Mumford and Sons, or 'Macbeth'?

A couple weeks ago, as I was completing my assigned reading from Macbeth, I came across a line that I had seen before. In fact, I had not only seen it before, but I’ve actually belted the line at the top of my lungs whilst standing in the second row at a music festival. “Why on Earth would you be singing a line from Shakespeare, Jenna?” you might ask. Actually, the line, “Stars hide your fires;/ Let not light see my black and deep desires”, is used almost word for word in the Mumford and Sons song “Roll Away Your Stone”. As a huge Mumford and Sons fan, I was undoubtedly excited to find yet another literary reference in their music.

 

Source: http://38.media.tumblr.com/b1f6d0d98158dea54e5e9e3174ce5954/tumblr_nfaqezZgS81s5gegqo1_500.gif

 

The band has actually written quite a few songs based on books that they’ve read with some references. The song “Babel”, for example, being more obvious than others. Other literature that they have taken inspiration from includes additional works of Shakespeare, various stories from the Bible, and multiple Steinbeck novels. In interviews, the band has often emphasized how important reading is to them, and the lead singer, Marcus Mumford, actually had a book club on their blog for a couple of years. Although the posts were infrequent, Mumford used them as a way to keep himself motivated to read and as a way to interact with his fans through literature.

Source: http://33.media.tumblr.com/2539d49a2bee86e26fbe5f6e9abfb35a/tumblr_nuj6bl6SGn1se0ryso2_400.gif

 

Personally, I love that the band has chosen to write their songs using the books that have impacted their lives, and as a follower, I’ve really enjoyed finding snippets of their songs embedded in the texts I read. This past May I even sought out a book that lead them to write one of my favorite songs. The song, “Timshel”, is based on the novel East of Eden by John Steinbeck, which rethinks the Cain and Abel story from Genesis. The word Timshel is a Hebrew word that means “thou mayest”, and the discovery of its true meaning in the context of the biblical story is an important symbol in the novel’s narrative. The book seemed to move Mumford and Sons enough to use it in their lyrics, and after reading it, I can see why. I fell in love with the story, and it ended up prompting me to incorporate the word timshel into my tattoo. Mumford and Sons has been able to touch a lot of people with their personal, spirited songs, and I think that this is due in part to their literary background. Reading allows one to understand the human experience better and to better empathize what resonates with people, and I’m sure that’s something that we, as Kenyon students, can attest to.

Source: http://38.media.tumblr.com/5e7f129ba0f5ebbdf93d8711c0d7e58b/tumblr_mr2fnzn9ue1squrn5o1_400.gif