Hunger of the Pine – Unraveling the Melancholic Symphony of Desire


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for alt-J's Hunger of the Pine at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. A Forest of Symbols: Unmasking the Poetic Veil
  5. Echoes of a Distant Battlefield: War and Armor
  6. The Rebel’s Cry: A Sample that Speaks Volumes
  7. The Lingering Ache of Love’s Hunger
  8. A Reverie in Français: The Song’s Hidden Meaning

Lyrics

Sleeplessly embracing
Butterflies and needles
Line my seamed-up join
Encased in case I need it
In my stomach, for my heart
Chain mail

Hunger of the pine
Hunger of the pine

Sleeplessly embracing
Yawn yearns into me
Plenty more tears in the sea
And so you finally use it
Bedding with me you see at night
Your heart wears knight armour

Hunger of the pine
(I’m a female rebel)
(I’m a female rebel)
(I’m a female rebel)
Sleeplessly
Embracing
You

Realization grew on me
As quickly as it takes your hand
To warm the cool side of the pillow
I’m there for you, be there for me
I’ll hum the song the soldiers sing
As they march outside our window
Hunger of the pine

Sleeplessly
Embracing
Sleeplessly
Embracing
You

(I’m a female rebel)
Sleeplessly
Embracing
(I’m a female rebel)
Sleeplessly
Embracing
You

(Une immense espérance a traversé la terre)
(Une immense espérance a traversé ma peur)

Full Lyrics

In a tranquil collision of eclectic sounds and poetic sensibilities, alt-J’s ‘Hunger of the Pine’ is less a track and more a dreamscape painted with the shades of longing. The British indie rock band, known for their esoteric and evocative music, invites listeners into a labyrinth of feeling, depth, and wistfulness with a single that is as haunting as it is beautiful.

The song, embedded in alt-J’s signature polyphonic style, is layered with meanings that pull at the listener from multiple angles. In the ache of the melody and the rawness of the lyrics, ‘Hunger of the Pine’ is an ode to yearning that both soothes and unsettles the soul.

A Forest of Symbols: Unmasking the Poetic Veil

alt-J weaves a dense tapestry of images that, on the surface, converge into a narrative of loss and love. ‘Butterflies and needles,’ a juxtaposition of the delicate and the painful, captures a sense of vulnerability that reverberates throughout the song. The ‘seamed-up join,’ suggestive of a wound both physical and emotional, exposes the intersections of human fragility.

However, the butterfly, a symbol of transformation, coupled with the sharp intrusion of needles, projects the tension of growth—of an uncertain metamorphosis where pain is an inseparable companion. Sleepless embraces and yearning yawns become metaphoric of a restless search for connection and closure.

Echoes of a Distant Battlefield: War and Armor

There’s an underlying martial imagery that underpins ‘Hunger of the Pine.’ The song’s references to ‘chain mail’ and ‘knight armour’ present love and desire as a battlefield where one must protect oneself from the onslaught of emotions. The hollowness of a hunger left unfilled is akin to an emotional void that echoes the emptiness after a war.

The ‘song the soldiers sing’ further stamps this notion, implying a march that is everlasting and weary. These soldiers outside the bedroom window aren’t just characters passing by—they are specters of the battles one fights internally, their anthems a haunting backdrop to the personal strife within the protagonist.

The Rebel’s Cry: A Sample that Speaks Volumes

Amidst the spectral quality of the song sits the persistent sample of Miley Cyrus’s voice—’I’m a female rebel’—a stark intrusion that may at first seem dissonant. This deliberate dissonance injects a raw pulse into the composition, invoking themes of independence and defiance in the face of emotional encroachment.

In this persistent refrain, the listener is compelled to confront the concepts of rebellion not just against others, but also against the confines of one’s own heart; to be a ‘rebel’ could mean rejecting the poignant hunger or embracing it wholly as a fundamental aspect of the human experience.

The Lingering Ache of Love’s Hunger

The heart of ‘Hunger of the Pine’ beats to the rhythm of an insatiable yearning, a hunger for love, or perhaps for understanding. This yearning is captured in the visceral repetition of the song’s title itself, manifesting a physical hunger for the pine—perhaps for something evergreen, or the prickle of something alive and enduring.

What alt-J succeeds in doing is portraying that particular ache that accompanies desire; it is not simply the lack of something but the profound need for what is absent—a presence deeply intertwined with a sense of self.

A Reverie in Français: The Song’s Hidden Meaning

The inclusion of French lines—’Une immense espérance a traversé la terre’ and ‘Une immense espérance a traversé ma peur’—which translate to ‘A great hope crossed the earth’ and ‘A great hope crossed my fear,’ add a layer of universal longing that transcends language barriers and amplifies the song’s emotional charge.

This ‘great hope’ serves as an unexpected silver lining in the texture of the song, suggesting that within the depths of desolation there lies the potential for redemption and renewal. It encourages listeners to acknowledge that out of the ‘immense fear’ blooms an equally ‘immense hope,’ craftily hinting at the cyclical nature of despair and hope, of hunger and satiation.

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