Thursday, December 13, 2018

The word timshel

Mumford and Sons song "Timshel" is part of the album Sigh No More. The word timshel is a Hebrew word meaning "thou mayest." This phrase proved as inspiration for the song as it is in Marcus Mumford, the lead singer's, favorite novel East of Eden. He says that is his favorite book because it describes man's choice between good and evil, sin and righteousness. He says that the song is a reference to a passage in the book where one of the characters describes that greatness and glory lie in man's free will and ability to chose. 

        And you have your choices
        And these are what make man great
        His ladder to the stars

According to Perrine, poetry should communicate information more intensely, show the experience of others, and help us better understand our own experiences. So through this song it is describing deep situations in which man has the opportunity to show his greatness through choice. No matter what bad experience someone has had in their life, it will impact them, but it won’t prohibit them from moving forward.
        And death is at your doorstep
        And it will steal your innocence
        But it will not steal your substance

People go through things in life but they still are able to push onward, and they aren’t alone in it. Everyone has someone who can relate to them and their experiences. People have the power to make the choices that will affect them in life, and they have to live with those choices. However, they don’t have to live with them alone. There are always people standing with and next to you to support those decisions that you make, the ones that can “make man great.”

        But you are not alone in this
        And you are not alone in this
        As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand
        Hold your hand

This hand and hand moment they are talking about incites images in many people’s heads. Most people can think of a moment in their own lives that they felt they and others were standing with each other supporting and protecting with some occasion or decision made. In addition to imagery they use metaphors to emphasize the great things that the power in a person's decision holds. The right choices in life can lead to great things which the metaphor of comparing choices to a ladder leading to the stars conveys. Our free will is our greatest glory and people can guide those they care about but can’t do anything for them. In poetry it is important to recognize the limiting factors. In life people can’t just have and do anything they want so they are trying to get a point across while also still standing by someone with the things they do have control over. These limitations bring the poetry to relate to anyone's life. Thus giving way for further comparison and imagery in their own life.

        But I will tell the night
        And whisper, "Lose your sight"
        But I can't move the mountains for you

Perrine shares that poetry widen and sharpens our contacts with experience. So with the band bringing in the reference to East of Eden they are broadening views of literature, as well as the experience that other “characters” and people have in life. Poetry allows us to become more wise by learning from other people, even if we have yet to come across a similar experience. The biggest thing they are trying to convey through this song is the importance of man’s ability and privilege to chose, and hopefully chose correctly.


  1. This is really detailed and well thought out. I definitely have a better appreciation for this song now.

  2. I really like this song, your explanation helps me to understand the message better.