I had a great Eureka! moment this morning, and it all happened before my first cup of strong, black coffee. This post is just a short update of what is in the works, and a few links to other pages to help fill you in during the interval.
Just as I was pondering what essay of thoughts to work on next (I was leaning towards a page that listed and discussed all of the many poems in all of George RR Martin’s work I could find), it came to me that…
Lord Byron is the basis for Lord Brynden Bloodraven Rivers.
Now don’t get me wrong, there has been a Bloodraven archetype in several old GRRM stories, and just about all of them are primarily a Jon or Bran figure first, with the subsequent representative character type (including verbiage) be a Bran/Bloodraven, or Jon/Bloodraven mix. In short, Jon, Bran, and Bloodraven have been around for a long time and the three of them have always been linked in past stories as one character that has been divided into three for A Song of Ice and Fire.
The shared similarities between Byron and Brynden, especially when you look at the body of George’s work as a whole, is staggering.
The past GRRM stories I recommend for this idea are:
- Fevre Dream- most information will come from this story.
- The Stone City
- Armageddon Rag
- For a Single Yesterday
- and I am sure others will be added
Understanding (or just knowing) Byron’s work, among a few other poets, will be expanded on in the upcoming essay. Martin has a calculating way of using poetry almost as a character or in-world prophecy unto themselves.
- Don Juan (1819)
- She Walks in Beauty (1813)
- Manfred (1817)
- Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812)
- Mazeppa (1819)
In the story Fevre Dream, and a few others, Martin repeats the poem She Walks in Beauty Like the Night by Lord Byron. The main character in that story, Josh York (Jon Stark), is an avid reader of poetry which is a defining anchoring theme of that book.
It is said to have been inspired by an event in Byron’s life; while at a ball, Byron saw Mrs. Anne Beatrix Wilmot, the wife of his cousin, Robert Wilmot. He was struck by her unusual beauty, and the next morning the poem was written.
It is thought that she was the first inspiration for his unfinished epic poem about Goethe, a personal hero of his. In this unpublished work, which Byron referred to in his letters as his magnum opus, he switches the gender of Goethe and gives him the same description of his cousin.
She Walks in Beauty
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
The influence of other poems George uses include the names of ships, from Fevre Dream to Ozymandias, which in turn is a direct sowing of fire consuming a white tree (weirwood). Additionally, GRRM has used parts of the poem Ozymandias to explain the tyranical nature of the iron throne. GRRM has also used certain poems to signal the oncoming of war. The Darkling stream/plain is a heavily repeated poem and thematic plot motivator.
Regarding the iron throne, George did not write the blood-drawing behemoth to be a positive symbol. No. Instead, it is a symbol of suppression, blood, and fire. A twisted, painful reminder to bow or burn. An inverse, twisted version of the weirwood tree. In the story Fevre Dream, it is the silver/blue/white ship Fevre Dream that is overpowered then suppressed by the red/black dragon Damon Julian, who then proceeds to change the look of the white ship to black and red. And the name changes as well to Ozymandias…
- GRRM: And yet, and yet… it’s still not right. It’s not the Iron Throne I see when I’m working on THE WINDS OF WINTER. It’s not the Iron Throne I want my readers to see. The way the throne is described in the books… HUGE, hulking, black and twisted, with the steep iron stairs in front, the high seat from which the king looks DOWN on everyone in the court… my throne is a hunched beast looming over the throne room, ugly and assymetric… It’s a throne made by blacksmiths hammering together half-melted, broken, twisted swords, wrenched from the hands of dead men or yielded up by defeated foes… a symbol of conquest… it has the steps I describe, and the height. From on top, the king dominates the throne room. And there are thousands of swords in it, not just a few.This Iron Throne is scary. And not at all a comfortable seat, just as Aegon intended.Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair. (<this line from the Percy Shelley poem Ozymandias, a poem GRRM uses extensively in his story Fevre Dream.)
Fattest Leech blog pages to read to follow along with the upcoming discussion:
- Bran will usher in the age of Enlightenment
- Bloodraven in The Stone City
- The Cup of Ice, the Cup of Fire
- Towers/Trees/Knowledge .vs. Pyre/Pyramid/Pyro/Destruction
- Jon Snow, Winter is coming, main page
- Daenerys fire goddess main page
Thanks for reading along with the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire. Like, share, and subscribe if you want to catch this essay when it is released.