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During an emotional pre-battle montage on Sunday’s Game of Thrones, sweet Podrick Payne (played by Daniel Portman) sang a song which readers of George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire books might recognise. Referred to as “Jenny’s Song,” the tune didn’t have lyrics in the books but was given new life for the latest episode of the HBO drama.

The Ghost of High Heart and “Jenny’s Song”

In one of Arya‘s chapters in A Storm of Swords, the third book in Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, she’s traveling with the Brotherhood Without Banners when they visit a mystical place called High Heart.

High Heart is a hill where dozens of weirwood tree stumps still exist, signalling the importance of the location to the Children of the Forest and Old Gods of Westeros. While there, a small woman called the Ghost of High Heart approaches Arya’s party. She says she’ll tell them about her “dreams” in exchange for some wine and a song.

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Beric Dondarrion leads the Brotherhood Without Banners in both the books and the show. Credit: HBO

The song she requests is simply referred to as “Jenny’s song,” and we never get the lyrics in Martin’s book. Instead, Arya just notices that the Ghost of High Heart cries as she sings along to the tune. The “Jenny” in the song refers to a character in Martin’s books from decades-past named Jenny of Oldstones. Some fans have theorised that Jenny and the Ghost of High Heart are the same person, but the relationship between the two remains mysterious.

As for the dreams the Ghost speaks of, they all seem to be prophetic. She describes one as “a maid at a feast with purple serpents in her hair, venom dripping from their fangs.” This dream represents Sansa Stark wearing the purple poison crystals at King Joffrey‘s wedding.

But that event wouldn’t happen until much later in the book, which means the Ghost of High Heart was sensing the future.

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In the books, the poisoned gems Sansa wears are in a hairnet instead of a necklace. Credit: HBO

All this to say, “Jenny’s Song” is linked to Martin’s books at a point where much of the lore and fantasy intersect with Arya’s storyline. This makes it a fitting choice for season eight, episode two, when so many of our beloved characters seem to be circling the drain as the Great War approaches Winterfell’s gates.

Podrick’s version of the ballad included never-before-seen lyrics

When Podrick began his somber tune (a fitting reference to an iconic song-based scene from “Lord of the Rings: The Return of King”), book readers likely immediately noticed the mention of Jenny.

Podrick Payne singing Jenny's song on Game of Thrones HBO
Daniel Portman as Podrick on “Game of Thrones” season eight, episode two. Credit: HBO

Here are the full lyrics to the version Podrick sang on Sunday’s episode:

This isn’t the first time Game of Thrones has pulled a song reference from Martin’s books and brought it to life on the show. “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” as well as “The Rains of Castamere” were each memorably used on the third season of the show.

Then, last season, Ed Sheeran had his divisive cameo appearance where he sang “Hands of Gold,” a tune from the books that was worked into Tyrion Lannister‘s tragic love story with Shae.

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Gilly, baby Sam, and Sam Tarly cozied up in bed. Credit: HBO

Podrick’s rendition of “Jenny’s Song” was set over a montage of the various characters in Winterfell preparing for the battle against the Night King‘s Army of the Dead. Sam and Gilly lay in bed together with baby Sam, and Sansa and Theon shared what could be their final meal together. Grey Worm and Missandei shared a passionate kiss, and Ser Jorah rode out to take his place among the troops.

Later, another version sang by Welsh band Florence and the Machine played as the credits rolled.

“When I first heard the song it sounded like a Celtic lullaby to me,” Florence said in an HBO press release. “Celtic music has always been in my blood, so I felt like I could do something with it. The magic and ritual in ‘Game of Thrones,’ not to mention the costumes, have always appealed to me. I am honoured to be a part of the final season.”

The ballad was a perfect mood-setter for the heartbreak that’s sure to come as our heroes fight for their lives. Many will surely fall, even if they didn’t want to leave this world quite yet.

Image: HBO