. The kiss isn't given but a song is sung. 

Cersei drinks lemon water to freshen her breath. This is when she's woken up after dreaming of herself sitting the Iron Throne, its barbs biting into her flesh and soon after learns of Tywin's murder. She has the taste of lemons in her mouth, something the GoHH also desired. So what exactly does the lemon-kiss refresh or rejuvenate?  

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32 minutes ago, Evolett said:

So what exactly does the lemon-kiss refresh or rejuvenate?  

This could be the "Rosebud" mystery of the entire series. 

I'm betting on that old "Lamentation = Attain Lemon" anagram as a key to the solution. House Royce, lost in the Dance of Dragons (possibly the dragon pit). We saw a Royce in the first prologue and we're seeing more at the Gates of the Moon, where Sweetrobin hopes to find abundant lemon cakes.

Lemons are associated with dental health and teeth are associated with dragons. The Hardyng sigil (incorporated in the sigil of Harry the Heir) has diamonds in it, which are also associated with dragon teeth and with panes of glass (House Payne?).

But fire is also associated with dragons. Maybe one kind of kiss represents dragon fire and the other represents dragon teeth? But the Ghost of High Heart specifically requests a bit of tongue with her lemony kiss. Maybe the lemony kiss is represented by both teeth and tongue?

Ah, I bet the word "bit" in the "bit of tongue" phrase is a hint about a bite. Aerys took the tongue of Ser Ilyn, Craster took the tongue of Mance's messenger, Joffrey gave a singer a choice about losing a tongue or fingers. For some reason, the Ghost of High Heart wants a bite of the tongue of Lem Lemoncloak. 

The opposite of lemons seems to be sourleaf which may be symbolic of having a bloody mouth. Of course, red leaves are also associated with weirwoods.

Hmm. It occurs to me that a person who chews redleaf is described as having a slimy mouth. I wonder whether there is "lime" wordplay in "slimy"? We see more lemons than limes in ASOIAF, but they do appear from time to time. 

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I recently re-read @sweetsunray's post on Sansa and the Giants and came across some of her insights on Sansa's relationship to kissing that are relevant to this discussion. I've linked the relevant comment above and quote an excerpt below:

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Since then, almost every chapter of Sansa's involves an imagined or being kissed by men and boys she does not desire, or kisses are talked about, begged for or fought over.

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She could only imagine what it would be like to pull up his tunic and caress the smooth skin underneath, to stand on her toes and kiss [Loras], to run her fingers through those thick brown curls and drown in his deep brown eyes. A flush crept up her neck. (aSoS, Sansa I)

Before she could summon the servants, however, Sweetrobin threw his skinny arms around her and kissed her. It was a little boy's kiss, and clumsy. Everything Robert Arryn did was clumsy. If I close my eyes I can pretend he is the Knight of Flowers. Ser Loras had given Sansa Stark a red rose once, but he had never kissed her . . .  (aFfC, Alayne II)

Sansa's been kissed by a fool (Dontos), a dwarf and husband (Tyrion), a king (Joffrey), a father figure (Littlefinger), a little boy (Sweetrobin), groped by a singer (Marillion) and licked by a dog. But not one was a knight. Even if one argues that Sandor has become a true knight in his arc with Arya, he never actually kissed Sansa, despite her false memory of it, nor has she any idea what part he played in Arya's story. She experienced sloppy kisses, moist kisses, mint kisses, clumsy kisses and an imaginary cruel kiss (Sandor's unkiss). Not one of those kisses was a lover's kiss. And at this moment that is still her fantasy and dream - to be kissed by a handsome knight who pledges his love and devotion to her. The Hound may have given her a reality check on the knights at court, but deep down she still hopes for a true knight. Loras' red rose, his joust against Robar Royce, and the kissing theme in Sansa's arc strongly hint that Harrold will agree to the betrothal to the bastard Alayne Stone, who has no claim at all as far as people and Harrold know, and that at the very least they will share a lover's kiss.

As highlighted, Sansa has received all sorts of kisses but hasn't been kissed by the "true knight" she always dreamed of. Loras would have fit her bill  but he never kissed her. The "unkiss" she imagines from the Hound is thus related to the idea of being kissed by a "true knight," Sandor being the symbolic true knight who lives up to her expectations.

Loras gave her a red rose instead of the desired kiss. Perhaps it's not about what men might obtain by kissing her, but rather about what she gains by receiving a kiss from the right "true knight."  Like the GoHH, Sansa wants a kiss, a kiss that is right for her. The GoHH wants the kiss in payment for prophecy and instead receives a song, while Sansa receives a red rose from her knight in place of the kiss. Ygritte receives a special kiss from Jon - the "Lord's kiss." Ser Beric wakes Catelyn, transforming her into Lady Stoneheart with "the last kiss," and he also comes close to the "true knight" ideal. Perhaps we should be paying more attention to the the men who do the kissing. Maybe LF's kiss underscores Sansa's transformation into "Stone."

Edited by Evolett
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I think the salient kiss for Sansa is going to be the "clumsy" Sweetrobin kiss. (Although maybe the accumulation of varied kisses is the author's point.) 

Sweetrobin is a key character, and a person that many people want to control. He has chosen Sansa. He does not like Mya Stone or her mule. He hates Merillion, who may represent the "lion" of Lannister. He kinda likes 'Randa Royce, but we need to see the next book to understand more. Like the Bracken / Blackwood rival mistresses of Aegon IV, Randa is trying to win the affection of Sweetrobin (and Harry the Heir), leaving Alayne / Sansa out of luck. 

Aside from kissing Sansa, he has also managed to crawl into bed with her. No one else has done this (except Jeyne Poole?). We know that "bedding" is an important step in the alliance between husband and wife. The symbolism, to me, says that Sweetrobin has bestowed his favor on Sansa. To the reader, he seems like a little boy, but I think he represents the Flying Knight, so that may be Sansa's True Knight wish fulfillment (GRRM never fulfills people's wishes the ways they expect or hope). 

Sweetrobin's doll is also the "giant" that knocks down the wall of Sansa's snow castle. GRRM has never made clear exactly how the game "Come Into My Castle" works, but I suspect there is some sexual suggestion or double entendre involved. 

I'm sticking with my suspicion that Harry the Heir is going to die before he can consummate anything with Sansa. Although he might fit in one kiss. He may represent GRRM's solution to the five-year-gap with Sweetrobin, or a way for Sansa to have a flirtation with a symbolic Sweetrobin, since the literal Sweetrobin is too young. (And GRRM has already put Tommen and Margaery together, so he had to think of a different approach for Sansa's arc.)

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