Beyond Horrible: The Meaning of “The Dornishman’s Wife”

The song “The Dornishman’s Wife” may not mean mean what you think it means.

It is fucking horrible and sung from the perspective of the undead. 

The Dornishman’s wife was as fair as the sun,

and her kisses were warmer than spring.

But the Dornishman’s blade was made ofblack steel,

and its kiss was a terrible thing.

The Dornishman’s wife would sing as she bathed,

in a voice that was sweet as a peach,

But the Dornishman’s blade had a song of its own,

and a bite sharp and cold as a leech.

As he lay on the ground with the darkness around,

and the taste of his blood on his tongue,

His brothers knelt by him and prayed him a prayer,

and he smiled and he laughed and he sung,

“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done,

the Dornishman’s taken my life,

But what does it matter, for all men must die,

and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”

Now lets take a look at those bolded lyrics:

  • fair as the sun = Dorne is where Dawn is. The symbol of The Martells and thus Dorne is the sun. Yes they are on the Summer Sea, in the desert. It may mean is that her blood was warm… as opposed to…
  • Her kisses were warmer than spring.=  She attacked him with fire (warmer than spring).
  • The Dornishman’s blade was made of black steel, and its kiss was a terrible thing = a blade made of black steel is Valyrian steel. Dragon steel. There is no black steel blade in this entire series that is not Valyrian steel. Not a single one. There also are no known houses with Valyrian Steel swords in Dorne.This is a pretty striking thing which I believe is intentional on GRRM’s part. This black blade is by far the biggest clue something is wrong in this song. And here kiss clearly means attack, which also shows you that in the line above about her her kisses being warmer than spring wasn’t about weren’t romantic kisses. She tried to kill him with fire. That’s always a good idea.
  • sweet as a peach = Read this article and then this article to understand the meaning of the peach. Humans ate of the (Weirwood) Tree of Knowledge with “peaches.” The Others ate of one of the two trees, the Ironwood Tree of  Eternal Life and drink shade of the (long) evening.
  • But the Dornishman’s blade had a song of its own, and a bite sharp and cold as a leech = The song of ice and fire has the song of Valyrian Steel. It bites through the cold of the Wight/Other. Cold as a leech is an allusion to one person in the series, Roose Bolton. Who perhaps may actually  be the original Rat Cook and if so he would have played an important role in the prior Long Night. But I am not as confident in this as in some of my other theories.
  • with the darkness around, and the taste of his blood on his tongue = Sweet Baby Jesus… the darkness is The Long Night… and it wasn’t “his” blood on his tongue! The taste of the blood on his tongue was the Dornishman’s wife. Not her sweet kiss. Parts of the actual Dornishman’s wife. This fucking ice zombie, fucking ate her.
  • His brothers knelt by him and prayed him a prayer, and he smiled and he laughed and he sung = His brothers knelt and prayed a prayer and that brought him back from the dead. Remember Victarion started laughing in an evil way after Moqorro gave him new life as well. This was the only time the POV goes from first person to third person, signaling there is no more “Victarion” but something else there in his place.
  • for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife! = He fucking ate that poor woman. Seven save us all. And saying “all men must die” is a big hint that The Gods are the true enemy and Daenerys is a god. Read the two articles listed in “sweet as a peach” above to understand what I mean.

Ring Around The Rosies 

This is reminiscent of the very commonly held idea that the kindergarten song Ring Around The Rosies was sung about the Black Plague. Some of the arguments claim the “rosie” is the physical symptom of bubonic plague, “posies” are attempts to eliminate the smell of death, “ashes” come from cremating the dead not sure, and ” we all fall down” is mass death that ensues.

Some academics dispute this claim, but that is irrelevant. It is an extremely well known theory that GRRM would certainly have heard in researching the medieval era and diseases like leprosy for greyscale etc..

Songs help us accept life… And death.

Making it sound like sexual song like Bear and The Maiden Fair lulls you into not looking too deeply at it’s lyrics until it bashes you over the head. This why George is the absolute master.

That is why people Beyond The Wall like Mance Rayder knew the words to The Dornishman’s Wife. They knew it beyond the wall is because they are “Dornish” too.  All living people of the sun are “Dornish.”

Laughing at unDeath

Below is the passage where Victarion was reborn with the help of Moqorro. This was a curious chapter where GRRM goes from the first person POV, to the third person. Hinting that the POV character is no longer “there” anymore.

“The iron captain was not seen again that day, but as the hours passed the crew of his Iron Victory reported hearing the sound of wild laughter coming from the captain’s cabin, laughter deep and dark and mad, and when Longwater Pyke and Wulfe One-Eye tried the cabin door they found it barred. Later singing was heard, a strange high wailing song in a tongue the maester said was High Valyrian. That was when the monkeys left the ship, screeching as they leapt into the water.”

Those monkeys leapt to their actual deaths… just to avoid the undeath surrounding Victarion.

Take a dip. The bloody water’s nice.

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7 thoughts on “Beyond Horrible: The Meaning of “The Dornishman’s Wife”

  1. Interesting, I disagree though.

    You have great theories mostly focusing on the north, but the one major contributor that may help unlock other interesting possibilities at least IMO . Is that mance is rhaegar. Mance singing the dornish mans wife. Is because he lived that life, that was another one of his songs. His brothers around him were his kingsguard. If mance is rhaegar who are these people around him?

    Who is Val? Sounds like an abreviation for valyrian hmmm.
    Who is Dalla? His wife who passed away during childbirth, if only someone had warned her that if she had another child it would kill her.

    I’m not sure Rhaegar kissed a literal dornish mans wife, but he may hve had a fling with Ashara and that could have pissed off the sword of the morning.. Or it could have been bout his dornish wife.

    One other speculative guess would be the smiling knight from the Kingswood brotherhood, as he stole a kiss and jewels from Elia Martell Targaryen. And could have had the Kingswood brothers around him.
    And Arthur Dayne was there with Dawn which I believe has soul leeching properties.

    Interesting take though. Keep up the good work

    Liked by 1 person

    • At first I talked about Mance being someone else but then I changed it. Didn’t want to get into that because it would dilute my point.

      There are no Valyrian steel weapons in Dorne. The only black blades would be dragon glass or dragon steel.

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  2. I disagree as well, but there is a Valryian Steel blade in Dorne owned by House Dayne. It’s named Dawn, and it is held by the Sword of the Morning. Age of Heroes, Battle for the Dawn, Dawn, Valyrian Steel Blade…..all back up your points. I still think it’s just a fun song. Also the blades could be black due to being coated with poison like the Dornish are known to do.

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    • Sorry Joey. It is not Valyrian steel. it is forged of a fallen star. And it is milk white.
      GRRM is a master worldbuilder. he doesn’t repeating things 5x if it doesn’t have a meaning like this song of a black blade.

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  3. I think the song is simply for fun. What I do want to point out is that there is a Valyrian Steel blade in Dorne. It belongs to House Dayne, and is called Dawn. It is held by the Sword of the Morning. Now to you point and connection with Dorne, the Long Night, Age of Heroes with Valyrian blades, The Battle for the Dawn, Dawn the blade, Dorne…..I still say just for fun. The blade is more than likely black due to being coated with poison as the Dornish are known to do. Nice theory though.

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