Meaning of “Abstract (Psychopomp)” by Hozier

There’s a lot of inspiration and influences behind Hozier’s “Abstract (Psychopomp)”song. First, it has something to do with Dante’s Inferno. This is a classic piece of Italian religious literature which influenced (almost) the entirety of “Unreal Unearth”, Hozier’s album from which this track is derived. 

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Hozier's Abstract (Psychopomp) at Lyrics.org.

Secondly, the singer had an experience as a child in which he witnessed someone run out into traffic in the name of attending to an animal that got hit by a car. The person put their own wellbeing at risk in the name of caring for a creature who had already been mortally wounded. Needless to say, witnessing that scene obviously moved Hozier.

Meaning of Psychopomp

With the above in mind, it should be noted that “psychopomp” is actually a designation given to entities who are tasked with guiding dead people. These entities guide spirits to whatever fate they’ve received in the afterlife. 

The aforementioned Dante’s Inferno (or most specifically the book it is a part of, the Divine Comedy) is a story set in the afterlife. And presumably, Hozier viewed the person who moved that animal to the side of the road, where it eventually expired, as sort of a psychopomp.

All of that said, good luck trying to relate the above to what’s being put forth in the song. The pre-chorus does mention “the poor thing in the road, its eye still glistening”. This is obviously an allusion to the aforenoted animal. But outside of that observation, the lyrics don’t seem to have anything readily discernible to do with death, the afterlife or Dante’s Inferno.

Abstract

The word “abstract” is mentioned once, in the bridge. It is part of a sentence which reads in full as follows:

“Darling, there’s a part of me
I’m afraid will always be
Trapped within an abstract from a moment of my life”

Obviously, considering usage of the word “darling”, Hozier is addressing a romantic interest. And perhaps what he’s expressing can be interpreted along the lines of regretting that their relationship fell apart, though again, it’s not abundantly clear what’s being put forth comprehensively.

But putting all of the above ideas together, it may be that the addressee is someone whom the singer is in love with that has passed away. But with that being hypothesized, it should be pointed out that this song has proven especially challenging to conclusively decipher, even amongst actual Hozier fans. 

What is generally discernible though is that it possesses a romantic element. So ultimately, it is up to the listener to piece together, based on these lyrics, what the vocalist being in love, as overtly expressed in the second verse, may have to do with an act of compassion towards a dying animal and the afterlife in the mind of Hozier.

Credits for “Abstract (Psychopomp)”

Hozier and the following songwriters receiving co-writing credits for “Abstract (Psychopomp)”:

  • Stuart Johnson
  • Daniel Krieger
  • Bēkon

But the men above weren’t the only ones who wrote this song. The following producers (who produced the song) also receive writing credits:

  • Rappy
  • Craig Balmoris
  • Tyler Mehlenbacher
  • Pete G

Another producer named Chakra also served as an additional producer.

Release Date

“Abstract (Psychopomp)” is the 14th track on the playlist of Hozier’s album “Unreal Unearth”. The song wasn’t released as a single. Owing to this, it hit the marketplace together with its album on the same date. And the date in question is 18 August 2023.

Abstract (Psychopomp)

1 Response

  1. Anonymous says:

    Why was this not released as a single?
    It is the most moving, stunningly gorgeous song on an extraordinary album.

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