"The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle the Thistles Undone)" as written by and Colin Meloy....
My true love went riding out
In white and green and gray
Past the pale of Offa's Wall
Where she was want to stray
And there she came upon
A white and wounded fawn

Singing
Oh, oh
The hazards of love

She, being full of charity,
A credit to her sex
Saught to right the fawn's hind legs
When here her plans were vexed
The taiga shifted strange
The beast began to change

Singing
Oh, oh
The hazards of love
Singing
Oh, oh oh oh
The hazards of love
You'll learn soon enough
The prettiest whistles won't wrestle the thistles undone
Undone

Fifteen lithesome maidens lay
Along in their bower
Fourteen occupations pay
To pass the idle hour

Margret heaves a sigh
Her hands clasped to her thigh

Singing
Oh, oh
The hazards of love
Singing
Oh, oh oh oh
The hazards of love
You'll learn soon enough
The prettiest whistles won't wrestle the thistles undone
Undone
Undone
Undone
Undone


Lyrics submitted by MarcelLionheart, edited by pkmnavy

The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle the Thistles Undone) song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentHere's my interpretation of the entire album... the songs are really too entwined to analyze them on their own:

    Margaret is a noblewoman who is bored with her life of leisure. She often goes riding out into the forest, which is typically a dangerous place for a defenseless woman. On one of her many ventures into the forest she comes across a wounded fawn and stops to help it. It turns out to be William, who changes shape (probably because it got dark since he seems to be restricted to the shape of a fawn during the day), they get it on, and she becomes pregnant. She returns to her castle but, unlike the other noblewomen who find small tasks to occupy their time, she can't focus on anything other than William.

    A nun notices that Margaret seems distracted and guesses that she's pregnant. The nun wonders when Margaret will either A) give birth and drown the baby in the cistern (well) or B) drown herself and save her family the shame of having an unwed daughter give birth. Margaret starts showing and decides that she won't drown herself or the baby. Instead she'll return to the forest and try to find William. The heavy "danger" musical theme first appears here. It is used throughout the album to signify when Margaret is in danger or when the Queen is near (which is probably the same thing).

    Margaret is walking through the forest looking for William and asking the forest to help her find him. She makes it clear that, even though she is pregnant enough to feel the baby move inside her, she still wants to make love to William once she finds him. William realizes that she's looking for him and calls for her as well.

    They find each other and make a bed in the forest. William confesses that he's never loved anyone like this before and would give up everything for their love (I'd wager all). Falling in love so deeply that nothing else matters is a hazard of love. They get it on all night long.

    Margaret comments on how lovely the night has been and tells William that she's pregnant (as if he couldn't tell). They had a lot of sex and are both rather pleased with how the evening has gone. They are excited about the baby Margaret is expecting. Margaret nods off.

    William's musical theme first appears here. It is used throughout the rest of the album whenever they need to make it clear that William is present but he doesn't have anything to say. He greets his mother, the Queen, who has crept up on them, and tells her that the desire to be human, be with other humans, comes and goes and he really wants to be human tonight. She isn't pleased and lays on a pretty hefty guilt trip. She saved his life and he repays her by running off with the first girl he meets? He acknowledges that he owes her his life but she also owes him a life of his own. He promises to return to her (presumably forever) at daybreak if she'll let him have this night with Margaret and meet his child (b/c Margaret is about to pop). The Queen considers it and accepts the proposition. He gets one night with Margaret then must leave her forever and never again venture into the world of man.

    I saw the musical interlude as William and Margaret spending a loving, tender night together. Eventually they both fall asleep.

    The Rake is introduced. He is an awful man who feels no remorse for killing his three small children and is now out to get laid without the consequences and responsibilities of marriage. The Rake has seen William and Margaret together and decides to abduct Margaret for his pleasure. While Williams sleeps, the Rake binds Margaret's hands (probably gags her so she can't call out and wake William), flings her over his horse and gallops away.

    The Rake comes to the wide, deep, fast flowing river and is trying to figure out how to get across. The Queen notices his predicament and, since she is no fan of Margaret, helps the Rake cross the river. The Queen assumes that, with Margaret physically missing William will forget about her and return to his mother, like a child should. Essentially, the Queen is having trouble accepting that her son has grown up. She thinks she's provided him with everything he could want or need and doesn't see why he would give that up to be with Margaret. The Rake escapes across the river with Margaret, back to his own fortress, which can't be far from the river because William will later her Margaret's cries on the other side.

    William wakes up and notices Margaret is missing. He follows the Rake's tracks to the river but knows that he can't make it across on his own. His mother is not going to help him across (says he'll drown if he tries). So he barters with the river, offering his life on the return trip if the river will just let him save Margaret now. The river agrees after some pleading.

    Meanwhile, the Rake has Margaret restrained within his fortress. She has apparently been resisting his advances but he assures her that eventually he'll break her spirit and will have his way with her. It's implied that he has been beating her. Margaret calls for William (which he hears across the river) and the Rake tells her it's no good. No one will find her until he's done with her and, presumably, dumps her body.

    William rushes in and, as implied by the vigorous use of his musical theme, fights with and conquers the Rake. The Rake's dead children return to accompany him forever in the afterlife. The Rake's death is another hazard of love (meddling with true love).

    William's theme is used again, joyously this time, to signify the reunion of William and Margaret and their escape from the Rake's fortress. William realizes that he wants to be with Margaret forever and will never be willing to return to his mother as he promised.

    The Rake's abuse has resulted in the death of William and Margaret's child. Margaret buries the child near the river and William asks if it was a boy or a girl (forest's son or river's daughter). Their little ghost will forever haunt the river. William and Margaret decide to get married and drown themselves in the river, which is the only way to be together since William has promised his life to the river in exchange for allowing him across. He takes some solace in the fact that they all will be together, traveling like river rocks whenever the river takes them. They both blame themselves for the troubles that have plagued them and console each other with the fact that in death they will be together and will no longer be subject to the various hazards of love. As the final wave comes crashing down they kiss.
    chapstickaddicton May 06, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI love this CD. This is the start of a story that encompasses the whole album. My interpretation is that this is the meeting of Margaret, the heroine, and her lover (William?), the adopted human son of the forest queen. He takes the form of a deer, but when she rescues him from an injury, he turns into a man and seduces her. She returns to her home but she's now bored with her daily life, and in love with William.
    Aixsponsaon March 10, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIMO, "The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle the Thistles Undone" is a better title for this album than "The Hazards of Love." I interpret the line as a general title for the whole album. Even though Margaret has a "pretty whistle," (I interpret this as sheer beauty, loveliness, and charity) she cannot undo the thistles (the curse) that The Queen had entwined William in. In the end, The Queen's Curse takes the life of William and, subsequently, Margaret.


    "You'll learn soon enough: the prettiest whistles won't wrestle the thistles undone."
    ("soon enough," evidently, representing the end of the story.)
    LoneMython April 29, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI read the "prettiest whistles" bit as "No matter how pretty and charming you are, you can still fall in love and get inescapably hooked"- William implying that he's already in love with Margaret, and she'll soon feel the same about him ("You'll learn soon enough").

    And as far as the rape interpretation... no, can't see it. They both seem to be stupid in love with each other, but William seems a bit too starry-eyed to actually go around raping people.

    As a side note: up until the Interlude and the Rake's Song, the whole album seems very reminiscent of the Tam Lin story; after that, of course, there's no "hold me fast, and fear me not" bit, but the wandering into the wilderness, being seduced by a fairy/changeling, falling in love, and returning to him seems very familiar- am I imagining it?
    ASmileWithoutACaton April 10, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentDOES ANYBODY HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT THE MAN IS SCREAMING AT THE VERY END OF THIS SONG?
    sora920on February 16, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFor me, when i hear in the Rake's Song that the Rake is the narrator, this song makes a bit more sense. The narrator of this song is not William since the song is describing William in the 3rd person.

    "You'll learn soon enough
    The prettiest whistles won't wrestle the thistles undone"

    This is clearly a threat from the psychopath Rake.
    colinissuperon November 24, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe maidens aren't paid around to sit there, heh. The line is meant to highlight Margaret's longing for William. While all of the other maidens can do idle things to pass the time, Margaret is unable to do anything except think of William.

    And I disagree with your notion that Margaret was raped. There's little to imply that that is the case, and Margaret willingly seeking William out suggests otherwise.
    CaptainSpoonon March 14, 2009   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningAnd "Offa's Wall" likely refers to Offa's Dyke, an earthwork along the border between England and Wales:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    TJDon March 24, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhy does everyone think he raped her? The story makes it pretty obvious they are in love. And besides that why would she go back if he raped her?
    Neox22xxon April 02, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment'The prettiest whistles won't wrestle the thistles undone'
    ^ Huh? Is that a sort of 'childhood can't be regained' theme there? Thistles, if I'm not mistaken, are a type of thorny flower. It is implied that they were caught somewhere (since they can't be 'wrestled undone'), which could in turn imply a sort of violation/ending of childhood. What is this people are saying about a rape? Also, whistles are reminiscent of childhood toys...so something as insignificant as a toy, no matter how pleasing the sounds it makes, can't revive a lost childhood? Is that what Colin's getting at?

    Also...shouldn't it be 'lissome' instead of 'lithesome'? Lithesome is pronounced with a long i sound, and he says it with a short i. Lissome and lithesome mean the same thing.
    mister care-too-muchon April 04, 2009   Link

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