Andrew John Hozier-Byrne, popularly known as Hozier, is an Irish singer, musician and lyricist. He is known for drawing inspiration from genres like blues, folk and soul for his music. He rose to international fame after his debut single Take Me to Church peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2013. Hozier was born and raised in County Wicklow in a Quaker household. His music often portrays his defiance of organised religion and his lyrics are often laced with mythological symbolism and allegories.
From Eden is the sixth track from his self-titled debut studio album. Released on 9th March 2014 as the second single from the album, it peaked at number two on the Irish Singles Chart. The official video features actress Katie McGrath.
What does the title mean?
The title of the song, From Eden, is possibly a hint towards another artist who goes by the moniker Eden. Apart from that, it is pretty clear that From Eden is about Biblical and Greek Mythology. Hozier had confirmed that fact in his interview. Thus, ‘From Eden’ can also mean ‘from the garden of Eden’. The garden of Eden in the Bible was the paradise from where man and woman fell.
Verse 1 – What does it mean?
Babe, there’s something tragic about you
Something so magic about you
Don’t you agree?
Babe, there’s something lonesome about you
Something so wholesome about you
Get closer to me
While talking about From Eden Hozier told The Sun that he wrote it from the perspective of the devil who is idolising the object of his desire from a distance, throughout the song. With the use of biblical allegory, the first verse talks about human temptation. The devil finds this situation tragic here that the object of his desire, probably someone who is similar to Eve, is a pure and innocent soul who is already committed to a man and finds herself in a dysfunctional relationship. With the use of internal rhyming with contrasting words such as tragic/magic and wholesome/lonesome, he tries to paint a picture of the woman being an angelic damsel in distress stuck in an unhappy relationship. The last line of the verse is where the devil tries to tempt her into coming close to him instead of staying faithful to her man.
Another interpretation of this verse could be alluded to the devil whose object of desire is God himself. He calls his banishment from heaven as a mark of tragedy that God takes with him everywhere. Although a magical being and a wholesome entity, God found himself ‘lonesome’ after letting go of his favourite angel i.e., the devil. The devil here tries to tempt God into letting him come back home.
Pre-Chorus 1 – What does it mean?
No tired sighs, no rolling eyes, no irony
No ‘who cares’, no vacant stares, no time for me
Here, the devil points out how he is devoid of the fleeting moments of arguments, sarcasm and bantering because it is not him that his object of desire is romantically in a relationship with. It could be interpreted in two ways: He is either happy about the fact that he doesn’t have to deal with the darker aspects of the relationship which involves quarrelling, or he is dismayed at the fact that he doesn’t get to be the one to share these moments with her. He realises that it is not him who gets to spend this kind of time with her to cherish such darker moments that humanize any romantic relationship.
Another interpretation which is strictly biblical, points towards how the devil perceived God’s emotions while he fell from grace. According to him, God was indifferent towards the devil’s exile. God did not find him worthy enough to engage in an argument while kicking him out of heaven, hence there was no scope of sighing, rolling eyes or any sarcastic remarks, and eventually no time for devil to explain himself.
Chorus – What does it mean?
Honey, you’re familiar like my mirror years ago
Idealism sits in prison, chivalry fell on its sword
Innocence died screaming, honey, ask me I should know
I slithered here from Eden just to sit outside your door
The devil uses the word Honey for his object of desire as a nod to the Forbidden Fruit that was supposedly sweet. He compares her to his younger self who used to be as pure and innocent as her current self. He sees himself from his older days which attracts him to her even more. He builds on her innocence which makes him want to tempt her into being with him and end up cheating on her partner. While trying to entice her into starting an affair, he tries to point out that virtues like idealism and chivalry are long gone and the world is too unfair and cruel anyway to care about such righteous virtues. He refers to himself while mentioning the death of innocence, reiterating his past with falling from grace as a result of the demise of his innocence and ending up as the devil. The last line of the chorus compares his identity to that of the biblical Serpent (the devil himself) who ‘slithered’ from the Garden of Eden, a beautiful and heavenly place, only to sit outside her door. This reflects upon how mesmerised the devil happens to be with his object of desire that he would rather try to reduce the distance between himself and her than staying in the majestic Garden of Eden, with the ambition of making her give into the temptation. Here, ‘outside your door’ denotes that he cannot come any nearer than admire her from a distance because of her ongoing relationship with another man.
The bible allegorical interpretation of the chorus suggests how the devil sees his younger angel-self in God. But ever since he rebelled against him, all his virtues and righteousness were met with a tragic end – his ideal qualities as God’s angel, his chivalry as well as his innocence – he knows better because he experienced it first-hand. As the Serpent of Garden of Eden, in pursuit of God’s acceptance, he slithers away from his home only to sit by God’s door, trying to tempt him into letting himself in.
Verse 2 – What does it mean?
Babe, there’s something wretched about this
Something so precious about this
Where to begin
Babe, there’s something broken about this
But I might be hoping about this.
Oh, what a sin
Here, the devil acknowledges the wretchedness of the situation that he finds himself in, but he also cherishes his admiration for his object of desire. ‘Where to begin’ may be interpreted in two ways: He either wants to point out the number of ways this kind of temptation is evil despite which he can’t help but find himself drawn more towards her, or this may have a darker connotation where he wonders how he must proceed further into tempting her to commit something immoral. The usage of words like wretched and broken may also be attributed to how he views her relationship with the man she is committed to. He confesses that he hopes that his trickeries work which lead her to commit the biblical ‘sin’ of adultery.
In the allegorical interpretation, this verse suggests the uniqueness of this predicament where the devil is vulnerable and yet willing to tempt God into accepting him. He refers his helplessness in front of God to be indicative of something that’s broken inside of him. Here, sin may be referred to the devil’s attempts to tempt the Almighty.
Pre-Chorus 2 – What does it mean?
To the strand a picnic plan for you and me
A rope in hand for your other man to hang from a tree
He goes on further with his plan to seduce the woman by proposing a picnic-date. While doing so, he also slips in the idea of completely letting go of her man and be with him instead. The letting go here may have a darker connotation by either suggesting that they both murder her man to solve the problem of his presence between them, or it may be symbolic to making her forget about her man as if he does not exist anymore, in order to give in to be with the devil.
The [Chorus] that follows then takes on a darker note in light of the things suggested in [Pre-Chorus 2].
From Eden received critical appraisal for its biblical lyrics and vocal delivery. Hozier’s interest in religion despite his agnosticism fuels most of his song writing, apart from his activism within his music for which he is explicitly vocal about. From Eden was originally released as his second EP which then was later included within his debut studio album Hozier.