Week Two – Theme Song


The plan was to write about The Horse and His Boy. I spent days trying to think of something that could fit the story of Shasta, Bree, Aravis, and Hwin. I can’t tell you how many times I listened to the Kingdom of Heaven soundtrack.

In the end, I stared at my bookcase, and this little one kept winking at me as if to say, “You know you want to write about me, Em.”

I think I might be incapable of writing about anything other than children’s and young adult literature.

Book Meme 2012: Week Two – Theme Song

    “We need a place,” she said, “just for us. It would be so secret that we could never tell anyone in the whole world about it.” Jess came swinging back and dragged his feet to stop. She lowered her voice almost to a whisper. “It might be a whole secret country,” she continued, “and you and I would be the rulers of it.”

    Her words stirred inside of him. He’d like to be a ruler of something. Even something that wasn’t real.

    – Chapter Four, “Rulers of Terabithia”

Book: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Songs: “Hoppípolla” by Sigur Rós and “Long Live” by Taylor Swift

I am extremely protective of Bridge To Terabithia. It’s a book I was first introduced to when I was the ten-year-old new girl in school who carried her dad’s beat up copies of the Narnia books in her backpack and made up her own imaginary land on the school playground.

Sound familiar?

The story of Terabithia’s connection with me is long and not relevant to this post, but I will say that each time I reconnect with this story, I have been challenged. I have a couple of literary traditions – every Christmas I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, and every Easter I read Bridge to Terabithia. This year, I was again struck with something that both convicts me and gives me hope.

The story deals with death – senseless, tragic death – and most readers tend to fixate on that. Rightly so, too. The death is unexpected and disturbing. What I rarely hear people discuss is the character Jesse Aarons’ decision to survive. Too often it’s his struggle with his grief that people are concerned about – his confusion over Leslie’s death, his anger – but isn’t that what grief is?

What I saw in my last reading not that long ago was that Jess makes the decision to move on with his life, even though he’s still suffering.

    It was Leslie who had taken him from the cow pasture into Terabithia and turned him into a king. He had thought that was it. Wasn’t king the best you could be? Now it occurred to him that perhaps Terabithia was like a castle where you came to be knighted. After you stayed for awhile and grew strong you had to move on. For hadn’t Leslie, even in Terabithia, tried to push back the walls of his mind and make him see beyond to the shining world – huge and terrible and beautiful and very fragile? (Handle with care – everything – even the predators.)

    Now it was time for him to move out. She wasn’t there, so he must go for both of them. It was up to him to pay back to the world in beauty and caring what Leslie had loaned him in vision and strength.

    – Chapter Thirteen, “Building the Bridge”

The song “Hoppípolla” is one of my favorites. Its music is ethereal, and as it’s in both Icelandic and the band’s own made-up language Vonlenska (“Hopelandic” in English), I thought it was appropriate for a book about two misfits creating their own imaginary world.

I was curious as to what the lyrics were. Would they “fit” with the story? I had a vague recollection of my brother explaining that the title translated as “jumping into puddles.” That seemed a whimsical enough of a start, but what about the rest?

Thanks to the power of the internet, I have a translation for you all. If I had to place this song in a “scene,” I think it would fit during Jess and Leslie’s last trip to Terabithia together when it rains and they run barefoot through the mud and puddles.

Smiling
Spinning in circles
Holding hands
The whole world blurred
Unless you stand

Soaked
Completely drenched
No rubber boots
Running into us
Wants to burst out of the shell

The wind
And outdoor smell of your hair
I hit as hard as I can
With my nose

Jumping into puddles
With no boots
Completely soaked (drenched)
With no boots

And I get a nosebleed
But I always get up
(Hopelandic)
And I get a nosebleed
And I always get up
(Hopelandic)

I especially like the last stanza – the change in the use of the conjunction (“but” to “and”) shows the change in the singer. He might get hurt, but don’t worry, he can get up. Even though he’s still bleeding, he knows he can survive.

He always gets up.

    As for the terrors ahead – for he did not fool himself that they were all behind him – well, you just have to stand up to your fear and not let it squeeze you white. Right, Leslie?

    Right.

    – Chapter Thirteen, “Building the Bridge”

There is another song that I think fits this novel, and that is Taylor Swift’s “Long Live.” At five minutes and eighteen seconds, it’s very loquacious, just like Taylor.

Just like Leslie, the girl who always knew the right words to say.

Long, long live the walls we crashed through,
All the kingdom lights shined just for me and you,
And I was screaming, long live all the magic we made,
And bring on all the pretenders! I’m not afraid!

Singing, long live all the mountains we moved,
I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you,
And long, long live the look on your face,
And bring on all the pretenders! One day
We will be remembered.

So long live, my friends.

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4 thoughts on “Week Two – Theme Song

  1. Hey! I just read this and I don’t know if you still keep up with your old posts but I just wanted to comment that I really love Bridge to Terebithia too. I was introduced to it in the 6th grade and at that time I always had my head in the clouds. Everyone else had turned to different recess activities while I was off adventuring on a new island or saving a princess from a curse. Leslie is and will always be a fictional representation of me and I’m glad I found someone else who love BTT as much as I do

    • Thank you so much for the comment! It’s always nice to hear from people who like the same books as me, especially those who have a deep personal connection to them. 🙂

  2. I don’t know what happened to me after week two of the book meme, but I completely forgot that I had a blog. When I came back to it today, I remembered that you worked on one as well. I love this post. I have never read Bridge to Terebithia, but I think I want to read it now. I’ve joined a book club, so I’ll have to work it in later in the summer.

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