Literary Discoveries

Call me a book nerd, I don’t care, but when I see references to literature in anything I get really excited. When I say really excited, I mean really excited. It isn’t just a passing, “Oh that’s cool,” but instead, it is something that I need to journal about and tell all my friends. If I’m watching a movie and a book reference comes up I smile proudly, having caught the reference, and then turn to whoever is near me saying, “Did you realize they are talking about ‘Of Mice and Men’ there?!” (Of Mice and Men seems to be the most referenced book in movies and tv shows I’m discovering). As I watch movies/TV shows I have to see what books all the actors are reading, and I try to read all the titles on all the bookshelves before they move off screen. (Also, if a book is mentioned that I haven’t read yet, I will add it to my list of books to read – such as ‘Watership Down’ which Sawyer reads throughout the series ‘Lost’).

There is just something beautiful about literature that awakens my creative heart, and I love how literature resonates with people so much that it finds its way woven into all forms of media – even media that seems to be replacing literature.

This past week I had two of these really awesome literary discoveries in the realm of music. Two songs came across my way and I got so excited to realize that they were both based on books from classic literature. One is based on a book that I have loved since I was a child, and the other is actually based on the book I am currently reading. So, I figured I’d share both of these songs with you, what books they are referencing, and why I loved discovering them so much. (So be prepared for a bit of literary nerdy-ness right here):

1. ‘My Name is Eustace’ by Benjamin Dunn and Friends

If you didn’t know already, by the title, this song is based on ‘Voyage of the Dawn Threader’ in the Chronicles of Narnia series. The song starts of with the part of the story where Aslan is helping Eustace turn from a dragon back into a boy. The phrases ‘you dig your claws into my chest’; ‘only you can undress all these scales and all of my shame’; ‘the waters of his grace’; and ‘only you can dress me in love again’ all point to this moment where Aslan tells Eustace to undress from his scales and wash in a pool that is before him. Eustace tries and tries again only to find that there is more to be stripped away, and that he cannot go deep enough himself. So, Aslan has to undress Eustace himself. He has to dig his claws deep into Eustace’s scales to prepare him for the cleansing.

I love this song because it reminds us of the heart of this little story: that it is God alone who can free us from whatever is keeping us in bondage. It is his grace alone that can free us, and prepare us to be made clean. I think that chorus explains it all so well:

“My name is Eustace, I’m not used to this
Grace that makes death die
My name is Eustace, I’m not used to this
Love that makes men alive.”  

2. ‘Ulysses’ by Josh Garrels

The other day I was sitting in the library with my headphones in and my music on shuffle when this song came on. I have had Josh Garrels CD ‘Love and War and the Sea In Between’ for almost a year now, and I had never really listened to all the lyrics to this song. As I was working on designing flyers for an event I caught a few words that floored me. I heard the mentioning of ‘sirens’ and was wondering what exactly he was talking about, so I listened more. Then the bridge came and it all began to make sense to me,

“So tie me to the mast of this old ship and point me home
Before I lose the one I love, before my chance is gone
I want to hold, her in, my arms”

He was singing from the perspective of Odysseus as he traveled back to Ithaca to be reunited with his wife and son. Odysseus was told that in order to get through a section of the seas he must plug the ears of all his men with wax and tie himself to the mast of his ship so that he would not give into the temptation of the beautiful sirens he would meet there. They would be singing to him and his crew trying to them to jump into the sea after them. This was a temptation that no man could resist once he heard their song. So Odysseus had himself tied to the mast – that he might not do anything – and had all the ears of his men plugged, so that he could make it back to the one he loved, and so no one else would be lost.

I love Josh Garrels interpretation of this section of the story and of how he brings a deeper love out of Homer’s classic ‘The Odyssey’ through this song. As I listened to this song I desired to have that same kind of love, where I’d risk the seas, the storms, and the dangers to get back to the one I loved. Where I’d have myself tied to the mast of my own ship as not to lose the beautiful things that I already had. That I might one day hold the one I loved in my arms again.

What are some of your recent literary discoveries?

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About Jeremiah Dowling

I write poetry and take crazy pictures in an Orange Chair all over the United States while reading amazing books.

4 responses to “Literary Discoveries”

  1. Nicholas says :

    This is an older song by Quiet as a Cathedral. The recording quality is…well, rough. But note the reference to a famous novel.

    http://quietasacathedral.bandcamp.com/album/empty-and-full

  2. Greg Poole says :

    I love this site. I have a house full of books and there is nothing like the feel of an old book in your hands and to think about the history represented.
    Gregory Poole

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