History of “The Bear and The Maiden Fair”
The thing that I love most about Game of Thrones is the creativity that the writers and directors employ to pay tribute to the phenomenal series by George R. R. Martin, on which it is based. In the latest episode – Walk of Punishment – we learned one of the traditional songs of Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms, “The Bear and The Maiden Fair”. The song was introduced in two clever ways. First, it was being sung by the men holding Brienne and Jaime as they travel North on horseback. The second time we heard it, it came blaring through our television speakers in the seconds following the shocking moment when Jaime Lannister loses his right hand. The contrast from the shocking screams of Jaime to the modern rock rendition of the song by The Hold Steady was superb, and provided the perfect backdrop for everyone left reeling from the shocking end!
So, for anyone who doesn’t read the series and doesn’t quite understand why this song is so important, here’s a little history:
- What is it?
A traditional song sung throughout the Seven Kingdoms. It describes in a humorous tone the story of a hairy bear that rescues a maiden (who was hoping for a knight) while attending a fair.
- Who sings it?
It’s enjoyed by both the nobles and commoners of Westeros.
- Why is it important?
It symbolizes the relationships of some of our more major characters throughout the story of “A Song of Fire and Ice.” In particular, it seems to symbolize the relationships between Sansa and The Hound, Ser Jorah and Daenerys, and Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister.
It is particularly representative of Jorah and Dany, as the sigil of House Mormont is a bear and the fair skin and hair of the maiden is signature to House Targaryen.
It strongly represents Sansa’s desires for a strong knight in Season 1, like King Joffrey or Ser Loras. But when the False King Joff proves to be a monster, her rescue comes from the bear-like Sandor Clegane.
It is also humorously representative of the relationship between Brienne and Tarth, but in an effort to not reveal book spoilers, I will not elaborate!
- What are the lyrics?
“A bear there was, A bear, A BEAR! All black and brown, And covered with hair!”
“Oh come they said, Oh come to the fair! The fair? said he, But I’m a bear!”
“All black and brown, And covered in hair! And down the road,”
“From here to there, From here! To there!”
“Three boys, a goat, And a dancing bear! They danced and spun, All the way to the fair!”
“Oh! sweet she was, And pure and fair, The maid with honey, In her hair! Her hair,”
“The maid with honey, in her hair! The bear smelled the scent, On the summer air!”
“The Bear! The Bear! All black and brown, And covered with hair!”
“He smelled the scent, On the summer air, He sniffed and roared, And smelled it there!”
“Honey on the summer air! Oh I’m a maid, And I’m pure and fair, I’ll never dance,”
“With a hairy bear, A bear! A bear! I’ll never dance, With a hairy bear!”
“The bear, the bear! Lifted her high, into the air! The bear, the bear!”
“I called for a knight! But you’re a bear!”
“A bear! A bear, All black and brown, And cover in hair!”
“She kicked and wailed, The maid so fair, But he licked the honey, From her hair!”
“Her hair! Her hair! He licked the honey, From her hair!”
“Then she sighed and squealed, And kicked the air, She sang: My bear so fair,”
“And off they went, The bear! The bear! And the maiden fair!”
- Where can I hear it?
RIGHT HERE, OF COURSE!