Hozier’s “Eat Your Young” Lyrics Meaning
Hozier hasn’t really been active in terms of releasing songs since the onset of the 2020s. He started his music career off with a bang in 2013 with the release of his debut track, “Take Me to Church“, which to date firmly stands as his signature hit.
The album it is featured on, the self-titled LP Hozier dropped in 2014, was also a multi-platinum success. And his sophomore full-length, “Wasteland, Baby!”, fared well for itself critically, topping the Billboard 200 and Irish Albums Chart. But he has not released a studio album since then, and his most-recent EP, Spotify Singles, also dates back to 2019.
That is until Rubyworks Records, which Hozier has been down with since day one, released “Eat Your Young” on 17 March 2023. This is the title track to a three-song EP which came out concurrently.
“EAT YOUR YOUNG”, HOZIER’S HARROWING ANTIWAR SONG
Hozier has revealed that this song was inspired by Dante’s Inferno, the most-famous segment of the Divine Comedy, a 14th century work which is generally considered to be the most-outstanding piece of Italian literature ever.
Dante’s Inferno revolves around a concept known as “the 9 Circles of Hell”, which each circle representing a different level of punishment sinners are relegated to based on their specific moral shortcoming.
In this case, it has been put forth that Hozier is most specifically relating to the Third Circle of Hell which, according to the book, is the place where the souls of those who practiced gluttony are imprisoned to reside.
The influence of that piece can be felt in a way, in that the wording of this song is heavily symbolic, akin to what you would expect from an author of fine literature. But all things considered, Hozier is not referring to the likes of spiritual suffering per se. Instead, he’s rather pointing to excruciating, nuclear-fueled physical lamentation.
The wording of the second verse especially can be interpreted in that regard. For instance, “the heat get(ting) to you” can be taken as a reference to that which is searingly generated by the detonation of a nuclear bomb.
Under such circumstances, our “dressing”, i.e. skin, would in fact “start to peel” if you’re close enough to ground zero. And indeed “old and young are welcome to the meal”, i.e. everyone – regardless of age or whatever criteria – within the range of such an event accordingly being adversely affected.
Pull up the ladder when the flood comes
Throw enough rope until the legs have swung
Seven new ways that you can eat your young
Come and get some
Skinning the children for a war drum
Putting food on the table selling bombs and guns
It’s quicker and easier to eat your young”
In terms of the title of this song, “eat(ing) your young” is actually a practice that occurs amongst some species within the animal kingdom. But as far as we human beings being accused of doing so, again, Hozier is being symbolic.
A simpler way of interpreting the point he seems to be getting at in relation to that phrase is along the lines of us basically being willing to potentially sacrifice our own children to warfare.
Of course not all of us are part of the military industrial complex, as the commercial side of the war machine is called. And yes, this song does read as if it is most specifically aimed at individuals and entities who actually profit from the sale of arms for instance.
But honestly, there is also a more-general feel to the lyrics, as if Hozier is also trying to tell those of us not directly involved in such actions that we should be aware of our own roles in the grand scheme of things. And it is such sentiments that make this a somewhat cleverly-veiled antiwar song.
The vocalist is able to address the military-industrial complex and others who actually support war for monetary gain. They, it can be gleaned, are the primary ones risking ‘eating their own young’. But it can also be theoretically ascertained that he is criticizing those of us who feed the machine, if you will, as if catastrophes such as nuclear war can’t happen.
the heat get(ting) to you
Of the second verse
Interestingly, I’d taken that as perhaps a reference to climate change & global warming
That makes sense too