Song of My People

As a child, one of my favorite elements in any fantasy novel was the song. From Redwall to Rivendell, the ringing of rhyme was a sure sign of goodness, truth, or beauty. Power absent from average speech imbued poetry. It was a higher language, a more perfect expression of thought: vehicle for frigid spells, warm revelry, and bittersweet longing alike.

As an adult, my delight in the poetic has only grown—not least because I now appreciate how difficult it can be to create.

Sadly, it seems the songs are falling silent. Whether due to a decline in writerly talent or a deliberate aesthetic eschewal, poetry is relatively absent from today’s popular fantasy. While songs may be referenced, rarely are they written. I imagine this has something to do with the ill fate of rhyme itself in a society that’s so severely attenuated the need for manual memory. I also suspect nihilism is involved: i.e. that uninhibited displays of un-ironic enthusiasm have become a bit of an embarrassment. That sort of thing is for kids, not Dark & Gritty Adults™ who stand aloof from a meaningless existence.

But the lure of fantasy is the lure of the past. It’s the thrill of rediscovery, the vicarious scratching of that itch in the back of the mind which whispers that ancient knowledge has been forgotten and former greatness lost.

And so I say to my characters, sing away! The song of your people is also that of mine.

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