Hozier: Angel Of Small Death And The Codeine Scene Meaning
Angel Of Small Death And The Codeine Scene Lyrics
Toying somewhere between love and abuse
Calling to join them the wretched and joyful
Shaking the wings of their terrible youths
Freshly dissolved in some frozen devotion
No more alone or myself...
My interpretation of this song is Hozier’s celebration of love and sex, as linked with his other song ‘Take Me To Church’, it explores the pain and pleasure aspect of gay identity.
As in the aforementioned song, Hozier has used the female pronoun to refer to homosexuality as well as his description of ‘my kin’ like the LGBT community being ‘bold’ and ‘boyful’ coining a neologism to describe boyishness which is often related to beauty. “Feeling more human” is very much like Hozier’s line “Only then I am human, only then I am complete.” and the caterpillar to butterfly aspect of them“Shaking the wings of their terrible youths” showing strength growing from pain which is a staple of a community which is widely rejected during youth. The eagerness to join in the community in the second line, “Calling to join them the wretched and joyful” furthers this song’s identity as a celebration of freedom, juxtaposing the “wretched” view from the outsider, and the joyful view of the insider. Showing how differently they define the LGBT community.
“And lease this confusion, I'll wander the concrete Wonder if better now having survived Jarring of judgement and reasons defeat” The character has become unambiguous, he is no longer confused. Pondering how his rejection and judgement has hurt him and also made him stronger. The hate and judgement is confusing to the gay character because to him this is the most natural thing in the world. “Freshly disowned in some frozen devotion.” Referring again to Hozier’s antipathy to parental rejection and religious homophobia on these grounds, describing their faith as frozen and the feeling of abandonment ‘Fresh’ as if still hurting.
However the sexual partner of the Angel of Small Death, as one of the other Youtube Commenters pointed out, is a reference to orgasm, is described as having “her arms hard and lean” using the juxtaposition of the female pronoun to show her generally masculine features of being ‘hard and lean’ furthering the idea of a celebration of sex between men. The Codeine scene refers to codeine – a painkiller – a metaphor to suggest making love is a healing aspect, blocking out the pain the character has experienced.
The song is by no mean short on indicators of the pain experienced in rejection and revelation of their gay identity but specifically it is a celebration of something homophobes might label as ‘sordid’ but it is being embraced by the ‘I’ personage. The consensual and willing nature of the sex is emphasised again and again. “no protest from me” “With her sweetened breath, and her tongue so mean” “hooked on her flesh” “The sweet heat of her breath in my mouth I'm alive” Finally the sexual imagery is unmistakable in the culmination of the pain and pleasure theme in the chorus. “Bloody and raw, but I swear it is sweet” defying the popular image of sex being solely negative, and the sweetness of the experience from the perspective of the participant. It encapsulates the pain but also is quick to emphasise this is an intensely pleasurable experience despite the pain.
In conclusion, this song seems to be celebrating the natural, humanising, joyful effect of making love which explains the sexy tone and sensuality as well as the intense emotion of sex from the view of the gay person, examining how the pain and pleasure runs throughout the life of the LGBT community.
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