I am reading Hild, having heard of it through my friend Rob Hardy’s review, and enjoying it immensely. The mix of ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ cultural details works wonderfully well, and creates a world the reader can begin to understand, rather than just observe.
But I have a question re: the song on page 211… Edwin’s gesiths are singing a drinking song beginning “Do your ears hang low…” etc.
When my now husband and I met, in Wisconsin summer stock, 1955, we were just a couple of theatre struck kids, and prone to acting out all sorts of things… At one maybe slightly drunken moment, Victor sang all his Delta Tau Delta (Univ. of Missouri at Columbia) fraternity drinking songs to me…
(What could he possibly have been thinking was the attraction ???)
But the point is, he sang that song, virtually word for word, with the substitution of a ‘continental’ soldier, and optional body parts!
My question then… is the use of that song: was it actually traced somehow, or was it something you had heard and found exactly appropriate for the scene?
Rob’s review is one I particularly enjoyed. So please thank him from me.
The song is one I heard, long ago, from rugby union players in the UK—probably exactly the way your husband-to-be sang it, that is, not with ears. It’s an idiotic song that conveys the all-male, privileged upbringing of how I imagined gesiths. No, there’s no evidence that men were singing this 1400 years ago, but to me it conveys the essential boyness of gesith culture, and I thought it would convey that to readers, too.
I wrote a lot of song and poems for Hild but didn’t include most of them in the finished text. I didn’t want it to remind readers of The Lord of the Rings and all that tedious elvish poetry. (I love many things about LotR but the poetry and songs are not among them.)
If you want to read an example of the not-used songs and poetry, you can find them here and here and here respectively.